New Profession, old hobbies

July 30, 2008

I was just wondering why I dumped my first wife (Journalism) to start a new career in Technical writing (in 2006) thereby putting a full-stop to all creative writings I used to do in newspapers.  

As if God had heard my prayers – though I don’t believe him – our Head of Operations Vinaya formed the editorial team for Citec Stay Wired which included me. So, I am writing again on my favorite topics. Thanks to God and Vinaya our Head of Operations.

Now that I have an opportunity, I will restart with my pet topic – nature and wildlife. And where else could I take you other than the wild Bandipur forest which is just 272 kilometers away from the Silicon Valley (Bangalore).

It was during a trekking expedition in Bandipur National Park with my friends from Youth Hostels Association of India, way back in 1996, I got chased for the very first time by an elephant. It was the beginning of a relationship with the wild that would carry on for a very long time.
  After a gap almost 2 years, I was back to Bandipur to trek though the forests on New Years eve with friends wondering if I would be going back disappointed without spotting a tiger.

 Definitely not! Just as these thoughts were swimming around in my head, my friend Prasad suddenly exclaimed and pointed to the left. There in the jungle, behind the bushes looking a little faded due to the early morning mist, was what looked very similar to a large rock among the bushes. Then it swung around and raised its head. A young and handsome tusker!

The tusker put on a full show for us and even walked right onto the track and across barely a few yards away! Bandipur had lived up to my expectations!

This beautiful park is located within what was declared India’s first biosphere reserve. The topography we noticed obviously owes its unique characteristics to it being caught between the Deccan Plateau and the beginnings of the mountainous Western Ghats. Surprisingly, I saw a board here too that indicated that an application for National Park status had been submitted way back in 1974. It never said anything about having received a confirmation. Although the park measures 879 sq. km. with a 274 sq. km. buffer zone, only 82 sq. km. have been demarcated as the tourism zone.

Most of this zone gets covered in the safari ride, which is meant to last 2 – hours but ended within an hour and fifteen minutes on all three occasions with us. The only way to explore the park is in the safari vans belonging to the authorities. Don’t get fooled by the elephant ride notice as you’ll find yourself getting all excited and then being taken only for a joy ride around the tourist complex itself!
  Although one doesn’t encounter too much of a gain or loss in altitude during the drive through the park, it actually does vary from 680 meters above mean sea level at the lowest to 1455 meters at the highest.

The climate was beautiful throughout our visit to the area in the month of December.
  We saw a lot of animals in Bandipur but a very large majority of these were deer. We thankfully saw the one tusker, spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, one common mongoose, wild boar, gray langur, macaques and hare.

 I guess this was one disadvantage of not visiting the park during the best season between April and October. During that time of the year, the chances that you might see many of the other fauna – such as tigers, leopards, Indian bison, wild dogs, hyenas, jackals, bears, civets, loris, otters, pangolins, porcupines, squirrels and jungle cats – are much higher. Also due to the topography, excellent climate and abundant water from the rivers Kabini, Nugu and Moyar, the park boasts of a huge variety of birds. The park has its fair share of reptiles, the largest of which is represented by some excellent marsh crocodiles.

For visiting the next park on our itinerary, Mudumalai, we thankfully had to travel only a very short distance of 12 – kilometers. The only factor dividing these two parks is the political boundary between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu formed by the river Moyar.