We would have been cooling our heels in Mysore till our Vento got fixed on the penultimate day of our trip if not for our little nephew who wondered why we weren’t going to Bandipur after all the fuss and non-stop chanting of the name “Bandipur” for over two months ! So while the senior citizens of our group decided to stay back at Mysore and visit the Jaganmohan Palace, we took out our Figo for a ride through Bandipur.
What’s a road trip without bad roads?
In 2012, we had taken the Mysore – Bandipur route on our way to Wayanad, we were lucky to have spotted a few wild elephants too. On this trip, we just wanted to drive through Bandipur National Park, we did not have plans to go on the safari as we were short of time.
We started from Mysore around 9 AM after a fancy buffet breakfast. The road was decent till we stopped at Cafe Coffee Day close to Nanjangud, after an hour’s drive from Mysore. From Nanjangud all the way to Gundlupet, there was road widening work going on and the roads were dug up, dusty and full of pot holes. Our trips seem to be incomplete without such experiences ! Our only worry was given the road condition, what would we do if the Figo too went the Vento’s way ! The silver lining – road widening means better roads in the future.
The bad roads ate up almost 2 hours for a distance of 50 odd kms and by the time we reached Gundlupet, we were wondering if the trip was worth the effort. Nevertheless, the fun lies in being on the move, bad roads or otherwise. Gundlupet to Bandipur again was a smooth drive through the forest. We were back to the familiar sight of the green canopy over the dark grey road, neither did the green seem to fade in summer nor did we seem to get bored of the same sights.
KA & TN face to face !
We drove through the Bandipur National Park, passing by the Forest Rest House where we were supposed to have stayed as per our original plan, before the Tourism department decided to cancel all bookings. Having had a wonderful time at Kutta and Nagarahole, we felt we hadn’t missed much by not staying at Bandipur. Compared to Nagarahole, Bandipur seemed far more crowded and the forest less dense or we were just plain biased ! That does not take anything away from Bandipur, a National Park is a National Park, each has its own beauty.
We drove through the National Park looking for elephants, but being close to lunch time, there was no way animals could be spotted. Instead, we found this elephant !
We actually thought it was a wild elephant but it had a bell around its neck and was close to people’s houses yet nobody seemed bothered, so it was obviously a domesticated elephant.
Driving further, we spotted a few Indian Gaur or the Indian Bison having their lunch.
They were quite far away and this was the maximum our camera could zoom and the best we could do to keep our hands still ! Overjoyed that we were able to see some animals, we decided to drive till the end of the Bandipur National Park and then head back.
A few kilometres of driving, out of the blue, we saw this board.
Where the Bandipur National Park ends, you simply enter into Tamil Nadu and beyond the board, lies the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve ! You simply drive out of one National Park and drive into another ! We had no idea that both the Tiger Reserves were located so close to each other and found it extremely amusing.
Basically, Bandipur, Nagarahole, Mudumalai are part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, it is the same forest region given different names at different places.
At the checkpost, we were glad to be speaking in Tamil with the police, who presumed we were going to Ooty, only 73 kms from Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. If our plan had gone as per schedule, we would have visited the Mudumalai National Park while staying at Gudalur, so in a way, we got to cover Mudumalai as well, that meant we did not miss out much on what we had planned to visit.
The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is exactly like the one at Bandipur, obviously because they are all one and the same. Mudumalai was even more crowded than Bandipur, being close to Ooty. We only saw one more domesticated elephant before winding up our quick drive through the National Park and were back in Karnataka !
Done with our visit, we headed back to Mysore, once again via Bandipur, this time we spotted a few wild elephants, grazing in the distance. That sort of completed our visit and entering Tamil Nadu meant we had covered all 5 states of South India in the course of this trip, starting from Hyderabad, Telangana driving through Andhra Pradesh, staying in Karnataka, visiting Kerala and taking a ride into Tamil Nadu ! May there come a time when we touch all 29 states and 7 Union Territories of India !
Back on the road to Mysore, we stopped at the Wildlife Souvenir Shop and picked up some T-Shirts and fridge magnets. The drive back to Mysore was through the same route, the bad roads included, we stopped for lunch at Gundlupet, probably the only not so great meal of our entire trip.
We reached Mysore by 3 PM by which time our Vento was ready and raring to go to Bangalore. Mysore-Bangalore drive was as crowded as ever but it is always fun to travel on this road especially stopping by at those swanky restos and gorging on ice creams at Polar Bear outlet !
Trying to avoid Bangalore traffic to reach Whitefield where we had booked rooms at Oyo Rooms, we followed Google Maps which took us into some dark, isolated road, if we missed any adventure in this trip, even that was completed with that road. We really had some anxious moments because it was pitch dark with no human in sight except for our 2 cars but though Google Maps takes you through unknown, non-existent routes, it will never let you down !
Oyo Rooms seemed to be extremely pleased with us because out of the 3 rooms that we had booked, they allotted one Presidential Suite all of Rs.1000/- !!
Dinner done, we wound up and early next morning, after an interesting buffet breakfast of Aloo parathas, Kichdi and toast, we started our journey back home, the Figo to Hyderabad and Vento to Nellore. Trips with family are the best things in life !
– There are some very good and popular resorts and homestays near Bandipur but we found most of them quite expensive, the best option would be to stay in the Forest Cottages inside the National Park. Information can be found in the Tiger Reserve’s website, accommodation can also be booked online. http://www.bandipurtigerreserve.in
– Other place where you can find accommodation closer to Bandipur is either Mudumalai, Masinagudi or Gudalur.
– We heard Mudumalai is a good place for Tiger sightings, especially during the evening safari. However, there is never a guarantee of sightings so always go with least expectations.
– The Wildlife souvenir shop at Bandipur is outside the National Park, you can find it enroute Bandipur, the stuff cost is slightly on the higher side but you could indulge a little to take back some memories.
– There is a canteen kind of arrangement in Bandipur but we are not sure about the availability at all times, they usually make to order for those staying at the cottages. Gundlupet is the nearest town for decent food options.
– You may not find convenient public transport, so hire a vehicle or take your own.
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