Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bheemeshwari - Muthathi

We went for another photography trip to a lake near Halagur, as it had rained heavily the previous day, our car was not able to go in the slush. As a result, we headed on to Bheemeshwari ( cauvery wildlife sanctuary) and Muthatti.
On the way , we could spot a Pheasant tailed Jacana. It was a first timer for me :)
The drive is beautiful, as it takes us along the Cauvery river and the forest is amazing. At the entrance of the sanctuary, we saw a herd of Chital (Spotted deer).

Bheemeshwari Fishing Camp - Bheemeshwari Fishing and Nature Camp is within your reach. If you want to enjoy the fascinating combination of nature and adventure with peace and serenity, come to this fishing and nature camp nestled along the Cauvery, the most majestic and sacred river of South India. All you need to do is to take a 100-km drive from Bangalore via Kanakapura.

AT Bheemeshwari Fishing and Nature Camp, you can hang out with more than 200 species of birds such as gray headed fish eagle, pied crested cuckoo, darter etc. You can even spot deer, jackals, the highly endangered grizzled giant squirrel, the leopard and elephants there.Also, if there is one thing that has been attracting people to the camp over the years is the mighty Mahseer, one of the largest fresh water sport fishes. Some have even landed 100 pounds and heavier Mahseer in this stretch of the river.

River Based Activities: Revitalize yourself by spending time with the refreshing Cauvery. Dip your feet in the pristine waters and you can feel the travail of city life fading away. Accompanied by guides, you can try a hand at joy fishing. Or, just ride down the Cauvery in a coracle and let the serenity and breathtaking natural views overpower your mind and thoughts.

Land Based Activities: Take the excitement to the next level by trekking around the Basavana Betta. The 6-hour trek will offer you a panoramic view of the Cauvery flowing through the valley below. You can also opt for short-distance treks early in the mornings.

Getting there

Bheemeshwari is located 100km away from the tech city of Bangalore, off the Kanakapura-Kollegal Highway. About 15km past the town of Kanakapura, you have to turn left at Sathnur and take the Muttathi Road. After 5-km drive from Muttathi, you will reach Bheemeshwari Fishing and Nature Camp. Welcome to the world of calm environs and adventures.

Activities at glance

  1. Angling
  2. Trekking
  3. Bird watching
  4. Joy Fishing
  5. Star gazing
  6. Coracle riding

    Cauvery the goddess of Life is the most worshipped river in the siuthern states of Karnataka and Tamil       Nadu.
Cauvery is a sacred river of southern India, rising on Brahmagiri Hill in the Western Ghats in Coorg district of Karnataka state, flowing in a south-easterly direction for 475 mi (765 km) through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states across the Deccan Plateau, and descending the Eastern Ghats in a series of great falls. Before emptying into the Bay of Bengal south of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, it breaks into a large number of distributaries forming a wide delta. Known as "Daksina Ganga" (Ganges of the South), it is celebrated for its scenery and sanctity, and its entire course is considered holy ground. 

Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is located at a distance of 100 km from Bangalore in the districts of  Bangalore and Mandya. It is spread around 102.59 sq. km. River Cauvery forms the northern and eastern boundary of the sanctuary. Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary attracts nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers.


Calotes is a lizard genus in the draconine clade of the family Agamidae, containing 24 species. Some species are known as forest lizards, others as "bloodsuckers"due to their red heads, and yet others as (namely C. versicolor) as garden lizards. They are geographically restricted to South Asia, Myanmar, regions ofSoutheast Asia, and an introduced population in Florida. The greatest diversity of the genus is from the Western Ghats and Northeast (India), Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
Calotes is distinguished from related genera in having uniform size dorsal scales, and lacking a fold of skin extending between the cheek and shoulder, and in having proportionately stronger limbs than Pseudocalotes. Compared to BronchocelaCaloteshave a proportionately shorter tail and limbs.

We headed on towards Muthathi. The place is around 5kms from Bheemeshwari, The Cauvery is continued in this stretch also.
There is a very famous temple of Muthathiraya Swamy (Lord Hanuman) at Muthathi, and hence the name Muthathi is given to the place.
It is believed that Dr. Rajkumar ( the great actor of Kannada film industry) was one among the thousands of  devotees to the Lord here.

Muthathi is a small village on the bank of Kaveri. The road to Muthathi runs along the river, and you can stop at places to spend time on the river bank or dip your feet in shallow waters. The village and the approach road are within the boundary of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.

Expect to sight some wildlife if you are lucky, which includes chital, sambar deer and even elephants.Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is home to rare and endemic grizzled giant squirrels. The region is also rich in bird life. Take Kanakapura road out of Bangalore till you get to Satanur. Turn left at Satanur and drive for another 30 minutes to get to Muthathi. There is no food and accommodation avaialable at Muthathi. Pack your own food and plan to return by the end of the day.
This is not the original temple at Muthathi. This was shot while returning back from Muthathi to Sathanur. But this temple is  also dedicated to Lord Anjaneya swamy

While returning back, we saw an unique  activity of butterflies near a small pond . It was very interesting and we could spot more than 10 species of butterflies. We spent quite good time with it by watching its unique activities.
Mud-puddling is the phenomenon mostly seen in butterflies and involves their aggregation on substrates like wet soil, dung and carrion to obtain nutrients such as salts and amino acids. This behaviour has also been seen in some other insects, notably the leafhoppers.

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) are diverse in their strategies to gather liquid nutrients. Typically, mud-puddling behavior takes place on wet soil. But even sweat on human skin may be attractive to butterflies. The most unusual sources include blood and tears 
This behaviour is restricted to males in many species, and in some like Battus philenor the presence of an assembly of butterflies on the ground acts as a stimulus to join the presumptive mud-puddling flock
In tropical India this phenomenon is mostly seen in the post-monsoon season. The groups can include several species often including members of the Papilionidae and Pieridae.
Males seem to benefit from the sodium uptake through mud-puddling behaviour with an increase in reproductive success. The collected sodium and amino acids are often transferred to the female with the spermatophore during mating as a nuptial gift. This nutrition also enhances the survival rate of the eggs
1. Common Leopard : The Common Leopard Phalanta phalantha is a sun-loving butterfly of the Nymphalid or Brush-footed Butterfly family.
The Common Leopard is a medium sized butterfly with a wingspan of 50–55 mm with a tawny colour and marked with black spots. The underside of the butterfly is more glossy than the upper and both the male and female are similar looking. A more prominent purple gloss on the underside is found in the dry season form of this butterfly.

Common Leopard

There are around 6 to 7 species of butterflies in this picture.
They include : Common Emigrant, Pioneer , Gull , White orange tip , Lemon pansy , Pea blue , Spot swordtail.

              Photography in progress
Spot swordtail
" You can see a small drop of liquid which is excreted from its thorax "
During mud puddling , this is a frequent procedure which has to be observed
Spot Swordtail Graphium nomius is a beautiful butterfly found in India that belongs to the Swallowtail family. One of the grandest sights is a host of Spot Swordtails mud-puddling or swarming around a flowering forest tree.
The Spot Swordtail gets its name from the beautiful line of distinct white spots along the margin of its wings.

Generally found in deciduous forest areas, among bushes with lesser secondary growth. Locally abundant below 3000 feet and less common above this level. Generally stays close to hilly and forested country.Shy and wary. Flies close to the ground . Has a dodgy and fast flight, especially when disturbed. Often visits flowers. Spot Swordtails may be seen to cluster around flowering trees. They are fond of Gmelina arborea, a deciduous tree from dry areas. Large numbers can be seen settling on damp roads and wet patches, especially in hot summers. Basks close to the ground, with wings partially open or completely spread. Known migrant in Sri Lanka.

After taking beautiful break in a great patch of forest, we decided to return back to Bangalore , as there was a home in Bengaluru.
Trust me , after seeing such beautiful places , returning back is a quite disappointing moment to all Nature Lovers.

While returning , we spotted 
Grey Hornbill  : The Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) is a common hornbill found on the Indian subcontinent. It is mostly arboreal and is commonly sighted in pairs. They have grey feathers all over the body with a light grey or dull white belly. The horn is black or dark grey with a casque extending up to the point of curvature in the horn. They are one of the few hornbill species found within urban areas in many cities where they are able to make use of large avenue trees

After a beautiful Sunday (in forests ) , we feel MONDAY is BAD :) :) :)

Thank you

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nandi Hills

 After a very long time we visited Nandi Hills today ( 17th April 2011). We went there for bird watching/photography and were amazed by the exotic species of birds found there.

The team :
Myself, Akshay , Satish uncle, Chandru uncle
Nandi Hills or Nandidurg  is an ancient hill fortress of southern India, in theChikkaballapur district of Karnataka state. It is located just 10 km from Chickballapur town and approximately 60 km from the city ofBangalore. The hills are nestled between the neighboring towns of Nandi, Muddenahalli, and Kanivenarayanapura. These are the sites of the upcoming $22 Billion, 12,000-acre (49 km2BIAL IT Investment Region, Sri Sathya Sai Baba Universities, the Indian Institute of Technology Muddenahalli, and the Visvesvaraya Institute of Advanced Technology. The hills are traditionally held as the origin of the Arkavathy river.
This is the main entrance of the fort

Geography :
It is 4,851 ft (1,479 m) above sea level. It is located close to the newly constructed Bangalore International Airport, the second largest in India. In addition, the hills are located about 20 km from the National Highway (NH-7) just after Devanahalli Town. Due to its location, Nandi Hills is rapidly developing and numerous commercial and residential ventures are underway in the region.

History :
 Nandidurg was traditionally held unimpregnable, and its storming by the army of Cornwallis on 19 October 1791 was one of the most notable incidents of the first war against Tipu Sultan of Mysore. A description of the siege is given in Browne's History of Scotland and the records of the 71st Highlanders.Nundydroog, a celebrated fortress and country of Hindostan, in the province of Mysore. The former is built on the summit of a rock, about 1700 feet high, three-fourths of its circumference being inaccessible. Our forces took it by storm in 1791, after a three weeks' siege. It stands in long. 77° 53' E.,and lat. 13° 22' N.It later became a retreat for British Raj officials during the hot season. Francis Cunningham built the summer residence here for Sir Mark Cubbon....this droog, one now used as a hotel, built by General Cubbon, sometime British resident; but the rock has a bad reputation for malaria, and except in the very dry months is shunned by visitors, in spite of its, to the senses, delightful climateThe climate at the top of the hill made it particularly of interest to horticulturists. Several species of plant were introduced into an experimental garden. Firminger's manual notes that several species of Anona were grown at this garden and also notes the peculiarity of Hypericum mysorense:

Major Attractions :
1. Tippu's Drop : is a must see location on Nandi Hills. This is where Tippu used to take his captured spies and prisoners and ask queries about his enemies, particularly the British. He would threaten to push them off this face of Nandi Hills, which is a sheer drop all the way to the bottom, with no chance of survival. Once he got the required information, or even otherwise, he would just push them off. This came to be known as the famous Tippu's Drop. Today, it is covered with fencing, so as to discourage people with suicidal tendencies. Although you can have a good look at the spot from a few feet away.

2. Amruth Sarovar : A beautiful water lake that brims with lucid water all the year round.

3.Tippus Summer Palace and Fort: During the Ganga period, the Chikkaballapur chieftains built a fort. Tippu strengthened it further and also build a rest house. This used to be Tippus summer bungalow.

4.Gavi Veerabhadra Swamy Temple : on the way to the Sultanpet, from Tippus palace, natural formation of huge boulders has been transformed into a temple.
5.Fort : The fort is on a sprawling area of 90 acres and is above 4851 feet above sea level. A soldier could hide in this well constructed fort and shoot in all four directions at the same time.
6.Horse Way : A stone doorway in the fort on the North-eastern side, is believed to have been the horse way for helping soldiers to climb the wall on horse back.

7.Palar River Origin: Palar river takes its birth as a small spring on the eastern side of the hill.

8.Brahmashrama : A serene place for the spiritual minded, this ashram is built by huge natural boulders.

9.Arkavathi River Origin: Arkavathi River takes its birth on the south-west of the hill.

10Secret Passage : A secret passage on the west, is believed to have helped the Kings to escape during unforseen attacks.

11.Childrens Playground : The Horticulture department maintains a lovely garden for children to play games like the slides, merry-go-round, swings etc.

12.Muddena Halli: Muddena Halli, situated 21 kilometers from Nandi Hills, is the birthplace of Sir. M. Vishveswarayya. His ancestral home, where he was born, has been preserved for public viewing.
Apart from these, there are other interesting places like Anjaneya temple, Nellikayi Basavanna, Antaragange, Baananthi Bande, Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple etc.
13.Yoga Nandeeshwara Temple: A temple of exquisite, intricate carvings, it also has a beautiful Kalyana Mantapa.

This temple is on top of the hill, and there is another temple called Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple which is at the base of the hill.

14. Tippu's Lodge : 

Tippu's Lodge

Very old carvings

15. Kalyani or water tank : This is a very old Kalyani

16. Nehru Nilaya : where Jawaharlal Nehru used to stay, now a guest house of the horticulture department of India

Photography(Flora and Fauna) : There are many lovely and colorful birds in Nandi hills like Asian paradise flycatcher, Indian Pitta, Many species of Thrushes , and many other endemic birds. Though we got to see some birds , but we could manage to photograph only a few of them. (Also it was sunday, and there was a huge crowd).

Tickell's Blue fly catcher

Tickell's blue fly catcher

Blue Robin

Orange headed ground thrush

Red whiskered bulbul
Magpie Robin

There is also a KEB guest house at the entrance.

KEB Guest house
 The Birds we saw :

  1. Oriental honey Buzzard
  2. Black kite
  3. Brahminy kite
  4. Oriental white eye
  5. Malabar whistling thrush
  6. Puff throated babbler
  7. Tickell's blue flycatcher
  8. Tickell's flower pecker
  9. Orange headed ground thrush
  10. Blue capped rock thrush
  11. Asian Paradise fly catcher
  12. Red whiskered Bulbul
  13. Red vented Bulbul
  14. White cheeked Barbet
  15. Loten's Sunbird
  16. Roufous bellied babbler
  17. Ashy Prinia
  18. Kestrel
  19. Spotted wood dove
  20. Common Tailorbird
(Some of them are yet to be identified, and then I will add to the list)
    The Map of Karnataka :

    Thank you

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