Sunday, November 27, 2011

Life.. in the jungle

Nature never ceases to bewilder me.
not only the variety of creation, but also the ways of the world, so to say!
as evolved mental beings, we impose our mental models to understand evolution and the myriad models of representing life.
but still, there are so many unanswered questions.
recently, while walking to the Dodda Sampige, the jeep had a puncture and not having the right tools, the driver went up ahead to get help and spares.
while that was getting fixed, some of us decided to take a walk.
one of the persons in the group pointed out a ‘Gobbare Hula’.
an insect that would curl up to protect itself.
he demonstrated how that happens and we caught it on camera.
we walked further and came to a small breach on the path, and did not want to get our feet wet in that muddy water.
we saw another jeep with the spares coming our way and decided to get back to our jeep.
we could not miss a fresh squish on the road, which was the Hula we had seen just a few minutes ago.
squished by the second jeep.
we were, naturally, disturbed.
it surely was not normal for a jeep to go by that path regularly – particularly being a protected area with a requirement for advance permission to go there.
it was also not normal for someone to interfere with the Hula, to make it curl up on the road.
maybe it might still have got crushed, we thought – on the other side of the road or by someone else..
the only evidence of this Hula being there was the photo we had taken!
there must be zillions of such lives and deaths in this world, that go un-chronicled, and even without leaving any trace or impact.
i remembered the book – the selfish gene – where the ‘desire’ to propagate was so strong in a gene that it figures out how to stay on!
i saw an example of that also in that jungle.
a mango sapling, growing out of a seed that was embedded in elephant poop!
the seed had survived the elephant’s digestive system and at the first opportunity sprouted leaves..
not sure how long it can survive, without proper roots and nourishment..
maybe someone would transplant it or take it home.
who knows – that might even spawn off a new breed of mangoes – which would be the mango equivalent of ‘kopi luwak’!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dodda Sampige

it took 3 years, multiple wishes before we could see the Dodda Sampige.

The first time, i guess we did not wish hard enough.

the group that i am a member of, believed that a very strong intent by a group of persons [or even an individual] can make things happen.

the excuse was that the area was still in the zone of Veerappan – and public was not allowed in the interest of their own safety.

the next time, it was some other local ‘politics’ that the forest officer did not want to take any decision.

finally, this year – we could make it to the Dodda sampige. till we reached the place, there were elements of uncertainty. from the weather to the recent declaration of the area as a protected tiger reserve.

thanks to the stronger intent and the other forces, we finally made it!

we, here, refers to a group of like-minded, but diverse group of persons with an interest to understand the human mind..

So, what is so special about the Dodda Sampige?

the story goes -

Once, Renuka, the wife of sage jamadagni, saw a gandharva and an apsara play in the river and wanted to do the same with her husband. Jamadagni came to know abotu it and was angry. So, he ordered one of their seven sons to sever the head of their mother. all but the youngest refuse and were turned to ashes by the angry Jamadagni. when bhargaram does as his father expected him to, he is granted three wishes.

using two of those wishes, he brings back his mother and brothers back to life. his third wish was to have his father’s anger recede forever.

repenting has act on his mother, he goes into a deep penance deep in the forest, under a champaka tree – you guessed it – the dodda sampige, which is supposed to be many centuries old.

his mother turns into a river – bhargavi – and flows by the side.

all this is in the B.R. Hills area.

the access to the spot – about 4 kms from the main road, is not easily motorable by normal vehicles and we needed a 4 wheel drive [jeep].


after the recent rains, the thick plants and shrubs made it a good environment for the leeches..


a flight of steps


took us to the banks of bhargavi – with a view of dodda sampige!


here are some more views around the tree..





after some time around the tree and a short visit to a coffee estate on the other side, to see a soliga dwelling, i noticed the ‘chikka sampige’.


not sure if it is called that – but i felt thaty near the big brother, this one on the other side of the river looked very ignored, though imposing in its own way..


some more side stories the next time.. till then .. a panoramic view of the dodda sampige side bank of the bhargavi river

Panorama 2

Saturday, November 5, 2011


work and work related travel were the main reasons for being away from this blog in the last few months.

a recent weekend break to Masinagudi was a welcome relief.

about 250KM from Bangalore, it was a good drive upto mysore and then a little slow via nanjangud.

the drive through bandipur offered some close encounters with wildlife right from the road.



bathing elephants and


monkeys having the right of way to cross the road..

as a protected tiger reserve, the place is not very formally organized for ecotourism, though there are persons who offer services for those interested in some explorations.

the activities officer at the resort we stayed in welcomed us saying that is was a jungle resort, with the concept being ‘just relax’ – meaning that there are no special activities or adventure sports and we are pretty much on our own, except for a guided fishing trip


the trips with the guide, who said that he was also listed on the lonely planet took us to more interesting locations in the neighborhood.

on our walk in the Singara region, we saw some bones




just as we wondered if these bones were set up there by the guides for photo ops for the visitors, we were shown some pugmarks


we were told how lucky we were to see these clearly as it had rained the previous day and the path was very muddy and that it was a leapord that had crossed that spot less than 30 minutes earlier.

we were shown some more marks – saying that a bear had skidded, possibly while trying to escape from the leopard


our anticipation increased and the expectation that the leopard might spring on us anytime made the walk that much more exciting.

the leopard probably got its prey elsewhere and did not return, even though we walked for about 10 kilometers in that area for over 2 hours.

we decided to explore other areas around.

the walk in the Bokkapuram area was more of scenic beauty



and the horse path that Tipu Sultan had made for his trips to Ooty


our guide wanted us to hury back as it was getting dark and that it was not safe as animals would be returning to their homes.

on the way back, we spotted a waterfall – and could not resist taking a bath.


the force of the water was a good massage and the cold temperature made it refreshing.

and, this time also, no animal sighting.

the next morning, we decided to explore the Mavanalla area.

the vegetation here was different from the earlier expeditions with more thick shrubs.


this time, the guide smelt and told us that an elephat had passed that area a few minutes earlier.

we could see a startled deer, a huge male, run when we approached some shrubs – raising our hopes of spotting more animals.

but, what we spotted were – birds



and flora, including a golf ball shaped mushroom


and ‘fresh’ poop that indicated that animals were there!


a porcupine ‘nail’?


and a peacock feather


also gave us hopes that we would surely spot some of them or bears, that were supposed to be staying in that area.

but the closest encounter we had was with a herd of cattle that, we thought, were ready to charge on us


and realized soon that they were probably just amused to see us in their grazing area.

in spite of the disappointment of not seeing wild animals close, it was a very enjoyable break and would surely consider going there again.. maybe even if it to ‘just relax’!