B R Hills ! A Slice of Heaven . . .

w1 - evening jeep ride into forest 4.jpgB R Hills also known as BiligiriRanga Hills is one of the few places i have visited which seems truly magical . . . The expression ‘Heaven on Earth’ is truly meant for places like this . . .

We went to B R Hills last November to celebrate a special occasion – my husband’s bday ! We booked a 1N/2D stay at K Gudi Wilderness Camp by JLR situated inside the tiger reserve itself currently! So Exciting !

We left around 7:00am from our place. Thankfully there wasn’t too much traffic and we were outside the city within an hour. B R Hills is located at a distance of 170 Kms from Bangalore. The quickest route being Bangalore – Kanakpura – Malavalli – Yellandur – B R Hills.

w1 - fields enroute.jpg          So passing the scenic farmlands interspersed with coconut trees we drove on towards B R T wildlife sanctuary. We finally reached the forest check post. Once you pass the check post the contrasting change in scenery is so dramatic! We passed settlements of the Solage tribe surrounded by lush green vegetation and big trees. Hearing the birds chirping all around as if welcoming us to the forest we drove ahead only to be stopped by curious monkeys in the middle of the road.w1 - greeted by curious monkeys.jpg They watched us as if deciding if we were worthy of being allowed to go ahead into the sanctuary, after a few moments of intense silence they moved to the side giving us permission to drive on. The drive through the forest was a treat to the senses, smelling the fresh clean air, viewing the beauty of all things natural, hearing different species of birds singing through the trees, feeling one with nature we moved at a slow speed taking it all in just enjoying the drive, feeling at bliss !The feeling so profound that one cannot explain, only experience to believe !

We finally reached JLR property and after checking in were shown to our log hut by one of the friendly staff. The log hut we were lead to was located at the corner of the resort much to our delight. We were told that our cabin was situated in the leopard/tiger crossing terrain ! Our excitement knew no bound when we were told this , deciding then and there to stay up late that night hoping to be lucky enough to witness a leopard or tiger crossing !

The log huts as compared to the tented cottage accommodation were built at a height with a balcony overlooking the downward sloping lush green forest ahead. Cane chairs were provided in the balcony so one could enjoy the bounty of nature ,the animals passing by grazing on the vegetation around the property grounds. One could sit outside the cabin on the balcony at night and try to spot wild animals without the risk of being attacked.

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[About  Jungle Lodges & Resort Properties:

This is the third JLR property we have visited and have not been disappointed so far. JLR is a Govt. Of Karnataka run chain of resorts usually located in areas rich with wildlife or places of historical importance to promote tourism. The staff is always welcoming and friendly, food nutritious and healthy & the rooms very well maintained. Fixed itenary exists at each JLR location to make sure the guests get to make the most of their trip.]

The drive from Bangalore had taken us 4-5 hours and after resting for a while we went to have lunch at the GolGhar – the JLR dining area where meals were served buffet style. After enjoying the home cooked food we went on to explore the property grounds. w1-jlr property.jpgThe resort is designed such that it gels in with the surrounding forest area. Staying within the tiger reserve was a unique feeling. Its as close to nature as one can get . The main reception Area of the K Gudi Camp was once the hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore.

Right opposite the JLR camp is the Forest Dept. Rest House. It was interesting to see a number of spotted deers and boars grazing calmly all around the property. Shy creatures although they are they had no hesitation about being in the vicinity of humans, they seemed to be quite at home here.

We sat for a while on our balcony taking in the beautiful view and the sounds of nature feeling at peace within, watching deers and boars grazing around, and different species of birds flying around singing their own tunes.

I sat there till the hammocks beneath our log hut beckoned me . . . there were hammocks and rubber tyre swings hanging from trees all around the properties, so there i was lying on a hammock with the sun shining on my face reading a book, feeling very relaxed till it was time for the Safari !

We were served tea, coffee and snacks in the Maharaja’s Hunting Lodge where they had a large wooden table with a seating capacity of 25-30 people. They even had a mini library there which contained books on BR Hills and wildlife which people could read up on.

At 4:30 pm before dusk fell we were taken on a jeep ride into the forest. There were a couple of routes into the forest & different jeep riders took different routes after keeping a gap of couple minutes between each jeep ride. This was done to minimize the noise made by the jeeps which scares away the animals.

w1 - evening jeep ride into forest 0w1 - evening jeep ride into forest 1

We spent almost 2 hours in the forest trying to track down a tiger or leopard . We spotted lots of animals like spotted deers,barking deers, owls, bald headed eagle,giant squirrels, etc.  but unfortunately we didn’t get to see the ones we were most eager to spot. Our jeep rider tried really hard to track down a tiger or a leopard but it wasn’t meant to be.

w1 - evening jeep ride into forest 3.jpgBut even then the ride into the jungle was really worth it ! We even got to witness the sunset at the top of a hill with the vast ravine before us. We even came across few people from the Solage tribe. It was dark before we made it back to the camp and climate had become quite pleasant by then. We were served some more tea, coffee and snacks & got to watch a documentary on B R Hills.

w - campfireBy dinnertime it was extremely chilly and a bit foggy. A perfect ambience for the campfire we had on our schedule. Enjoying a hot bowl of soup sitting by the campfire, watching other guests covered in jackets, mufflers and shawls trying to cope with the cold climate. We then headed to the GolGhar for dinner. After a hearty meal we headed toward our log hut following the lantern lit route along the resort, listening to the crickets chirping all around us. Enjoying the cold climate we settled on the cane chairs in the balcony with blankets covering us.

The electricity made available through Generator is turned off by 10pm daily at the resort as it is located within the tiger reserve to facilitate animal crossing in the vicinity. Once the lights were turned off we waited with bated breath to spot a tiger or leopard. Sitting in the dark with torches and snacks we waited for some sign.

After a while when we almost gave up hope . . . . we heard it ! The rustling of dry leaves on the ground, movement among the shrubs near our log hut. . . and then the animal stilled. For a minute we froze! We knew for certain that it was a big animal moving somewhere nearby. . . As excited as we were to spot a leopard or tiger we were even a bit terrified of being attacked. Although the log hut was at a decent height , we weren’t aware of how high these wildcats could jump.

So we rushed towards our room door and stood there wondering what to do next . Should we shine the torch at the animal so we could spot it in the darkness thus making it aware of our presence or just run into the room to be safe. After all the waiting for this moment we were not ready to just run into the safety of our room . So there we were standing quietly , feeling the seconds pass by , hearing for the movement which seemed very slow and not very often.

After waiting for 5 more minutes feeling really highstrung we built up some courage and shined the torch in the direction of the movement to spot the mysterious animal. Feeling frustrated and amused at the same time we spotted . . .   a deer! ! ! Finding the situation exasperating we decided to give it one more shot. After waiting for awhile when we didn’t hear anymore movement we decided to call it a night . . .

The next day we were woken at 6:00am with bed tea and biscuits. It was Safari Time again !  On inquiring we were told by the wildlife specialist at the property that the wild animals preferred warmer climate and so migrated downhill where there were more watering holes and warm weather which made spotting elephants, tigers and leopards more challenging in this weather. . . and voila ! the mystery was solved !

w1 - jeep ride at dawn 1.jpgThe jeep ride at dawn was a refreshing feeling ! Watching the freshly dewed plants, the lush radiant greenery and a light fog misting up the place we headed out. The route chosen this morning was not the same as the evening before.w1 - jeep ride at dawn7.jpg We headed outside the JLR Camp, passing the Forest Dept. Rest House and towards the grasslands. Where the evening before we had ridden into the forest, the view before us this morning was that of grasslands interspersed by sparse thin short trees & small hills. w1 - jeep ride at dawn 3.jpgHere one could see the Indian Gaur (the largest species of wild cattle) in all its glory! For a moment i felt i was in the savannah grasslands!

jeep ride at dawn - sleeepy !

Safari Time !

 

 

Although we were feeling really sleepy before the ride, we were wide awake now taking in the mesmerizing scenes of the hills before us. These jeep rides are one of the most memorable moments in our journeys till date.

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After having breakfast back at the camp, we settled on our balconies for one last time to enjoy the view. We heard the sounds of birds we had never heard before and saw numerous species of birds flying by and of coz watched the spotted deers and boars grazing around the property.

Feeling in awe, weary to leave & already planning to return soon we left K Gudi Wilderness Camp . . .w - jlr property1.jpg

Not done with B R Hills yet we thoroughly enjoyed the forest route on our way back out at a slow pace taking in as much as we could before reaching the forest checkpost .

Its strange how in a forest you have sounds of nature all around you but it helps you find inner peace whereas being in a city just raises your stress levels , thus making it even more important to preserves these small slices of heaven !It makes us realize how out of touch with nature we are and how rare it is to have such experiences in cities, yes we still do have forests and sanctuaries and reserves today. . but what of tomorrow ? will the coming generations be so blessed ? at the rate trees are cut down and the air & water bodies polluted just thinking about the future sends shivers down my spine. . . .

Some more info about B R Hills :

B R Hills gets its name from the temple Biligiriranga Swamy Temple situated at the edge of a bare cliff overlooking the northern parts of the sanctuary. The rock cliff looks almost white giving the hill its name Biligiri (‘white hill’ in Kannada) .The Ranganatha deity (another name for Lord Vishnu) at this temple is possibly the only standing form of Lord Ranganatha.

Situated at an altitude of 1800 to 6000 ft, the sanctuary benefits from pleasant climate all year round. BR Hills links the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats facilitating the movement of wild animals between them. This sanctuary serves as a bridge for the entire Deccan Plateau thereby making it unique & a place of great significance.

The wide range of climatic conditions teemed with the altitude variations has made the vegetation, the flora on these hills quite unique as well. The hills are a mix of all major forest vegetation types – scrubs, deciduous, riparian, evergreen, shoals & grasslands. B R Hills is also home to the Solage tribe. It is elephant, gaur, tiger & leopard terrain.  The forest is also home to around 250 species of birds!

The sanctuary is a protected reserve under Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The site was declared a ‘Tiger Reserve’ in Jan 2011.

Summer at B R Hills is a stark contrast to the lush green monsoon season. The forest shows a different facet in each season and attracts different types of animals and birds, tempting one to explore this place in every season.Hope thats enough description of this stunning place to start with !      (Info credit – Wikipedia)

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