It was another action packed weekend mostly around Bangalore-Mysore highway. We happened to see the vivid bird life of Ranganatittu, Tippu's summer palace and a fun filled coracle ride in Srirangapattana and a panting trek up the Ramagiri in Ramanagara. It was an impromptu trip without even a slightest thought about itinerary, all that we knew was we're gonna hit Ranganatittu at some point during the journey.
We left Bangalore on a drizzly Saturday evening forgetting my camera bag at home with all charged batteries and cleaned up memory cards. Thanks to my memory for having remembered the same well within city limits and thanks to my father for having conveyed it half the way. With a short stop over at Kamat Yaatrinivas (not Kamat Loka Ruchi) for dosas and bajjis and coffee. By the time we reached KSTDCs Mayura hotel, it was about 8:30PM. The guard over there quoted Rs. 1750 per room and no liqour allowed, which made us reject it unanimously (actually for the latter reason).
We then head to some godforbidden place on earth, whose name I forgot, about 20km in Ranganatittu direction. Udupi Yatrik hotel was where we stayed, it was a very ordinary place which served the food from the neighbouring dhaba. The food sucked big time, though whiskey flowed smoothly. We were awake by 6 and on road by 7:30. We had breakfast at a certain Kaveri hotel, which served the most delicious sambar along with idly. The coffee tasted like hot chocolate, but tea was tasty. By the time we reached Ranganatittu, after missing the deviation, waiting for a train to cross, buying unripe mangoes, it was 8:45.
Rangantittu bird sanctuary, is located in Mandya district on the banks of Kaveri river, about 5km from the historical town of Srirangapattana. On the outskirts of Srirangapattana, you find the Ranganatittu hoarding pointing towards right. It's just about 3km off the Bangalore-Mysore highway. The entrance cost us Rs. 120 per car, I must say the authorities have maintained the park very well at the entrance. We parked the car and head to the wharf. Innumerable storks, egrets and herons had crowded the sky and islets, the river was populated by crocodiles. The boat ride costs Rs. 25 per person, we took the special boat costing Rs. 250 per ride which is usually longer than the normal ride and it's private.
The boatman oared us towards one of the islet slowly, the birds had dirtied the whole islet with their excrement. We got really close to birds, that my 200mm lens was more than sufficient. The guide told us that January to July is the right time to visit the sanctuary. I could get some close-up shots of Asian Openbill Storks in the first islet, we continued to second islet which was crowded by a mustering of standing Painted Storks. The huge wall of vegetation was dotted by White Ibis, Snowy Egrets, Indian Cormorant and Herons, their sounds created a pleasant cacophony.
We saw an interesting thing before we finished our boat trip, a tiny heron was ridiculing a crocodile on the shore. The croc was lurking below the surface when the heron almost at the verge of the river, the croc with all it's might and a wide mouth tried an attack. The heron escaped just in time and the croc retreated into water. We were blown by the courage of that tiny little heron which again sat on a little branch close to the water, probably mocking at the failure of crocodile. The guide told us that there were around 50 crocs in the river. The trip lasted for about 40minutes, we tipped the boatman and took leave from the sanctuary.
After a short brainstorming of what do do and where to go, we decided that we shall check out what's in store for us at Srirangapattana. We head straight to Tippu's Summer Palace, "Dariya Daulat". The entrace costs just Rs. 5, the garden is well maintained and the palace is now turned to a museum. Inside the palace, photography is prohibited but I saw many people breaking the rule and I clandestinely followed them. The wall paintings inside the palace are amazigly well preserved, it depicts the war between Tippu Sultan and the British. There are portraits and pencil sketches of significant members, upholsteries and weapons used by Tippu Sultan and paintings of surrounding forts and landscapes.
From Dariya Daulat, we head to Gosai Ghat on the banks of river Kaveri. There is a temple on the banks of the river and it was crowded by ISKCON devotees. The ashes of the dead are usually thrown into river Kaveri at this place and many rituals connected with river happens here. We took a short coracle ride which cost Rs. 100 for 5 of us and the fun part is when the boatman spins the coracle rapidly in the middle of the river. We stopped at a forbidden temple on the wayback which neither had deity nor visitors. It was almost in ruins, but I liked the carvings on the walls.
We stopped over at some dhaba on the wayback, had lunch and head to Ramagiri, the famous "Sholay" hills in Ramanagara. This is the place where the far-famed Bollywood movie Sholay was shot. It's off Bangalore-Mysore highway towards left (when driving towards Bangalore), around 10 minutes drive from the highway. The road bends and climbs all the way upto the entrance of the temple, passing through a small village. There are steps all the way till the top, which requires a 10-15 minutes climb. From the top of the mountain the vista is a breathtaking one, on one side is the temple and a lake, which it seems have consumed many humans. And on the other side is the rocky landscape of Ramanagara. The breeze at the summit was very plesant and we relaxed almost for about an hour there, before we climbed down and reached Bangalore.