Road Trip to Bandipur / BR Hills

The discussions seemed unending, with no conclusion in sight. Everyone had specific choices, and no one was ready to compromise. Just three days at hand and around a dozen options. Mail threads, group chats and even conference calls later, we were able to agree on just one place - Bandipur. What after that? We'll decide later.

There is always some uncertainty to a road trip. We had no proper plan, no bookings either. It was a long weekend, so every hotel or resort that we called, was completely booked. Thinking we might get a motel/ guest house in the nearby town, we decided to give it a try.

Five of us started from Bangalore at 7:30 in the morning in a Swift. After picking up everyone, we soon reached Mysore road. As usual, it was completely packed. Traffic jam at every intersection. Crawling, we reached Kamath-loka ruchi, which, according to my friend, was awesome. We decided to stop for breakfast.

Parking outside Kamath. There was an equally long line on my right!

The place, indeed, is very famous. Parking was full and cars were parked up to 200 meters on either side of it. The place was neat and well managed. We were in and out in around 45 mins. Food was good and reasonably priced. A must visit place if you like local cuisine.

Seating area inside Kamath

We reached Mysore around noon, traffic had cleared and it was a smooth drive to Bandipur afterwards. After Gundlupet, there are a lot of resorts on the way. We inquired at a few resorts just outside the Bandipur National Park. Most of them were empty but very expensive for the services they offered. Paying that much and still staying outside the national park didn't make sense. We decided to go directly for the safari.

As we entered the Gates of the national park, the view suddenly changed. There is greenery all around with grass growing on both sides of the road. The road twists and turns through the Bandipur forest. Monkeys and deer can be easily spotted while driving.

We soon reached the booking office. It was 4 pm, and the safari starts at 4:30, awesome timing! We bought the tickets waited for about an hour before our turn. Safari duration is just 45 mins and they don't take you much inside away from the main road. Wild animals rarely come close to the road. We were still able to spot some groups of deer and a wild elephant.

Monkeys everywhere!

Disappointed with the safari, we decided to drive till Tamil Nadu border which was around 7 km away. We stopped at a few resorts on the way, but all of them were booked. 

The drive was the part that we enjoyed the most. We came back to the nearby town, Gudlupet and rented the cheapest hotel room ever, Rs 1200 for two rooms with extra bed. We talked to the hotel owner for nearby places, and decided to visit BR Hills, which was around 60 km from Gundlupet.

Next day, after breakfast, we started for BR Hills. Road conditions were good. Its a very scenic route after the climb starts. The drive to the top was fairly easy.

Our resort
Way towards rooms

There is one temple at the top. It was crowded and commercialized. After visiting temple, we were planning to roam around for some time and head back to Gundlupet for stay. We inquired at a few resorts on the way, and surprisingly, got two rooms in a newly constructed resort. Rs 2000 per person including food and stay. Not bad.

View from BR Hills

After snacks, we went for a walk around the resort. Rocky terrain, small pond on the way and awesome view of the plains, it couldn't have been better. In the evening, the resort owner arranged for a small show with tribal dance. Although we couldn't understand a word of it, but we did enjoy dancing with them. Dinner was served soon after. Awesome home-cooked food.

Next morning, we left after breakfast. A person from resort accompanied us to the nearby town to collect cash as there was no ATM nearby.

We decided to stop at Ranganthittu bird sanctuary on the way, which is situated around 20km from Mysore. It was not much crowded. There is a small, well maintained park at the entrance. The main attraction was boat ride on the river Kaveri. The river is home to a large number of fresh water crocodiles. In fact, Ranganthittu has largest population of crocodiles in Karnataka.

Croc in action

Rare species of migratory birds can be spotted on the small islands between the river. For a small extra amount, our guide took us to the far end of the river and even close to the crocodiles. The crocodiles are usually afraid of the boats and would run away. We asked him not to disturb them. After the boat ride, we left for Bangalore.

Panning shots, my favourite!

It was a small, 3 day trip, came quickly to an end. There are some good finds. BR Hills is a very good place for a weekend getaway. NH 212 is one of the best routes in India for driving. The same road leads to Wayanad. Will soon be planning a drive to Wayanad, if possible, a bike trip.

Somil Bhandari

Somil Bhandari, A programmer, traveler and an amateur photographer. Loves adventure, hates stagnant life. Always looking out for something new.

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