Monday, 23 February 2015

Road trip to Karnataka – Stream of joy and Bhadra WLS visit

To avoid the length of my travel blog, I have divided it into 2 parts. You can read the first part of travel blog at Road trip to Coastal Karnataka. First part consists of coastal line of state whereas in this part, I have tried to cover my travel experience of forest area from the Western ghat. We planned to spend 2 night at the stream of joy, 1 night at Bhadra WLS and 1 night in Shimoga (We changed our halt to Hubli due to riots) before reaching our hometown Pune.

Stream of Joy, Karnataka
Our cottage at Stream of Joy

Travel Blog link for Dandeli: Old Magazine House - Birding paradise in Ganeshgudi, Dandeli
Travel Blog link for Coastal Karnataka: Road trip to beautiful Coastal Karnataka

Our trip plan was Dandeli – Karwar – Quick visit to Palolem beach, Goa – Karwar – Gokarna – Murudeshwar – Udupi – Mangalore - Stream of joy near Hathyadka - Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary – Shimoga – Hubli (just for night stay) – Pune.

Day 7: 18th Feb 2015 – Mangalore - Stream of joy, Hathyadka (Distance travelled is around 100 km):
             We woke up by 9 AM and left Mangalore after a quick breakfast. With enough rest we were feeling fresh for our further journey. We said goodbye to the coastal line and started the journey towards Western Ghats. Road condition was good. Curvy road gave us an idea that we entered in Western ghat forest.
              Our destination was “Stream of Joy” Homestay nestled in the heart of Western Ghats. It is situated on the banks of the Kapila River in Arasinamakki Village near Dharmasthala. It is 100 km from Mangalore, Karnataka. We were constantly in touch with Mr. Damle as it was bit tricky to find the location. We reached at Stream of Joy by 1 PM. Damle family welcomed us. The entire place is run by the family which owns the place. Mr. Damle is the most humble person we have ever met. They have built 3-4 cottages near Kapila River stream a few meters away from their house. For next 3 days, we were the only tourists (due to weekday stay) and Damle family took proper care of us.

Damle Family at Stream of Joy
We with Damle Family

            As we were the only tourist, we got a cottage which was close to the water stream. Looking at the cottage area, our first reaction was this is the place we were looking for. The gushing river, the lush green surroundings, hilly terrains, a myriad of bird and insect sounds - all take you close to nature and make you wish you'd want to stay there more. Our motto of stay was Bird watching activity, explore the forest area, and visit to Shishila for fish feeding and relaxation in the nature.

Stream of Joy
Stream of Joy

View from out cottage

            Mr. Damle has good knowledge on birds and we decided to visit forest area in the evening time. We spend entire afternoon on the bank of Kapila River and then went for birding at 4.30 PM. We went in forest on foot. It was very thick forest and we were heard many bird calls. Major attraction was Malabar Trogon. When we were exploring the forest, Damle told us that from last 10-11 months no one had spotted Malabar Trogon and chances were less. We saw Racket Tailed drongo, Malabar Hornbill, leaf bird, copper smith Barbet, yellow oriole, and parakeet. When we went deep inside the forest, we saw pair for scarlet minivet bird. When we were about to lose hope for Malabar Trogon, we heard its call. Our eyes started searching in the jungle beauty. We were so lucky that suddenly Malabar Trogon male appear in front of us for 10-15 mins. He was giving a call to the female and we were able to hear response from partner. It was treating to our ear and eye. 

Yellow headed Oriole

Malabar Trogon near Stream of Joy
Malabar Trogon near Stream of Joy

Black rumped flameback

             We followed the Trogon male and soon we saw them in a pair. Mr. Damle saw this pair after 10-11 months. In few minutes, the pair flew away and our first birding trail ended on a sweet note. When we came out from forest area, Mr. Damle was so happy that he ringed up 5-6 people to inform them about trogon sighting.
             Suddenly weather took U-turn and it started raining for few minutes. We decided to go to our next destination ‘Shishila’ by 6 PM. Drive from forest area after rain shower was fabulous experience. Shishila is a beautiful temple village located near Dharmasthala in Belthangady taluk. The main attractions of Shishila are Lord Shiva temple and fish feeding. The temple is situated at the banks of river Kapila.

Mahseer fish at Shishila
Mahseer fish at Shishila

            The Mahseer fish are found in huge numbers in the Kapila River near temple area. These fish are generally found in Malaysia, Indonesia, across southern Asia including the Indian Peninsula and Pakistan. The fishing is strictly banned in Kapila River around 2 kilometers from Shishila. You can feed puffed rice to these fish. Mr. Damle gave us a huge bag full of feed for the fishes. There is a small hanging bridge on River. First we went on bridge and started feeding them. Oh my God, thousands of 1 foot long Mahseer fish came near the bridge. It was fun to feed them. We wanted to view closely so we went at temple where steps and platform was built to feed the fish.

Mahseer Fish...Underwater photo taken by my Friend Abhijit Gandhi (Camera: Gopro)

             When we started throwing the food towards the river schoals of fish came in and started fighting for the food. There were thousands and every fish as hungry as ever. It was an amazing experience. We enjoyed it but due to low light condition, I was unable to capture it in camera. We decided to visit this place again tomorrow. We came back to cottage for some rest. Damle family has one pet female Dog. She was very cute and loving nature that we could not resist spending some time with her.
            Due to rain in the evening, weather was very pleasant. Staff members arranged camp fire for us near the cottage. It was peach dark night, River stream few feet away from us and Camp fire was perfect set up to spend more than hour. By 9 PM, we had our dinner. Food quality was amazing and they served pure veg food. You can have authentic south food. Home cooked food in stream of Joy was one of the highlights of the stay for us.

Expenses:
  • Stream of joy stay cost: INR 2500/- for 1 night in cottage with 2 meals, breakfast, tea/coffee and mineral water bottle for 2 person 
Day 8: 19th Feb 2015 – Stream of joy, Hathyadka:
             Our morning began with the sound of birds chirping. We woke up early in the morning and went in the forest area for birding. We saw Racket Tailed drongo, Malabar Hornbill, leaf bird, copper smith Barbet, yellow oriole, parakeet and many more birds in the forest. Highlight was 2 pair of Golden back woodpecker on same tree. Unfortunately we failed to spot Trogon again. We came back to the cottage for breakfast by 9 AM. As expected, food served was delicious.

Yellow browed Bulbul
Yellow browed Bulbul

            After breakfast we spend our time on River stream. There were a lot of small fishes in the stream. We fed them as well and fish foot spa by these small fishes was different experience. There is handmade Bamboo Raft built by Damle family. We learned how to raft and we spend around an hour on Bamboo raft. We were told there is an artificial waterfall, which was nothing but the river water pumped 20ft high through pipes which would create an effect of a small waterfall. Actually both activity was more than enjoyable and made us completely refresh.

Bamboo Raft at Stream of Joy
Bamboo Raft at Stream of Joy

At Stream of joy
We...Beautiful Romantic Bamboo raft safar at Stream of joy

Artificial Waterfall at Stream of Joy
Artificial Waterfall at Stream of Joy

           There is a unique arrangement to send any requests to the reception (the owners house at a little higher level of the hill), ‘the wooden calling drum’. It creates unique sound from that instrument and staff comes to your cottage. We had tasty meal by 1 PM. We would like to come back here just for the food. They even have small factory which makes organic plates from the dry leaves of banana tree.

Wooden calling Drum

             After taking some rest in noon, we went at ‘Shishila’ with a bag full of rice puff. It was fun to feed the Mahseer fish. We spend more than hour and recorded some feeding clips. We came back to the cottage. Our next destination for evening was one hanging bridge near highway. Mr. Damle told us that we can spot 3 types of bee-eater and Malabar pied Hornbill. We saw Green bee-eater, Chestnut-headed bee-eater and Blue-tailed bee-eater. River side view from hanging bridge was picturesque.

School of Mahseer Fish

Looking for food?

                                                    Mahseer fish Feeding at Shishila

Chestnut headed bee eater

Blue tailed bee eater

            In the evening we had camp fire near cottage followed by a lovely dinner. Our entire day was packed with activities and we enjoyed it. Next day we were to explore forest on the other side of Kapila stream. After lunch we were supposed to drive for our next destination Badhra WLS. 

At Stream of joy
Sparkler use - Something different...Clicked with the help of Tripod and Remote...

Expenses:
  • Stream of joy stay cost: INR 2500/- for cottage with 2 meals, breakfast, tea/coffee and mineral water bottle for 2 person 
  • Organic plates from Dry Banana leaves: INR 300/- for 100 plate packet

Bird list which spotted near stream of Joy

Yellow-browed bulbul
Golden back woodpecker
Common kingfisher
Malabar Hornbill
Malabar Trogon
Small kingfisher
Indian Grey Hornbill
Racket Tailed drongo
Stork-billed Kingfisher
leaf bird
Black Drongo
Green bee-eater
coppersmith Barbet
Ashy Drongo
Chestnut-headed bee-eater
Brown-headed barbet
Asian paradise flycatcher
Blue-tailed bee-eater
parakeet
Red-whiskered bulbul
Frogmouth
Yellow oriole
Purple sunbird
Grey-headed Bulbul
scarlet minivet
spider hunter
Orange headed thrush
Rufous treepie
White cheeked Barbet
Grey fronted green Pigeon
Small Sunbird
White Wagtail
House Sparrow
Babblers
Cattle Egret
Large Egret
Tit
Pond heron
Greater Coucal
Red-wattled Lapwing
Dove
Oriental White-eye

Day 9: 20th Feb 2015 – Stream of joy – Dharmasthala – Badhra WLS:
            We woke up by 7 AM and left for our last trail. There is small Bamboo Bridge to cross small Kapila river stream. We explored the forest area but bird sighting was less as compare to previous day. We saw Common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Yellow-browed bulbul, Racket Tailed Drongo and other normal forest birds. After breakfast we spent our time around cottage and stream. We had our lunch by 12 noon and left for our next destination Bhadra. Service given by Damle family was truly remarkable. We enjoyed our stay close to nature and all credit goes to Damle family for taking care of nature. We will visit “Stream of joy” again for sure!

Stream of joy
Looking for Trogon or Asian paradise Flycatcher ....

Stork billed Kingfisher
Stork billed Kingfisher

            On the way to Bhadra WLS, we decided to visit Dharmasthala temple. Due to afternoon time, Temple was closed hence we could only able to see Bhahubali statue. We decided to skip temple and move ahead towards Bhadra. We decided to stay close to Sanctuary area and then Safari in next morning. We were not aware about the name of the village from where the Safari begins. We were asking people but everyone suggested us to stay at Chikkamagaluru which is 1 hour distance away from sanctuary.

Bhahubali Staatue at Dharmsthala
Bhahubali Staatue at Dharmsthala

            After enquiry at 1-2 police check post, they suggested us to go to Balehonnur. We started our journey and reached at Balehonnur by 5.30 PM. After reaching at Balehonnur, we got to know that we were misguided by police and Safari gate was at Muthodi village. It was tough call for us whether to go to Muthodi from forest road or stay at Balehonnur. One police suggested us to drive towards Muthodi for 8km and then enquire at Forest department check post.

Our Route through Forest area

             At check post, the forest ranger suggested us to visit Muthodi and stay at Muthodi forest guest house. Due to weekdays, they assured us that will get accommodation. We began our journey from Forest road as alternate route was long cut route. After sunset, forest was dominated by pitch dark night. It was very dense forest with some curvy hilly road. No mobile network, No vehicles on the road and hardly 1-2 very small villages in route made our journey thrilling. We were the only travelers on such a scary journey. By the grace of god, finally we reached at Muthodi village by 8.30 PM.
            We met a young forest ranger Mohsin at check post. When we asked for accommodation, he denied our request. Reason was, tourist need to book Tents/dormitory/cottage at Chikkamagaluru office. Practically it was not possible for us to drive all the way back for alternate stay option. We convinced him and we got a tent accommodation as Cottage and dormitory was in maintenance phase. We got to know that there was no cook and we were the only guest. Forest guest house was fairly deep in the forest and had a stream running just behind it. There were only 2 forest rangers including Mohsin so we purchased rice and eggs for 4 of us from village.

pritesh kulkarni
Our thrilling experience...Our tent...We were only 2 people in Forest area for night. How? Read it below!

                Our thrilling experience was not over even after dinner. Mohsin got a call and he informed us that he had to go at check post with his colleague for whole night. Now we were the only tourists in deep forest inside tent. He informed us not to move out of tent at night as tigers were spotted nearby area 3 days back. He also showed us a photo taken by his phone. Silence in forest allowed us to hear minute movement of animal or trees. In case of emergence no one was in forest (within 8km) for help. It was simply terrible experience for us. By 3 AM, we sensed mammal (Not Carnivora for sure) close to our tent and then we shifted our bedding into a small corridor which was attached to tent and constructed by wall. We got good sleep for the rest of night! 

Expenses: 
  • Car Petrol: INR 2000/- (approx. 27 Lit at average INR 70/lit) 
  • Coconut water: INR 25/- 
  • Water bottle: INR 20/- 
  • Rice and egg raw material: INR 110/- 
  • Tent stay at Bhadra: INR 1000/- for 1 night (Contact numbers shared at the end of this Blog) 

Day 10: 21th Feb 2015 –Badhra WLS – Shimoga - hubali:
             We woke up early morning for safari. Bhadra forest have safari from two sides. One from Lakkvali village (Which is more popular due to availability of resorts) and another is Muthodi village. Other regions of forest are Tangebal and Hebbe but safari in that area is not allowed. We hired jeep safari and we headed deeper into the forest. No private vehicle is allowed.

Bhadra WLS
Bhadra WLS

               Weather inside forest was pretty cool. Once we were inside the jungle we saw a spotted deer. You see them all over India very easily, but somehow I always love looking at these animals again and again. Our interest was growing with every inch we were getting inside the jungle. We saw a few barking deer as well. The Barking Deer is one animal less seen and more heard. He literally makes a sound like a dog barking to warn others about a big cat Tiger. I have noticed if you are not fixated on stars like tigers, other inhabitants of the forests are a delight to observe too. We saw few birds as well but our eye was searching for Tiger.

Spotted deer at Bhadra
Spotted deer at Bhadra

Peacock at Bhadra WLS
Peacock at Bhadra WLS

              Bhadra forest has trees taller than I had ever seen. It is one of those thick forests where sunlight tries hard to reach the forest floor, without much success. This covers an area of 492.46 sq. km. The best part was listening to variety of jungle calls when you switched off the engine. We saw few Malabar giant squirrel but they were playing hide and seek with us so unable to capture it camera.

Malabar giant Squirrel at Bhadra
Malabar giant Squirrel

Bhadra WLS
Bhadra WLS

           As we and forest rangers became good friends, they took us in deep forest. On the way we saw oldest teak wood tree. The tree is 400 years old and has 17 feet trunk. One of the costliest teak woods from Karnataka. Now it was 10 AM in clock. It was time to get back. We saw Tiger in forest for few minute which made our day in Bhadra WLS. Unfortunately he went deeper in the forest. Apart from this we did not find any animals while returning.

Look into my eye...Tiger

             We left Bhadra WLS by 11 AM. Now our journey began towards shimoga (Officially name Shivamogga) which was our last destination. There are many coffee estates on the way to Chikkamagaluru. We took pit stop for coffee at The Estate Café. Coffee was very tasty and this café is good place for pit stop. We had lunch at Chikkamagaluru and then continued our journey towards shimoga. Road was smooth and wide.

My i20
My Love...Can't live without my Uber cool machine i20

              On the way we heard news from locals about riots but were unaware of real situation. When we reached close to shimoga, we asked police about it. They advised us to visit Tiger lion safari park and by evening, and cross the city with the help of Police jeeps. Entire city was controlled by police. We went at Tiger lion safari park which was at outskirts area.
              Tiger lion safari park is kind of zoo located 11 km from city area. You can see tiger from caged vehicle. Park is divided into 4 parts. One is reserved for deer’s, second for tiger, third for lion and last one for zoo where more than 15-16 species are available. We like well-maintained zoo. After completing short safari, we spend remaining noon time in park’s Cafeteria.

Striped Hyena at Shimoga
Striped Hyena

Tiger

Captive Black Panther at Shimoga
Captive Black Panther

             In the evening time, we left this place. When we approached towards city, we saw police check post on every 100-150 meters. We requested at one of the check post to escort us. One police jeep helped us to cross shimoga city safely. Thanks a lot Karnataka police for your support.
            We joined national highway 4 via Honnali. After joining National highway, our journey was quick and safe. We decided to stay at Hubli.

Expenses:
  • Bhadra Safari: INR 2000/- for Jeep (Max 6 people per jeep) 
  • Coffee at Estate Café: INR 80/- per coffee 
  • Water bottle: INR 30/- 
  • Lunch at Chikkamagaluru: INR 100/- for south Indian dishes 
  • Tiger-Lion Safari park entry: INR 110/- (2 person and 1 Car) 
  • Safari chargers at Tiger-Lion Safari park: INR 140/- for 2 people 
  • Camera chargers: INR 50/- 
  • Coffee and Snacks in park’s canteen: INR 90/- for 2 person 
  • Toll on National highway 4: INR 95/- one way 
  • Dinner in highway dhaba: INR 245/- (Only Veg dish and roti) 
  • Stay at Hubli: INR 800/- for 1 night 

Day 11: 22nd Feb 2015 –Hubli (Distance travelled is around 100 km):
           We left Hubli by 9 AM. We took 3-4 hours break in Kolhapur to meet our relatives. We had tasty lunch there and enjoyed India-Africa world cup match. By 5 PM we left Kolhapur and reached Pune safely by 10 PM. Our total travelling distance from Pune to Pune was 2400km and we enjoyed our road trip. Hope will plan another long road trip soon.

Expenses:
  • Car Petrol: INR 1000/- (approx. 13 Lit at average INR 70/lit) 
  • Toll on Hubli bypass highway (In Karnataka state): INR 37/- one way 
  • Toll 1 on National highway 4 (In Karnataka): INR 80/- one way 
  • Toll 2 on National highway 4 (In Karnataka): INR 15/- one way 
  • Toll 3 on National highway 4 (In Karnataka): INR 35/- one way 
  • Toll 1 on National highway 4 (In Maharashtra): INR 70/- one way 
  • Toll 2 on National highway 4 (In Maharashtra): INR 70/- one way 
  • Toll 3 on National highway 4 (In Maharashtra): INR 55/- one way 
  • Toll 4 on National highway 4 (In Maharashtra): INR 80/- one way 
  • Dinner in hotel near Pune: INR 470/- 

Contact numbers for your reference:
  • Stream of joy: 0-9481850225, 08251-268225, www.streamofjoy.com
  • Bhadra guest house booking: 08262-234904. 
  • Mohsin (Bhadra forest ranger): 0-9482556705, 08277-260755. 

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune

13 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment... Please avoid ads/website link in the comment... such post will be deleted

      Regards,
      Pritesh

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    2. Hi pritesh... Which hotel did u stay in hubli?

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  2. Very nice write-up, loved reading it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment...
      Regards,
      Pritesh

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment...
      Regards,
      Pritesh

      Delete
  4. Dear Mr Pritesh Kulkarni,
    Your this Blog is very nice and we also have planned our trip on the same lines.Will it be possible for you to give us your contact number or address so that I can meet you in person?
    Regards,
    Waibhaw Gokhale

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Pritesh,
    Very nice description. We too have planned our trip on the same lines.Can u give us your conact number please?
    Regards,
    Waibhaw Gokhale

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please share your Email ID in Comment Section and i will Reply on that email with my contact details.
      Note: I will not publish that comment on Blog if you want to avoid display of your email ID.

      Pritesh

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  6. Really thrilling experience you ppl had in forest area!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,
      Not sure as we did walk in booking near bus stand... I think is was Mantra Residency near bus stand.

      Delete