Jungle terrains and wilderness areas have always fascinated me and my family. Living in Bangalore, we have been fortunate enough to explore the mighty Western Ghats in detail and as our two girls grew up on these trips, they themselves have developed a specific interest in animals, birds and other rare species of the region. For our next trip, we were looking to head east instead and one place came to mind after a friend told me about his visit there.
The Land of Wandering Pachyderms
Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary is a treasure because it is the only one of its kind in Andhra Pradesh – it has a marvelous tale to tell. Herds of elephants returned to these thick forests a couple of decades ago in one of the most chronicled wildlife migrations in Southern India. My wife and I did not waste too much time in finalizing the trip. Since it was unfamiliar territory, we decided to opt for chauffeured transport. Whenever we want to book a dependable and comfortable taxi in Bangalore, we always choose Savaari – they seem to get things right – from friendly, well-informed drivers to clean, well-maintained cars.
A Scenic Journey
We hopped into our chauffeured ride in the early morning on a Saturday – the plan was to explore the forest for the larger part of the next two days. Our driver recommended the NH75 route because it was faster – luckily for us, he had done this trip before so he had extensive knowledge. The terrain around us changed as we left the urban sprawls behind. From the air-conditioned comfort of the vehicle, the kids marveled at the changing topography as we approached the rugged slope of the Kolar plateau.
Safari in Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary
It took us close to five hours before we reached the fringes of the park. We were to be based in the guest house in Palamaner – it helps to have contacts in the Forest department. After quickly devouring sandwiches and juice – we avoided stopping on the way to increase nature time – we headed off to the park.
The Jeep Safari is the best way to enjoy the views. I took out my Nikon and started capturing the details of the drive. With our guide, we were able to learn a lot of details about the place. In the bushes I thought I saw a small feline shape jumping through – the guide told us that there were many jungle cats in the area but sighting them is actually pretty hard.
We saw some giant prints in a muddy stretch by the side of the road – signs that the most famous residents of the park were pretty close by. We reached a clearing and beyond us, there was a river bank area. There our eyes suddenly fell upon these grey shapes and our daughters squealed in delight at the sight of the elephant herds. The jumbos were galavanting along the riverside meadows, some sprinkling water around with their trumpets and we also spotted a cute baby elephant stumbling about in a carefree manner.
I spent the next hour or so getting some candid moments of the herd, observing from a safe distance. Elephants are truly magnificent creatures and watching them prospering with this charming wild backdrop just made me fall in love with my country all over again.
Our day was well-spent in the park. The surrounding areas of Kaundinya are also very beautiful – there were two waterfalls that we visited and they were in full flow – The Kaigal and Kalyan Revu waterfalls. The riverine areas really interested me – the Palar River is a lifeline in these parts and you can feel the force in which the waters drop in some of the streams and rapids in some areas because of the steep slopes. If you are a bird watcher then you would want to stay close to the river to catch sight of some special ones – I’ m not much of an expert but I believe I saw a striking bulbul perched close to one of the falls.
Temple Town Stop
From the wildlife sanctuary, we went ahead to Tirupati to visit the temple there. It was an impromptu decision but coincided with my Hyderabad-based in-laws visiting the temple town. We caught a flight back to Bangalore since the young ones had already missed a day of school and had to get back home early. As soon as we landed, I decided to book a convenient and hassle-free Bangalore Airport Taxi that dropped us till our doorstep. The children jumped into bed and I raced to my laptop, excited to process all the photographs I took.
Please go to Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary whenever you have the chance. It is a short scenic trip and perfect for a weekend escape. The calm yet powerful trumpeting of the giants still reverberates in my head today and my family too cannot stop gushing about the beauty of the place. It truly is a special corner of Southern India.