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Jungle Talkies: A walk in Bandipur

Last updated on: January 27, 2014 15:49 IST

Jungle Talkies: A walk in Bandipur

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Prasad N P

On this patrol on foot Get Ahead reader Prasad N P saw more than what he had seen in 20 years of going to national parks in a Jeep

Let me start with a clear warning here: Walking or even getting down from your safari vehicle in a national park is not permitted, and you can be arrested for the same.

So how did I walk in Bandipur Forest?

Well I was part of the Eco Volunteer training programme conducted by Karnataka Forest Department, Karnataka Eco tourism Development Board and meticulously facilitated by Jungle Lodges and Resorts.

As part of the training and field visit we were to participate in foot patrol with forest department field staff. I must say it was a once in a lifetime experience for me and I am waiting to go again to participate as a certified volunteer.

Prasad N P is a corporate executive most of the week. He pretends to be a photographer and writer at his blog desi Traveler to fuel his twin passions of photography and travel.


Photographs: Prasad N P

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Jungle Talkies: A walk in Bandipur

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Now going to a jungle on a jeep and walking on foot are two different experiences. 

In a jeep you are a tourist hoping to get a sighting of a tiger or an elephant. On foot you are one with jungle trying to understand what the jungle is telling you.

Yes the jungle talks only you need to understand what it is saying.

There is no whirring of jeep to drown the songs of the brook at the next turn and the jungle plays Chinese whispers in your ears.

Can you identify that birdcall? Is the Sambhar giving away the tiger or calling for a mate? That rustle in the bushes! Is it the Wind or Elephant or both?


Photographs: Prasad N P

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Jungle Talkies: A walk in Bandipur

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Your city ears are not used to decipher unadulterated sounds that a forest makes; you need to forget who you are and be one with the nature.

Blend, merge, melt, disappear, do whatever you can and be on your toes, for jungle is alive and dangerous, deadly, mysterious and unforgiving. Remember the jungle did not invite you, for the jungle is your home now, and you don’t need an invitation to your home.

On this patrol on foot I saw more than what I had seen in 20 years of going to national parks in a Jeep.  For I was not chasing big game, I was trying to connect with the jungle, the jungle that tigers, elephants, gaur, leopards, sloth bears and countless other lesser fauna call their home. 


Photographs: Prasad N P
Tags: Bandipur

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Jungle Talkies: A walk in Bandipur

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Truth be told while in a jeep you always hope to see a tiger or two, on foot you silently pray that you do not see a tiger, and more than that, the tiger should not see you.

One of the first things you notice while walking in the forest is flowers, yes there were small and big wild flowers almost everywhere we went.

The dense post monsoon canopy permits only filtered sunshine to reach the ground, but it was enough to make the blooms smile shyly and break the monopoly of green around you.

Every few meters we saw elephant dung and just by looking at dung, we could tell how long ago the elephant passed from there.

Fresh dung still smelling strongly meant the elephant could be close by, as the time passes the smell merges with the odour of jungle and the various mushrooms start appearing.

A single mound of elephant dung is an ecosystem in itself with mushrooms, bacteria, dung beetles and other lesser fauna competing to return the nutrients to earth to start the cycle of life once again. 


Photographs: Prasad N P
Tags: Bandipur

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Jungle Talkies: A walk in Bandipur

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Our heart skipped a beat or two when we saw a mother and calf in distance munching on juicy leaves right ahead of us.

Fortunately we were downwind from them and they were too busy to look at us. We silently waited for them to disappear back in the dense bushes before resuming our beat. Somehow I could feel two pair of eyes piercing my back and increased my pace.

But the biggest reward that I got for my walk was this ant nest in the bushes. Slightly bigger than a football, it was a masterpiece created by the ants and was abuzz with activities.

If I consider average size of the ant in the nest to be about 1 cm, in human terms the hive was about 50 meter tall, all built without any equipment, just using jaws and limbs.

Oh Mother Nature you never cease to amaze me.


Photographs: Prasad N P
Tags: Bandipur

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Jungle Talkies: A walk in Bandipur

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While everybody is not as fortunate as me to walk in an untamed forest here is what you can do next time to see the jungle in true sense:

  • Ask your driver to drive as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t worry about tiger, a tiger is big enough that you will see it if is close by
  • Look around you on the path, in the bushes and look for something unusual, a small wild flower, a mushroom raising its head from decaying dung, or a mongoose marking its territory, all this is possible if you’re are driving slowly and not disturbing the rhythm of jungle.

Once you start looking at the jungle this way it will have hundreds of stories to tell you. All you need to do is open your eyes and ears to the same.  And if you spot the tiger you are one lucky fellow, who not only got to eat his cake but also to keep it.

Reader invite: What top three travel destinations in India do you recommend for 2014? And why? Simply write in to travelpicsga@rediffmail.com (subject line: 'Top travel spots for 2014'). We'll publish the best ones right here on rediff.com!


Photographs: Prasad N P
Tags: Bandipur

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