I left my heart in the jungles

I have been wanting to do travel diaries for a long time, but somehow laziness always got into the way. I missed out writing about some of my most awesome trips, even Ladakh. This is my first attempt at it, and all kinds of feedback will be appreciated. Ya, OK so sometimes I do like feedback :P

In the middle of the sweltering March summers, all I could think of was going away for the Easter weekend. I really needed a break after the constant activity of the last couple of months. An acquaintance suggested River Tern Lodge, and when we looked it up on the internet, we knew it was going to be near perfect. But hell, it turned out PERFECT! We got our tickets done on the Shimoga Express and then waited all March for the elusive journey to the jungles. We were to leave on Friday, 2nd April, spend 2 nights at the resort and be back in Bangalore on Easter Sunday. But on 31st March, we randomly decided to chuck all plans of the train journey and drive down instead – must say it was very smart of us :P

We left from our Wind Tunnel Road residence at 7:15 am on 2nd April, and drove towards Tumkur. After an initial setback of an hour’s traffic jam on the outer limit of Bangalore, we were finally on the fast lane. We drove through many village towns and bypass roads to finally reach River Tern Lodge, exactly 265 kms (6 and a half hours) from where we stay in Bangalore with a 30 minute pit stop at a Cafe Coffee Day just before Arsikere. Don’t expect to find CCD’s and Baristas in plenty here – there are not even half of those on this route as there are on the Mysore and Coorg routes.

Anyway, so we finally reached the resort at 2, and got a not-so-warm reception at the reception – which is fine by Jungle Lodge standards I guess. But the minute you enter the room, the place leaves you spellbound. Every cottage has a balcony facing the backwaters of Bhadra dam – and it’s the most beautiful, calm, and ethereal thing I have seen from a hotel window. I can’t say it enough – honestly! After a quick lunch in their restaurant, Gol Ghar, we spent the afternoon reading, snoozing, and listening to music. Loud music is not allowed at the resort considering it’s in the middle of the jungle, so do justice to yourself, carry a portable music player along. It takes the experience to another level. The backwater is visible from the bed too, and the temperature controlled room felt a little nicer as the temperature was soaring in the afternoon. We finally got out into the balcony a little before sunset… And it was ethereal. Truly, truly beautiful. Not a sound except the sound of water, and the beautiful dusk skies – the place is ideal for a romantic getaway. Also :-)

Snacks and tea were served in the restaurant at 6:30. There’s no room service in the lodge, but there’s an electric kettle and sachets of tea and coffee in the room, just in case. But the place is too good to be wasted on room service and immaculate behaviour. It’s the “naturalness” of this place that sets it apart. The service is friendly, but not overly so. The food is nice, not out of this world. The sights and scenes – breathtaking! After tea, we didn’t want to do much. So we sat chatting in their bar, Water Hole, and later in our balcony, and called it a day earlier than usual. Against the sound of the water, and the breeze near it, every emotion is overwhelming. What a beautiful evening it was!

That night I slept like I hadn’t in weeks. And had to be dragged out of bed the next day. But it was worth it! After breakfast (which was the best meal here, considering it was 3 days worth of vacation breakfast served in one morning – piping hot too!), we headed for soft water sports and did some pedal boating, and monkeyed around on their water trampoline and in the water. I came back terribly tanned, but every minute of it was so much fun that the tan was totally worth it too! Took a long shower and had lunch. There was a jungle safari planned for 4:30 pm and I was almost reluctant. Laziness has a way with me, I wanted to spend another afternoon sleeping :P But my forever enthusiastic husband wouldn’t have any of it. So safari it was! 7 of us from the hotel got on a Bolero Camper along with 2 guides and off we went. It was a tad bit disappointing because I was quite sure that if I had gone on the safari, at least one out of the 1411 tigers will definitely come say hello. Instead I managed to see a few birds – peacocks, hornbills; a giant malabar squirrel, a bison, a spotted deer… And we saw the end of the world… A really pretty part of the backwaters that opened up into the jungle… And it was the most awesome thing about the safari.

We came back to the resort on an equally bumpy drive back, and spent another evening talking non stop and living the good life.
The next morning was our last one at that heavenly place. Got up to an up and about husband, and went boating. What we didn’t know was this was also going to be a birdwatching session. In the middle of the boating area, we saw 2 little islands full of River Terns that migrate here from Himachal and spend January to June in this warmer part of the country. So we saw that the male bird goes fishing, the female waits for him on the island, the male glides just beneath the surface of the water, and brings back a fish. And this must have been the first time a living being apart from humans, fascinated me. It was probably because I was watching it from such close quarters, or because I had paid a lot of money for it, but whatever it was, it was beautiful. The early morning sky, the ethereal similarity in water and the sky, the mist in the distance… And the birds – it was all musical! You have to be there to believe it!

The boat ride was followed by a huge breakfast spread and we ate enough for 6 people, got dressed, packed up, and left. I reached Bangalore a few hours ago, the memory of the trip as fresh in my mind as the Bhadra mornings. I will go there again – probably in the monsoons. I have returned a very, very happy woman :-)

Quick facts:
Distance from Bangalore – approx 250 kms.

How to get there –  Drive towards Tumkur. Take the Shimoga bye-pass road at Tumkur (instead of going to Tumkur town) and cross Gubbi, Tiptur, Arsikere, Kadur, Birur, Tarikere. After crossing Tarikere, take the left that also has a Kuvempu University direction board. Travel 14Km till you reach Lakkavalli. At Lakkavalli you will find a sign board to the River Tern Lodge, which is about 4km away. The River Tern Lodge is 38km from Shimoga and is located by the Bhadra Reservoir. Alternatively, take a train to Tarikere/ Shimoga/ Kaddur and ask River Tern Lodge to send a pick up vehicle to the station.

Cost – Rs 3250 per person per night for cottage stay and all meals.

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4 Responses to I left my heart in the jungles

  1. austere says:

    You caught the serenity.Beautiful.


  2. Varun Yagain says:

    I'd been wanting to be home for that long weekend but I couldn't :-(To read of all places around as a travelogue can't make it easier, can it?? But it sure helps when it is THIS superbly well-written :-).Keep at it!Varun.


  3. That's very generous of both of you, thank you rahega aapko!


  4. beautiful post..thanks for sharing..we will upload on our blog shortly..your template is nice as well


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