The Bhadra Project




Most trips you do during vacation have some element of excitement or elevated activity. The Bhadra jungle lodge trip was not one of them.

Our two families (the four of us along with Sri, Shaila and their kids) embarked on what was going to be a thoroughly uneventful but extremely enjoyable road trip. The end of March is typically a reasonable season to be in the Shimoga area, especially in the jungles. We had a hearty breakfast in Kamat (Tumkur) where the main event was when Sri & Shaila’s 2 year old Vedant proceeded to lick the underside of the table we were sitting at; two nice and full coats, just for the record.
We all did a pretty decent job of confusing our 12-seater van’s driver by using the iTrip, iPOD and radio combination. Other than that, our dour driver limited his interactions with us to occasional glares and grunts of disapproval when one of our tightly wound kids misbehaved or when we couldn’t get the van door to shut with a gentle yank.

The drive was quite beautiful with tons of greenery, shrubbery and a multitude of hues and colors alongside the road. We got to Bhadra around 2 p.m. and as my ever efficient wife had given the lodge denizens an inkling of our impending arrival, hot food awaited us. The eats were quite delectable, to say the least.

A jungle safari was going to happen at 4:30 p.m. and with Vaishnavi threatening me with dire consequences if I didn’t go along, I dragged myself off the inviting bed and sluggishly walked down to the safari jeep. Luckily for me, the jeep filleth over and we trudged back, with Shaila and me hoping for a nice nap. However, the Chennai folk in our party would have none of that and we walked down to the water with a promise from the resort people that some one would come down and provide us ‘Water Sports’. Though, this sounds like an Olympic event, what it actually means is that people jump up and down on a huge life boat-like trampoline a short distance from the shore. Luck was definitely with me that day and no one showed up so the motley crew ascended back to the cabins and I quick slunk away to take a nap.

Dinner was another big event with quite a spread of both vegetarian as well as normal food. Desperate to keep the kids occupied, a DVD was brought in as a savior and helped the children stay out of trouble and our hair for a couple of hours.

Post dinner, with all the brats safely asleep, the girls decided to read. Sri and I were quite lost and strived valiantly to imitate crickets. We personally felt that the performance was exemplary but the women, obviously jealous of our newly acquired skills did not see it that way. I must say that the crickets stopped their chirping as a result of the strong show we put up, and there is no doubt that the Bhadra Cricket Association was planning some kind of a revolt against us humans. Things became eerily silent but that didn’t stop us, as we continued chirping away. To be unbiased, we actually sounded like a cross between a duck, a cricket and a frog with some kind of severe affliction of diarrhea.

The elephant camp was up next on our program for day 2. We first watched the bathing of the elephants and were also severely reprimanded by one of the elephant washers for letting our kids get dangerously close to a alpha male tusker who seemed oblivious to our presence.

Bare-back rides on the elephants were next and Shaila had the best time here as she held on to the mahout for dear life and I’m sure he had a few joint aches after the death grip she had on his non-existent love handles.

I had a minor encounter with a 3 month old baby elephant which decided to head-butt me and pushed me a few feet despite my best attempts at holding my ground. Man, these pachyderms are incredibly powerful!

Our elephant adventures over, we returned to our beloved resort, and after some splashing around in the muddy river, as usual were the first ones in the dining area, all ready for lunch. Our feeding frenzy caught the attention of all and sundry as the entire battalion of the resort staff turned up faithfully every time our two families commenced our eating.

As there was no way out of the safari this time, I grudgingly acquiesced to go along for a nap-time conflicting jungle jaunt. Mind you, I have nothing against safaris per se. However, I have a enviably dismal track record. I’ve lived in Africa and been through the forest areas of Bandipur and Mudumalai numerous times and other than an occasional deer, have yet to sight any wildlife worthy of talking about. Readers of my Coorg trip will recall that I was party to a safari in Nagarhole which is not worth mentioning again.

Anyway, this time was no different. The driver and his side-kick tried their best though. We saw a few goats and dogs at first and then we entered the sanctuary. I must say the trip wasn’t too bad as the view during the drive was breath taking and we did see a few peacocks, deer and some Indian bison. Here, Shaila, for no apparent reason started clicking photographs frantically on the return journey and we were rewarded with vague images of trees, grass and a blurred image of what she claimed was a bison.

Back at the resort again, more eating, resting and some more eating. With the kids safely in bed thanks to our nanny, we played a couple of rounds of Hollywood Rummy and it was off to bed. Though we had booked the cabins for three nights, the lack of TV and constantly having to entertain our brood was too much for us and we checked out the next day after a boating trip for the guys and kids, and a re-run of the safari trip for the big girls in our group. They did have better luck and saw wild dogs just after a kill. It just has to be my damn luck!!

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