Day 5: Dubare and Shravanabelagola
With a heavy heart, it was time to leave Madikeri/ Coorg and go for another exciting fun event – to experience the wisest of animals – elephants – up close!
I heard a lot about Dubare Elephant camp from various inputs but did not find any info booking tickets. During one of my last searches, I landed on Jungle Lodges and Resorts (http://www.junglelodges.com/activities/dubare-elephant-camp/) which is a Govt of Karnataka undertaking. They provided guided interaction in Dubare elephant camp. Called up their BLR office and booked online for family @ Rs. 885 pp including breakfast and guided elephant interaction. Booking is extremely seamless; I got an email confirmation almost immediately and within ½ hour an executive from the camp calls up to confirm and asked us to report @ 830AM at the camp. They have a dedicated boat/ pick-up point so you don’t have to wait in the long queues (which we saw later from the other side when the crowd really swelled)
We reached the stated point by 8:15AM itself (did I say we were eager? 😊) …
… and soon another family also joined. The pickup boat came in no time and we crossed River Kaveri in just 5mins (just too short for our liking, but nevertheless elephants shouldn’t be kept waiting!) and we reached the camp.
After brief entry formalities we were escorted to the breakfast area and good breakfast was ready. Once finished we had a naturalist guide accompanying us to reach the elephant bathing area; on the way he showed us variety of wild trees including teak, rose wood, wild neem etc.
One oldest elephant (age 65 years) has just arrived and it was being prepared for the bath. We were encouraged to participate in the bathing process – it was quite a fun to see such a huge animal excellently domesticated – we were extremely happy to pour water, scrub it and bathe it well and take pics all along. We could hold its tusks and the trunk and it happily splashed water on us and blessed us thereafter. Soon one by one other elephants joined and at one time there were 4 elephants in the pond with a younger 3 ½ years cub too joining the fun. The guide introduced each elephant by name(!!), its age and other trivia. It was fun to watch how the ‘mahuts’ instruct the elephants to sit, lie down and turn sides etc.
The oldest elephant after the bath …
Another one splashing water, after the bath …
We later moved to the area where the ‘lateral induction camps/ domestication camps’ where the new elephants brought from the forest (the guide told us how difficult it would be to move them here from forest areas) are domesticated which would take on average 2 years! There were 2 elephants undergoing domestication – of course we were not invited to participate in the training 😊
Later we moved to the area where the elephants were fed their morning breakfast and we could also feed them some gains rolled with dry grass (each packet costs Rs. 20) and you can directly feed in the elephant mouth!
Also the youngest (cute 2 year old) …
We were told we can book one of those beautiful cottages for the night stay and other activities like safari, nature walking, bird watching etc. would be included in the stay package. More details can be sought from their website.
We bid good-bye to the elephants and drove straight to Shravanabelagola. Followed GMaps and went thru some good and not-so-good roads but drive is smooth. You will find n-number of villages and each starts with a speed bump so the average speed is killed and has taken some 2 ½ hrs for approx 120km drive!
There are more than 600 short steps of which about 100 are medium steep. Would take about 2-3 hrs for climbing up/down and darshan, depending on how much time you want to spend there. One has to remove footwear while climbing up the hill and there are lots of vendors selling socks daring the steps would be 'terribly hot' - but somehow we were not convinced and could happily walk bare foot, even during mid-day! You should not miss the spectacular views of the town and surroundings while climbing up the hill. Saw one other temple, on a different hillock, but we didn't check due to paucity of time. You will not get any refreshments/ snacks on the hill top so its important to carry water etc. from below if one needs to take short pause while climbing up. There are small hotels/ restaurants/ mess etc. offering Veg/Jain food in the town but nothing too great to write home about!
After darshan we left for Bangalore and reached by evening.
Day 6: Bangalore Local and Shopping I decided to park my car at the hotel and used Namma Metro/ Uber to go around places like ISKCON temple, Lalbagh. Basavana Gudi, Vishweshwaraya Museum and shopping. Didn’t get stuck in traffic and need not look for parking!
Day 7: Lepakshi and return to Hyderabad
We started early from hotel @ 7:15 AM and had breakfast at Nandi Upchar and drove straight to Lepakshi, reached by about 9:30 AM.
Had darshan of Lord Sri Veerabhadra Swamy …
… and saw the hanging pillar, exquisitely sculpted pillars, ceiling paintings, Naga Lingam, unfinished Kalyana Mandapam, Sita’s footprint, Nandi statue (on the way to temple) etc.
It is definitely a worth while visit to appreciate the architectural skills of our older generations...
Reached home by 5 PM in the evening with lots of memories of the trip 😊
Thanks for reading, the rather long post. Do let me know if you need any further details, will be happy to help!