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Gopinatham Mystery Trails – A picturesque Wildlife Experience
A picturesque Wildlife Experience of a Lifetime
that’s what comes to mind when you think about this beautiful little heaven on earth, Gopinatham Mystery Trails. A waterbody with perfectly synchronized hills in the backdrop gave the vibe of a place that I had always pictured while drawing a scenic beauty as a child.
Mysterious trails around the reservoir leading to the calls of the birds and Wild animals was a true nirvana. Imagine a scene picturing a humungous tree with a mighty Eagle perched on it with Hills up close in the backdrop.
Then if I tell you this place once was home to the notorious bandit of South India who killed 1000s of elephants, killed about 200 people and ransomed many politicians back then at his time. And he ruled this place for 36 years. Can you guess his name? Perhaps you have already guessed it by now, if not, read through to know the name.
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Gopinatham is a small village, surrounded by hills. Home to many exotic Birds and Wildlife, it is situated at the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. A perfect place for a quick weekend getaway from Bangalore, but if you are like us, then you wouldn’t shy away from spending your whole week here.
Gopinatham Mystery Trails is yet another property by Jungle Lodges and Resorts in Karnataka. This is a welcome new addition to the vast number of resorts that they already have in Karnataka. Jungle Lodges and Resorts are a unit of Government of Karnataka’s Department of Tourism and is currently managed by Indian Forest Service Officers.
Things to do
All JLR properties have their own pre-set itineraries which are very well planned. This maximizes the experience one can have while visiting their resorts and camps. They are specialized in Organizing guided Wildlife Safaris, Birding Trails, Nature Walk and other nature related activities with well experienced and knowledgeable Naturalists. And the best part is, this is all part of the package.
- Jeep Safari in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary
- Coracle ride in the serene waterbody adjoining the camp – Highly recommended
- Explore the Mystery Trails around the camp
- Wildlife documentary screening
- Visit Hogenakkal Falls which is just about 14 Kms from the camp
Bangalore to Gopinatham Mystery Trails – The Drive Experience
A scenic drive on a day when clouds often dominate the Sun is the best thing that can happen on a long road trip. Well not even that long, but still about 6 hrs drive can be considered a fairly long one. If long road trips are something that fancies you, do check my other blog where I did a road trip from Bangalore to Patna at this link: Bangalore to Patna by Road. Coming back to this blog, we started our journey around 6 in the morning from Bangalore with our GPS locked to our exciting destination Gopinatham Mystery Trails.
Like any other road trip, the journey begins at planning. JLR team, knowing our taste, were kind enough to guide us on the possible routes to take. They recommended a route which was scenic yet easy to drive. Though this one required an additional 30 km drive but was totally worth it. Some old tracks from Kishore Kumar era were all that we needed to set the mood for the journey. A cool weather where sun often played hide and seek was exactly what we needed.
Recommended Route Map for a scenic drive
From Bangalore Chandapura we headed towards Kanakapura -> Mallavalli -> Kollegal -> Hannur -> MM Hills -> Palar (Take left at Govt. School and drive for about 12 Kms) -> Pudur (Take left at Forst office). Here you hit the mud road which gives you the feel of off-roading. At the T-junction take Right and JLR Big Arch entrance gate will be waiting to welcome you.
Drive Experience Continued
We drove through the curvy roads of MM Hills which offered spectacular panoramic view. With every hair pin that we took, the view through the hillocks got more and more enticing. There are about 27 hair pin bends but of moderate challenge. We halted for a few quick pics here before heading towards our destination “Gopinatham Mystery Trails”. We had to make a quick halt at the forest check post before entering Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. Each vehicle passing through has to make an entry for record keeping purposes.
The drive experience after the check post was just mesmerizing. River Cauvery on one side and hills on the other, it was just an unimaginable drive. Few exotic birds made their appearances, sadly could not stop to click pics 🙁
A Welcoming Experience at the CAMP
By the time we reached, it was already lunch time. Sandesh, the Naturalist who guided us with the beautiful route map was prompt to welcome us. The first thing that you notice when you enter the camp is a big banner showcasing the presence of Scops owl in the camp area. I was thrilled with just the thought of hope of spotting this beautiful bird here. We quickly settled down and headed straight for lunch. Lunch is offered at Gol Ghar, a typical JLR style. You would connect, if you have been to any of the JLR properties before.
After a sumptuous lunch, Sandesh and I discussed about our plans for the day. Being a weekday, we were the only guest at the resort. We immediately connected with our undeniable common interests, Birds and Wildlife. He felt so proud in sharing his encounters with the Wildlife in recent days in the area and I was all ears listening to his interesting stories of the Wilds. He talked about showing around the less visited places where he recently spotted a Blue-Faced Malkoha and so the hunt for spotting the Malkoha began. I had only seen this bird in pictures and was extremely thrilled with just the thought of presence of this beauty in the region.
About the Camp
Before I proceed further, let me give you some key pointers that may be of interest if you are planning to travel here. This camp is a new addition and came just about 2021. There are ten tented cottages available. They look quite fascinating from outside and unbelievably cozy from inside. It comes with attached bath and has all the basic amenities one would need for a comfortable stay. Though some may find it small, but hey! remember you are in a forest. Yet you are getting to experience the forest in a raw form without much compromising on the comfort. From what I have heard, there are plans to expand for better cottages like other JLR properties soon.
Here are some pics of the cottage
Post lunch we took some rest and spent some time in the camp exploring the camp area.
Soon it was time to head out for a Jeep Safari. My new friend Sandesh, the Naturalist, took us towards Kaveri River. We spotted few Hoopoes, Rufous Treepie and few Jungle Babblers and were photographing them. Just then a Common Cuckoo made its appearance and perched on a tree branch nearby. Sandesh gestured me to come as he was the first one to spot this bird. I looked at Nutan and she was all busy photographing Hoopoes. I had not even reached where Sandesh wanted me to come to be able to get this bird in my frame, something flew past by. And I was like could this be a Blue-Faced Malkoha?
It was getting dark fast, we had two choices. One was to head back to the resort to have Tea / Coffee with some mouthwatering Pakodas or choose to explore a nearby village. I wanted to say Pakodas, but couldn’t say no to exploring the village situated amidst forest. Having just being teased by the beautiful Blue-Faced Malkoha, I was just not ready to call it a day yet.
Visit to Alambadi Village
We immediately headed towards this Village called Alambadi Village which can be called the last village in Karnataka. On one side we had this village and on the other side River Cauvery and just across the river was the land of Tamil Nadu. Interesting thing about this village that I found was electricity is yet to reach this village, but that doesn’t mean anything is stopping the villagers from not having green electricity. To my surprise the whole village runs purely on solar electricity. How cool is that? Man, I was impressed.
Before calling it a day, we headed to a 100-year-old temple of Lord Rama, if I remember correctly. It was all in ruins now. Sun had already set, and it was almost dark.
It gave us goosebumps visiting at this hour, but to our surprise there was a strange kind of peace here. Strange in a good way. It felt as if there was some positive energy. Felt like sitting and meditating here.
We went inside the temple to catch a glimpse of the False Vampire, after all that’s what we came here for. I mean False Vampire Bat. Since, we did not have any plans to come this side, we never thought of carrying a torch. It was just impossible to focus on them in this dark with Mobile flash. After a lot of struggles managed to get few pics and this small clip of these fantastic mammal birds.
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Stay at JLR takes care of all the meals. From Breakfast to Lunch to Evening Snacks and Tea to Dinner, everything is part of the package. You will not be required to spend a single dime, unless you wish for something which is not already covered in the package.
Food is served at Gol Ghar in a typical JLR style. Mouthwatering food is no less than having a feast every time you eat. Chefs over here were extremely caring and kind. Always willing to go out of their way to try and serve you something new to excite your taste bud.
How to reach
We drove from Bangalore and chose to take the scenic path guided by our Naturalist Sandesh, as mentioned earlier in this blog. But you can even take the route suggested by the Google map, if you are driving from Bangalore.
Best Time to Visit
The best period to visit the Mystery Trail Camp is during the monsoon while Hogenakkal falls is best enjoyed post monsoon.
Waking up to the chirping of birds amidst forest is just indescribable. Watching the sun rising from behind the hills, painting the sky in beautiful colors, all this while sipping a cup of tea with the excitement of setting out for exploring the unexplored to get some beautiful species in the woods was thrilling.
Let the story continue in my next blog from my remaining days at Gopinatham Mystery Trails from this trip. Till then, do share your thoughts if you would like to visit this mysterious place.
A Brown-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker (Rare)And I almost forgot, this is the birthplace of the famous notorious Bandit late Veerappan.
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Gears used in the Trip
Iphone 11 Pro and Iphone 13 for wide shots