Sunday, August 28, 2016

My birding trips to Valley school

It is quite surprising to know that there are nature spots within Bengaluru city. One such place is around valley school near Kanakapura road. The school which is spread across 120 acres has densely wooded areas but it is out of bounds for public. But the authorities allow people to walk around the school which is still serene and peaceful. You have to register yourself at the entrance of the school to walk around the area.

Indian Gray hornbill
Early morning is the best time to visit. One can easily spend few hours watching the birds. The crowd is consist of people interesting in birds and plants. It is common to see parents bringing their kids to expose them to the nature.

Black shouldered kite

Some of the birds seen in Valley school.

Copper Smith Barbet

White Cheeked Barbet 

Oriental White Eye

White Browed Bulbul

Great Tit

Ashy Prinia

Where is valley school?

While driving from Bengaluru, take the first right after NICE road junction and drive straight for 1-2 km till you reach the dead end which is the entrance of valley school. Sign boards also give clear directions.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Revisiting green route trail

The railway route between Sakleshpur and Kukke Subramanya was one of the most scenic trekking trail in Karnataka. That was the time when the track was closed for meter to broad gauge conversion. When the trains started running again, the trail was closed for trekkers. Having trekked twice on this route (link here), I wanted to experience this journey on train. My family was also interested and I made a plan combining it with the visit to Kukke Subramanya.

Crossing the "killer" bridge
Our travel
Having reached Kukke Subramanya in morning, we spent some time visiting temples before heading to Subramanya road railway station. The train was supposed to come at 1PM but it was late by 45 minutes.

Since the stretch from Subramanya to Sakleshpur involves climbing up the western ghat, the train is supported by two additional engines by pushing it from the back. They were ready and were waiting for the train to arrive!!

The train has general compartment, 2S and AC chair car coaches. While general compartment is crowded, the AC chair car is not ideal for scenic route as the windows are not transparent. 2S coaches are the best to view the scenery and the seats could be reserved.

When I boarded the train, I realised that the window seat was facing towards the hilly side of the route and not the valley. To get better view, I went towards the door and sat there. I expected Ticket Collector to oppose but he did not bother. 

The train moved out of the station and was soon entered into the forest. As the train made its journey through the first tunnel, people greeted it with “hoo hoo” sounds!! But very soon the tunnels became a norm!! 

There are four stations between Subramanya road and Sakleshpur. They are Siribagilu, Yedakumeri, Kadagaravalli and Donigal but there is no scheduled stops at these stations. The train did stop at couple of station to pick up railway workers. 

For me it was a retrace of my trekking journey in opposite direction (both times I trekked from Sakleshpur). Being monsoon season, the greenery was abundant, the scenery amazing with lot of waterfalls. Only before reaching Sakleshpur, it becomes disturbing as the area is filled with huge pipes and forests being cleared. Looks like some “development” work in progress.

Views near Yedakumeri
Railway workers are seen all along the route to ensure the maintenance of the track. Dilapidated and abandoned buildings are seen in the route. 

Which one was better?
It took two hours to cover the distance through the western ghats. I had taken two days to trek this distance by walking. It was like seeing a movie in fast forward mode!! The excitement of crossing the railway bridge over the gushing water could not be felt from train. No doubt, the trekking experience was much better but given that that option is no more available, I must say that the train journey provides a glimpse of that experience.

A waterfall seen from the train

As mentioned there is only one day train on this route and it runs between Yeswantpur and Karwar and it runs very alternate days. There are no trains on Sunday. The journey between Hassan and Yeswantpur is longer as it goes via Arasikere. To save time, you can also get down at Sakleshpur/Hassan and take a bus. That would save an hour of journey.