Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mydanahalli Blackbuck Reserve

Blackbuck Male
Black Buck Male

Mydanahalli is home to the Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve. The blackbuck, made famous by the Salman Khan brouhaha can be found here in the hundreds (only if you get there early enough).

This was a long awaited trip, delayed by scary looking directions (see below) and the need for a bigger group to go with. We set out at 4:30 from home, delayed by half an hour by a malfunctioning alarm clock. We took along my parents so that with four pairs of keen eyes and we were quite sure it would be hard to get lost. We couldn't have been more wrong.

Choosing the auspicious day of Aayudha Pooja to make our trip, meant that most of the traffic was off the roads, we made great time till the road to Maghugiri. We made our first mistake at a Y junction; where there was a massive hoarding depicting a black buck and an arrow pointing Right. Our directions here said go left.

Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark
Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark

We somehow felt that the forest dept cant be wrong. Apparently they can. From then onwards it was great fun, we visited several villages, stopped and asked for directions. Emboldened by daddy's fluent kannada and ability to read sign boards, we drove on.

At every village we were told, "oh, mydanahalli? Just few kms ahead, straight road, cant miss it". Finally reaching the village, where a man told us, there is a road, but only a jeep can make it. He however gave us directions to a tar road, which meant turning back and revisiting the villages already passed.

Finally found the tar road marked by a completely rusted board that declared that it was put up by a Sadak yojana. When we finally got there, it was just past 9.

Silver Bill
Silver Bill

Birding was fruitful, esp in the car. We stopped at the watch tower. Walked inwards for quite a distance, the area was rich in shy easily spooked birds. We found that we made more progress from the car.

We climbed into the bigger watch tower and had an early lunch before proceeding on the way. Finally reaching a gate which we assume was the gate to the sanctuary, we drove on finding lot of Bee-eaters, Drongos and Shrikes but no black buck.

In the distance we could see herds of goat being led to pasture. Finally deciding to turn back, we retraced our path. On our way back, my mom spotted 3 black buck, 2 male and 1 female. They were quite far away for good photos, but we tried none-the-less.

Small Gree BeeEater
Small Green Bee Eater

Bird List
Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark (2)
Grey Francolin (quick glance)
Bee-eaters (hundreds)
Rose Ringed Parakeets (several)
Drongos (several)
1 large raptor (too far to id, even from photographs)
Southern Grey Shrike (2)
Silver Bills (pair, busy collecting nesting material)
Bay backed Shrike (several)
Little brown doves (several)
White Eyed Buzzard (first time sighting)

Detailed Directions

This describes how we should have actually gone ( we came back the right way ).
Take Tumkur highway (NH4), 5 kms before tumkur take a diversion onto NH4 (bypass - Do not enter Tumkur City).
Continue on this road for about 10 kms, till you hit an under construction over bridge. Here, take a right turn and continue on this road for about 45 kms till you reach Madhugiri
Go past Madhugiri onto Hindupura Road.
You will reach a Y junction after about 5 kms. ( This is the confusing place - Go left here.)
Continue till you reach Puravara Village - around 17 kms
From here, continue on the main road for around 8 kms till you reach a temple on your left.
Slow down, go about a kilometer further and you will see a tar road bifurcating to the left (There is a completely rusted board in Kannada there - contents are unknown)

Take left here, continue for about a kilometer to reach another Y junction, take the right arm.
Continue on this for 1 km (you will pass a village, stay on the tarred road)You will observe a wide path.
The tarred road bends left here.
Get on to the un-tarred road (its hard to miss). You will see vineyards here.
About 300 mts further, take any mud road which your car can afford and pray.

No, really... pray like you mean it.

Blue Mountains

Tips - What you need to know

Carry along food, water. Its great if you can carry these in a large ice box, since its very hot and there is little cover to park under. Take along a pair of binoculars. A hat is an absolute must.
Take a long a kannada reader/speaker (abduct one if you must - after all its for a good cause) If this is your first visit, leave early ( you cant leave early enough actually! )
There aren't too many places to fuel along the way, fill up when you can. Most of the gas stations do not have restrooms, so be one with nature, pick a bush along the highway.
The villages along the way have interestingly descriptive names, one of them my Dad said could loosely translate as Dodda-pothole-ana-halli. (I'm not sure if he was joking)

Lake on the way to Mydanahalli

What I didn't like
Sadly, the place is most neglected, we found no forest guards or a proper entrance. We couldn't find a proper boundary, so we still don't know where the reserve begins and ends. The watch towers were not very useful in terms of watching anything. But it was a nice shady place to eat. Litter was all around.

Jayamangalli "River" is more like a trickle. I was quite disappointed.

What I did like

Villagers were extremely helpful all along, though a few did give misleading directions. A lady cutting grass at the reserve told us "Ginke" (deer) could be found on our way back, she said to look towards the right and she was spot on!

Black buck Male

The road to the reserve though carpeted with potholes is rather scenic, there are several huge lakes along the way. Our next plan is to just visit the lakes.

Lake on the way to Mydanahalli

Inspiration for this trip came from :

Lovely photos of maidenhalli from INW members.

I particularly liked several lovely ones from Kiran Poonacha.
I especially love this one, dont miss it.

A blogpost from Sachin and Neelu

Directions we followed (till we goofed up at the Y) were from Tumkur Ameen's excellent webpage.

Thanks everyone!


Ranjini said...

I like the Black Buck images-the greenery gives it an effect of a story-book illustration.

Aditya Kamath said...

Wow...great photographs....the lakes look amazing!!

Do visit my blog:

Anonymous said...

First time here and I'm mighty impressed with the pics:) Amazing work, Rohini. Its one thing to have a good camera but its also about the job from behind the camera:)

- Mridula

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the directions and great pics :)


Unknown said...

@Arien: Thanks for visiting and your kind comments!

Casey said...

Followed your directions - Had an amazing day at the Jayamangali Black Buck Reserve! Thank you :D

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Karthik said...

The area sounds awesome!!I have a few questions though.Namely :
1. Have you revisited the place recently?
2. If you did,what were the changes you found,if any.

Am asking this because I am planning to do a cycling trip from Bangalore to there and back.Any ideas and tips would be welcome.

Unknown said...

@Karthik: Answers below:
1. Yes, most recent was 25thDec 2009 - You can chk out this post for details (including a new route to and from)
2. Changes since last visit was nil. The place is exactly the same. We did see more black buck.
Ofcourse, the roads to the place have "improved" just a tincy wincy bit.

Cycling to this place would be good. Do carry lots of water and some food (none will be available after you leave the main highway). There is also limited shade. The watch tower provides a good shaded place to rest. Black buck are most seen before mid-day ( so if you want to sight them, plan accordingly. )

The raptors are active after noon so if you're late, you'll probably get to see some action.

Karthik said...

Hey Rohini,thanks for getting back so quickly :)
Will keep you posted....

Unknown said...

This place is the next one in my list. Your post is very informative. Gonna print this one off for the journey :D

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