Day 2: Aug 16th 2008
The plan included Bylakuppe Tibetan Camp, Cauvery Nisargadhama and the Dubbare Elephant Camp. We had breakfast at Hotel Kairali, the Kerala Hotel suggested by Masky and started off at around 8.30 am. We had a helpline to guide us, and then our instincts, along with the innumerous directions given by the road-goers to lead our way. The first milestone itself was more than 80 km on the Mysore – Madikeri stretch. The Mysore – Hunsure road on SH88 was perfect long drive. There was not even a bee on the way and hence, even I got the chance to drive the smooth highway with dividers, and that too at 60-70km/hr. Not bad for me!! There were small towns in between like Periapatna en route Bylakuppe.
The Tibetan camp settlement in Bylakuppe was towards left from the main highway. There was a wide arch welcoming you, but also thronging the anti-Olympic slogans. We went in search of the Golden Temple at the 4th Camp. It was quite a long way deep inside. The green fields, fluttering prayer flags, Tibet scripts and the Tibetan people on the way made us feel that we were not in Mysore, but in Tibet. We actually were. There were not much Indian people around except for one or two. The Golden Temple will not ever be missed as there were clear indications of the way. It was much much bigger tourist spot than we expected, compared to the lonely way leading to the temple. The temple belonged to Nyingmapa Monastery. There were innumerous monks, dressed in their special apparel in shades of dark red and yellow. I was reminded of the Yodha film and the”kunu kune” song was humming on my lips. The place and the temples were very serene. The Tibetan paintings reminded of the wall paintings of the ancient Indian artifacts of both the North and the South. You realize then that, there is a uniqueness in every culture of the world. There was a shopping centre nearby, and hoping to know more about the people and culture, I searched for some antiques or books related to them. We moved on after buying a prayer wheel, rather a hand-held wheel and a prayer bell.
Next in list was the Cauvery Nisargadhama, the man-made island. This place is again far off and left from the main highway. You need to go beyond Kushal Nagar but the place is nearer to Madikeri. The roads were not that good. But there were route indications and the tourists were also plenty. As we were nearing the Kerala-Karnataka border, there were more Keralites at the tourist spots. A bunch of monkeys welcomes you at the entrance. We can reach the island only through the Hanging Bridge. I had never seen any of that kind, apart from the filmy sequences. The island is fully covered with bamboo trees, which made it comparatively dark. Maybe it was also due to the reason that it was very cloudy, but still, at 2-2.30 pm, there was not even a single streak of sun. You find rabbit park and deer park( you can actually feed the deers). There were only man-made paths. It was mentioned that there was elephant ride and the river too. But the dark and lonely interiors of the forest at times, scared me off that we never went beyond the deer park. Descriptions about the place says the river is too cool n all, but we missed it.
Just 1-2kms ahead of the Nisargadhama, on the same road is the diversion on the left to the Dubare Elephant Training Camp. There were supposedly many items on the agenda, like Elephant Ride, feeding, bathing, etc etc on the 12 available elephants. But owing to the odd timings we reached (3.30pm?), there was nothing available. We had lunch at the nearby Dubare Inn to pass the time, but still, until 5pm, we were not allowed to see any elephants. Nevertheless, we watched the rafting which went on there, thinking of the Mountain Dew ad in TV on the same sport. We crossed the river after a while in boat and hovered near the training area. There was the listing of the names of elephants on a board. The whole area seemed like I was in Kerala, with whole forest kinda atmosphere, and that too with Keralites and then the elephants nearby. There was one elephant, Ekadantha having only one tusk, exactly like the name. The elephants were brought near a wall enclosement , where we all gathered and were ordered to put their trunks inside so that the people could gather near them and touch them. It was written that photography was prohibited, but all the people who came there, were taking turns in taking profile showcase photos along with the animals. Long back in childhood, it was exciting to see elephants, their rides, and also to touch them. But now, seeing them so close, with their watchmen, who were busy in collecting tips from the visitors, and the mere thought of the cruelty they would be subjected to in imparting the training, hesitated both of us to make use of them to showcase ourselves. I thought I could see their gratitude towards me in their eyes, while being the subject of attention by the visitors, and I felt I could see their pain in their eyes..
It was nearing 5.30 and it was time to return back. We had to reach the KRS dam, aka, Brindavan Gardens. It was already raining, and it was too cloudy. The roads were comparatively deserted as on the way in the morning. But we had to rely on a different route as KRS was at the outskirts of the city, and hence we need not had to go towards the city. The closing time of the famous Brindavan Gardens as known generally was 7.30pm. The traffic at the toll fee collection counter was so damn heavy that we spent almost 15-20 mins struggling in the traffic. By the time we reached, it was past 7.30pm. But to our luck, the timings were 7 to 8.55pm on weekends. The place was crowded like hell. Thanks to the spacious parking lot, we could park easily, but we came to know later that the toll fee of Rs.25 was for the parking at KRS! The strange thing that irritated me was the hefty fee charged for still cameras. Rs 50 per camera! What the hell. There were many more beautiful gardens in the world and that too in India, or in Kerala or even in Bangalore, and they don’t charge more than 20 or 30! And to remind you that we were carrying both of our cameras!!.
The fountains were the major attraction I could notice of in the Brindavan Gardens. Even in night, I could see that there were not much to see around apart from it. Or maybe, we had not strolled around to the various places worth seeing inside, owing to the lack of time. There was a long floating kinda bridge, parallel to the dam and across the river, leading to the fountains. The musical fountains was beautiful and exceptionally brilliant, but I had expected more, after much hearsay. Both RK and I was busy experimenting with the nightmode of our respective cameras, so as to make use of the Rs.100 we had to pay mercilessly at the entrance. There were many small stalls selling icecreams, chat items, bhajji’s and pakodas. The place reminded us of the street vendors, but the usual dinner time of 8-8.30pm reminded my cells and rats inside me to scratch the wall lines of my belly. We had a hot bhajji of both onion and aloo to pacify the hunger calls, and then returned back around the closing time, but not after various efforts by Mr. BD in improving his photographic skills.! Phew!
The return from KRS and the Brindavan Gardens was bit confusing. Masky was inviting us to meet and was trying his level best in giving all the shortcuts over phone, which confused us more. We kept on asking the road-goers at various places to confirm ourselves, as we didnt wanted to take risks at late night ( it was already nearing 10pm). We moved on towards the Bangalore Mysore Road, in search of the Powerhouse circle, and once we were in the road to Mysore, we drove amongst the city traffic to reach late at the hotel. We had a late dinner at the same hotel to mark the end of another looong day.