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Painted storks at the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary - photos by Suruchi Dumpawar
Painted storks at the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary - photos by Suruchi Dumpawar

India: A Day-Trip From Mysore

By Suruchi Dumpawar

I recently went on a one-day tour from Bangalore with my colleagues, Neeti and Amod. The tour was organized by Karnataka State Tourism Development Centre and covered three places near Mysore, India: the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, the Somnathpura Temple and the Shivasamudram Waterfalls, with the main attraction of the trip being the Shivasamudram Waterfalls.

We set off at around 7:30 in the morning and returned about 9:30 in the evening.

Janganathittu Bird SanctuaryThe tour started off with Ranganathittu, a small bird sanctuary around 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Mysore. The sanctuary has a lake with a group of islets, which are home to many exotic bird species especially during the monsoons.

I was initially skeptical about the boat ride, as our guide had informed us that the place is infested with "muggers" -- the Indian marsh crocodile. But the sight of hundreds of birds flocking on the islets and the thought of watching them up close made me change my mind instantly.

The boat we hired didn’t look like it could carry ten people but it did, and to think that this guy steers it every day in a croc-infested lake. He sure is brave!

The ride offered many such picturesque views, and the birds flying majestically and their "kalrav" (the hubbub created by the birds) made it even more beautiful.

We saw a couple of painted storks, but their private moment didn’t last for long as they were joined by more of their kind after I clicked their picture.

We saw a crocodile on the bank with its eyes closed. Was it actually sleeping or pretending to sleep? Crocs are very good at pretense I am told; remember the phrase 'crocodile tears.'

A crocodiles in the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in India
Sleeping or pretending to sleep?

A cattle egret, our guide was right after all, he said it was an egret but I thought otherwise.

The boat ride lasted for around half an hour; the other birds spotted were white ibises, cormorants, open-billed storks and little egrets. The sanctuary is a birdwatchers paradise and during monsoons many migratory birds can be seen.

The sanctuary also has a viewing tower but the birds are best viewed from the boat. In fact, make sure that the lake is open for boating before you go, because the boat ride is definitely the USP of this place.

Keshava temple, Somanathpura

After stopping for lunch at the Ideal Restaurant in Mysore, we headed for Somnathpura Temple, which is around 40 kms (25 miles) from Mysore.

The Keshava Temple at Somanathpura was built in the 13th century and is ver well preserved. It is an excellent example of the unique Hoysala architecture also seen in the Belur-Halebid temples.

The infinite, bound: The Keshava idol at Somnathpura
The infinite, bound: The Keshava idol at Somnathpura
It’s a dead temple though, as the deities are defaced and so no religious rituals are performed, but that in no way diminishes the splendor of the monument. The temple is star shaped a characteristic of Hoysala architecture and has three sancta, the idols of Keshava, Janardana and Venugopala adorning each sanctum.

Keshava, Janardhana and Venugopala are all names of Sri Krishna who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Indian Gods have hundreds of names each name praising a particular aspect of the divine:

Keshava – The one with beautiful hair,

Janardana - The one who is worshipped by people,

Venugopal - The one with a flute and also the one who protects of cows.

Notice the attention given to detail; the elaborately carved canopy under which the deity stands, each and every jewel chiseled flawlessly, the eyes and the curve of the eyelashes.

Elephants and bulls adorn the platform at the Keshava temple, Somanathpura, India
Elephants and bulls adorn the platform

It’s almost unbelievable that the idol has survived such an immense span of time so perfectly well.

The pillar is one among many inside the temple, each circle chiseled so perfectly and intricately, as if they were turned on a lathe. (Of course the lathe wasn’t invented back then!)

You can imagine the amount of work that went into the temple; people would have dedicated lifetimes building it.

Bejeweled Elephants and Nandis (the bull on which Lord Shiva rides) adorn the platform on which the temple stands. The platform is star-shaped and broad, allowing the visitors to perform "pradakshina" -- the circumambulation, a form of worship in Hindu temples.

The temple stands inside a courtyard, with steps leading to the chambers along the wall.

Motifs have been carved on the outer wall to make sure that the pradakshina doesn’t get boring.

Shivasamudram Waterfalls
Shivasamudram Waterfalls

I will also remember the temple for the audacious crows that reside here, one crow had the cheek to snatch a biscuit right from my hand! I actually felt its beak and feathers! I promptly threw the biscuit packet I was holding lest I would be attacked again, and the crow happily flew away with the packet.

Shivasamudram Waterfalls (aka Shivanasamudram, Bluff, Shimsha)

Our last stop was Shivasamudram; it’s the name given collectively to the twin falls Gaganchukki and Bharachukki formed by the Cauvery River. They are the second highest waterfalls in India.

The two falls lie at a distance of 1 km (0.6 miles) from each other; we could only manage to visit the fiercer of the two, Gaganachukki. Shivasamudram is also famous for the first hydro station in Asia; it was built in 1902 but is closed to visitors.

Gosh! So much water! Notice the tiny specks on the rocks on the left side; people look even smaller than insects. We could only witness the waterfall from the viewing gallery; you can go close to the waterfalls from the side of the Dargaah (a mosque containing a tomb).

But there is no way you can enter the waters and come out alive; the force of the current is tremendous, as the water strikes the rock, the dense mist rises to several feet.

The other stretch of Gaganchukki looks rather calm and has comparatively smaller volume of water. But look at the height from which the water tumbles; it’s easily above 300 feet.

We started for Bangalore at around six. The bus journey was nothing short of a roller coaster ride due to the fact that we had got the last seats.The oldies playing from Neeti’s and Amod’s cell were intermittently impinged by shouts of "ouch."

We were lucky that though it had been raining constantly for last few days, we didn’t meet heavy rains on the day of our tour else the trip would have been marred completely.

Monsoons is a good time to see the waterfalls when they’re in full splendor because of the rains. You miss out on the fun of playing in water, but the spectacular sight you witness will more than make up for it.

There are many waterfalls around Bangalore and I have decided to make the most of my time by visiting as many I can during monsoons. People who are going on this tour can also go on sightseeing tours in Mysore, which has beautiful spots like Mysore Palace and Vrindavan Gardens.

Happy Traveling!

Suruchi Dumpawar



Suruchi Dumpawar
works as an Associate Consultant in a software firm in Bangalore, India. Trekking, photography and writing are few of her interests and she sates them by going on trips around Bangalore and then writing about them. Her blog is called Surs-Pensieve.

 

 

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