The ghost of the wilderness in the room: early morning view out the window from our machan, Nersa, Karnataka.
May 1 being a holiday was an opportunity for a long weekend, so we availed a leave on Monday and headed here.
We started at 5:30pm on Friday but it was 7pm by the time we were on the road to Nelamangala. Having dinner at Chitradurga, we reached Hubli at around 2am, but found no rooms(!) at 3 hotels we checked; so we made ourselves comfortable in the car itself and slept for about 2 hrs before starting again, reaching Shiroli via Kittur and Khanapur. A couple of villagers(the default spoken language is Marathi) helped us find the road to the farm and we were on our way. It seemed to have rained the previous night and the path looked wet, and the air fresh, the sun hidden behind the clouds and the trees forming a canopy over our heads, thus did we reach our destination.
Waking up in the evening:
We were greeted by Skully, Bahadur and Badmaash, the three dobermans there. David came out and welcomed us and took us to the machan where we were to stay. All we wanted to do was sleep, and that is exactly what we did the whole day, taking a break for a heavy delicious lunch. We woke up in the evening, took in the view through the window without getting up, after the sun had set and the cloudy sky was a dull orange; with half a mind to go back to sleep, but the weather and dinner calling us, we got out for a three course dinner, before coming back, to sleep.
Woke up the next day to the clear sounds of many birds in the morning, with our machan being right next to the forest's edge. We decided to take a morning walk, to help digest our breakfast. The damp freshness of the previous morning was gone as the sun shone brightly, the shade of the trees acting as our only protection. We walked slowly observing the variety of things on and by the path, returning in time for lunch.
Light and Sound show:
Come evening and the whole sky was covered with dark clouds, threatening to pour with thunder and lightning. We sat on the comfortable chairs in front of the machan, put our legs up and enjoyed the light and sound show which went on for more than an hour. It only drizzled, we later learnt that it had rained heavily in the next village.
A mini trek, a swim:
Monday being our last day at this place, we decided to make full use of it and went on a mini-trek to Bear Hill, just opposite where we were staying. We started early morning, walking through the forest which formed a canopy over us, and the whole floor covered with dry leaves. Apparently David had never seen a bear there, except for the last time he had been there with a guest and they had to run back, and quickly too after it growled; we were not so lucky. Once on the top, you can see the range of hills to the west towards Goa. A strange thing in the laterite rocks on top the hill are the crabs living there, crabs on top of hills are strange indeed.
We came back by a different path passing through a transient tribal village, with houses made of criss-crossed bamboo. They were traditionally using a special type of grass for making thatched roofs but are now using mud tiles because of the unavailability of the grass. David tells us that they move once in about 4 years and where they were living right now was encroached land. There was a place in this village from where one could see the machan where we were staying, that was something, looking at the machan surrounded by trees, have a look at the larger version of the picture below and see for yourself.
Once back, David took us in his modified 4WD jeep, appropriately named the Monster, to an isolated stream about 1/2hr away. A natural stone barrier slowed down the river and formed a pond; with cool water in the shade of the surrounding trees, we had a swim, but most of the time just wading around, enjoying the surroundings.
Clear skies the last evening:
The evening was clear with no sign of any clouds, we sat for a long time in front, first watching the sun set behind Bear hill, and then enjoying the changing shades of color in the sky.
Having breakfast to the howl of a jackal somewhere in the forest, we started the 520km drive back to Bangalore at around 9:30am. We again had a late lunch at Chitradurga and then covered the next 100kms in one hour, the rest of the journey slowed down by the traffic around Tumkur and then later Bangalore, reaching home late in the evening.