If you have misgivings about the heat in India, yet love nature and wildlife, head to a destination that is a perfect blend of a cool hill station and wildlife sanctuary: K. Gudi Wilderness Camp. About 225 km from the state capital Bangalore, it is run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd, a government undertaking. The camp lives up to its name, being situated in the BRT (Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Temple) wildlife sanctuary limits, far from the madding crowd. The BRT sanctuary in the B R (Biligiri Ranganathaswamy) hills is at a cool 3500 ft above sea level, and affords scenes of breathtaking beauty, with forests and valleys and misty hills.
Located in this scenic green landscape, K.Gudi Camp offers a choice of accommodation: big rooms (for large groups or families) at the Maharaja’s (Indian king) hunting Lodge, log huts (on stilts) and tented cottages-we opted for the latter ( ours was called “Jungle Babbler”!) and loved it. The tented cottages, aesthetically made of canvas and built on slightly raised platforms, are spacious, with pretty netted windows and curtains and modern bathrooms. Separated by picturesque paths, the tents and huts afford breathtaking views of the forests! Relax on the tiny veranda and watch the Macaque monkeys swinging from the branches in gay abandon, and the pretty spotted chital deer, sambar deer and wild boar feeding in the forest close by.
The dining area is a circular, open gazebo called “Gol Ghar” (literal translation: round room!), affording even closer views of the jungle and animals. Sitting on the ledge is getting as close to the wild as possible! The buffet meals are of excellent quality and variety, served by a very professional and courteous staff.
Electricity is provided by solar power and generators from 6 pm to 10.30pm, but it is far more rewarding to switch off the lights even earlier and enjoy the beauty of the night in a jungle, where sometimes eyes twinkle in the dark, and the alarm call of the deer is a reminder that a predator is hidden by the darkness! A line of hurricane lamps lights up the paths in keeping with the ambiance, and burns through the night to keep away wild animals.
A unique sight greets you on the other side of the resort—an elephant being scrubbed by its mahout (caretaker) in a small pond, another being fed, and a third breaking logs according to instructions! These tame elephants belong to the adjoining forest department camp, where they are looked after and trained to do simple tasks like transporting logs. The colorful little Kyathadevarayana temple dedicated to the local tribal god stands close by, lending its name to the location and resort- shortened to K.Gudi.
The spacious hall in the Maharaja’s lodge houses a comprehensive library and a sales counter for products (like honey) made by local tribals, and is also the venue for a wildlife movie screened in the evening. Next door, hosts and visitors enjoy a table tennis match!
The activities at K.Gudi include jungle safaris-in the early morning (after room service with piping hot tea!) and evening, accompanied by the keen in-house naturalist. An old driver who has been there for thirteen years has interesting anecdotes, and feels his reputation is blemished if he is unable to show visitors a predator!
One can also drive up through scenic forests to the five hundred year old pilgrimage center–Ranganathaswamy temple (dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu). It is situated within the sanctuary atop a hill with a panoramic view, and a sheer drop of 300 m into a dense forest. However, watch out for the countless monkeys who are adept at snatching packets and scampering away!
If you are not inclined to outings, there are inviting hammocks close to the cottages, so just lie under the sun dappled branches, feel the fresh, cool air and enjoy the perfect peace and bliss that only nature affords-enjoy a dream vacation, far from the madding crowd!
Brochure on K.Gudi Wilderness Camp: published by Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd
Into the Wild: Published by Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd
Jungle Tales: Published by Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd.