I had put off my trip to the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary for a long time; many things inconsequential and important contributed to this procrastination. Galibore or Bheemeshwari are usually the first choice in the corporate world when team outings are planned, with both locations being just 100km from Bangalore. However, the beauty of a place has to be directly proportional to how far away it is from the concrete jungle, right? There is an exception to this logic, and that is exactly what I found out on my recent visit to the Galibore Nature Camp.
The camp, situated on the rocky, sandy banks of River Cauvery, is surrounded by gentle hill rises on all sides. A solitary mud track snakes through this landscape, and delivers you to the campsite. We took our time to get there that morning; a plethora of winged creatures kept us company as we drove, and we kept our eyes off the road than on it. And when offered to pick a tented cottage of our choice at the camp, we gladly picked tent number 1, the one closest to the wilderness.
As we took a short walk around the camp, a staff member helped us plan the next 24 hours that we would spend there. The gentle hum of the flowing Cauvery, accompanied by mellow music from the inhabitants up above in the tall trees lulled us to a peaceful nap after lunch.
Come evening, we headed out on a coracle ride which began right by the camp, in a calm stretch of water. Winter sees shorter days and the sun already wore an evening glow. As we glided soundlessly, we saw a couple of Mugger Crocodiles slip into the water on the far side of the riverbank, away from our gaze. Apart from the crocodiles, we spotted a variety of birds. Some of them we could capture using our cameras, most others, we just watched in awe from a distance. The most prized sighting was that of a Grey-headed Fish Eagle, which, according to the manager Abhijeet, is not commonly seen in this stretch.
After the coracle ride, we headed upstream from the camp to watch the sunset. We picked the spot with care – a shallow patch where water flowed with more rigor than the downstream areas. The rocks strewn around coerced the river to grudgingly alter its flow. To add to the drama in this scene, the hills hugged the river and the hues of sunset lit up the horizon.
The nip in the air got stronger towards nightfall. As we sat by the river sipping hot tea and gazing at the star-studded sky, an idea struck us. We requested the staff to turn off some lights in the camp so that we could photograph the night sky. With minimal light pollution around, the skies revealed what they always have, but is seldom seen or experienced in the cities.
At this point, we were yet to climb up the hill on the opposite side of the camp – the hill that gave Galibore its name. It provides a vantage view of the Cauvery snaking through hills on the west, which would obviously make for a pretty sight at sunset. “Why not try something different and see how the scene looks at dawn?” we thought. We were up early the next morning and set off with a member of the staff. Cursing our sedentary lifestyle and lack of fitness, we trudged up the hill. Gusts of wind hit us from all sides at the summit. The colours of dawn filled the skies with a shade of deep pink at sunrise, while the river valley to the west was dominated by a blue sky. The lemon grass draping the hill had turned dry, but the trees leading down to the river wore shades of green.
The gentle howl of the winds carried notes of chirping birds. As the orchestra intensified, we began our descent. A short walk along the river thereafter rewarded us with more bird sightings, like the Indian Pitta and the White-rumped Shama. We were lucky to spot the Grizzled Giant Squirrel; the canopy hugger surprised us with a quick dash to the ground.
Galibore was once famous among anglers, thanks to the presence of giant mahseer fish in this stretch of the Cauvery. Even with a ban on all angling activity now, Galibore is still an amazing getaway. It is so close to Bangalore, yet manages to transport you to completely different world – one where peace and calm are the order of the day. I left behind most, if not all the modern contraptions of city-life, for just a day, and what an eventful day it was! As I headed back to Bangalore, my camera’s battery was depleted, but I was absolutely recharged.