Dusk was yet to set in, but the shadows had swiftly approached to replace the evening glow. Trees seemed to linger on their majestic selves as their reflection shimmered in the calm river. We were sitting quietly on the bamboo parsal (coracle) and drifting towards the camp site, silent and in awe of the rapidly diminishing sun. It had been a soothing experience, an effect that Galibore tends to bestow upon its visitor, when we suddenly heard a rustle to the right. At first, the eyes strained and then as they grew accustomed to the shadows, one could see a faint outline of a black bear in the distance. The bear was rummaging through the roots of a giant Terminalia arjuna and did not notice us watching from a distance. As the boat drifted onwards, it appeared that the bear was matching our languid pace when suddenly, it looked up, pointing its nose upward and as if on a start, sensed our presence from far and shot off like a jet.
Another moment passed in the great classroom of nature that Galibore is. Our bond forged by a spiritual connection to this riverine wonderland had just got stronger. Over the years, Galibore has bestowed mortals with snatching glances of its ancient prowess and as the world develops rapidly all around. And it remains a sanctuary of peace and tranquility even today. It grants to the self a sense of association to nature and almost magically reduces stress and anxiety for its visitors.
Nature is in abundance at Galibore and perhaps its location is the secret to its therapeutic clout. A drive through mind-numbing traffic harries the most seasoned traveler yet as the crowds are left behind in Kanakapura and rural life beckons, the sensations get heightened. The last stretch through kilometres of dense forest and hardly a human soul shakes away the last of the clutter – what remains as you enter the gates of this slice of paradise is a person at peace with oneself, Bengaluru just a distant memory now.
As an iconic camp of Jungle Lodges & Resorts, the peaceful nature walks, short rides on the parsal and evenings spent in quiet solitude make Galibore a unique destination with few parallels. And a land so unique is tender and fragile, perhaps that being the reason for the thoughtful inclusion of few accommodations at the site. Its ecological carrying capacity can hardly play host to a cacophony of intrusive visitors, making it thus an enviable ecotourism destination.
The transition of chaotic sensory organs to a soothing calmness starts as one strolls around the thickly wooded campus, perfect for ‘forest bathing’. An occasional squirrel, a few birds of prey screeching above the canopy, rustle of the wind, vibrant colours intermeshed together and the stillness of silence all add to the ambience. Forest bathing is literally ‘taking in of the forest’ as an ancient Japanese practice Shinrin-yoku that is gaining popularity across the world. A research attests to its benefits, with new insights that suggest spending as little as 20 minutes in a park boosts feelings of well-being. Another review of more than 30 studies found that forest bathing tends to lower cortisol levels while another review of a set of 28 studies finds that this form of therapy can reduce depression levels.
While providing comfort to the seeker searching for solace in nature, Galibore is a forester’s delight too. The dense forests and an abundance of rare and endangered wildlife continues to entice enthusiasts seeking to document nature’s creations. At this isolated valley, arboreal Grizzled Giant squirrels count the valley as one of their last habitats in their northernmost range and still screech from the forest canopy. Herds of elephants cross the river as crocodiles bask in the distance, otters frolic on the sand banks and fish-eagles perch high above. Here, you may see a Sloth Bear foraging for food beneath boulders and a porcupine hurrying to take shelter in the thickets. The critically endangered Hump-backed Mahseer, renowned as the tiger of fast flowing rivers, thrives in the deep gorges. Of the six antelopes found in India, four are found in Karnataka and of that, the vulnerable Four-horned Antelope competes with other species as the most charismatic of this unique landscape. And if you look hard enough, you may chance upon a leopard vanishing behind the shadow of the hills as scores of Spotted Deer and Four-horned Antelopes stand alert in their stiff posture – Galibore is a veritable paradise.
Galibore exposes the self to not just its wild denizens but also to the giant trees that lend an abiding character to this isolated outcrop of nature. As one strains the head to look upwards, the impossibly giant Terminalia arjuna trees lend their wisdom to the young soul basking in its shade. The white trunk that can be spotted from across the banks of the Cauvery river reminds one of an old grandmother sharing her home with all as the tree shares its refuge to squirrels, birds and insects alike. These iconic trees, some more than a hundred years old, represent the innate connection of nature’s beings and the tree performing its role of a shade giver that provides succour.