An enchanting afternoon at Karanji Lake, Mysore
“Mysore? Again?” the husband asked, quite disgruntled, over the newspaper.
“Yes. Why not? What do you remember about the first trip anyway?” I shot back.
The question caught the husband off-guard. To be frank, he was not known for his memory, a fact which is quite exasperating on occasions. But on fair grounds, even I had vague memories of our first trip to Mysore in early 2010. That time, we had visited as typical tourists and done the tourist bus sight-seeing thing. I hardly remembered anything besides the guide’s hilarious pronunciations. I somewhat recollect Mysore Palace, maybe because we stood in a queue for quite a long time, while Vrindavan Gardens is a blur, lost amidst the thronging crowd.
I wanted to undo all that transpired in the last trip and start afresh – take a look at the city from a new angle. And I had my way. I did not want to visit the palace and the gardens this time though. The husband excused himself from anything to do with the itinerary and said he would be happy to drive me to anywhere I wanted. What a perfect setting!
Fast forward to Mysore on a January 2012 afternoon. We checked into our hotel and rested for a while before starting off on our new sight-seeing tour. There was only one item to be ticked off that day – a visit to the Karanji Lake. According to my research, Karanji Lake is a beautiful part of the city, surrounded by a nature park consisting of a butterfly park and a walk-through aviary. This aviary is supposed to be the biggest walk-through aviary in India. More on Karanji Lake here.
We reached the lake park at around 3.30 pm and got to know that it is open to public between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm every day, except Tuesdays when it remains shut. The park was a beautiful scene, lined with palm trees, and well maintained shrubbery. Generally, we have found most parks to be filled with young couples out on clandestine dates, but this park was almost deserted that day. The gardeners were busy watering the plants and cleaning the park of dry leaves and twigs. A peaceful atmosphere reigned, much to our relief and delight.
We came across the aviary first and it was indeed a unique experience for us to see so many different varieties of birds living together from so close. None of us had been to a ‘walk-through aviary’ and sights of the beautiful pheasants scurrying about around us were a bit weird and exciting at the same time. The aviary had separate enclosures with birds like kaleej pheasants (cant remember the other pheasants' names), Malabar grey hornbills, jungle fowls and peacocks in two of them, while another had a pair of sarus cranes. The aviary also had a small pond which had a few preening black swans and an adorable turtle. The birds, for their part, were quite oblivious to our presence and went about their routine search for food.
The lake itself was a picture of tranquility. According to reports, it was a hot spot for birds, including the migratory ones. However, at that time, we were still occupied with our new-born son and did not think of carrying binoculars for observing our winged friends. There was one more severe handicap – we did not have a good DSLR camera, just our little Canon IXUS. So the pictures here may not convey the beauty of the lake and the park that well.
It was the first time we had ventured out of Bangalore after the birth of our son and the scope of long walks amidst nature excited us. The husband took off on a brisk note while I slowed down to enjoy the moments, taking my own sweet time. I walked on the path along the lake and could see a number of small birds flitting around. There were grey herons, pond herons and night herons on vigil by the water side while little cormorants were busy water-skiing over the lake. There were also little grebes and some other breed of ducks cruising happily in the lake. A few purple swamphens would emerge from the foliage near the lake from time to time. The walk seemed to work like a therapy on me who had recently been initiated to the 24x7 working hours assigned to new mothers.
There was a butterfly park on an adjoining island, connected by a quaint little wooden bridge. Somehow, this part of the park was not quite well maintained and we did not see too many butterflies, either. The park closure timing was approaching fast and we decided to go on a quick boat ride before we called it a day. We hired a self-paddle boat and went about exploring the lake. Not surprisingly, we were the only people on the lake and so had it entirely to ourselves.
The idea to go boating was really a good one on hind sight, as we came across a wonderful drama being played out in the middle of the lake. The lake had small island like structures with a few trees holding them together. One of these islands had a barren tree where a few cormorants and a darter bird was resting. Suddenly, a juvenile brahminy kite appeared and there ensued a kind of war between the kite and the darter, reasons known best to them. The kite kept on annoying the darter and the latter ‘hissed’ at it, its wings spread out in defiance. We watched this play out for some time before our attention was caught by the baby’s cries from where we had left him with my in-laws. Back to reality and parenthood.
We got off our boat and started on our long walk back to the park entry/exit gate. Evening had set in and the last rays of the sun cast a melancholy glow to the lake and the park. It was a quiet walk back and we tried to enjoy the last few moments as much as we could. As we bid farewell to Karanji Lake, we thanked it for the first beautiful break it allowed us from our busy parenthood schedule and provided some long-needed ‘us’ time together. We have planned another visit to the lake next year in February and I am sure that will be another wonderful experience!