The Secret Lake - Thattekere (or Mahadeshwara Temple Lake)



I am all for breaking the monotony of daily life. All the more better if that ‘break’ involved water and the hills - my idea of a perfect getaway! According to my horoscope I should avoid water, or bad things might happen. My mom is never tired of reminding this to me every time I tell her that we are planning something outdoors. Usually I ‘forget’ to mention that there is water involved when I tell her the details. So when she calls up again to ensure that I have reached the place safe and sound (yes, she is kind of paranoid), something like this takes place:

Maa: Have you reached?
Me: Yes
Maa: What are you doing now?
Me: Playing in the river water.
Maa: River!!! What??
Me: Yeah, and now we are going white-water rafting, you know those little inflatable boats that go over the water.
Maa: B-b-but you can’t do that! It is written in the horoscope!
Me: Oh, these guys are calling me, I need to practice some rowing or the raft might capsize.
Maa: Wha ---- !
Me: Bye Maa!

Life is so exciting when you have moms like mine!

Anyway, so the story is, I jumped up the moment the husband proposed going on a birding trip to Thattekere Lake, also known as Mahadeshwara Temple Lake. We looked up the internet for its exact location and found that most people were going around in circles to locate it. Time to be careful and alert, we thought, though this theory had been proved otherwise in some cases. 

So, on Saturday morning in September (2012), we packed a nice breakfast and set off for the elusive lake. According to Google map, the lake was located off the Anekal-Harohalli Road and we decided to stick to that route, unlike the time we had created our own short-cuts to reach Hessaraghatta grasslands. We continued to be on ‘alert mode’ though and were soon driving along the aforementioned road, our eyes straining out for that off-shoot which would lead to the lake.  Thanks to my eagle-eye (huh, says the husband), I spotted a gate with something written in Kannada (no, we don’t understand Kannada yet). There were small Nandi bull type figurines carved on it and we guessed that it might be the gateway to the Mahadeshwara Temple. 

It was around 8.00 am when we entered the area. The road was unpaved and had electric wire-borders on one side. Somehow, we felt as if we were entering a jungle. All around us there was loud chirping of birds. Not a soul was to be seen. We went on and after some time we caught sight of the temple. Where was the lake? As we drove past the temple we glimpsed a little of the lake ahead. I had expected the water of the lake to have almost dried up, like all the lakes that we had visited previously for birding. But there lay the lake, a vast one, its water shimmering in the morning rays. It was bordered by hills on the other side and a thick forest surrounded it. It was almost like a secret lake, hidden away from the human populace. I felt terribly possessive and wanted to claim the lake as my own. The beauty of the lake was such that we almost forgot what we were there for – the birds! 

 Thattekere Lake

 Surprisingly, we could not locate many birds in the water. Maybe the season was not right. There were only a few grey herons and cormorants sitting along the water in anticipation. A pair of white storks was flying about, unsure of where to alight. The forest seemed more inviting and after a quick breakfast we ventured towards it. Small birds were zipping all around us and we had difficulty at first even to identify them. There were sunbirds, munias and bulbuls creating a musical ruckus in the forest. We walked a bit into the forest and came upon a narrow mud-track. I rightly guessed that the track was used by the villagers from the nearby village because just a few minutes later we were greeted by the sight of a person leading his bullock towards the lake for a sip of water. The person tried to tell us something disapprovingly but since we did not understand the local language, we could only nod our heads. 

 Green Bee-eater

 Red-rumped Swallow

 Indian Robin

Baya Weaver's nests

After some time we decided to walk along the banks of the lake and came out into the clearing. There were broken bottles and plastic bags strewn all over. So the lake was not such a secret after all. I then noticed some clumps lying on the ground near the lake and it struck me that they may be elephant dung. But that would only mean that there were elephants in the forest! I made the husband turn around and beat a retreat, although I had to bear his jibes about me being a jungle girl and yet scared of elephants. Dad being somewhat of an expert on wild elephants, I was aware of what they were capable of. 

In any case, we left for the day but the beauty of the lake was too much to keep us away from it for too long. We went back to the lake again in October (2012), this time with my parents who were visiting from Assam. The water seemed to be less but the temple wore a festive look. In the previous occasion the temple was locked and looked quite deserted. We had reached the lake at around 7.00 am and were astounded to see fresh elephant footprints and dung on the banks of the lake. The temple priest, who knew Hindi, warned us about a herd of elephants and told us not to venture anywhere near the forest. We heeded his word and turned back. And you should do, too. Do not enter the forest or walk to the far side of the lake, however tempting it may look. We understood then why there was electric wire fencing, cordoning off the forest. 

 Elephant footprints

We went down to the village and spotted a few more birds thereabout. Bee-eaters were to be found in plenty as well as shrikes. We noticed that every house in the village reared silk-worms and maybe that is their main source of livelihood. Just driving around the area gave us so much pleasure, we did not have to do anything else. 

 Silkworm farming

Although we had come to Thattekere lake to do birding, I think we relegated it to the back seat and enjoyed the sight more. I was dismayed to see the callousness of people who had left behind beer bottles and plastic bags after their bouts of revelry.  I truly want to live to see a day when better sense dawns upon human kind and these pristine locations are preserved with love and care. I hope you will visit the place and feel the same about it, too.

 

Comments

  1. Nice clicks,especially the weaver's nest

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! We could not click too many pictures of birds but the weavers' nests are my favourite, too.

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  2. Came across your blog only 2 years after I happened to visit Thattekere. Must say I shared the excitement and the joy of finding the lake

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I have not been to the lake for many months now but my husband had gone there last month (Dec 2013) and he was informed that the area was closed for public. Don't know the reasons, though.

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  3. we visited this place somewhere last august! Thou we couldnt find any birds - the place was pristine n peaceful! But after an hour or some came forest guards who chased us awa :-D. Not sure if I have the reason rt, but am told that some amateur photographer was chased by elephants and thus the curfew....

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    1. I have not visited the place for a long time now. Thanks for the update,Meena. I am sure elephants might be the reason for the curfew.

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  4. Hello, just read your blog
    Amazing pics.
    I wanted to ask a question, please answer if possible.
    My friends and I(4 girls) are planning to go to the lake for a day's adventure, so wanted to know if its safe and also what's necessary for us to carry along.
    (Just so you know, we four can understand and speak Kannada and Hindi)
    It would help a lot if answered, Thank you😊

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kriya, sorry for the late reply. And thanks for the kind words :) Well, regarding the lake I am not sure if the area is entirely safe for girls. Besides the fact that elephants come down to the lake for their early morning drink, the area is littered with loads of beer bottles, which make me think that maybe the lake is frequented by rather unsociable inhabitants. However, the few times that we were there, it was absolutely deserted, barring the occasional cowherd. We have not visited the lake for a long, long time now. There are no restaurants or shops in the area. So do ponder over your decision. Or maybe take a few guy friends along :)

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    2. Hey thanks for the information.. It helped us a lot. We'll postpone the trip and go with more people. Thank you for caring :)

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