Photo Stories: Bandipur

I am a hoarder of photographs. I don’t click good photos but I like to hold onto them. In the blog, I mostly use my husband’s images – he is the one with the DSLR and the one with photography related knowledge. I am happy with my little point-and-shoot and I am not ashamed to use its zoom facilities to the optimum. 

Sometimes, in a vehicle full of bazooka lenses, I am the only one sporting a tiny camera. But from the expression on my face you would think that I have the best equipment amongst all.

I was browsing through my folders today, trying to put a closure to my Bandipur experience so that I could start writing on my Kabini trip report, but I found it very disconcerting. I just could not let some of my Bandipur pictures pass away into oblivion, however ordinary they may be.  And so, I decided to put them here as photo stories. (Two of them are the husband’s though, could not stop myself from thieving.) Perhaps one day I shall be reminded of the stories through this post.

1. Maa aur Mamta or Is there anyone more loving than an elephant mom?

I guess I am beginning to understand elephants better after I became a mother myself. I could feel the palpable tension in the air, the restraint, the fear – the gamut of emotions that elephants with calves would be going through as our vehicles approached them. They would stand silently, not charging at us but not trusting us either, shielding and hiding the baby in their midst. As we moved away, the fortress around the little one would break and the adorable creature would romp out. I took a snapshot of that scene, but not with my camera.

Another time, we were nearing the exit gate of the forest when we came across a small herd of domestic elephants with a calf near the road. Just as my own brat would do, the baby elephant hood-winked the elders and ran across the road. And just as my own heart would skip a beat, it must have done the same with the mother elephant, too. With a loud distressed trumpet, she ran after the calf, the chains jangling at her feet. On reaching the side of the runaway naughty kid, she shoved him away from the road and waited with bated breath for the rest of the group to come to her rescue. The others had followed her with the same urgency and within seconds, the little calf was hidden from our view, secured amidst the herd.

No, I could not capture that in my camera but I know the memory of these gentle giants will remain forever in my mind.

Hard to miss this painted elephant at the forest check gate

 Come hail, come storm, we shall munch away - sayeth the elephants

 Trick question: Spot the photographer!

All in a row - could not help taking this cheeky shot!

2. The Misunderstood Ones

For a long time people believed that the Indian Wild Dogs or Dholes, as they are commonly known, killed for sport. That they are ruthless, stone-hearted hunters who fed upon their prey while it was still alive. But the fact is, they would hunt only when their clan was hungry, when they had several starving pups to feed. And since they are of small build, they cannot simply jab at a prey, generally spotted deer that are 3-4 times their size, and make a quick, clean kill. They have to finish their meal as fast as possible before another predator made its appearance and claimed their hard-earned kill as its own. Most times, the predator was man himself – villagers who lived in the forest fringes.

I learnt these one evening as I sat in JLR’s auditorium and watched the story of Kamani, a fearless alpha female who decided the destiny of her pack. Since that time, I have watched the movie several times in other JLR properties and each time I have forgotten to blink. Every time I come across the scene where the narrator witnesses his first kill – the alpha male bounding and leaping, pursuing the deer in the water body with the rest of the Dhole pack arranged strategically around the water, the failing light and the music reaching a crescendo – it never fails to give me goose bumps. (I got them even as I write this.) 

For two continuous safaris after watching this movie we had our rendezvous with the dogs. I felt we knew them – as if they were the ones from the movie. The same uncles, the same pups, the same alpha male. Kamani, were you there, too?

Our first wild dog on the first safari 

 Oooh what a sly amble...

 Second day in different light. A bigger pack!

Alert uncles 

Playful pups - so much like our mongrels!

3. The Hulks of the Forest Or Are they really?

The beautiful Indian Gaur. They seem so formidable, such hulks and yet….are their feet clad in white stockings?  Do they tell us that they are fragile inside despite their daunting, muscular outer appearance? I say they are. Because I saw them just as vulnerable as the other giants – the elephants. They are as protective and insecure about their young ones as you and I would be. 

They would suddenly emerge, grazing by the side of the road, as we turned a corner, and gently move aside. Looking at a Gaur you would not want to believe that it is quite a favourite prey of the tiger, would you? Maybe that’s why they say that size or muscles don’t actually define strength… That big guy in the movie The Hulk was quite the sentimental creature, no?

Smile please, you are on camera! 

A family portrait

4. The Builders 

Or you can call them Mrs and Mr Scaly-breasted Munia, thank you. These little busybodies entertained us unconditionally with their antics. They started the day with long discussions, followed by long gazing-out-into-the-horizon sessions and finally with warming up exercises before embarking on their house building spree. Here’s to your new home, Mrs and Mr Scaly-breasted Munia.

 The warm-up

5. The Hills and the Patchwork Carpet

The best part of going uphill is that you can look downhill. And somehow the same things that you may have passed by, look so appealing from above. Also, I love being in the midst of a thick fog. I can crank up my level of imagination and wish for anything to appear in the fog – right from a unicorn to a paranormal apparition. I did see a few elephants foraging by the hillside though.

 On the way to Gopalaswamy Betta... Looking down..

 Can you see the patchwork carpet?

 Zoomed on to a beautiful old banyan tree from above...

Here comes the fog..

6. The Stubborn Giant Or The One Who Stuck to His Guns…err Road

I know I have told this story before in my previous post. But how about looking at it again through my eyes? I can still feel the gambhir, gajagamini (sorry, can't think of a good translation) strides of the tusker towards us. 

The driver and the tusker have a face-off moment

7. Random clicks Or When I have run out of words

A story I missed. Figurines at the forest check gate. Who were they?

 A pristine water body in the jungle

 Run, little fellas, run! Jungle bush quails scuttling away

 Sigh. That should tell you something. Yes, we missed the tiger but he left his pugmarks for us to sigh over.

 I love the startled look of the deer here, while the stripe-necked mongoose remains unmindful, busy with his foraging

 At first look, I wondered where is the dude's perch? Ah, now I see.

 Smart deer grazing near the forest office - tigers wont catch them here!

Nope, not smiling! Here, take this frown!

Next up, my trip to Kabini – actually Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary. If I don’t get too lazy, that is. Take care!


  1. Dear Sangeeta, a very beautifully narrated trip. I really loved how you have found a story in each picture and just loved the family portrait of the Indian Gaur! Looking forward for your Kabini trip narration!

    1. Thanks a ton Ankita :) You are an amazing storyteller yourself, too!

  2. that Banyan Tree is so majestic...beautiful shot!


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