Andrey Mikhaylov (kmaal) wrote,
Andrey Mikhaylov

South India, April-May 2009

It's time to finish the report on my trip to South India in April-May 2009 and to put together the links to my previous smaller posts.
Этот же пост на русском

We were three: boablanc, my 7 year old daughter Erika and I.
In two weeks, moving by bus, we visited Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala states, more precisely:

Bangalore - the new airport, where we arrived by Air France flight via Paris.

Maddur - we visited Kokkre-Bellur, a village with a breeding colony of storks, egrets, cormorants and pelicans (unfortunately I saw only one pelican, by lack of time). The birds nest on the trees right over the houses and yards.

Srirngapatna - very green rice fields and Ranganithittu Bird Sanctuary.

Morning on Cauvery river -
Birds of Ranganithittu -
Other creatures -

Mysore - we had a glimpse of the famous Maharaja palace from early 20th century.

Ooty - the road from Mysore to Ooty crosses the very beautiful Nilgiri mountains and goes through two national parks, Bandipur and Mudumalai. From the bus window, we saw deer, wild boars, black junglefowl and wild elephants.

Coonoor - we went from Ooty to Coonoor by toy train, which is extremely popular among the tourists in Ooty. In April and May those are almost exclusively Indian tourists, because the foreigners are afraid of the heat and almost never visit India during these months.

The terrain the train crosses did not seem especially interesting to me. This is mostly blue gum (Eucalyptus) plantations, in some places tea and vegetable plots. The terrain on lower slopes between Coonoor and Mettupalayam, where we went by bus, is much more interesting, with steeper gradients, forested slopes and a lot of monkeys near the road.

Thrissur - a large city.

Thattekad - a bird sanctuary on the Periyar river, excellent nature spot.

Many creatures -

Munnar - tea plantations.

Nearby is the Eravikulam National Park

Kumarakom - a touristic place and bird sanctuary on the shore of Vembanad lake, part of the very advertised Kerala Backwaters, near the town of Kottayam.

We did not find the Bird Sanctuary especially interesting. More precisely, compared to Ranganithittu and Thattekad, there is nothing to see, you can easily skip it after those two. Yes, there is an egret and cormorant rookery on a marshy bush terrain between an old rubber plantation and the lake shore. The visibility is limited, the birds are rather far away, there is much rubbish, the lake shore is occupied by a barbed wire fence. The lake and the canals don't look clean, the water is grey, there is no aquatic vegetation to be seen, and you can spot disposable plates coming downstream on the canals. There are no natural habitats around the lakes, only agricultural land and human habitation. We first planned to go from Kottayam to Allepey by public ferry, but it was not running because of a strike. Having seen what we saw of the lake from our canal side bungalow and on the morning visit to the bird sanctuary, we did not regret the lack of ferry and just moved on to Kochi-Ernakulam.

Kochi-Ernakulam - twin maritime port city, separated by the lake, Kochi is the medieval one, Ernakulam the modern one. Besides the historical and practical attractions, there are beaches. In the town, the water quality is dubious, but a half-hour bus ride on the Wypeen island puts you on a reasonable tropical ocean beach, as good as it gets in a densely populated area.

Bangalore again - we missed the famous Lalbagh botanical garden, because I was too inspired by the birds of Ranganithittu in Srirangapatna and we stayed there an extra half day on our way back too. The picture is of Asian openbill.

Balance: we have confirmed for ourselves that traveling in India during non-tourist hot season of April and May is not only possible, but outright comfortable and advantageous to see local birds and wildlife in relative peace - as long as you are able to finish all the daytime excursions on the plains by 10:00 a.m..

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Tags: birds, india, nature, travel

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