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The International Writers Magazine: India

Unwind and relax in Wind Flower, Bandipur
Marianne de Nazareth
If you love birds, the jungle, fresh air and good food, pack a pair of binoculars, some shorts and tees and head out to Wind Flower Tusker Trails resort in Bandipur, in the South of India.


All that terrible pollution we city slickers have collected lovingly over time in our lungs, can hopefully get a clean out in Bandipur’s leaf redolent air.  So at the crack of dawn, we decided to head out on a Saturday morning from Bangalore, to avoid the difficult traffic jams on Mysore Road. It’s a great time to beat the heat, and the roads were practically ours right upto Maddur where we stopped for some filter coffee and an Idli-Vada breakfast. In fact in Channapatna the little town famous for its wooden toys was just waking up from its slumber as we sped past. Lines of gaudy coloured rocking horses stood outside one early bird shop, which already had its shutters open. But already there were industrious little boys selling lengths of fresh jasmine flowers which our cab driver bought to venerate the small Ganesha (Indian god) on his dashboard.

As the car took the Bandipur jungle road it was a strange sight for us to see all the trees and bamboo thickets parched and dry, completely leafless, waiting for the rains to help them spring back to life. All along the roads, labour were busy cutting back and burning Lantana bushes which have turned into a menacing weed, taking over the national parks of the country. Even the teak and sal trees were leafless and bare and the bamboo creaked dryly in the wind when we stopped to indulge in a small stretch and walk- about. We were lucky to be able to take pictures of Spotted deer foraging in an open grassland area in the jungle. They seemed quite tame and did not flinch at our intrusion, though we did keep our voices to the minimum and we wore green and brown to blend with the jungle.

forest Suddenly, like a torch of flame, the brown dryness of the jungle was illuminated with several Flame of the Forest trees all in bloom. We need not have jumped out to excitedly take pictures, for as our cab swung into the resort driveway, we were greeted with the magnificent and awesome sight of a huge old Flame of the forest tree, dripping with brilliant orange coloured blooms.Every flower is velvety orange, strangely claw shaped and is held in a chocolate brown calyx with velvety sepals.

Beneath the tree was a carpet of orange flowers and Mr Fazal the manager of the resort explained that the property was leased from the royal family of Mysore and so the tree must be hundreds of years old.

As we checked into the resort, amazingly the sound of a pair of nesting sparrows in the tiled roof immediately raised our happiness quotient. That’s because sparrows are becoming an endangered species in our Indian cities due to pollution levels. Obviously the air quality is perfect out in Wind Flower, Bandipur in the depths of the jungle. Walking down the pathways through the thickets of Indian Gum (Anogeissus Latifolia) trees we reached our large cottage number 10 with it’s luxurious interiors. Huge french windows which sweep from floor to ceiling brings the jungle up close and personal, especially when watching the huge variety of bird life flitting through the trees.

Sitting out in the patio in the afternoon reading DS Pierre’s hilarious ‘Vernon God Little,’ Turtle doves cooed while red throated Barbets and a whole army of Red Whiskered Bulbuls feasted on ripe Lantana berries. A green eyed cat oblivious of my presence sharpened its claws on the exposed roots of a tree. In the distance a magnificent rust coloured Pheasant went coop coop coop, while I decided to saunter down to the restaurant to get myself a cup of tea.
The cottages are perfect - the ideal blend of luxury and earthiness. For someone who is finicky about good linen it was fantastic to have snowy white sheets and towels in the middle of the jungle. The absence of the TV is not felt with the wealth of bird life which keeps one rushing out every once in a while to view the newest feathered singer. As the sun went down as evening fell, we were serenaded by a variety of colourful singers, superlative in variety and intensity, with some adding a dramatic quality to their song. With the setting sun, we pulled on our swimming costumes and headed for the stunning infinity pool. Since there was a slight chill in the air most other visitors avoided the pool and went for a Jungle Safari, which was lucky for us. We lay on our backs idly paddling in the water, watching for the twinkling stars to appear in the clear night air.

Chef Chandreshekar makes sure his guests are well fed producing sumptious buffets like a magician out of a hat. His range of salads were always tempting with the unusual Greek salad of aubergines tossed in honey and Arabita sauce a definite winner. “ My guests prefer lighter meals as people are more health concious today,” he revealed. Mutton Pulao, along with large tureens of Malabar Fish Curry and Methi Chicken  finished with desserts of Carrot Kheer or a lighter lemon souffle had the guests going back for second helpings. Both South Indian and North Indian food is on offer but Continental too is on the menu for foreign visitors who prefer a blander fare.

So if you want to enjoy a halcyon medley of birdsong or the gentle scrape of a dry leaf as a warm breeze hustles it along the path amidst the trees, head for Wind Flower, Bandipur. Just a five hour drive out of bustling Bangalore should be your added incentive!
Getting there:  220km from Bangalore. Train to Mysore, Air: Mysore & Bangalore, Bus: alight at Bandipur Police check-post and the resort will collect you. Address: Mangala Village, Gundulupet Taluk, Chamrajanagar Dist., Karnataka, India.
Phone: +918229- 236055/56

© Marianne de Nazareth  March 2011
Former Asst. Editor The Deccan Herald
Freelance Journalist
Adjunct faculty St. Joseph's College & COMMITS

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