13 June, 2014

Bangalore's backyard hill station: The historic Nandi Durga or Nandi Hill

A stitched image of three pictures providing about 150 degree view of the forests surrounding Nandi hills towards west and south west.
A 'Google earth' snapshot (seen from east) of the small range of Closepete granite hills that has Nandi Hill to its south 
Nandi Hill is one of Bangalore's best known outdoor and wilderness areas and considered as the closest hill station to this city. Although it is located inside Kolar District, it was never considered far from Bangalore. But the rapidly expanding state capital has literally brought urbanisation right to Nandi Hill's doorsteps - foothills in this case. Fortunately much of the wooded area around is a reserve forest which is far more difficult to denotify for non-forest purposes or to be encroached upon, given the fact that the Forest Laws of India are among the strictest and are mostly implemented in earnest by the forest officials.

Nandi's human history is centuries old. It precedes the history of the erstwhile state of Old Mysore. It has hosted for history its share of dramatic events. Some of them have been captured on canvas, like the firing of artillery on the slopes of Nandi hill in 1791 by the forces of British East India Company which led to the capture of this hill fort from the Mysore state during the III Anglo Mysore War.
View of Nandidrug (Mysore), with the batteries firing during the siege; 1791,  MacKenzie, Colin (1754-1821)
On the left is the painting View of Nandidrug (Mysore) with three English soldiers in the foreground; 1791; Allan, Sir Alexander, 1st Baronet (1764-1820). On the right is a view of the hill in January 2006. 
In and around Nandi are picturesque temples that are hundreds of years old. One can combine their trip to this hill with a trip to some of these interesting temples.

As one exits the Bangalore - Hyderabad Expressway (National Highway 7) to approach Nandi hill, visitors can have a glimpse of the calm, serene rural life that once surrounded much of Bangalore. In the month of May the road decorated by the gulmohar (May flower) beckon the visitors. Till May 2014 fortunately this road had escaped the wrath of development and the axeman has spared his blows on the roots of the many magnificent trees lining it.

The approach road to Nandi Hill from National Highway 7 near Devanahalli. 
The hill road to Nandi Hill.
Geological background
Geologically, Bangalore district (so is Tumkur District) sits on the archaen complex born during the Archean Eon about 3.5 Billion ago. Right over this complex are many metamorphic rock formations of crystalline schists, the granitic gneisses and the newer granites.

A prominent hill chain made up of metamorphic rocks known as 'Closepet granite' stands on this complex and run roughly north to south. Closepet (or Closepete in Kannada) is the former name of Ramnagar town near Bangalore. This hill chain is a part of Dharwar group of rocks and has some monoliths shooting over a thousand metres which include Madhugiri, Devarayanadurga (DD Hills), Nandi Durga (Nandi Hills) etc. These hills host many important reserve forests of the districts of Tumkur, Bangalore and Kolar like Madhugiri state forest (Tumkur Dist), Devarayanadurga (Tumkur Dist), Itikaldurga state forest (Kolar Dist) and Makalidurga state forest (Kolar Dist). 
View of a granite hill crop on the drive up.
A view on a clear morning from Devarayanadurga in Dec 2007. The hill in the middle of the outcrop of three in the far background is Nandi
Inside the Nandi fort
The last major fortification of Nandi Hill was under the father-son rulers of Mysore state Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Here is the entrance to the hill station towards the hill peak. 
A plaque commemorating the construction of this road.
At over 200 years old these bricks still stand intact on the fort walls.
The main entrance of the hill station as seen from inside. The arch is an example of Islamic architecture often used by rulers affiliated to Muslim faith. 
This is the second entrance to the hill station through the stone fort. It is an example of Hindu architecture with pillars and the carvings on the same.
The stone fort and entrance with 18th century canon guns. 
The cast iron canon guns are still intact centuries later.
Carvings on stone on one of the pillars of the second entrance. These flower carvings can be seen on many forts and temple entrances in Old Mysore state. 
The view inside as seen from the second entrance.
This kalyani  (step well) was built in 1936 by the Government of Maharaja of Mysore. 
The foundation stone of the Nandi Hill step well.
This summer lodge is one of the remnants of Tipu Sultan's lifestyle here, a protected monument by the Archeological Society of India (ASI).
Description of the 'Tipu Sultan lodge' by ASI.
Interiors of the Tipu Sultan lodge.
Parapet wall of the Tipu Sultan lodge.
A view of the Nandi Hill fort.
The fort has passages running along its length for gunmen to fire at the enemy.
Wild lemon grass grows on the hill slopes.
This pine tree opposite Tipu Sultan lodge is over a hundred years old. 
Spring at Nandi Hills is a riot of colourful flowers.
The area around the step well is full of greenery. 
Nandi Hill is a bird watcher's and bird photographer's delight. The area around the step well is considered an 'bird island' where many birds usually found in the moist forests of western ghats can be sighted and photographed. 

03 March, 2014

Bheemasandra kere - A haven for waterbirds in Tumkur city

Although forests cover just about 4% of the district's geographical area, Tumkur District is host to a wide variety of wildlife and some picturesque landscapes.  The jheels of old Mysore region hold an amazing array of waterfowl diversity and Tumkur is lucky to have many such wetlands like Tumkur Amanikere and Bheemasandra Kere-Malekote Kere (in Tumkur city), Kunigal Doddakere and Chikkakere (in Kunigal town along Bangalore - Hassan National Highway) and backwaters of Markonahalli Reservoir (just off Bangalore - Hassan National Highway). The birdlife, both the resident and migratory, of these wetlands has been documented by Tumkur's NGO Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC) since early 1990s.

Apx boundary of Bheemsandra kere - Malekote kere wetlands, Tumkur city marked on a screenshot from Google earth map (seen from west towards Tumkur city) dated 15 Jul 2014. 
The twin wetlands of Bheemasandra Kere-Malekote kere are located on the western periphery of Tumkur city. Better known simply as Bheemsandra kere this wetland complex attracts rare water birds due to the perennial presence of water which in turn is due the treated sewage water being let into it. This year round water ensures birds come here even in the dry summer season when water is usually scarce in this rain shadow region of south-interior Karnataka state. Birdwatchers from WANC regularly visit this wetland not only to enjoy its birdlife but also monitor any threats to it and report it to the forest department.

Here are some pictures taken by me at this beautiful haven of birds.

Common name: Pond heron or Paddy bird
Common name: Cattle egret
Common name: Grey heron
Common name: Paddyfield pipit
Common name: Large pied wagtail or Whitebrowed wagtail
Common name: Barn swallow
Common name: Large cormorant
Common name: Painted stork
Common name: Spotbilled duck
Common name: Brahminy kite
Common name: Blackheaded munia
Here are a few tips to visit Bheemasandra Kere wetland:
Best season: Though the place is good to be visited through out the year, winter is the time when a lot of migratory birds throng the place. During monsoons many birds use the vicinity of the wetland to breed.

Best time: Be at the place just after dawn which is usually at 6:15 AM in winters.

What to take?: Binoculars, birdwatching guide, notebook, pen, camera, WATER, light breakfast, NO DISPOSABLE PLASTIC PLEASE.

What to wear?: Dull/ neutral colour clothes (khakhi, brown, green, grey, cement etc). A warm jacket or sweater; dark/ dull coloured cap/ hat; dull coloured walking shoes/ sneakers. AVOID WEARING BRIGHT COLOURS (yellow, red, white etc).

How to go?: There is no public transport to the place, although you can take a public transport to Bheemsandra bus stop along the Bangalore-Honnavar National Highway (BH Road) and walk to the northern periphery of the lake.

Click here for a google map of this wetland

Related links:
For more information on the wildlife areas of Tumkur District, please click here 

18 December, 2013

An invitation to Bangaloreans to beat the stress - Chairman's Jade Club & Resort

Chairman's Jade Club & Resort near Devanahalli, Kempe Gowda International Airport (previously BIAL), Bangalore

Bangalore, referred to as garden city a couple of decades ago has recently graduated to being India's Silicon Valley. But with a growing population, it is increasingly hard to find a place where families can take a break. In such circumstances when you find a place in city that is away from the crowds where can comes rest you have to make the most of it. 

I visited the Chairman's Jade Club and Resort near Devanahalli village in November 2013 and found it to be a place of high standards. A unit of the well-known Chairman's Resort in North Bangalore's Sahakar Nagar it is spread over 8 acres of lush gardens amidst the 250-acre Jade Gardens. 

Chairman's Jade Club & Resort near Devanahalli, Kempe Gowda International Airport (previously BIAL), Bangalore
A view of the poolside lobby
According to Mr. Ravi.G.S., Corporate General Manager, Chairman's Club and Resorts "Chairman's Jade Club and Resort offers a guest experience that is intimate and discreet while providing the highest level of service. Hunger's busted at our à la carte restaurant and snack bar. Our poolside restaurant is open throughout the day, and offers a wide range of different dishes. And, as its name suggests, there's plenty of pampering possibilities. With a unique seeting, but certain elements characterise all of them - a beautiful natural location, outstanding facilities, exceptional service and a small number of rooms to ensure exclusivity and privacy. Our professional wedding specialist, can made your wedding a memorable one,with the concept of poolside wedding."

Chairman's Jade Club & Resort near Devanahalli, Kempe Gowda International Airport (previously BIAL), Bangalore
There is a safe play area as well for children with slides.
The resort has a poolside beverage area which guests can enjoy with a decent array of finger food. At the lobbies guests can meet up or party. There is a safe play area as well for children with slides.

Chairman's Jade Club & Resort near Devanahalli, Kempe Gowda International Airport (previously BIAL), Bangalore
The resort has good space and perfect ambience for a family meetup, a friends' reunion, office outing or a poolside wedding
Chairman's Jade Club & Resort near Devanahalli, Kempe Gowda International Airport (previously BIAL), Bangalore
The many facilities here make this place a complete family resort
Chairman's Jade Club & Resort near Devanahalli, Kempe Gowda International Airport (previously BIAL), Bangalore
The poolside restaurant
Chairman's Jade Club & Resort near Devanahalli, Kempe Gowda International Airport (previously BIAL), Bangalore
The chefs here ensure you have lasting memories of the food
Chairman's Jade Club & Resort near Devanahalli, Kempe Gowda International Airport (previously BIAL), Bangalore
Serving the right food
Whether you are a part of the weekday office crowd wanting a quick break with your family from the city's maddening rush or you are a traveller to city having a few hours before your next flight out of the city, Chairman's Jade Club and Resort will soothe your nerves and refresh you to start the next day afresh. 

Here are some of the facilities at the resort:
Multi-cuisine poolside restaurant; 24-hour coffee shop; An expansive swimming pool with slider; Water zorbing; Basket ball court; Beach volley ball; Kids' swimming pool; Children play area; Indoor shuttle court; Indoor squash court; Twin tennis courts; Conference hall; Table tennis; Indoor board games; Short pitch cricket. 

How to go:
Chairman's Jade Club and Resort is about 5 kilometres from Bangalore's Kempe Gowda International Airport at Devanahalli. It is about 26 kilometers from Bengaluru city centre. Here is the resort on google maps http://goo.gl/maps/uMlOY 

More information:
For reservation, please see this link: http://www.chairmansresort.com/clubjade.php
For day visit, please see this link http://www.chairmansresort.com/familydayout.php