The Biligiri Ranga Hills (B R Hills) had been on our wishlist for quite some time. We finally visited this place in September 2011 as part of the trip to K Gudi. We had arranged for stay for one night at the Gorukana Resort.
We left the Jungle Lodges resort at K Gudi around 11.30 in the morning. The drive to B R Hills took us around 30-45 minutes. The chirping sounds of the birds and the lush green jungle made up for an excellent drive.
Gorukana stands for the the Web of the Spider. This resort is off the highway and close to the Ranganatha temple in B R Hills. The proceeds of this resort go to the VGKK (Vivekananda GiriJana Kalyana Kendra) organization which works for the development of the Soligas, the native tribe here. Most of the people working here belong to the Soliga community. The naturalists in the resort are very good.
We were given a cordial welcome at the reception and introduced to Krishna who would take us around for birding. He told us that the resort itself has a wide variety of birds. We arranged to go out in the evening with him.
The cottages have been built nicely and can easily accommodate a family of four. Every cottage has a loft which is ideal for kids as well as adults. The interiors have been done very nicely. Every cottage is named after a bird or an animal. We were put up at Navilu (Peacock) cottage while Niranj got the Gaur cottage. The view of a lake from the balcony gave the place an ethereal look.
We spent some time strolling by the lake and exploring the property.
It was time for lunch and we proceeded to the dining area. The buffet spread was pretty decent but the food was not as good as JLR. It was manageable though. We met Jadeswamy (a senior naturalist) about whom we had heard from a couple of friends who had been here before.
After the noon siesta we set out towards the lake. An unforgettable sighting was of a group of the extremely colorful Malabar Parakeets flying over the lake. Krishna joined us and took us behind the property where we spotted Scaly-breasted Munia, Purple-rumped Sunbirds and the Scarlet Minivets. It started drizzling which made it impossible for us to go on the birding walk.
We relaxed in the dining area and had some tea. By the time it stopped raining it was almost 5. Krishna suggested that we could drive on the main road towards K Gudi as many sightings had occurred there before. As always we did not sight any animals except for a few deer. It was almost 7 by the time we were back.
A cultural programme depicting the dance of the Soliga tribe had been arranged in one of the halls in the resort. The Soliga troupe which has performed in many places throughout the country put up a good show. The dances performed for various festivals by these people were portrayed with enthusiasm. We had a good time watching them. After dinner we met up with Krishna and decided to go for birding around 7 in the morning.
The next morning saw us up early and exploring the resort. The place looked so peaceful.
Krishna joined us after a while. After a cup of tea we started walking on the main road near the resort. The first sightings were of Purple Rumped Sunbird in the Lantana bushes, the Hill Mynah and White-rumped Munia. We then spotted a Red whiskered Bulbul and a Plum Headed Parakeet gorging on the guavas atop a tree. A glance through the binoculars made Krishna spot a Vernal Hanging Parrot atop another Guava tree. The bird was camouflaged in the midst of leaves and the fruits which were of the same colour. We were excited as this was the first sighting of this beauty for us.
As we walked ahead on the highway we saw an Oriental Magpie Robin which seemed to be posing for the camera atop a bare stump at almost eye level.
It started drizzling soon and hunger had already set in. We went back to the resort and had a hearty breakfast. Jadeswamy joined us during breakfast. He had been on a jeep ride till K Gudi that morning to drop a couple staying in the resort for the safari ride organized by the forest department. As they were driving they suddenly saw a Leopard crossing the main road for a brief while. He was ruing over the fact that the guests could not take a single picture as they were overwhelmed by the sudden sighting of this prince of the Indian jungle. He then took us to a tree near the dining area to meet the South Indian Flying Lizard which was nicely camouflaged by the bark of the tree. The cameras went into action.
As we were leaving, a Scaly Breasted Munia couple came near our cottage. They seemed to be building a nest as they were flitting to and fro carrying straws plucked from the cottage roof. Not just the munias, an Indian Palm Squirrel was also busy building a nest in the thatch.
We went for a walk around the cottages hoping to get some more birds before we left. We were duly rewarded. We sighted a Tawny-bellied Babbler for the first time but couldn’t get a good picture of it. We then spotted and chased an Oriental White-eye all over the place as it flitted from one tree to the other :)
The last sighting here was the Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch on a tree next to the parking lot. Bidding farewell to Krishna and Gorukana, we left back for Bangalore at around 12 PM. As we had spent much time birding in the morning, we decided to skip the visit to the temple. We will surely be heading back sometime soon to this place again!
The drive was peaceful. On the way we saw an Ashy Prinia close to the road atop a bush. I managed to get few decent shots of this cute bird. We reached home around 4 PM.
The route suggested for those of us going to Gorukana (and/or BR Hills in general) from Bangalore is shown on the map below.