India's Rain-forests - Anshi Nature Camp
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Nature-they say-has a unique ability to stir souls, bring solace, and help people attain sanity in this modern world of meaningless rat race. And it's no wonder that I DO find tranquility in nature, especially in Jungles, thus helping me rejuvenate some amount of logical balance which otherwise gets depleted in the cut-throat corporate life.
Thus, with a route map in hand, and a few like-minded friends, off I go in search of a paradise- a paradise which still remains untouched from the bestiality of uncontrollable urbanization!
Anshi Tiger reserve- named after the small village of ANSHI- is located at the heart of the Dandeli-Anshi Tiger reserve in the southern state of Karnataka of India. It's located at a distance of 530 kms from Bangalore. Overnight journey by train or bus to a culturally important town called 'Dharwad', and a further 80 kms by road would take you to this unexplored and secluded habitat.
The Anshi nature camp, itself, looks like a perfect camp site carved out of the surrounding evergreen non-penetrable rain forest. Accommodation is available in the form of tented cottages or a 15-bed dormitory for large groups. The camp accommodation needs to be booked in advance. The camp is serene, calm, self-sufficient, and makes one feel perfectly at home with nature. In fact staying in a place with rain-forest jungles surrounded on all sides for hundreds of kilometers at a stretch, would leave you in no position other than that of awe.
The Jungles of Anshi are home to the ever depleting magnificent species of Tigers, black leopards( Yes! You heard it right), Panthers, bison, various kinds of deer, boars and an absolute panorama of rain forest birds. The giant horn bill are a common occurrence here. So are the Giant Malabar squirrel. The Black Leopards( a melanized form of normal panthers or leopards) are extremely rare and are surprisingly found in good numbers here. These are normal leopards with their skin being black. Since the area is predominantly a rain-forest zone with sunlight seldom penetrating the jungle floor, melanism in Leopards is bound to occur here to give them a dark coat in color for effective camouflage. Keeping the science aside, the sheer sight of one of these magnificent animal is a treat to the eyes which one cannot erase in their lifetime.
Apart from this rare animal, the tiger reserve also boasts of a variety of reptiles, namely, the King Cobra, Spectacled Cobra, Russel's Viper, saw-scaled Viper, Malabar Pit Viper, Kraits, the Olive green Vine snake, Rat snakes and other non-poisonous water & land snakes. In fact the green Vine snakes are so common that you wouldn't be surprised to find them right inside the camp site. These are poisonous but their poison is effective only against small insects and lizards. They are absolutely harmless to humans. Should you ever encounter one, just stand your ground, and you will see them slither away gracefully. And if you are lucky enough to encounter the 18-feet king of reptiles -The KING COBRA- just show the respect which he deserves. King Cobras or, for that matter, any snakes- never ever attack humans unless provoked. Unless you are trying to be superman, I don't think anyone would dare to get in the way of the longest venomous reptile on this planet. King Cobras when provoked can actually lift 1/3rd of their height off the ground, which means that for a 18-feet long snake, it's hood would stand up to 6 feet in height! Not a very merry sight, isn't it? Especially so when, on provocation, you have a creature with it's hood standing tall and staring at your eyes, if not taller, lurching at you with it's forked tongue and gaping mouth!! Well! All this can be avoided and the sheer beauty of the gentle giant enjoyed only when you show respect to the KING. Just stay calm, do not get adventurous, enjoy the rare sight and you will see the KING quietly wriggle into the surrounding under-growth. King Cobras are actually scared of humans and would do everything within their capacity to avoid them.
The jungle treks conducted by the trek officials( who are mostly inhabitants of the village ANSHI) are an absolute delight. The Guides are masters in Jungle lore, and be rest assured that you are in safe hands. The treks are designed according to individual needs and physical capability. The less adventurous ones can take up the mild 5 kms trek around the periphery of the camp whereas the stalwarts can actually smell the rain-forest jungle with the mammoth 22 kms walk. It's a walk which you would never ever forget in your life. Just be careful of the leeches if you chance to travel here during May-July, the peak of the Indian Monsoon season. Let not a few pesky leeches make you think twice about the trek. When i say that the trek is worth every thrill, be rest assured, that I mean it:)
The camp normally cooks vegetarian food, but if you are a non-veg freak like me, then make sure to buy all the required provisions from Dandeli- the nearest town at a distance of 40kms from the camp site. You would require to travel over Dandeli in order to reach the Anshi Nature Camp, hence stopping your vehicle for 30 minutes or so to buy all the 2-footed or 4-footed domestic birds or animals would be worth the wait, as the cooks in the camp site are excellent, and would make your belly beg for more:)
Do not expect any fancy arrangements in the camp. It's a nature camp, remember? Of course there are scores of so-called luxury resorts all along the way. Setting aside the exorbitant price demanded by them, would it really make sense to occupy an air-conditioned room when your mind is out for adventure and fun? I don't think so and hardcore naturalists and adventure seekers would be nodding their head in unison as they read this:)
So, next time, if you are in India and have couple of days to spare for fun, adventure and thrill, then do make sure to visit Anshi- the paradise on Earth.