Ranganathittu is one of the popular weekend getaways from Bangalore. Usually, when I think of Ranganathittu, only image that captures my mind is the White Ibis, Open billed storks, Painted storks that are in large number and somehow this fact did not fascinate me. Off late birding became my newfound hobby and this is why I made up my mind to visit Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. Not for the large number of birds present there, but for the other birds like Pied Kingfisher, Grey and Purple Herons. Here is my travelogue on my first visit to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary and of course Mysore.
Majestic to Srirangapatna: Our journey began at 8:00 in the morning from Majestic bus stop. Our luck was not in our favor that day and we reached Srirangapatna at 12:45 in the noon. We travelled in the Rajahamsa bus which did not have a good pick-up. As we got down at Srirangapatna, we had to show our bargaining skills with the Auto walas who started their bid from 250 rupees onwards for less than 5 kms travel! We were amazed and thought of finding alternate ways to reach the bird sanctuary. We crossed the road and past the fruit market and we found a private bus stop. There was a mini bus, which goes en route Ranganathittu. We got into the crowded mini bus, the conductor charged Rs. 5 each. We got down at Ranganathittu bus stop from where we had to walk around 2 kms.
P.S: They are renovating the Majestic bus stop and none of the Mysore, Madikeri, and Kerala bus operates from Majestic. Nevertheless, there are plenty of shuttle services from Majestic to Satellite bus stop. Refer: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/article2378028.ece.
Srirangapatna to Ranganathittu: As we got down the bus and crossed the road, Grey Heron welcomed us. I was so delighted to see this bird flying so close to me. I was dying to see this bird so close for a long time. On the left side of the road there was a stream flowing, it is such a delight to walk in such a peaceful environment. Away from the hustle-bustle of city life. Walking little further, we spotted White throated kingfisher sitting on a tree enjoying the cool shades.
Entry to the bird sanctuary: We walked little further and reached the forest department gates. You need to pay Rs. 50 each as entry fee to enter the bird sanctuary. We asked the forest officer there whether there is variety of birds at this time. He said this is not the season (October) – you need to be here during January to July. At that time variety of colorful birds, migrate to Ranganathittu bird sanctuary.
Café: Before heading towards the sanctuary, we hopped into the restaurant there and had lunch. It’s a simple restaurant with simple but good food. This is the only restaurant available within the sanctuary and you do not have any other option otherwise.
The Sanctuary: As I entered, I did not like it much. Since its October, lot of families had come with their children and the tourists were making lot of noise. I pitied the state of birds. I did not like the aura, because in every corner you find couples sitting, hugging each other etc. :P. In a way, it is not a good sign when families with children visit here.
If you are a birding enthusiast, better avoid weekends and holiday season or try to be there as early as possible. I guess the Sanctuary is open for public entry from 8.30AM to 6.00PM.
We walked around the park finding only Ibis and Cormorants in large. Later, we thought of going on a boat ride, which is essential to spot different variety of birds and to watch closely. Sometimes, you also get a chance to view the bird nests with their offspring’s. Mainly, we wanted to spot the King/Queen of the Sanctuary or the Supermodel of this sanctuary as most of the bloggers have termed – “The Pied Kingfisher”.
Boating: It was around 4:00 in the evening we planned to take a boat ride. The boating fee is Rs. 50 per person. We got into a boat where we got a good boatman as well a guide. Initially, we could only spot White Ibis, Crocodiles, Cormorants, Little Egrets and bats. As we rowed little further, we could find a couple of River Terns on the rocks. The boatman was happy to show us the White throated kingfisher. That is it. We could not find the Pied kingfisher, Darter or even the Herons.
Disappointed, we were getting off the boat and another boatman contacted us and said he can show us few more variety of birds and half an hour ride at an additional cost. What more did we want, we agreed for another ride. This time we were taken to other side of the river. Here, we get to site the Pied Kingfisher, Pelican, Open Billed Stork, Great Thick Knee, Darter, Wagtails, Grey Heron, Common Kingfisher, White Throated Kingfisher and so on. We also, got to site male and female Pied Kingfisher and learnt how to differentiate between male and female Pied Kingfisher from the boatman. The boatman stilled the boat nearer to the spot of Pied Kingfisher and we could do any number of photo-shoots of these birds. However, they fly off soon when it gets to know of the human presence around. They are very shy birds. I just love watching the action of this bird. In addition, the boat riders here know the bird habitat, where exactly they can site them at that time interval. It is always best to ask them in advance. Birds too have their timing. We also saw the offspring’s of Open Billed Stork in the nest.
P.S: All the images here are copyright protected to Prashant Bhandare. Anyone who wants to publish or use these images for any purpose, please contact the concerned for permission.
Way back from Ranganathittu: It was time for us to leave; we had to find transportation to Srirangapatna. We spotted an auto and went on to try our luck. He started with Rs. 200, meanwhile the boatman who took us for half an hour ride helped us in reducing the fare and we managed share the auto with another couple and we were dropped back to Srirangapatna for 40Rs.
Srirangapatna to Mysore: We hopped into the Mysore bus from Srirangapatna bus stop. We reached Mysore around 7:30PM. We witnessed the Mysore Amba Vilas palace illuminated with nearly 100,000 40-watt bulbs. What a magnificent site! The palace lightings are on from 7PM to 8PM on Sundays, Public Holidays and State holidays. During Dussera, the light illumination timing is from 7PM to 9PM. Also, free entry and no camera charges. However, at this time you will not get to enter the palace. Entry time to Mysore palace is from 10:00Am to 5.30PM and they charge you an entry fee, I guess its Rs.20. There is no light illumination on Saturdays.
The light illumination at night is a glory for Photographers. We clicked as much as photos until the cops could chase us during the closing time. Sharp at 8:00PM the lights will be turned off.
En route to Mysore bus stop, we saw the Mysore Dussera exhibition and decided to get in. The exhibition starts during Dussera and lasts for over three months. The place was crowded, we walked through the grounds, had some junk food inside, around midnight we headed back to the Mysore bus stop.
Mysore to Bangalore: Mysore-Bangalore buses shuttle 24 hours a day. We reached Bangalore (Mysore road Satellite bus stop) at 3:00AM and took the shuttle bus to Majestic bus stop.
It was a nice satisfying trip.