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  1. It was the 15th day of January. While almost everyone was happy, celebrating the festival Sankranti, I was disappointed hearing the news on the ban of tourists to the Gudisa hills. It was one of the most awaited trips of the year. The very first one I’d be doing with my friends on my Ford. Alas… destiny has its plans… good or bad, we need to accept and move on… But how did the plans my destiny had for me turned out? Good or bad? For the busy bees, here is a quick digest. BRIEF Vehicle: Ford Freestyle Titanium 1.5 TDCi. Fuel Type: Diesel. Fuel Consumed: 90lts. Kilometers Travelled: 1160kms. ROUTE DETAILS Route Taken: HYD-TATR (HVK RouteO) HYD – Adilabad – Khelapur – Karanji (left towards Wani from under a flyover) – Wani – Warora – Chimur. Distance: 465 Road Condition: Excellent roads till Karanji. From Karenji to Wani the roads are average. From Wani to Warora the condition is beyond worst and a nightmare for low slung sedans, hatchbacks. Route Taken: TATR-HYD (HVK RouteO) Chimur – Warora – Jam (left from Jam Jn towards Karenji) – Adilabad – HYD. Distance: 580 Road Condition: Again, the worst Chimur to Warora stretch. We have taken a long route (115kms extra) to avoid the time consuming and tiring Warora - Wani route and took Warora – Jam - Adilabad which turned out to be the best decision. Butter smooth Nagpur highway and super stable Ford ensured I always maintain 120kmph+ speed. IN SHORT Route 1 – HYD – Adilabad – Khelapur – Karenji (left towards Wani from under a flyover) – Wani – Warora – Chimur. The shortest route but the roads slowly turn worst. Route 2 – HYD – Adilabad – Khelapur – Karenji (straight towards Jam) – Jam (right towards Warora from Jam Jn) – Warora – Chimur. 100kms longer but not as bad as route 1, Worth taking. Karenji to Wani is average. Wani to Warora is filthy dirty and worst. Warora – Chimur is bad. Route 2 - Can skip the Wani – Warora stretch. STAY DETAILS Resort: Beyond Stay Mahua Tola. (Beyond Stay Mahua Tola, Tadoba 086469 07777 https://maps.app.goo.gl/kLuk6dpaMN5R43iG8) Price: 7500 / day Inc 3 beds + unlimited food for a suite room. Review: This is my second time staying at Mahua Tola Resort and it again turned out to be an excellent stay option. 5-star rating for the food, quality, and service. Mr Shukla, the manager, again turned out to be an awesome guy as usual. Recommended many and will continue to recommend. Must prefer option if staying with family. SAFARI DETAILS Safari 1 (Day 2): Kolara Core Afternoon Safari. Price: 6500 for a Gypsy (6 per Gypsy allowed) + 250 for 600mm Telephoto lens. Safari 2 (Day 3): Madhnapur Buffer Morning Safari. Price: 4500 for a Gypsy (6 per Gypsy allowed) + 250 for 600mm Telephoto lens. Safari 3 (Day 3): Phalasgaon Buffer Night Safari. Price: 5500 for a Gypsy (6 per Gypsy allowed) + 250 for 600mm Telephoto lens. Special mention to the safari guide Amit and driver Anil for their superb spotting skills, knowledge of the forest and route. 6 Gypsys went in for the night safari and ours was the lucky 1 to spot a Leopard too close after a month almost. Special thanks to Amit and Anil. Strongly recommend having them as a guide and driver if you plan for a night safari. Contact details will be shared on request. PLACES EXPLORED 1. Photo walk with Mr Shukla to the lake beside the resort where pugmarks are often seen. 2. Gondmaholi kayaking with Mr Shukla to spot some beautiful birds. DETAILED TRAVELOGUE The previous day, the 22nd of Feb, I Topped up my fuel tank with 40 lts Diesel and Nitrogen topped up. Had my dinner, packed bags and it was my time to sleep. It was the morning of 23rd, 5:15 AM. The excitement was real! The D Day has arrived and we were all set to start in just an hour!! This very thought has made the really short 1 hour very long. I took bath, freshened up, for the final time checked all my camera gear, cleaned my sunglasses and I was all set for the amazing drive. Dumped all the luggage in the boot, cleaned the car, it was time for some quick snaps to boast in my Instagram, WA and Snapchat. Obviously, who wouldn’t!? 23 Feb, 2021 Hyderabad - Karenji Just a gentle press on the push start button depressing the clutch, the diesel beauty vibrated all over the place and started with the typical melodious diesel clatter. “Melodious!? Really!?” May ask the petrol heads. Only a true diesel guy knows the feeling I’d say. It took few minutes for the cold started engine to settle down and within just 15 mins I was below the ORR Medchal entry. Yeah, ORR is close to my home. It was 6:35 AM by the time I was on the proper highway on a good pace cruising the way. The traffic was not much and the roads were excellent. It was opposite to what my experience was during the 2017 Tadoba trip. It was a bad day, certainly a really bad day. Just 2 days before the trip I caught a cold followed by fever. Never worried if it was COVID, but was certainly worried if I would be able to make it for the trip and drive to Tadoba. The day has arrived and my worst fears came true. I started driving with really bad health. The time was 8:45 AM just a few kilometres ahead of Adilabad, I was having fever, bad night sleep, medicines that induce sleep the previous day mixed with some crazy thoughts of having a Tesla Autopilot in these situations. A tinge of dizziness took over me and I near-missed crashing a truck while overtaking it from the rightmost lane at high triple-digit speeds. My ORVM almost brushed past the truck. That was one scary moment in my driving experience. Finally, it was time for me to take a halt, have breakfast, home-cooked curd rice to avoid any further pain in my already soar throat, I halted just after crossing Adilabad toll plaza and the time was 9:30 AM. The day was sunny and sultry, I switched off my AC to sweat a bit and come to my senses, washed my face, had my breakfast and took a tablet that provided much-required relief to me. Clicking pictures are mandatory and is induced in our “Roadtrippers Culture”, after a good bit of photo session, I resumed my journey towards Khelapur (MH) at 10:00 AM. I always believe in taking short breaks every 300KMS-400KMS of continuous driving unless it’s an emergency. This although increases the drive time to a good 1hr, it’ll certainly help us maintain the balance of our mood and help us concentrate on the road without having sleepy eyes. It also gives much-needed rest to the car’s tires. I don’t believe in following the often-said norm “Non-Stop 800KMS drive”. I’m not an ambulance driver on emergency duty neither I’m planning to grab a place in the records book. Call me a newbie or an oldie, I don’t care as far as I’m following good practice. The time was 11:30 PM, I filled my diesel tank with 13lts fuel at Khelapur HP Fuel Station (MH). Did I say I suffer from “range phobia”? From Khelapur to Karenji is around 30mins drive. We reached Karenji at noon and now we have started the main stretch and tedious journey to the most awaited destination bidding goodbye to the butter smooth highways. Karenji – Wani Karenji to Wani takes 45mins and the drive is through some of the bad roads often traversed by the worst drivers. One such driver was the MHRTC bus driver who came close to me and we would’ve ended up head-on if I had not taken the rocky path on the shoulder of the road. These are the advantages of having a crossover, SUV or a CUV! No other car except these high raised cars can take such abusive roads with such ease avoiding some nasty crashes. This road takes us through coal factories, deviations, and some narrow bridges. This might sound interesting for some, but trust me, this is one horrible and energy-draining path. What lies further ahead is just the worst. After a bad drive, we arrived at a Wani junction which confused us during our 2017 trip. Having learnt a lesson from the horrible past, we took the left from the circle. Wani – Warora And this is the stretch. The worst part of the journey, energy-draining, body paining stretch. And in cars like the Ford Freestyle where the suspension is as stiff as a rock, more beatings were inevitable. The drive is for 1 hour takes us through the worst of the worst roads which are always under construction. The pathetic state of this road since 2017 describes the sad state of life of the native villagers. It's better not to speak much about these roads and carry to the further parts of the journey. Warora – Chimur The time was 1:45 PM. After a tiring 1hr 45mins drive we arrived at what is officially called “Vana Kshetr”. The roads were beautiful and it was obvious for a quick photo shoot. The roads covered with forests on either side give a beautiful look to the road. But the happiness was short-lived! There was mass deforestation on either side of the roads. This described the pathetic state we were in where we are “clinging for development & modernization”. What added to the misery was a bad Warora to Chimur stretch. Not as bad as the previous one though. Finally, the time was 2:30 PM and we have successfully crossed Chimur. Chimur – Tadoba / Beyond Stay Mahua Tola A 30mins drive to the resort through a mix of bad and good yet typical forest terrain and we have reached the resort. Those doing this trip be aware not to travel on low slung sedans and hatchbacks. The time was 3:01 PM. Ahh!! What a feeling! We finally, after traversing through the worst of roads, arrived at the place after a long wait of 3 years! Can’t describe the feeling and there are no words that do justice to it. We got down from our car, and Mr Shukla was standing with his fellows offering chilled juice and wet wipes. Sadly, I could never drink the chilled juice considering my sour throat. The time was 3:15 PM and we were extremely hungry having travelled from Hyderabad through some extremely bad roads. We straight away washed our hands and went to the outdoor dining area… What a sight it was!! The beautiful open garden without any boundaries that merge with the forest… we were immediately relaxed with the sight. “Nature is the best cure” and the saying never goes wrong. The server requested just 5 mins to serve the delicious lunch prepared exclusively to match our spicy taste buds and we finished it quickly gulping piping hot rotis and curry only to escape to our rooms jump on the cosy beds for a deep evening sleep… It was 5:00 PM. We were in deep sleep; the phone rang and it was Mr Shukla to inform us the evening tea and snacks were ready. He was quick enough to sense the laziness in my sleepy voice and quickly asked if we want it to be served inside our room. I said no, and we left to the open dining space. We quickly had our snacks and set to the evening photo walk with Mr Shukla hoping to see some owls and birds. We walked far inside the forest and reached the lake. We searched for some birds and owls but couldn’t find any. I peeped into my 600mm Sony G Master lens to see the treetops but was left in despair. “The wildlife is unpredictable. You don’t know what the very next second would transpire into.” The coming 2 days and 3 safaris are proof. We spent a good 1 hour inside the forest and were back to the resort and escaped into our cosy rooms. I spent another 1 hour in setting up my camera battery, SD card and cleaning my lens for the next day safari. It was 7:30 PM, we had some delicious dinner, had some talking with Mr Shukla and after a very hectic tiring day behind the wheel of my Ford, we called it a day. 24 Feb, 2021 The Kingfisher and its Cath! The previous day was a hectic one and we were fast asleep in the cool and calm mornings inside the woods. The AC was off, windows opened wide to welcome the cool forest air to fill the room. It was 5:30 AM, after a night of very deep sleep, we woke up to the fresh cool breeze, the chirpy birds and their melodious songs! We called up Mr Shukla and requested our breakfast to the room. The tea was served hot and the biscuits crispy. And the breakfast? That’s one tasty, mouthwatering parathas! It was 8:18 AM we went to the terrace attached to our room and enjoyed the warm morning views. The birds chirping, leaves rumbling and the trees and bushes till my sight has reached made me feel like a home away from home! The forests are somewhere I feel belonged to, I feel happy and I feel like a home away from home. After finishing breakfast, we went to the dining area to enjoy the view of the lotus lake inside the resort patiently waiting for a beautiful photo. “Wildlife is unpredictable. It rewards the patient eyes, sturdy hands and stoical postures.” After a good 30 mins struggle with the heavy 600mm G Master lens in hard postures, the wildlife rewarded with one of the best and the first photo of the trip. The Kingfisher with its catch. One of the best feelings for a wildlife photographer is when they find the most rewarding picture after a lot of struggles. Kolara Core Safari The time passed quickly. It was noon and time for lunch. We quickly had our lunch and hopped into our Ford with Mr Shukla. The drive was to Kolara core zone afternoon safari. It was a 20 mins drive from our resort and we were at the gate by 1:30 PM waiting for Mr Shukla to finish off the entry formalities. By 1:50 PM we were in our Gyspsys waiting for the gates to open and enter the sprawling forests. The Sandgrouse was the first bird to welcome us into the Kolara forest and patiently posed for a click. Followed by many beautiful animals and birds. How many beauties we may find in the forest, the eyes of a wildlife photographer will always desperately search for the big cat. I was no exception. We drove all around the forest. Multiple rounds around Maya Tala - Tigress Maya, The Queen of Tadoba’s habitat yet, we couldn’t even get a glimpse of her. The one golden rule in the wildlife is, “Avoid target safaris. Enter the forest not to see the Tiger but to witness the wild in its natural habitat. Be patient and enjoy nature and wildlife. It’ll reward the purest souls who find solace in the forest” And I never failed to follow this golden rule. However desperate I was spotting the big cat, I never avoided nor failed to appreciate the sheer beauty of the forest and wildlife. As said, it has rewarded me than all the other entrants in my entire trip. After multiple rounds inside the core zone and some beautiful moments at the Tadoba lake clicking some beautiful pictures, mother nature had her plans to reward me. The time was somewhere around 3:00 PM. We again reached the Tigress Maya abode. Langur calls and the deer were running, The Gypsys lined up and people standing alert while the photographers busy with those heavy lenses in their hands. There were shutter sounds all around and the guide signalling to calm down. The environment changes drastically all in a glimpse when the big cat arrives! It was real and there she was, sitting under cosy bamboo bushes with sheer magnificence. What a sight it was!! Finally, wildlife has rewarded me with the best pics of Maya. We spent good 30 mins at the place and left with not so heavy but happy hearts. There are few new rules in the core zone by the MH Forest Dept. 1. No Gypsy is allowed to stand at a place for more than 5 mins and 15 mins in case of tiger spotting. 2. No Gypsy is allowed to take a U-Turn. It must follow the designated path, turn all-around and arrive at the desired location. No matter what. 3. Every Gypsy is tracked by a GPS device. Though the tracking made sense to me considering the poaching risk, the other 2 rules did not. That just spoils the entire experience and excitement. Anyway, I have no power of reverting them. After a few more hours inside the forest, the time was 5:45 PM and it was the time for us to exit the forest. By 6:00 PM, we were outside the core zone gate talking with fellow photographers about our experience and checking out each other’s captures. It feels so good to be in a like-minded group of people sharing the same level of interest as we do. We were in the resort by the dawn, freshened up, had some tasty dinner and called it a day. 25 Feb 2021 Madnapur Buffer Safari The wind was cool and the windows wide open welcoming the cool breeze. I was fast asleep wrapping myself in the cosy blankets. The time was 3:30 in the morning and I woke up to the wake-up calls of the housekeeping. “sir, aapka aaj morning safari hain sir” said the voice behind the room. The man patiently waited there for my response and left quietly. The time was 4:30 AM, I was quick enough to have the last 10 mins of sleep and get ready to catch up for the morning safari and to see what the forest has to show this day. It was 4:45 AM, after a quick chatting with the ever-energetic Shukla, we hopped into our beloved Ford Freestyle, started the engine and we were all set to enter the Madhnapur Buffer Forest. I often come across people who say they were “disappointed with their trip because they did not see a Tiger!” Few say their money got wasted on a “useless trip”! and few say the other way. But I say mother nature has everything in its lap to show us. Mother knows their children. She only rewards the “purest souls” and not the “commercial souls”. For those who go to a wildlife sanctuary only to spot a tiger, better watch the Discovery channel! When I say mother nature has everything in its lap to show us, I mean it. This day I was lucky unlike the others en route. I have seen not 1 or 2 but 3 rare sighting animals on my way to the buffer safari gate. Fox and Wild Dogs they were. Quick enough to pass through the way and escape into the forest. The time was 5:30 AM. I was at the buffer gate. Mr Shukla, as usual, had completed all the formalities and we were inside the forest by 6:00 AM. There was no GPS tracking this time and the joy in the driver’s face was evident. We took an offroad path. The path not taken by the other Gypsys. The path that was not a path. We made multiple rounds to multiple locations and water bodies in the forest. We couldn’t spot even a single animal. Not even a bird! The co Gypsy occupants already started calling it a dry day, a wasteful safari and with other demeaning names. I was least bothered and had my tasty breakfast amid forest overlooking a beautiful water body just beside a forest check post having some quality discussions with the police staff. The time flew fast and it was already 9:00 AM. The cool and breezy wind has turned into the harsh sunlight. I removed my jacket, cap. I made myself light and comfortable. We were just aimlessly roaming inside the forest maintaining a slow pace wondering at the god’s creation. The time was 9:25 AM and a Gypsy was reversing fast. Then guide of that Gypsy has signalled to the driver of my Gypsy and I understood what it was! I quickly stood, switched on my Sony camera, removed the lens cap and held the heavy 600mm G Master lens in my hand and there she was! 10 months old female subadult of Tigress Junabhai, the first Tiger I have ever seen during my 2017 Tadoba trip in the same location. This is the early separated one. The youngest of the second litter of Junabhai. She was frightened, possibly seeing a bigger animal. She was running fast crossing the path and hit a tree trunk! She gave a frightened look, a growl, sniffed the trunk for any possible danger and disappeared into the woods… The brief encounter of just 8 mins was memorable. It was close, really close. It has given me some beautiful shots, my parents some memorable moments and Mr Shukla some memorable videos. As I always say, “Forest will reward the purest souls who find solace in the forest” Out of all the 6 Gypsys that has entered the forest, It was only ours and the other Gypsy to have found the tiger. It was 10:00 in the morning and we were out of the forest as the previous day, with happy hearts. After a quick shopping buying some hats, shirts and some souvenirs at the nearby store, we were at the resort, checking the photos and updating WhatsApp status! Gondmaholi Lake Kayaking We had a delicious lunch at the dining hall and it was already 2:30 PM. I slept for a few hours and by 4:00 PM after having some delicious pakodis and hot tea, I was all set to “explore the unexplored” on my Ford Freestyle. Mr Shukla, well aware of liking had planned a Kayaking and birding trip to the Gondmaholi lake. It was 4:30 in the evening. After a good soft roading session on my Ford, we were at the lake bed. We entered the Kayak quickly wearing the life jackets and carefully holding the camera. The Gondmaholi lake, a beautiful lake situated amid the Phalsgaon buffer zone, home to a variety of beautiful birds which is not known to many. The Govt. of Maharashtra and the Forest Department had started Kayaking at the lake to boost local tourism and to provide a livelihood to the otherwise uneducated and unemployed youth. We did a full round inside the lake on our Kayak followed by the local youth on a lifeboat. 4 per Kayak are allowed and each Kayak must have a guide which takes the count to 5. It was a nice 1-hour trip with the sun setting, our Kayak slowly rowing and some beautiful birds in the water with the golden hours as a backdrop! Some of the best moments they were… I had spotted Pond Heron, Gray Heron, Egret, Northern Pintails, Spot-Billed Ducks, Red Crested Pochards and The Oriental Darter – Snake Bird with the beautiful sun setting backdrop. Such beautiful scenes never I’ve seen in my life. Phalasgaon Buffer Night Safari The time was 5:30 PM and we quickly hopped into our Ford and left for the final safari of our trip, the Phalasgaon Night Safari! It’s a 10 mins drive from the lake and at 5:45 PM we were at the Phalasgaon safari gate. Destiny had its plans for the last safari. Mr Shukla who was there with us for all the safaris had to leave to the resort on some urgent work skipping the much-awaited night safari. Now it was me, my camera and my parents in the Gypsy. The sundown, dark pitching in and the gates open taking us to the deep forest. The night was cold and I had no protective gear. It was just a thin half hands wildlife T-shirt and camouflaged shorts covering my body. The trees were tall and thick and it was a dark gloomy forest which all of sudden wore a very deep and frightening look. The total opposite of what it was just a few hours back! The driver, Mr Anil and guide Mr Amit need a special mention. You ask me the reason? I ask you to read till the end. The driver upon our guide’s request quickly took us to a water body where Tiger is often seen. On our way, we’ve seen a Nilghai drinking water. I asked my driver to stop. And I begin clicking photos. The driver said let’s move but I ordered him to stop! We spent a good 10 mins shooting a Nilghai! The driver was looking at me like a madman staring at a Nilghai. But only a photographer can understand the real reason that I was accustoming myself with the condition and understanding well to strike the perfect balance between aperture, ISO and shutter speed to get a perfect shot for the night is dark, wildlife is unpredictable and I have to be ever ready. After spending a good 1 hour at the lake, I asked my driver to move. I had a very bad headache because of the strobe lights used by the guide. I turned off my camera and dozed off in the super bouncy Gypsy. It was 9:15 PM already. Just 45 mins for us to get out. We were roaming in the forest like a madman and I was sleeping with a bad headache. The guide woke me up. “utho sir, udhar kuch dikhayi diya” said the guide Amit. I was hopeless of any spotting yet, optimistic at the same time. I woke up, switched on the camera and checked all the controls. The driver Anil took the Gypsy a bit inside the forest deviating from the path. The night was dark and scary. The wind blowing sharp and cool and the leaves rumbling making noises… the strobe light on and the headlights off! I peeped into my camera and the 600mm G Master zoomed to just half its limit and there it was sleeping! The beauty that I’ve never seen. The beautiful beast that many of us have only read and heard of but have never seen. The rarest of the animals, the Leopard!!! What a sight! What a sight! A close 13mins encounter left us with lifelong memories and tales to tell to people and friends… the sighting blew my mind and my headache vanished too! The animal woke up and jumped only to disappear into the pathless woods… It was 9:50 PM, we were outside the forest before 10 mins excitedly talking to the forest guards. I hope now you got the reason why I said the driver, Mr Anil and guide Mr Amit need a special mention. At 10:00 PM sharp, we have left to the resort in our Ford in the empty forest roads… Beyond Stay Mahua Tola We had our dinner, spoke to Mr Shukla telling him how much he missed the sighting, we showed him some pics, sent a few to Mr Amit and Anil, updated the same as my WhatsApp status and called it a day. 26 July 2021 Beyond Stay Mahua Tola The last day of our trip… This very thought has given me a sudden saddening vibe. The much-awaited trip came to an end! As the saying goes, all good things have an end, this good vacation too had to end. The only thing that mattered was the way it has ended. In a good way or not so good way. And this very thing, I leave it to the readers to judge… This day, we planned we will wake up late, enjoy the noon and start late. The time was 9:15 AM. We woke up to the worker's voices. Freshened up, we went to the dining area and had our breakfast. We left for Kolara gate at 10:30 AM and spent 30 mins buying some more souvenirs for our family and friends. It was 11:40 AM we returned to the resort to pack our bags. We finished our lunch early, went to our rooms and took a quick nap. The time was 3:30 PM and we started our drive back to Hyderabad bidding goodbye to Mr Shukla the team and the Forest. Coming back to the first question, How did the plans my destiny had for me turn out? Good or bad? Leaving this answer to my readers to guess, I’m putting an end to this beautiful journey. Goodbye until the next wildlife road trip on my XUV500 AWD. Few More Photos From The Trip A group of Spotted Deers at Kolara Core Zone Red-Wattled Lapwing at Kolara Core Zone A Female Sambar Deer and Doe at Kolara Core Zone Red-Vented Bulbul at Kolara Core Zone - Breakfast Views. Red-Vented Bulbul at Kolara Core Zone - Breakfast Views. Side Lit Picture of a Spotted Deer and Doe at Kolara Core Zone Side Lit Picture of Spotted Deer at Kolara Core Zone - Tadoba Lake A Male Sambar Deer at Kolara Core Zone Spotted Deer at Kolara Core Zone Side View of a Male Sambar Deer at Kolara Core Zone - Tadoba Lake Honey Buzzard at Kolara Core Zone A Male Sambar Deer at Kolara Core Zone - Maya Tala (Tigress Maya's Zone)
  2. Hyderabad to Srisailam Guide Distance : 220 kilometers Route : Hyderabad - Kadthal - Kalvakurthi (bypass) - Dindi - Munnanur - Mallapur - Sundhipenta - Srisailam Road condition : Hyderabad to Dindi, road condition is excellent. Super smooth road and has tolls. Toll road : Hyderabad to Dindi Dinidi to Srisailam, road condition is good, roads are narrow, difficult to overtake and many blind curves but the views are fantastic. Ghat road : Dindi to Srisailam
  3. We wish to enjoy the monsoon rains and want to disconnect from this city busy life and pressures. Want to explore some forest & greenery places and some time for devotional places as well. We decided to visit "NallaMalla Jungle Camp - Pacherla" and booked accommodation through its website (http://nallamalaijunglecamps.com) Car : Fiat Punto 90HP Places Visited : Nalla Malla Jungle Camp, Srisailam Route Taken : Miryalaguda - Nagarjuna Sagar - Macherla - Nalla Malla Jungle Camp - Srisailam - Dindi - Miryalaguda Distance : 700kms (Round Trip - approx) We booked our accommodation and started from Miryalaguda on Aug 25th - 5AM. Reached Nagarjuna Sagar dam by 6am, took some pics on the dam and enjoyed the cool climate. From Nagarjuna Sagar, we reached Macherla and visited "chennakesava swamy temple" and headed to "Forest Camps" via "giddalur". The road condition was really good and it went through some forest areas which provides pleasant driving feel. We took the road towards "Nandyal" from "Giddalur" and travelled for about 35kms to reach "Forest Camp". This 35kms road is driver's paradise with full of mountains and ghat sections. It was raining heavily when we visited and added more beauty to the place. The real fun of driving starts here with this road and its curves ... This 35kms road condition was pretty awesome with no pot holes and full of tress on both sides. Here are small videos of road condition https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2uIlB3_8OgJYXg4UHpEekdfNUE/view?usp=sharing https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2uIlB3_8OgJMFJ2VlFsaXlPdkk After 4 hours of journey, we finally reached our destination The accommodation provided was pretty clean with all facilities. They welcomed us with hot tea (welcome drink) as the climate is damm cool. Some pictures of the jungle camp : Few pics from Jungle Safari : There you can spot the old railway bridge which was destroyed long ago (that bridge even flashed in few movies). Even they arranged nice camp-fire after our dinner. Time for some sport in the jungle camp :- After our pleasant stay in the jungle camp, we headed towards srisailam. After having darshan of the Great Mallikarjuna Swamy, we headed to Miryalaguda via Dindi ( its my wife's turn to drive me to home ). Overall, it was really good experience for us and enjoyed our trip alot. Even its economical too when considering stay packages at Nalla Malla Jungle Camp.
  4. Total Distance Travelled: 160kms up & down. Time Taken: 7.5 hrs. Road Condition: Excellent. Vehicle: Ford Freestyle Titanium 1.5 TDCi. Route: Gannavaram – Prakasam Barrage – Gollapudi – Lanco Circle – Kondapalli village – Lanco Circle – VGA – HYD NH – Kondapalli forest ghat – Kondapalli fort – HYD – VGA NH – Mulapadu village – Mulapadu Butterfly Park. It was the 28th day of August. More than 6 months locked in our homes. Yes, the lockdown has been lifted. But the virus is till there. Three visits to my hometown, Rajahmahendravaram / Dowaleswaram and Ramachandrapuram but the itch to explore a place and drive to a beautiful forest where I and my Ford always love spending time was still there. I was at Vijayawada, the city my father is currently working as a DGM at AAI. Never been to any nearby place but always heard about the place Kondapalli. Though visiting my all-time favorite Maredumilli forest, Pamuleru Vagu the 3rd time was my initial plan, couldn’t convince my parents since we were planning to Hyderabad very soon. So, What next? Just a quick check on the route from VGA-Kondapalli opening Google Maps and checking the best viewpoint using Google Earth. The next day, it was 29th of August. Gannavaram – Kondapalli village – Kondapalli fort via Kondapalli forest. We had a delicious lunch at home in Gannavaram, checked my newly fitted Hella Comet 500 and a gentle press on the push start button depressing the clutch, my Ford 1.5 TDCi roared to life. It took us 2hrs to reach Kondapalli village which is 45kms away from my house at Gannavaram. It was 3.07PM and we quickly stopped at Kondapalli toys store to gift a nice Kondapalli toy to our family doc and did a quick shopping for our newly renovated house at Hyderabad. While my parents were busy shopping at the store, I had a quick look inside the store, wondered at the beauty of our native Telugu artisans work and then it was time for me to have a look at the Gmaps for further planning. A short drive to the other side of the hill, we in no time entered Kondapalli Forest ghat. What a feeling! Driving on the ghats after almost a year. Maredumilli being the last. It’s a 6.9km drive through the forest ghat road and it took us almost 20mins to reach to the Fort after a good drive on the extremely narrow and scenic ghat road. The road condition was excellent. Doordarshan TV towers situated at the top of the hill is a major advantage and the only reason for the best road condition. We spent a good 1.5hrs time at Kondapalli forest. While my parents were busy exploring the fort, I was double busy exploring the forest and clicking some beautiful pictures of my mile muncher Ford and enjoying the views sipping a chilled sprite in the hot afternoon. It was 5.15 in the evening, it’s getting dark and we were already getting late to catch-up for our last leg of journey, drive through the Mulapadu forest road in the return leg to home. We hopped into our car after sipping hot tea and at a small shop near the fort feeling sad looking at the beauty being littered by some people. Kondapalli fort - Mulapadu forest – Gannavaram via Mulapadu forest road. (ONE NEEDS TO TAKE THE MULAPADU-GADDAMANUGU ROAD TO VISIT BUTTERFLY PARK AND FOREST WHICH IS NOT SHOWN IN GOOGLE MAPS) We started at 5.45 Pm at Kondapalli fort, a good downhill drive covering the entire 6.9kms but this time in 30mins avoiding all the idiotic bikers ricing on rice bikes and Activas, we reached the VGA-HYD NH with a small scratch on the rear right door caused by an old man speeding in his Dzire without even honking on a curve. “Be gentle on my curves” must be followed everywhere! We reached Mulapadu village and the time was already 6.15PM, seeing no chance of driving through the Mulapadu forest road to Gannavaram which was the original plan since it was already dark and the road was full of truck traffic, I settled for a few pictures near the Mulapadu Butterfly Park arch and Mulapadu forest entry, bought some beautiful plants in the nearby nursery, bid goodbye to the beautiful place looking at the forest road entry planning in my mind to execute the incomplete final leg of journey all alone, we drove back to Gannavaram. I know the story is incomplete unfortunately. But hopefully I’ll be back really soon with a part 2. Until then, Drive Safe, Stay Safe.
  5. This is about June 2016 travel to Tadoba Tiger reserve from Hyderabad. In Jan-2016 I had traveled Chopta and Munsiyari in Uttarakand with another three new travelers met first time at Delhi. One of them Mr. Pandey is from Nagpur and he asked me to come down to Nagpur for visiting Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and booked safari a couple of months before for 12th June 2016 . Till then I had no experience of any forest safary and I was excited to see many wild animals. Mean time our travel friends planned for Ladakh tour in the last week of June, 2016 (25-06-2016). It was one of the dream destination and I know it will be difficult and expensive if I go alone and said OK and booked flight/train to Delhi and back. Then started thinking it will be hectic for two tours in two weeks. But Pandey who is also coming for Ladakh trip did not agree and made me to visit Tadoba. Day 1 On 11th June we started at 5.00 Hrs in my car from Hyderabad. My wife and son were with me. We are two drivers and had a back seat to sleep if needed. We reached Nirmal by 8.00 Hrs entered town leaving NH44 and had breakfast at Hotel Mayuri. Breakfast was good but when we had lunch next year, it was very bad. We joined NH44 through old NH7 road. Reached Nagpur by 13.00 Hrs and Pandey's home by 13.30. Roads up to Adilabad were excellent. Four lane work and Underpass works at Hingenghat (about 30 Kms) not completed and have to change lanes and pass through the villages. Road at places in this section also not good. After that till Nagpur roads are good. One more travelmate Mr. Jagtap from Betul (MP) who is mine safety officer in Western Coal Fields (WCF) and a native of Nagpur was supposed to join us with his family in his car. But due to some fire accident in a coal mine he could not join us. Our plan was to reach WCF guest house at Murpar which is about 15 Kms away from Navegaon Gate of Tadoba Reserve and stay overnight and reach the gate early in the morning. We started from Nagpur at about 17.00 Hrs and reached Murpar by 19.45 Hrs. While entering Chandrapur district at Umred check-post, local police stopped our car for checking and found one whiskey bottle in our luggage which was kept by Pandey. The police told me that alcohol is banned in chandrapur district and we can not carry. I said I am from Hyderabad and I do not the local rules and never imagined that a particular district will have a ban. He looked at Pandey in the car and asked he is from Maharashtra and how come he do not know. I said he does not know about it and i brought it my self. Some how he took away the bottle and allowed us to proceed further. So those who are travelling to Tadoba please do not carry alcohol. By the time we reached Chimur which is a little bigger town close to Navegaon Gate, it started drizzling and when we took right turn at Khadsangi for Murpar, heavy downpour started and visibility was hardly 20 mtrs in head lights. Left turn at Khadsangi will lead to Navegaon gate. Mr. Jagtap booked the guest house at WCF mine area, Murpar. We found one Telugu cook in the guest house and when we told him about Umred check post incident, he said we are too lucky to be let off, otherwise they arrest and harras for carrying alcohol. When we asked about dinner he said other than non veg, he will prepare any thing. Non Veg has to be brought from Chimur some 12 Kms away and it is not possible at that time and that too in heavy rain. We ordered roti, dal and sabji with omlets. Mean time me and pandey went to Khadsangi in the rain and enquired about safari vehicles. we were told that there is no need to book in advance and Gypsy cars will be available at the gate as per the serial and as many as permitted for the day/session. We had dinner and had good sleep. Day 2 We got up early and reached Navegaon gate before 5.30 Hrs. We found only one car before us at the gate. We went to gate office and booked a safari car and engaged a Guide. Safari car is for Rs. 600 and Guide Rs.350 (That's what I remember). Sky is clear and we found water of previous night's rain on the roads pot holes. We entered the forest by 5.45. Our guide said it is always advantage of more sightings if your car is first and it proved correct. Myself with wife and kids of Pandey The first site before entering the core area Second sighting a glimpse of bear Then a Jackal There were lot of birds and I could not shoot them as I do not have a proper lens. The same bear came out of the forest and crossed our path. We were told that Tiger will come here but after waiting enough time he did not turned up. There are many deers and Neelgai Obviously not happy with our presence Canter from Moharli gate Now many jeeps arrived and waiting at a water hole for the arrival of the Big Cat. But it did not show up and the our morning session ended. Little disappointed and our guide was telling us that people make more than six safaris and go back without seeing a Tiger. We had a booking for afternoon safari also. With a little hope we returned to our guest house. On the way back from morning safari Padey with our Driver and Guide. Will continue with after noon Safari..
  6. Last weekend me and Saran decided to explore a new place called Gottamgutta. We started searching online for routes and other information. Even after spending an hour, I couldn't find anything related to routes and places to visit. We decided to start early in the morning and explore this place. Distance : Hyderabad to Gottamgutta : 120 kilometers Route : There are two routes to reach this place. One is a regular route through the village called Chandrampalli (dam). Other route is through few small villages and a forest. We obviously took the forest route. Hyderabad > Sangareddy > Zaheerabad > Govindapur > Mogudampalli > Chincholi wild life scantuary > Gottam Gutta Red marked path is not present in Google maps. Places to visit 1. Chincholi Wild life scantuary 2. Gottamgutta (trek) 3. Chandrampalli dam
  7. Guys can someone please suggest the route and pit-stops to ooty from Hyderabad and best place to stay in ooty I'm planning to go on 16th December 2018
  8. Hello India-Drive members, This is a travelogue of my recent trip to Nagarjuna Sagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve and my third travelogue in this Forum. Wanted to make it the best out of three so took some time. Before starting the story, i would like to thank my dear friends from the WhatsApp group who made this trip a memorable one with their tips and advice. Distance: 408KM Drive Time: 8HRS including 1 breakfast break for a hour. Mileage: 13KMPL Vehicle: Honda City VX Manual Fuel: Petrol Speed: Cruised at 100KMPH and 140KMPH Route Taken: HYDERABAD-KURNOOL-NANDYALA-ATMAKUR-BAIRLOOTY DAY 1. 22 SEP 2017 Started at Kompally at 6:00 AM and reached M food court Mahbobnagar at 7:30 AM. The road is a good 4 lane road but going above 100KMPH is a tough thing after entering AP border. There are many white lines near the intersection which irritates at high speed. Had breakfast at M food court and started at 8:30 AM. About M food court, A restaurant with bad food and bad service. Not at all VFM. There is another restaurant called hill park before M food court but missed it due to the speed i was in. Started at 8:30 AM. after having breakfast and a small quarrel with the hotel staff there and reached Kurnool around 10:00 - 10:30AM. Got confused after reaching Kurnool and asked in the group. Thanks to @DheerajReddy @jay_chitti for suggesting me a route. Took RAYALASEEMA express way to reach Nandyala. After entering Kurnool we will get a signal from which we should go straight and then left to enter RAYALASEEMA express way. Going left from the starting signal will directly take us to Atmakur which is the best and quick route. Reached Nandyala at around 11:30 and did a mistake by switching on Google maps. It took me through streets where even a cycle guy thinks twice to enter. The street is Sunkallamma street adjacent to market road. got stuck there for one hour. That time i was sure that some one would come and trash me and my car for entering that narrow street with such a long vehicle... as imagined people came near me but what happened is a very different thing... people there are very good and kind, they helped me cross the street with absolutely zero damage to my car. One local there even walked for almost a kilometer just to ensure that the road is clear so that my car could enter. even a police there did the same thing. Was pleased by the way they treated their guest. all these things were because of the TS number plate my car has. After all those things, crossed Nandyala around 12:30PM and reached Bairlooty at 1:30PM. Had lunch there and started off to safari at 3:00PM, half and an hour earlier as there were no one that day. The safari is very good, takes us through dense forest. A person with an axe accompanies us for safety. Unfortunately could not spot any wild animals as its difficult during this time, happened to spot a Sambar female in this first day and captured it in my camera. The very adventures thing that has happened was a Gypsy break down. The Gypsy after going deep inside the forest broke down and we had wait for an hour for next Gypsy in the calm, peaceful, serene forest enjoying the chirping sounds of the birds, waiting for some wild animal to come so that i can capture. The driver, and few guys accompanying us were very attentive as they knew that there is always danger hidden behind a beauty. The place that we stopped was a thick forest where tigers, bears, cheetas come for evening snacks. The place is near a Y junction where there is an old British building and an old temple which is very very risky. Completed the safari by 6:00PM entered the room, had some tasty pakodas with hot tea enjoying the nature and then had dinner at 9:30 in the room itself as we were tired and slipped onto the bed. DAY2. 23 SEP 2017. Woke up at 7:30 AM from the comfy beds, got freshed up, had breakfast, bought some goodies from the local shop in the resort and went on for a second safari at 10:15 AM Forgot to tell you, there is an old Shiva temple inside the forest which is considered as a very risky place to go. The second day morning my father woke up early took the Gypsy and went inside the forest and temple. He spotted few wild bores, wild dogs, and wild pig on the way to temple. Many wild animals including Bears and Wild dogs, which are considered as the most dangerous animals than tiger come to that place early in the morning and in the evening. One should be prepared for the worst thing before going to the temple. Many people asked me the reason forgoing there, instead of going to some other place, there is no answer for those type of questions.. after all its a wildlife enthusiast and travelers thing. Coming to the second day safari, I was fortunate enough to spot few Neelghais this time. Spotted a group of Neelghais in the bushes and captured it in my camera. After going deep inside the forest for few kilometers there was a ditch where our Gypsy wheels got stuck and back seat occupants had to get down. The drivers are well experienced and got the Gypsy out of the ditch after few minutes of off-roading. This is my first off-roading, that too deep inside a forest.. after going for few kilometers, the driver stopped the vehicle at a safe zone and then i took few pictures. Completed the safari at around 12:30 and then bought an archery ticket for 100 rs for 10 arrows, the archery is a thing filled with great fun and joy. Learnt archery from the local tribal workers there and managed to shoot the red wall on the target board. A great achievement for me Finished the fun filled archery paid extra amount ie, 200 for 20 arrows, had lunch at 1:30 PM and drove to YSR Smruthi Vanam at 2:15 PM. Reached the place in less than 45 mins, a very good road where one can easily maintain 60KMPH entire 30KM stretch. About YSR Smruthi Vanam, A place which is 30 kilometers away from Bairlooty( Nallamalla Jungle Camps) at Atmakur. A place build in memory of undivided Andhra Pradesh ex Chief Minister Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. His plane was crashed 15 kilometers from YSR Smruthi Vanam at Pavuralagutta which is clearly visible from a view point tower constructed at that place. Its a picnic spot for many locals, a good place for children to play around and have fun, for elders its not so interesting. Visited that place paid my respects to the great person, my father went on to the view point and clicked some pictures, we read few facts about him engraved on a marble stone and left the place at 2:45 PM. Reached Bairlooty at 3:15 PM took rest for an hour, had snacks, Mirchi Bajji, Tea, and then again paid 100rs for archery at 5:30 PM. could not play much because of the low light and returned early to the guest house. There the light is very low, looks like 6:30PM but will still be 5:30PM Had some quality talk with the supervisor Mr. Rajendra Prasad. He is a very passionate person, passionate about wildlife, a nature lover, photographer, and flutist. His passion towards these things are obvious from the way he talk, he is a Bpharm degree holder, had a lab of his own, stopped it and came to bairlooty from Kadapa just to serve the nature. His job at Bairlooty is amazing, outstanding, and he is still a contract employee. His wildlife photo collection is excellent. He has a Nikon D5 with which he captures the beautiful wildlife. He has got a very good knowledge over wild animals, plants, forests. He caught a very dangerous spider and sealed it in a box. Took the picture but its not clear. At 8:30PM i tried for some star trails but could not get because of the clouds. Had dinner at 9:00PM and slipped onto the bed at 10:30PM. DAY 3. 24 SEP 2017 Woke up at 7:00AM, had tea, paid 200 for 20 arrows, (yes, I am addicted towards that game) had breakfast at 9:30, Packed our bags, bought some more goodies from the store there which were made by the Girijans there, paid amount and left the place by 10:30 with a heavy heart Route Taken: BAIRLOOTY-ATMAKUR-KURNOOL-KADWAL-HYDERABAD. Reached Hyderabad at 7:15 as we stopped for some time at Gadwal and Food Pyramid. About Gadwal, A nice place famous for its sarees. Could not explore much. About Food Pyramid, A restaurant with worst food and service. No hygiene at all. Stopped at Gadwal and my mother took some sarees at the weavers. The roads were good all the way, the road from Bairlooty to Atmakur is a beautiful two laned road surrounded by lush green farms. A special thanks to @Ranger @DheerajReddy @jay_chitti @varunc @shruthi and all the WhatsApp group members for sharing the information rite from the beginning to the end of the trip. Few pictures
  9. Hi Members Greetings,please advice best route traveling from hyderabad to ooty. Regards Baig
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