Later in the day on Wednesday, we tried to get to another nearby wildlife sanctuary, Nagarhole. Travelling on many back roads, with road blocks of cows and goats, proved to be a difficult task, and we weren’t able to make it there. Alas our trip was not in vain- we were able to see locals threshing grains by laying them across the road and using the weight of passing cars to separate and crush the grains. It was quite an interesting and novel idea to complete a difficult task otherwise done by hand. We also found a large body of water that was host to many lotus plants. How beautiful it would have been to see this in bloom in the warmer months, but it was still impressive as our photo shows.
On Thursday morning, we pack up and head to Mudumalai National Park, which is just about an hour away from Bandipur but in another state. We crossed from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, and noted a completely different landscape. The terrain is much more varying, with mountains as a backdrop to very lush forests. This park is the convergence of the Eastern and Western Ghats, and makes for an interestingly biodiverse habitat. Outside of our host lodge, we found small community temple surrounded by Buddha figs (Ficus religiosa) and banyons (Ficus bengalensis).
Later in the evening, we were privy to visit the government’s elephant training facility. These elephants are really quite smart; they happily get bathed in the river by their owners and they anxiously open their mouths during feeding times. Beyond trained elephants, we have seen quite a few wild elephant herds. I didn’t realize that elephants got more spots on their head and ears as they age.
On Friday we were able to get a little more information on some of the local vegetation.
Our lodge provided an interpretive walk and we were eagerly trod through the brush and mud learning local names to some we could recognize and some that were foreign to our eyes. Some of the interesting things that perked our attention were the many ayurvedic uses for the plants, some for memory enhancement others for antiseptic purposes to name a few. We hope to have a lot more information on display in the coming Tropical Forest India exhibit opening in early 2012!