07 November 2008

Weekend Trip-Manchibelle Dam Experience and photos

The best part of being in south India has always been the extensive range of places you could visit near around. I love to budge around and being located in Bangalore, I have lot of opportunities of photography and sight seeing in close vicinities of the “Garden City”.
With the weekend drawing closer, I started my pursuit for a place around Bangalore, and MANCHINBELLE DAM appeared top on my interest list. I shall include some important details about the trips and hopefully those should help the commuters making it a more comfortable journey for them.
Trip To: Manchinbelle Dam & visiting banyan tree & Naga Temple on the way.
Free Add-On: banyan tree, Naga Temple.
Distance: Almost 40 Kms from Bangalore City.
Trip directions: MG Road -> Take the Mysore road -> Look for Rajeshwari Dental College (which should come to your right side travelling from Blr)->Take exact right from there (there is a board also which shall confirm you are turning the correct road).

The road next to the dental college, leads you straight to the Big Banyan Tree and then carries on to the Manchinbelle dam. About the road conditions, drive on the Mysore road is a pleasure as always, till the Rajeswari Dental College. As you turn, the road looks retraced, with a fine outlook, not posing any troubles. It’s a beauty till the Big Banyan tree and one can cruise through scanty traffic and scenic landscapes around. From the big banyan Tree, another few Kms are promising and then they fall apart, both the road and the promises it made. It’s a complete devastation and bumpy ride hereon. As one drives down to the dam, the road is a little slippery posing risk if driven without taking care.

As the drive from the rajeshwari dental college starts, we started feeling alike of some place around Madikeri. The vegetation around the road changes and everything turns a lot greener, the lovely winter morning charmed us into the drive with the sun coming out and a beautiful aroma added to the air by flora around. The place smelt fresh and clean. We could not find much human movement in this area and the traffic on the road was reduced suddenly too, with few buses and trolleys passing by at times. These were excellent conditions for a metropolitan resident like me and I could recollect pleasure of driving at my native place in Punjab. After a good drive of 8 Kms from the Rajeshwari Dental college, we reached the Big Banyan tree which also known as Ramohalli and is a 400 years old, banyan tree. The tree trunk has already expired and the splits have been able to flourish with the little maintenance offered by this place. The span of this tree is huge and has the whole park built around it. The spot has got some attention from the authorities, with one of the nationalized, maintaining this park. There is a bus stand built over here a small market in front, catering the needs of locals and people visit this historical tree. After spending sometime and gulping some warm tea in the cold morning, we continued. The road continues from here in the same manner and the scenery starts to change fast. It’s a beautiful drive, extremely hush and green, and one more major crossing comes your way. WE took left and continued and didn’t get any further choices of roads, since it heads directly to the Dam. The road suddenly got worse and the speed never went beyond 10-15 Kms. Still nothing should dampen your spirits, as I could only hear birds’ sweet sounds and slow music wind. We were enjoying the drive, though it was quite bumpy now. There was this huge turn coming our way, and as we took that on, voila…this was it. The Manchinbelle Dam water bed, in front of our eyes, and we were spellbound. I just pulled over. If someone has ever driven to Goa from Bangalore, that’s the same surprise which shocks you as you discover Karwar coasts suddenly appearing. In this photo embedded below, you could also notice the Savandurga peak, which acts as a backdrop to the water bed.
Now we needed to find out the way for reaching the base and getting down to business. A couple of meters from this place, there was a muddy road, which leads towards the base. We took this right turn and carried on. The road is even friskier here and one needs to be extra conscious from here on. It’s hard to imagine such a place so up and close to Bangalore, and we just absorbed all the beauty around. It’s a Mecca for Birds and bird photography enthusiasts.
We had started from Bangalore at 6 am and by now it were 7.15, with birds already moving around the place and enjoying the morning sun.

We started moving around the base. The first stop was made, near a huge boulder near the water bed. I sighted a greater coucal on the rocks. It was far off, so I crouched and went near the rock. I could just get couple of shots, when it flew off. I was happy since I saw this bird for the first time, and the shot too was decent to start with. At the same boulder, there was couple of lizards which I shot and just spent couple of minutes, pondering on their agility and camouflage. I bet on a rainy day, it would be nearly impossible to spot them with their body changing color as exactly the surface they move on. A little further were a gang of laughing doves, magpie robins and lots of red vented bulbuls. Their movements were brisk since the place offers them homely comfort and capturing shots is not easy with the birds being quite shy. We moved ahead and there was huge resort, a dhabha, completely abandoned. I ventured through the complete area. It’s an excellent location to have a resort at, but for reason it was gone. There was an artistic tree across the road with a Green “OM” painted on it. Well, as they say, God is everywhere. I could also see some gray spotted owls on this tree tops. I was excited since never have shot an owl before. I spent some time waiting for the owl to pose for me, but they won’t come down. As for a moment I got lucky, one owl flew in to the tree and probably he didn’t notice me. The moment he saw below, I clicked and he left. It was as simple and quick. It’s just that this was my lucky day and the capture was spot on. Satisfied and even more energized, I spotted a white dot near the far end of the water bed. We drove towards it. After a little more, I could make out a large Grey heron bathing in sunshine. I parked on the road, and start moving through the fields, clicking on various distances. As I approached near I slowed down and crouched to give no signs of any interference to the bird. I got quite close to the bird and got this decent shot. I shot it from quite close by and the posted photo is an un-cropped version. After I started to move further from here, it probably noticed some movements and left me wanting for me. There are lots of maize fields around this whole area and is the same reason for lot of parakeets around. There were some red whiskered and white-browned bulbuls hiding and playing around these fields, not giving me a single chance to click them. But I soon got lucky with couple of Brahmin kits flying in to a tree nearby. I got busy with clicking them in their prideful posture and probably got some good eight to ten documentary shots. Also some more birds sighted around the place which I could not capture were Small Green Bee-eater, Tickell’s Flowerpecker, Magpie Robin, Hoopoe, and Small Blue Kingfisher. I got a click of pied bushcat but from an angle that could not expose its eyes.

The sun rose higher and birds started disappearing. We moved and before heading to Bangalore, we took a little diversion and decided to drive near the DAM for couple of shoots. Do not miss the place and a small village near the dam, heavenly place. As we moved from here, we stopped at the huge construction site with massive Dish setup and got to know the Space research institute coming up over there, which is one the finest investment goverment is making. I refrained from clicking any shots of this place, considering the security breach it may cause. On the way back, we also took a small road to the Naga Temple, which to us looked the most visited & famous place in the complete region. We didn’t see so many people during the whole journey, which we saw at this temple. The temple is small and beautiful and getting a revamp these days. A nice place to visit during your trip to this area. A memorable journey with lots of photos to share my experiences with you, and shall expect that you would comment back about how did you like it. Please write to me at quitefar@gmail.com for any information I can offer and also visit my flickr for more shots.
I leave you with another panorama Shot, taken from near by the water bed and covering the complete backdrop.

o Take eatables as per your need. The basic snacks are available in plenty near the Banyan tree but tough to find afterwards since least no of shops follow. Please do not litter for it’s sad to see people leaving their waste behind at such a spot.
o No petrol bunks on the complete route and in fact very few on Mysore road too, so folks leaving quite early should take care of fueling up.
o Extremely lone place early morning and during the day times too. One needs to be extra conscious.
o We saw a board near the Dam in front of few houses “BEWARE OF ROBBERS, PLEASE DO NOT GO INTO LONE AREAS”. As we ventured around photographing we realize the relevance. The place is lone and quite.
o Tough ride so make sure you pull up your socks for the bumpy journey.
o Excellent place for birding. Not seen any such place around Bangalore with so many birds around.


  1. Anonymous11:54 AM

    Great shots Saurabh!

    1. thanks Siddesh, appreciate your comment and reading the post.


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