The scenery is splendid . It is indeed mesmerizing to drive through a forest where the mist accentuates the landscape and feeling the crisp clean air where only the calls of the cicadas are heard. Tipu aptly named his summer palace on these hills as Heaven’s envy – Tashk-e-Jannat.
The path covered by huge trees and the wild growth of shrubs and creepers form a lovely canopy. I start looking for the birds on the trees. When I sense some movement along the path I find a stunning bird hopping around. I learn from my fellow birders that it is the Indian blue robin. This bird keeps us engaged for sometime and disappears in the bushes.
We reach an avenue of fruit trees where a flock of oriental white eyes are feeding on the fruits. It feels great to be in the company of avid birders, each one of us start spotting flycatchers, pipits and warblers as the mist clears up and the sun shows up finally. The sun’s rays sieve through the clouds to form a stunning visual treat.
We see the mystical paradise flycatcher flying around. It teases us by playing hide and seek among the canopy of the trees. The long tail undulates and adds magic to its flight. I am fascinated by the immaculate white feathers of this beauty. We follow it for sometime and then settle down to have breakfast giving some respite to our camera when the coveted paradise flycatcher pair appear again. The nursery area has a lot of flowering plants which attracts a lot of butterflies too. A courting yellow pansy pair attracts our attention when another butterfly tries to chase it away. The kids start playing in the garden running around and looking around for interesting sightings. A spider trapping a dragonfly captures their attention. When the sound of the Malabar whistling thrush resonates in the air every one in the group follow their instincts to spot the bird. The whistle is interrupted by another lilting song of the Tickells blue flycatcher.
We visit the Yoga Nandeeshwara temple built by the Cholas. From here one gets to see the stunning views of the neighboring hills, valleys and villages. By noon the number of visitors start swelling up and the hawkers have a good time feeding the hungry visitors. From here one gets to see raptors soaring in the sky as the temperature goes up. We explore the remains of the fort and the famous “Tippu drop”, a 600 meter cliff with a huge rock landing after the drop. Prisoners and convicts during Tippu’s reign were pushed off this cliff. A good way to have a check on law and order!
Finally having spent a day packed with priceless moments we wind up with our minds refreshed and hoping to travel more with a good company of friends.
On the way down, one of us spot a large bird of prey sitting on a branch. My heart misses a few beats when I realize that it is the majestic Changeable hawk eagle. We could see fresh blood on it’s claws. The majesty of the bird is captivating. It is a fitting end to a wonderful trip to Nandi Hills!
Reaching there : Nandi Hills or Nandidurg or Nandi Betta is an ancient hill fortress of situated in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka. This is a group of hills that lies at an average elevation of about 1,478 meters (4,851 feet) above the sea level, at a distance of about 65 km from Bangalore, on the way to Hyderabad National Highway (NH7). This place can be easily reached as it is linked by roads with Bangalore and Chikkaballapur (24 km). The Hills is open to public from 6 AM to 10 PM.
Photo credits Kannan A.S