Meghan Kasturi, visited us during the latter part of November. She stayed with us at Dhole’s Den. Here, she shares her first impression on Bandipur, and her urge to come back to the place.

I had always been confused about the name ‘Bandipur’, mixing it up, often, with ‘Bangalore’. However, now, after I have been there, I know that I will never forget it!

I expected to see a lot of wildlife in Bandipur, and that is what I got, with a side helping of fun and a dash of excitement!

The day we arrived in Bandipur, we went straight to Dhole’s Den, ate a delicious dinner, and had a good night’s sleep. My first activity in Bandipur was an early-morning birding-stroll in the near-by village. We were welcomed by  a magnificent rare bird, the Indian Gray Hornbill. All of us were very excited. We quietly stared at this bird sitting on a wire, until it flew off, flapping its graceful wings. We also saw a Golden-fronted Leafbird and an Indian Roller during this walk.

Later during the day, we visited the village and learnt about the local farming practices. For the first time in my life I saw a bitter-gourd field. The farmers make frames of sticks in the field on which the climbers grow, thus creating space below, making it easier to pick the gourds during harvest!
The next day, we visited the local school in Mangala near Bandipur. They use the Montessori system which is having fun while learning, up to first grade in this school. We went in to meet the students of the eighth grade. All of them were very bright, and they greeted us enthusiastically.  My father was very impressed with a particular young boy. As soon as he saw the photograph of the hornbill in my father’s camera, he not only identified the species, but also informed us that it was a male bird! I learnt that the students of this school were very lucky, going bird-watching each week, and I wish that my school did that! We went home feeling rather happy.

The next day, a surprise awaited us! The students wanted me to return to the school and meet them! I gladly visited them again, and this time, I told them about my own school in Singapore, and about Singapore itself. I sat through their prayers, listening to them until my parents arrived to take me back. We went for a safari through the National Park in the afternoon. We saw the cheetal deer and bonnet macaques, the sambar deer and the Indian gaur. We also saw some elephants, which was very interesting, but slightly scary as well, as they could have charged at us next!
My first visit to Bandipur was exciting, to say the least! I loved it not only because of the beautiful animals that I saw, but also for the interactions with local people, which I had not expected! I will always remember Bandipur, and I am sure that one day, I will go back there. I cannot wait for that day.