5 Best Places in South India for Bird Watching

20 March  |  Listicles

Southern India teems with many wilderness areas, prime locations for those who want to observe the many species that live in the region’s wetlands and forests. Bird watching today is a hobby that takes people far and wide – a reprieve from the daily grind, where it is just about you, your gear and the sounds of the jungle. Here are five of the top destinations for birding in South India.

Kabini River, Karnataka

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The wetlands and forests around the Kabini River are never silent. From the constant chatter of parakeets to the occasional hoot of a nocturnal owl, one will always hear the buzz of the forest canopy. Kabini is prime birding territory. It falls under the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest stretches of preserved forests in India. Some of the famous feathered residents here are the great black woodpecker, the great imperial pigeon and the Indian pitta. The best resorts in Kabini will offer comprehensive guided birding experiences.

Photo credit: Tour My India

Apart from leisurely houseboat rides, the Vembanad Lake is also a haven for ornithologists and amateur birders alike. The irresistible backwater setting and dramatic lighting and landscape make Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary a perfect place to set up camp. It is a favoured landing ground for migratory birds like the Siberian crane. Other species found here are different types of owls and waterfowl, egrets, herons, parrots and flycatchers.

Photo Credit: Native Planet

Ganeshgudi would feature quite high on a list of South India birdwatching tours. The region is more famous for its temple but one can also make pilgrimages to see some very rare and special avian species. The high elevation and pristine vegetation provide a very distinctive experience for trekkers and travellers. Some of the birds you can encounter here are bulbuls, warblers, the Indian yellow tit, the white bellied blue flycatcher, the brown cheeked fulvetta and many more.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

Photo Credit: Trip Adviser

Located in Mysore district, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary includes six small river islands on the Kaveri. Being in a popular tourist zone, it attracts many visitors, a lot of them who come specifically for the birds. In a relatively small area, more than 150 species of birds can be found. The winter months provide the most glorious sights when more than 40,000 birds converge in these wetlands.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

Photo Credit: TripAdviser

Salim Ali, India’s most famous ornithologist was a great patron of Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, a biodiversity spot that makes up for its small size with a very long list of feathered and scaled residents. The Malabar grey hornbill is one of the many exotic birds you will find here. Other birds found here include different cuckoos, cormorants, thrushes and more.

You do not have to travel great distances for bird watching holidays in South India, in fact, there are many convenient spots near Bangalore. There are many resorts in Kanakapura Road which organize nature trails and bird watching. A stay at Nandi Hills will guarantee many morning sightings too.

Birding is a hobby that crosses over to noble causes like conservation. It is also the best way to escape the daily grind. Find your next bird watching destination and plan a trip with friends and fellow enthusiasts.

The History of Bird Watching

20 March  |  Adventure & Travel

The Early Beginnings

Photo Credits: Wild Life of India

Most of us are familiar with bird watching. What was once a domain of naturalists and rich Victorian-era families, is now one of the most popular hobbies in the world. Victorian Era bird watching was more about the aesthetics and the romanticism of the woods, compared to the more scientific approach that today’s birders have.

The term ‘bird watching’ was believed to have first been coined in this context in the book Bird Watching, written by Edmund Selous and published in 1901. More than a century on, thousands across the world step out on their free days, strapping on their binoculars and finding the nearest bird habitats, with the hope of finding elusive species along with their favourites.

Salim Ali and the Growth of Bird Watching

Photo Credit: Pinterest

It is not surprising that India, with its rich ecosystems spread far and wide, would have a growing community of bird enthusiasts. Many attribute the bird watching hobby in India to Salim Ali, a pioneering ornithologist and conservationist. The Birdman of India penned the Book on Indian Birds, which to this day remains the go-to-resource for all birding enthusiasts in the country. Today there are many bird watching groups across the country and there are many ornithologists who are forging the way ahead for this growing community.

Follow These Birders

Photo Credit: Optics Den

Nowadays, birding and photography can go hand in hand – as more people can enjoy the joys of an exclusive sighting. There are many famous bird watchers in India that are worth following. Here are some of the top Indian twitchers.

Chennai entrepreneur A. M. Aravind is an avid bird watcher and has recently been in the news for his Twitter project which displays a bird a day for his followers. For those who want to know more about the birdlife in the urban landscape of Tamil Nadu’s capital, AM Aravind’s Twitter handle is a treasure trove of information. Sushil Thakur has been fascinated with birds for close to a decade and his photographs have a following in the birding community across the country.

Bangalore based Sheshadri Vasan has always been interested in wildlife and his bird photos are appreciated by many. He is a firm proponent of conservation and his recent picture of a crested hawk eagle with its lizard prey perfectly captured the brutality and grace of the raptor. Birding is his meditation, claims Navi Mumbai’s Vijay Patil. A civil engineer by profession, Mr. Patil has chronicled many species in the verdant surroundings and wetlands that can still be found in this suburban landscape.

There are many options close to Bangalore if you are seeking some bird watching recreational fun. Stay at Nandi Hills for some encounters with rare birds like the beautiful Asian Paradise flycatcher and different types of thrushes. There are many resorts in Kanakapura Road, a region famous for its lush surroundings, where you can put your binoculars and camera to good use. Those looking for a completely wild and immersive experience can choose from a range of jungle resorts in Kabini, a hub for wildlife and bird spotting.

5 Exotic Birds Spotted at Kabini

20 March  |  Listicles

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Kabini, due to its location close to Bangalore, has become a hub of nature activities and jungle trips. Birdwatchers also love to converge in these pristine forests to catch a glimpse at some of the many bird species living here. Here are 5 of the popular birds you will come across.

White Wagtail

Photo credit: HPW Alive

The white wagtail is one of the most exotic bird species in Kabini National Park. One can summarise the colour of this small bird as various shades of grey and white. These birds can be caught prowling on dragonflies, a favourite meal. They also love other insects and can be found foraging in the ground for grubs and worms.

Pied Bush Chat

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

This tiny passerine bird species has been chronicled in the folk tales of the Toda tribe and is a constant in the jungles of the Nilgiris. The Pied Bush Chat is found across Asia. You are more likely to find it perched on small bushes, low trees and shrubs, looking for insects in the ground – its favourite delicacy. The male birds are black with a white rump. Their lower bellies and wing patches are also white. Females are brown with slight streaks. The Pied Bush Chat does not grow more than 13 centimetres tall.

Weaver Bird

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Look for bright yellow feathers in the foliage of Kabini’s forests. The Baya Weaver, as the name suggests weaves elaborate nests using material like grass pieces, hay, twigs and leaves. These gourd-shaped dwellings hover strongly attached to the branches of trees with an entrance that faces downwards. The nest of the weaver bird is divided into different chambers – showcasing the complex engineering skills that come to these birds as a natural instinct.

Golden Oriole

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Another glorious looking bird that calls Kabini home is the Golden Oriole. Apart from its distinctive plumage, mainly yellow with a bit of black and a tinge of red, this bird is a fast flyer – it can swoop at 40 kms an hour, quite a feat for a fairly small species. These birds love their insects, nectar and fruits – try to capture a feeding oriole if you have brought your camera along. Just like most other birds, they play a role in the dispersion of seeds in the forest. Golden Orioles have been caught eating lizards too.

Hoopoes

Photo credit: HPW Alive

Another highlight when birding in Kabini is the hoopoe. Hoopoes are a family of brightly coloured birds, many of which are found in the jungles of Kabini. Their most distinctive features are the crown on the head and the patterned plumage which is a blend of pink and brown. They are extremely popular amongst the birders of Kabini and you can sight them in most places across the reserve.

Apart from the birds of Kabini wildlife includes many large animals like leopards and jackals. The river landscape provides a venue for coracle rides and treks. Nagarhole National Park is also close by, a famous tiger reserve of Karnataka.
Find the best resorts in Kabini for a memorable birding experience. There are some other destinations closer to Bangalore where one can enjoy birding and nature trails. A stay at Nandi Hills can include some early morning bird watching while there are resorts in Kanakapura Road where one can explore the lush surroundings and encounter vibrant birds.

Kabini River: A Perfect Place for Birding near Bangalore

20 March  |  Adventure & Travel

Photo Credit: NiF Hive – Nature inFocus

There are quite a few birding spots around Bangalore. Kabini is one of the more interior ones, a part of the sprawling Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The combination of thick jungles and a large riverine network makes this reserve home to a diverse set of species. From waterfowl to raptors, you will encounter many feathered wonders in the tall canopies and the wetlands of Kabini.

The silence in Kabini is heavy, interspersed with shrill sounds of the birds and the occasional primate calls. The birds provide a constant background – a reminder to the visitor that this is a faraway land, primaeval in nature and where humans rarely tread. Kabini’s calm environs, the rippling waters and the green cool shades provide a perfect stage for those who love their natural escapades.

The waters of the river and surrounding wetlands are prime property for birds. The white-bellied woodpecker is one many are familiar with, the unending hammering of its beak a signal that it is on the hunt. Herons are another common sight as they prowl the waters for insects, small fish and other aquatic species.

If you are looking for migratory birds in Bangalore or around, Kabini has its share of international visitors. Winter is the best time to catch these seasonal species. Some of the popular ones are grey wagtails and barn swallows.

Birding in Kabini is not restricted to the riverside. Further inland, there is a drastic change in the kind of birds one sees. You may run into wild peacocks and there is no dearth of raptors. Keen photographers are always on the lookout for an eagle or a hawk on a hunt, a glorious sight as it swoops on unsuspecting prey. Some of the hunters commonly seen in Kabini are the Brahminy Kite, the osprey, the peregrine falcon – one of the fastest birds on earth, and the grey-headed fish eagle.

Extra Birding Tips

Photo Credit: traveltriangle.com

When you are going bird watching in the forests of Kabini with a camera, carry extra batteries. Arm yourself with a pair of binoculars for better sighting and be ready for early morning starts. Also remember, bird watching is a quiet affair as you need to be fully alert to the sounds of the forest. You also do not want to be a distraction to the other birders in the group. Other safari etiquettes also apply – no strong perfumes and stick to a neutral-coloured wardrobe. Another important mantra for any nature activity – leave the forest clean. Even the smallest plastic wrapper is pollution.

You can browse through the best resorts in Kabini for a wonderful and immersive birding experience. Make sure you confirm that the establishments provide the facilities or guides for bird watching. Those who do not have the time for a long trip need not worry. A short stay at Nandi Hills will lead to many encounters with the feathered kind. You can also find resorts in Kanakapura Road, known for its verdant landscapes – another thriving birding area.

5 Ideas to Celebrate your Financial Year End with your Team

12 March  |  Listicles

The end of the quarter is almost here and things will get crazy at the office. At the same time, it is a perfect time to reward the team for all the efforts, the overtime and the brainstorming sessions. Celebrate the end of the financial year in style and get everyone pumped up for the next. Here are 5 fun annual company event ideas.

Escape Rooms

Photo Credit: Ferrara By Nigh

What better way to bond with colleagues and bosses than an adventure packed escape room? Solve a series of puzzles and mysteries to get yourself and your friends out of a themed escape room, a concept derived from interactive fiction and video games. This physical game requires a lot of teamwork and a certain amount of problem-solving, and of course, it is a whole lot of fun.

Destination Long Lunch

Photo Credit: Flexi Office

For this coming corporate annual day celebration, you can keep it simple with a nice lunch session in a getaway out of town. Cocktails and kebabs are a great way to get the team mingling, as they lounge poolside or explore the scenic surroundings. A stretched-out lunch session can include many fun activities in between, maybe some music and some interactive games. Taking the party out of the office environs also helps everyone refresh and regroup. There are many resorts in Kanakapura Road which are tailor-made for such office getaways.

A Healthy Breakfast Party

Photo Credit: Piccolo Trattoria Catering

A different take on the usual office party ideas, a healthy breakfast party can add some spice to your team dynamics. It does not have to be a quick early morning session – a half-day event is more like it. Throw in some games and music along with a buffet of delicious snacks. We often associate office mornings with serious business and overnight email backlogs – a morning event like this one can help shake things up a bit.

A Night Out Under the Stars

Photo Credit: Discovery Village

Camping trips bring us back to the fundamentals of existence and the simple joys that we miss out when living in the city. It is also a good choice of activity for an office setup. Step out of the boardrooms and replace it with the bonhomie of a campfire and a starlit sky. Camping also builds on the basic principles of altruism and teamwork, which strengthens the bond and loyalty between your team members, as they share these incredible memories together. Check out a host of Masinagudi resorts where you and your colleagues can enjoy a spectacular night out in the wilderness.

Pool Party

Photo Credit: Just Dial

Splashing around in the pool will never go out of fashion. Cool off the heat and stress of your hectic year-end duties with a refreshing drink by the water. A pool party for the team members is sure to start a lot of interactions as friendships blossom. Arranging a pool party is really simple. Choose Discovery Village from many available resorts in Bangalore for corporate team outing. Book the pool and include a host of games and activities around it.

Team events are an important part of the office calendar. These are the occasions where you can cement an office culture that is productive and takes care of everyone’s interest. Plan it well and enjoy a happy workplace for the rest of the year.

Why Throwing a Company Year-End Party is a Great Idea

12 March  |  Team Outing

There is more to a year-end party than just food, drinks and music. These events can go a long way in determining the health of an organization and should be an important part of office planning.

The benefits of team outings are many. A casual setting provides the best environment to make friends. Sometimes meeting room disagreements and certain work styles can create wrong assumptions and perceptions among colleagues. A nice party breaks those formal barriers as conversations steer from strategy to favourite football teams. A team outing is the best way to get everyone to mingle. Employee motivation is another box that is ticked with a well-organized team event. Office events and activities provide a stage where employees identify the leadership roles that they can fit in. These activities and events serve as confidence boosters to newer members.

Rewarding the Team

Photo Credit: Discovery Village

An annual staff party is a great place to reward those who have achieved over the last year. It can be an event that celebrates the team’s many successes and warms people with the energy and optimism required to begin the next year. Collective recognition strengthens the bond between employees, as they see the direct relationship between the company’s success and their teamwork.

A Team Building Opportunity

Photo Credit: Discovery Village

The year-end party can be an all-day event with lots of team building games. These activities include a diverse range, from something as simple as tug-of-war to Twister and Bull Ring. Raft building is another popular team building activity along with paintball. We don’t even need to discuss the fun quotient. Team building activities improve communication skills between the participants and also act as great icebreakers to bring the introverts into the fold. Therefore, never plan an event without a team building exercise.

A Time to Reflect

Photo Credit: Kodai Resort Hotel

A year is a long time in the workplace. There would have been harried days where the backlog of work inundates the entire office. There would have been worrying days as markets dip or clients leave, while at the same time there would have been major spikes in business that lead to a frenzy of work. At the end of the financial year, as your accounts are sorted and a new cycle begins, you deserve a day to unwind and look back, a day that can be used to thank everyone for the past work and inspire the team for the future. The bottom line of every year-end party should be – your team has earned it.

There are many venues where you can have a memorable year-end party. Organizers can choose from many resorts in Bangalore for corporate team outing. Resorts in Kanakapura road provide an ideal stage, a blend of scenic surroundings and easy connectivity. There are more exotic options too. The best resorts in Kabini provide a complete set of outdoor experiences to complement the occasion of an office getaway.

Enjoy planning your next team outing – mix some innovative fun with old favourites. Watch the team get along and communicate better, important ingredients for continued success.

Top 5 Destinations for Women with Unique Interests in South India

05 March  |  Listicles

India is a land of myriad experiences if you are curious enough to look beneath the veneer of its modernity. Its towns and forests breathe with unique treasures waiting to be discovered. There are many adventures for women who are ready to hit the road on their own. From natural sights to magnificent history, there is no dearth of destinations for the intrepid traveller. Here is a small selection of the best places for solo women travellers in South India.

Hampi – Archaeology and Architecture

Photo Credit: YouTube

Vijayanagara was one of the greatest cities in the world, second in scale only to Beijing. Wide carriageways and immense temple complexes lie in ruins today but these remnants by the Tungabhadra to this day showcase a great architectural age and more. Some of the highlights include the Virupaksha temple, the monuments at Hemakuta Hill and the various market complexes across this medieval Indian city. The building designs and old sculptures set the stage for a wonderful solo sojourn. The sunsets in Hampi are considered other-worldly; enjoy a short hike to the nearby hills to capture this magnificent moment.

Nandi Hills – Nature and the Hills

Photo Credit: Discovery Village

Rejuvenate with a peaceful weekend stay at Nandi Hills, which tower over the surrounding plateau, offering visitors pleasant winding roads, a bit of history and a lot of natural beauty. The hills have many viewpoints and provide a good venue for those who enjoy hikes and treks. Pedalling up the hills on a cycle is one of the best ways to soak in the serenity of the place. At the foothills, you can pamper yourself with a wine tour.

Kabini – Bird Watching Haven

Photo Credit: Discovery Village

Shack up in one of the best resorts in Kabini for a ‘Jungle Book’ experience. The thick forests and the riverine landscape make this a very rich biodiversity spot. The leopards of Kabini are famous but this range is also a heaven for birding enthusiasts. Pack up your binoculars and enjoy encounters with rare and endemic feathered beauties. Some of the species you can sight include White Wagtails, the vibrantly coloured Golden Oriole and beautiful Hoopoes.

Kochi – A Culture and Lifestyle Destination

Photo Credit: Cochin Ashia

Kochi, being a confluence of trade and exchange of cultures for centuries, is one of the most vibrant destinations in Southern India. A walk through the streets of the old town can be full of many surprises – some of the major attractions include the Matancherry Palace and the Fort Kochi area. While in Kochi, treat yourself to an Ayurvedic massage – Kerala style – the perfect topping to this magical solo retreat.

Pondicherry – A Seaside Escapade and More

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The neat layouts of the French quarters are arguably the prettiest neighbourhoods of Pondicherry, which also boasts a regal seaside promenade with many sculptures and iconic buildings on the stretch. Pondicherry is also food paradise – explore the bohemian surroundings of Auroville and its many restaurants. This coastal destination is home to many beaches – some of the scenic ones include Serenity Beach, Auroville Beach and Paradise Beach.

Photo credit: Discovery Village

One does not need to stray too far if the schedule is a little tight. Women travellers will love a stay in one of the resorts in Kanakapura Road, a place known for its verdant surroundings and good connectivity.

India’s Solo Travel Specialists – Get Inspired

05 March  |  Miscellaneous

Dedicating our lives to wanderlust is something a lot of us think about but it usually remains in the realm of wishful thinking. But over the last few years, several Indian women travellers have received the spotlight because of their dedication to this most enriching of human experiences. Meet some of the women who have done what the rest of us can only dream of and let us get inspired by their stories.

Shivya Nath

Photo Credits: The Shooting Star

Shivya Nath is a modern-day explorer, a solo female traveller whose adventures have been charted across the globe, from the snows of Switzerland to the tropical forests of Sri Lanka. Shivya’s story is one of daring sacrifices, as she decided that the cubicle will no longer be her prisoner. She sold most of her possessions and became a nomad, driven by the yearning to experience more of the wonderful world we live in. The story started in 2011 when she was just 23 years old. At an age associated with updating resumes and impressing the boardroom biggies, Shivya was on the road mapping her own destiny and living the thrill and all the uncertainties that come along with it. Young Shivya is not just a globetrotter but also a writer who is creating her own niche in new media. Her travails have been recorded on popular websites like Lonely Planet, BBC Travel, Nat GEO and The Huffington Post. She can be found on her blog – The Shooting Star, a benchmark of travel writing and blogging that is sure to fill the reader with an urge to just pack up and set out.

Mridula Dwiwedi

Photo Credit: Travel Tales from India

A nomad with a PhD – that is Mridula Dwiwedi for you. She is one of the pioneers of travel blogging in the country and her work has been mentioned in websites like BBC and The Guardian. Some of her famous adventures include a trek to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal and negotiating the wild currents in Northern India’s river rafting hubs. Mridula is an accomplished solo traveller and has been featured in many large travel projects. Working with the biggest brands in the country and showcasing the most pristine corners and exotic locales of the world, Mridula serves as a benchmark for aspiring women travellers. You can read more about her story at her blog – Travel Tales from India and Abroad.

Mariellen Ward

Photo Credit: Breathe Dream Go

Canadian writer and traveller Mariellen Ward has travelled the length and breadth of India along with many other parts of the world. Her blog Breathedreamgo is one of the most followed and apart from travel stories, themes highlighted include responsible travel, exclusive tips and guides and resources for those who want to accomplish solo trips themselves. Her book, the River is a story of her journeys in India and how it helped her deal with a great personal tragedy. Mariellen has been awarded the Traveller of the Year Award by Outlook magazine and her focus is on encouraging solo female travellers. Not many women travelled alone in India, in fact, solo travel itself was a nascent concept, at a time when torchbearers like Mridula and Mariellen started exploring territories away from the tourist trails.
If you want to step out and experience solo travel as a woman in India you can find more information on dedicated forums and women solo travel groups in India. Your dream can begin with just a click of a mouse or a single conversation. Tread the waters with some short trips. A weekend stay at Nandi Hills with some bird watching and wine tasting is a pleasant experience, or you can cosy up in one of the many jungle resorts in Kabini, a hotspot for wildlife photography. There are also many Masinagudi resorts ideal for wildlife-themed solo trips.

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