When I was in Mumbai, a colleague of mine once told me that she had lived her entire life in Mumbai, but hadn't been to Juhu beach. I fell off my rotating chair in shock. But that is how it is usually, isn't it? For example, I have been to Bannerghatta National Park on the outskirts of Bangalore only twice in my life, and I don't even remember the last time I have been there, whereas tourists and visitors make a beeline to the place.
Anyway, I amended that this weekend. S~'s cousin has adopted a Russel's viper and a Python at Bannerghatta, and so he has been given a pass. He asked us if we would like to join him, his wife, and his five-year-old son Ani on Sunday to go to Bannerghatta, and we jumped at the offer. Considering how much Puttachi likes animals, it is a shame that we haven't taken her to any animal place after her Mysore zoo visit. So this was an opportunity we couldn't miss.
We reached at about 9 am, and debated a bit about taking the safari ride, wondering if Puttachi would have the patience to sit in an enclosed place for more than an hour. But Ani was insistent, and so we went. The Safari turned out to be just wonderful. We saw Bison, Spotted Deer, Nilgai, Bears (Teddy! Teddy!), Elephants, Lions and Tigers. Yes you heard me right. And a couple of white tigers with an ordinary tiger were playing with each other and jumping about, actually enacting a Discovery Channel scene right outside the barred window of our bus. Magnificent sight, magnificent animals. Puttachi went crazy with excitement.
After the Safari, we went around the zoo. Puttachi saw birds, snakes, rabbits, deer, zebras, monkeys, Indian Giant Squirrels (never seen them before - they are huge!), elephants, turtles, crocodiles, alligators, and coriander-eating hippopotamuses. Oh and have you ever seen a baby hippo? Adorable!
It was lunch-time by the time we finished. The Park by itself doesn't have any eateries inside it, but people usually bring their own food and eat it inside the park. There are a few stalls outside the park which sell snacks, but I don't think you get a filling lunch there. So we ate at the restaurant at the Jungle Lodges and Resorts, attached to Bannerghatta. The food itself was not too good, but we were too hungry to care. The resort, though, is very good. Built at a slight elevation, it is spacious, bright and airy. Very refreshing. Staying there for a night would be an attractive option, I think.
After lunch, we went to the newly built Butterfly Park, the first in India, I hear. The Park enclosure itself is very green, well-maintained, with well-laid paths. The actual conservatory is a domed structure. Entering it is like entering one of these "paradise" scenes in movies. A lush tropical environment, with a stream and a waterfall, with the rich gurgling sound of falling water providing a perfect backdrop. Lots of flowers, and of course, scores of butterflies flitting about all around you. If you stand still, they actually come and alight on you. There are boards with butterfly information amidst the plants, and so you can actually see a butterfly and read about it at once. It is lovely. Puttachi had a fabulous time. Since we had been there in the comparatively hot afternoon, the butterflies were at their most active, I think. Exit the conservatory and you enter a museum of sorts, with loads of information about butterflies, and different kinds of butterflies on display. There is also a room with an audio-visual presentation of about 20 minutes. Quite informative, if you have the time and the inclination, and if you don't have a tiny human tugging at you constantly.
It was a day well-spent. The entire Bannerghatta Park is far more well-maintained than I had imagined. Oh, and I have to mention this. At the entrance of the Park, there is a lady sitting with a number of paper bags. She checks your bags, takes out all the plastic bags and puts the contents into paper bags and hands them back to you. And this includes Lays and Kurkure and Haldiram Packets and the like. She cuts them up with a pair of scissors, empties the chips into the paper bags and gives them to you. I liked that. Inside, we learned that a deer had died a while ago due to plastic consumption, and hence the extreme precautions.
So that was it. I would recommend a visit. But do go early to avoid the rush. Have fun!