Bangalore's very own hill station - Nandi Hills

Location: Nandi Hills
Date: Aug 30th 2009
To get there: [Click here for Google Map]. From Hebbal take NH7 towards Devanahalli Airport and Hyderabad. After you pass the airport look for really small sign to turn left towards Nandi Hills.
Distance: About 60kms from Bangalore
Trail type: There are lots of trails to pick from. As soon as you enter there is a large Nandi hills park map and one can plan using it. A trail starts from the point going through fairly thick vegetation and up (steps). You can join the trail anywhere which goes around the hill along the fort boundary giving you lots of great views.
Facilities: Mayura Pine Top is the KSTDC run hotel there which has basic facilites and fairly decent food with fantastic views. Lots of other roadside type shops are also there. A large kids playarea can also be found.

For some days prior we had been thinking of visiting a good place for bird watching where we had not been recently. Nandi hills was tempting and hoping for some early migration season surprises we set out for it sunday leaving Hebbal with all 5 of us on board by 7am.

We were at the foothills around 8am and stopped as soon as the climb started. We were rewarded with a sighting of Sirkeer Malkoha which promptly skulked far away from us! Driving up, the group started to focus mostly on the wild flowers that are peppered among the hills foliage. While discussing and enjoying this at one of the several hairpin bends before we reach the main entrance, we got to see a Short-toed Snake Eagle comfortable gliding almost to a standstill in the high thermals looking for food below. We parked right at the entrance even though cars are allowed all the way to the top where Mayura hotel is, since a trek to the spot gives us more oppurtunites for birdwatching. There is a nominal entrance fee charged here to enter the hill station.

We trekked to the top and then chose to walk along the trail which goes around the hills along the fort. Birds were not as plenty as hoped. The sole grace being a very quick flyby of an falcon possibly Peregrine. But just before we reached our parking spot we spotted the first arrival of a single Grey Wagtails for the 09-10 migration season. Close by a Puff-throated Babbler decided to hop right across our paths giving me trigger fingers on the camera. :). We started back around 2ish and were back in Bangalore by 3.30pm.

Somethings to know if you do happen to go with family for a picnic/trek. Monkeys are everywhere and they smell a picnic basket even before you get out of the car. We saw one family which parked the car, got out and before they could stretch and admire the surroundings, one had snuck behind them and was almost into the car! Later, I was sitting on a slope when I felt a tug behind me which happened to be a monkey taking the water bottle out of the backpack! Yes, they are probably hooked on to coke which is what it probably thought it was. So, advice is to pack finger food if you happen to picnic and eat quickly and fast in an open place, ie no over hanging branches. Leisurely picnics are out of question. And yes, remember, Nandi Hills is now a no-plastic zone so try to pack accordingly and not litter the area. Enjoy! It is a fantastic and cool place and we are lucky to have it within an hours drive from our city.