Woodlands in your backyard

DC | KAUSHIK BAJIBAB
Published Jan 6, 2014, 9:32 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 5:03 am IST
Did you know there is a forest a stone’s throw away from Bengaluru?

Bengaluru’s very own forest, Turahalli is no stranger to city folk still reeling in the wonder Bengaluru ‘that was’. A haven for rock climbers and a favorite haunt of birdwatchers and cyclists — this small patch of forest, spread over 800 acres is still a great recreational hotspot.

Nestled at a calculated spit-distance from the city, the all-rocky and shrub-framed Turahalli can be easily scaled once you break away from Kanakapura road. The landscape and terrain of this forest plays a perfect sport to aspiring rock climbers and enthusiastic cyclists.

 

Many years ago, I accompanied a few friends who were visiting the locale for the first time. They wanted ‘hard proof’ to credit this forest its right due. I was more than willing to play host. After reaching the forest by car, we parked at a safe distance, and entered the forest by foot — best way to explore, leaving fewer carbon footprints. With keen eyes combing the floor, thick with dry foliage, we frequently aimed the binoculars to the sky — a variety of birds invaded the space, and that was the beginning of surprises.

 

We halted by a temple, on top of a hillock, letting in the serene atmosphere mute the white noise we carried from the city. Here, we were lucky to catch glimpses of many birds exploring the landscape, quite literally at our eye-level. As we kept walking, I stopped to see a mother scorpion with babies on her back. It was the first time my fellow travelers had ever spotted a scorpion, closer to the city. I slowly placed the dry thatch (foliage) back over the scorpion, giving her the privacy that’s rightfully hers in these vicinities.

As we moved ahead, buried in the sand, by a rock was the mighty saw-scaled viper. We could see the distinct scales exposed near its neck. This venomous snake, when threatened, reacts making a sizzling sound. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near this reptile.

 

On my previous visits, I had spotted many interesting wildlife in the area — but unfortunately that day, this patch of forest is taken for a candy sale — with tags run-up and overshot by real-estate. What was an extended forest patch today has been replaced by ugly apartment buildings, making the habitat extremely fragile and fragmented for wildlife.

Today, protected by our fellow enthusiasts, climbers, adventurers and nature lovers, volunteers from different walks of life are standing up to protect this beautiful patch of forest from land hawks eager to market it for ‘commercialized tourism’. But remember, true character of a landscape can only be felt and explored, in its natural form, with very little human interference.

 

Wildlife walks
A great place for birdwatchers — One can find over 50-60 species of birds in Turahalli. In the past, I have spotted plenty of Russell’s vipers, rat snakes, owls, eagles  and other wildlife in the area. A friend’s latest sighting includes a civet cat. You also stand a chance to spot mongoose, monitor lizard and jackals if you are really lucky. 

Trekking and biking
Turahalli is great spot for trekkers — undulating forest landscape, challenging terrain and a great substitute for unkempt, poorly reproduced city parks. People fond of mountain biking — there’s plenty of routes in and around Turahalli that’s just perfect.

 

Climbing/bouldering
There is an active climbing community with plenty of experience setting routes and making the most of Turahalli’s imposing and difficult rock face. Climbers also train many interested amateurs — if you plan to climb, you should seek their assistance — never venture alone if you don’t have the skill.

Photography
For those interested in photography, from micro habitat to flowers and birds- the forest will keep you on your toes. But, please remain sensitive and informed.

Where is it?
Turahalli is eight kilometers from Banashankari temple. While driving on Kanakapura, you turn right taking the road adjoining KSIT Engineering College.

 

How to get there?
Preferably by bike or car. A 10 minute walk from the bus stand.

What else is around turahalli?
Further on Kanakapura road there are a couple of lakes — a great spot for bird watching. Pelicans are fairly common here.

Safety tips

  • Don’t leave valuables in your car — theft is quite common.
  • Don’t ever venture into the forest alone. Travel with someone who knows the terrain.
  • Don’t litter. Please follow the ‘leave no trace’ principle, and bring back your garbage with you to the city.
  • Best time to visit — weekends.

The writer is the founder of Wishbone and Wishbone School and is himself an avid traveller, educator, wildlife photographer and a naturalist

 

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