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Sunday, August 20, 2017

49. An Overnight Trip to the Koyna Dam

If you read the local newspaper today you may have seen a small but front page news, an earthquake of 4.5 intensity struck in the vicinity of Koyna Dam on Saturday the 19th. Rajeev read out the news aloud with great excitement because just the day before we were happily cavorting there. The MTDC has a resort overlooking the lake and the Koyna Dam, which happened to be completely booked on all the weekends of the month so we booked on Thursday-Friday. It is a good idea to avoid the holidays and weekends if you can. We started in the wee hours of the morning to avoid the traffic and also get the most of the day to spend at the resort. Normally you have to transmit the booking amount to their account after confirming availability through phone. Since it was not the weekend Deepak Gramopadhye, who took the call, booked our rooms without that formality. Incidentally you are unlikely to get any kind of network there so if you are the kind to get a panic attack when separated from your phone it is not the place for you.

So, as I was saying, we took off early morning and drove some 200 kms on the Bangalore Highway via Satara to reach this heavenly place. With a leisurely breakfast halt at Kamat Restaurant on the way it took us about four and a half hours to reach. The breakfast halt immediately uplifted my spirits because I discovered a tiny Oriental White Eye nesting in a Neem Tree in front. Its immaculate little nest was a surprise discovery for me and also the bird which looked at me warily with one of its characteristic white rimmed eyes. There were plenty of Scaly Breasted Munias too frolicking in the morning sun on the sugarcane clumps growing nearby. The rest of the group’s spirits went up too with a good breakfast which we had outside in the company of the birds.

Yes! the nest has been discovered! Our breakfast halt.

Having Breakfast under the sun with the birds for company will definitely put a smile on your face
An Oriental White Eye cosy in its nest
Scaly-breasted Munias frolicking in the sugar cane field.

With Chetali navigating with the help of the GPS we reached without any adventure on the way. Somehow the GPS has cheated us of all the excitement of finding unknown places by using road maps and at times creative methods of communication, India being a country with innumerable languages and dialects. Mr Fadnis the affable manager of the resort gave us a warm welcome and made us comfortable. The resort is well maintained and ideally located. I could hear a lot of bird sounds which promised some sightings for sure even with the cloudy weather and so much human presence. I hopefully asked a worker if any snakes can be spotted in the campus and was amused to hear him vociferously deny it. When he understood I wanted to see some he assured me they can be seen outside the MTDC premises! Well I didn’t encounter any. What I did see and hear were birds. Due to the cloudy weather and poor light I didn’t get clear pictures but the whole place resounded with bird calls.

The view of the dam from the resort

Lake view from our room. The tree line in the middle looked like elephants crossing. In winters migratory birds would be roosting on them.

Out to explore outside the resort

Our discovery! a PCO & STD booth. Now you know I was serious about "no network" It served as shelter from the drizzle

On a longish trek to the Waterfall and swayambhu Mahadev temple

Hmmm surreptitiously using the umbrellas as walking sticks!!

literally everything is green!!

On the bridge over the waterfall

The beautiful little waterfall one can take a shower under. Not us.

Back in the room at our favourite passtime. It was Chetali's initiation to the 30 cards Rummy too.

The Nehru Garden but we didn't wait for the documentary they show at 11am
The 800 ft high Ozarde waterfall

The local delicacy not to be missed

The Beautiful Inhabitants of Koyna

Spotted Dove on the lawn

Jungle Babbler

White Bellied Drongo

Found this Leaf Bird admiring himself in a car mirror

A Tailor Bird paid us a visit

Not commonly seen Common Blackbirds

Always the Show-stopper! The Orange-headed Thrush
After a most delightful time we were loath to come away from this little piece of heaven on earth. We intended to detour to the Kaas Valley but as there was no chatter on the net of the flowers having bloomed we just made a small detour into Satara to buy some Kandi Pedas, a specialty of Satara, for Chetali's colleagues. We were back much before the weekend crowd got going.