The turnoff from NH209 onto the village road at Halagur, just a short way out of Bengaluru, transports you to meandering roads down pretty green mountainsides. The only traffic stops on this route will be the rare herd of spotted deer sailing across the road. This is only a taste of what awaits you at the camps in Bheemeshwari. A barefoot walk along the river’s edge, sipping hot coffee on the verandah of your cabin overlooking the river, being woken up by monkeys jumping on your tent, are the promise here. Nature treks into the wilderness, coracle rides, kayaking and outdoor camping are the icing on the cake. These treks are conducted in three categories, easy, medium and tough, ranging from a 4- to 10-km distance. The treks take you into neighbouring hills, full of wildlife and a cornucopia of plants and trees whose products are used in Ayurveda. You can also catch a glimpse of rural life as you pass through some of the villages, pay obeisance at the Hanuman Temple and sink your teeth into wild berries to get a ‘taste’ of your environs.
While you may catch glimpses of rare species of birds, wild elephants and sloth bears, you are sure to see the famous mahseer, no matter which season you go. Boat rides in coracles and barbecues at sundown along the river’s edge are the extras here. Carry along some mosquito repellent, snacks for kids and water-resistant footwear. But leave your swimwear behind because crocs in the water and whirlpools mean that swimming is a complete no-no.
If you are interested in fishing, Doddamakkali, located on the Cauvery, 7 km upstream from Bheemeshwari, is the perfect place. As the place has a fishing camp and it is accessible by both boat and road from Bheemeshwari. Doddamakkali is located deep in the forest in a valley, ideal for adventure lovers who are willing to rough it out. It is a great place for birdwatchers. Over 200 species of birds are known to inhabit this region. These include both water-based birds and land-based birds. If lucky, you can spot black-bellied river tern, small pied kingfisher, honey buzzard, grey-headed fishing eagle, spot billed duck, osprey, pied-crested cuckoo and many more.
Location: Right on the banks of Cauvery River, a little south of Bengaluru in eastern Mandya District
Distance: 106 km SW of Bengaluru, Journey time: by road 2 and half hours
When to go: The camps are open all year round. The peak angling season is October to mid-April.
By Anupma Reddy and Sirisha Damisetty