Nature trip to Murugamale
On the 15th and 16th of April, I went on a trip with 8 other kids to Murugamale for birding. This trip was organized and conducted by Guru Prasad sir and his wife. I was delighted to go on a picnic after being "locked-down" due to the pandemic.
On the first day, a van picked us up early at 6:00. On the way there, Sir played many Indian songs (Although I slept through some of them as I had got up very early). As soon as we reached our destination, we went to our room to keep our bags. Our room was inside Ayyappa Swamy Temple and was very homely. We went to breakfast soon after.
After breakfast, we went on a short trekking trip which went really well. We saw Rose - Ringed parakeets, Red - Vented Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Blue - Faced Malkoha and many more. Sir also pointed out a Rock Agama lizard to us. On the walk, a tree had shedded a few branches that looked very very similar to millipedes. I stepped on one of these branches and at the same time an ant bit me. But, I thought a millipede had bitten me and I was so terrified. I felt a bit dumb when I realized that the "millipede" was just a dead branch.
The trekking trip ended at a hill-top temple where we rested for 15 min before heading back. During the trekking, an insect had bit me and my hand swelled up. On applying some holy ash (Vibuthi) from the temple, the swelling on my hand completely went away! In the temple, there was a mischievous baby monkey playing with the antenna on top of a car parked there. I am sure it thought it was a toy.
One hour before lunch, Sir made all of us as pairs. We had to ask questions to our partner and present all this information in a short speech to get to know each other. We asked each other around 28 questions! After this short activity, we ate a delicious lunch. Some of us played a short game of Gilli Danda. I realised it was a fairly tough game and at the end of one hour, we are as horrible as when we started.
At around 5:00, we climbed a small hill with stairs. The hill had 700 steps which we climbed in half an hour! And we couldn't even visit the temple at the top as it was still under construction! From the hill-top, we could spot two large lakes and many houses and trees. We descended and reached our hostel around 7:00 where we opened some snacks and a 7up bottle and told stories to each other. We ate dinner at 9 and went to sleep.
The next day we woke early at 5:30 and set out to a mountain for trekking. While going up, we saw many laughing doves (who were probably laughing at us for the innumerable rest stops we took). At the top of the mountain, there was a temple (which was thankfully constructed) where a puja was about to start. The priests invited us to the puja.
Later, We heard a woodpecker, but couldn't find it. One of us thought he saw a white-capped woodpecker and got excited, but it turned out to be just a plastic wrapper. Lol. We also saw a Blackwing Kite on top of a pole. This was the first time I was seeing a Kite different from the most popular Black Kites and Brahminy Kites.
After the puja, we headed down the mountain. My slippers had caused a blister in my foot, so I descended down the mountain barefoot. I was able to come down faster as my bare feet had better grip.
While we were resting after the long trek, we spotted an Egyptian Vulture flying overhead. This was the first time I was seeing a Vulture. For almost 5 min it refused to perch somewhere. After a long time, it finally perched between 2 rocks where its nest was. In its nest, we also saw a young Egyptian Vulture. It was camouflaged so well that I lost sight of it as soon as it perched. We were delighted when we were able to spot it after searching keenly.
We headed back to Bangalore soon after. On the way, we stopped to visit a temple. The temple was situated in a network of caves. The entrance cave was the biggest cave and it echoed our voices a lot. So naturally, half our group started shouting just to hear the echo. Even after we stopped shouting and headed down the path, people behind us followed our lead and also started shouting. We were trend-setters of some sort.
After the temple, we ate lunch at a small restaurant and headed back to Bangalore.
Overall this trip was an amazing experience. It was a wonderful way to connect with nature, make new friends and just have fun. This trip is conducted every year by Guru Prasad Sir. I would recommend it to everyone.