Cauvery Fishing Camp (Without The ‘Fishing’)

November 9, 2009

For the sake of posterity, I must report that we took the kids to Cauvery Fishing Camp a couple of weeks ago. We’d taken them to Doddamakkali a year-and-a-half ago, when they were still too small to have enjoyed it much. This time we went to Bheemeshwari and they really did enjoy themselves.

Bheemeshwari is quite a bit nearer than Doddamakkali. We started around 8 a.m. and after a leisurely drive that included a break for a snack, we reached around noon. The kids played in some rubber rafts that were kept by the water’s edge, and then it was time for lunch. In the early evening, we went for a coracle boat ride. Unlike the usual such boat rides, which just take you around in a small area, this time we actually went downstream for a couple of km, and the water was quite fast. We have been whie-water rafting once, years ago, and this was nothing compared to that, but it wasn’t entirely placid either. There were sizeable waves, one of which swept right into the boat and wet a good part of Amit’s pants. Given that it was soon after the floods in North Karnataka, and that water level in the Cauvery was said to be still quite high – and, in fact, it appeared to be quite high, as we could see trees up to their knees in water, and roots of some of the massive old trees in the camp that we thought used to be above water were now submerged – I’m not sure how wise we were to go on this boat ride; but this was all part of the Jungle Lodges package, and they should know what they’re doing, so we didn’t worry too much about it. Besides, we all had our life jackets on… For whatever that was worth.

There was a jeep waiting to drive us back to the camp, but we decided to walk. They all thought we were crazy, and perhaps we were, but it was a comfortable walk of half an hour or so, and helped the kids work off some of their energy.

The bonfire that evening was very pleasant. It was too warm for a fire, but that didn’t seem to matter. We took a table some distance from the barbecue area, and the twins spent the evening running up and down ferrying food to the table and clearing away the used plates. I was amazed to see them go and ask the servers, coherently, for whatever they wanted. Amit had palpitations whenever the ran past the fire, logs from which jutted out in various directions, but they managed the evening without falling anywhere in the vicinity of the flames.

The next morning, we went for a mini trek. The guide allotted to us was visibly reluctant to lead us up the mountain path with the girls in tow. First he proposed a flat route, then, when I said no, we want to go to the watch tower on top of the hill, he led us a short way, then stopped and pointed up to where the watch tower stood. “Full teep” he said. It did look a formidable climb from there, but, having done it before, I knew it wasn’t that bad. Besides, after all the Himalayan treks we’ve done, I wasn’t going to be scared off a small hill like that, not even with the kids in tow. So we went on up the “full teep” path, holdin the twins hands and egging them on, and the guide took pity on them and led us up a route that eventually joined up with a jeep track and was quite as steep as advertised. We reached the tower in 40 minutes or so, and climbed the wet and slippery metal tower to the top. It was very misty, so we couldn’t see anything worth seeing, but it felt good to have made it that far with the kids. The descent, of course, was somewhat worse, but we made it without incident and were soon back at the camp seated at the breakfast table.

After breakfast, the girls had fun climbing the giant net and tackling the hammocks, and got scared by a monkey whom they rashly invited into the tent ‘for lunch’ and who appeared ready to take them up on their invitation. Then we all bathed and it was time to leave. Mrini kept us entertained during the early part of the car ride home by making up stories based on pictures in the books we keep for them in the car. She was amazingly good at it. She started each story with those hallowed words “once upon a time…” then she introduced some characters, usually monkeys, tigers or other wild animals, then she strung together 6-10 sentences about the characters, then she either trailed off, or ended with the other hallowed words, “happily ever after,” which, as she says it, would be written “happiligili after.” And on that happy note ended our first mini trek outing with our girls.

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Back from the fishing camp, without any fish, but without drowning or getting eaten by a croc

February 4, 2008

Perhaps a wilderness camp is not the easiest place to take two small kids for their first holiday. Staying in a tent, no electricity for much of the day, no hot water… At least we had a limitless supply of Cauvery water, which is more than you can say of the water supply at home.

This time, we went to Cauvery Fishing Camp at Doddamakkali, not Bheemeshwari, where we’ve been several times before. We got extremely late leaving home, due to various complicated reasons including changing a tyre on the car (the puncture was a couple of weeks earlier)(don’t even ask), playing tennis, eating a nice but ridiculously expensive breakfast of Post’s banana nut crunch… Oh and doing the packing, too.

The distance to Doddamakkali is only 150 km, so we had expected a leisurely 3 hour drive, but after the first 80 km on the Mysore highway, we turned off the highway at Maddur and the road surface deteriorated considerably, so it took us a little over 4 hours, with a half-hour stop to give the kids lunch at Kamat. (Apart from the last 8-km mud road which leads to the camp, this is also the road to Shivanasamudram.) The last stretch of 8 km was pretty interesting, winding through arid forests and sloping hillsides before finally descending steeply through a series of swirchbacks to the campsite by the river.

The location was very scenic, the river broad and lazy, studded with rocks, fringed with greenery. There was a beach of sorts, with soft white sand. Civilization was as far away as could be with the 8-km mud track between us and the nearest settlement deterring all but the most determined visitors – usually those who, like us, had paid up in advance and weren’t going away without getting their money’s worth.

There wasn’t much to do at the camp. After a late lunch and a lazy afternoon snooze – me and the kids tested out the hammock and managed not to fall out – there was a coracle boat ride, followed by fishing classes for those who were interested. I wasn’t, nor were the girls, but we watched the trainer expertly throw out a line that seemed to hover in the air before flying straight out to a point in the middle of the river. A short while later, the line gave a jerk and the man scrambled to his feet and pulled in (no reel) a small fish which, he said, was a mahseer. After being duly photographed by various eager “students” (some of them more interested in grilling and eating the fish than in catching it) the poor fish was gently returned to the water.

We spent the evening sitting around the largely unnecessary campfire (it was quite warm enough without the fire) eating spicy barbecued chicken and drinking beer. The kids entertained themselves by throwing sand on the table and putting some of it in their mouths whenever they thought we weren’t looking.

The next morning I insisted on being taken for what they called a trek, what I called a morning walk, and what Amit called a walk in the park. What this entailed was walking 15 minutes uphill along a narrow path in the grass, with sweat pouring off me at 7.30 in the morning, and sliding back down the same path in 10 minutes flat. Apparently, there was an option to go around the long way and return along the river’s edge, but the guide was extremely reluctant to let me go that way. Probably afraid, speculated Amit. What if some locals saw him alone with a woman in the bushes???

A leisurely breakfast occupied an hour till 10, and then there was only time enough to bathe and dress before leaving at 11. Lunch at Kamat, and we were back home a little after 3.

On the whole it was a not-bad experience. I wouldn’t say the kids enjoyed it entirely – they did get fidgety with the long drive, and weren’t always full of smiles and good cheer the way they are at home. But, apart from being really hungry before their dinner was ready, they weren’t too put out by it either. They fell asleep easily at night, slept soundly, and woke up after 8 the next morning!


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