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Serai Kabini: Caravanserai is a Persian word meaning a rest house for travellers. “A caravanserai (/kærəˈvænsəˌraɪ/)  was a roadside inn where travellers (caravaners) could rest and recover from the day’s journey. Serai Kabini is about 200 km from Bangalore. It is a wildlife resort in the Nagarhole forest reserve in Karnataka. It is situated on the banks of the river Kabini. There are around 120 tigers, 100 +leopards, Indian bison, elephants and 100 + species of birds. The Kabini Dam is closeby.
We left Bangalore at 7 am in the morning. It was an hour before we hit the National Highway towards Mysore leaving the urban sprawl of Bangalore behind us. There are several restaurants,such as the KFC , McDonalds and a few others en route. We settled for MTR, which serves typical hot South Indian breakfast. The place was rather full, buzzing and teeming with people.
The service was rather quick. Proceeding onward with our journey, firstly we passed through Chinnapatnam, famous for its wooden toys. Then came Seringapatnam, the capital of Tippu Sultan which was captured by the British Forces in 1799. The Fort of Tippu Sultan is well worth a visit because it is historic and parts of it are still well preserved.
The Ranganathittu bird sanctuary, which is nearby, is also very popular.
We took the Mysore bye pass to turn towards the Nagarhole National Park. It is about an hours drive to the Kabini resort from this point. The road was lined with lush greenery which was dotted with paddy & sugarcane fields. Small village houses, villagers going about their daily life and school children attending the village school were all part of the scene as we drove past. In addition, we saw men & women herding cattle and goats.
We soon reached a thick wooded forest and manned by a gate. There is a Government guest house, which served as the hunting lodge for royalty in the old days.
We headed towards the Kabini Resort. The resort at the Serai Kabini, with leafy green trees and the Kabini river in the background, was a world away from the hustle and bustle of Bangalore. Mr. Nixon Furtado, the manager at the resort sat us down & explained the facilities available in the resort to us. The safari ride in the jeep, the boat safari, the spa the gym, the swimming pool and the badminton courts and special play areas for children were all on offer.
There was a buggy waiting to take us to the river front villa. Wooden floors, slated roofs, a luxurious modern bathroom with sky light and a verandah with a hammock facing the Kabini river. It was idyllic & straight out of a travel magazine.
We had a sumptuous lunch and further cozied onto the hammock for a bit of reading. You could see butterflies in the garden & hear the birds sing through the day.
It was time to hit the the bar at 7 pm – “The Waterfront”, served us an excellent Indian whiskey”. There was a bonfire, where a group of guests from France & Germany had gathered for the evening to enjoy the moonlit night.
“ Wild Grass”, the dining room, had Chinese, Italian & North Indian & South Indian cuisine. The staff was ever so polite and very well trained.
We got up with a 5.15 am wake up call, as we had booked for an early morning safari. We were escorted to the safari in an open jeep. The early morning chill was on our face and we wished we had our jackets with us. The guide was well informed and kept the safari interesting. He gave us a lot of information about the animals in the forest. There were peacocks, langur monkeys, antelope & deer. As soon as we entered the more dense forest areas, we spotted two large tuskers gnawing at the bark of a tree. Axis deer and antelope could be found roaming everywhere.
The boat safari was not very popular with the guests, as we had been warned. The guests were apparently generally disappointed because they could not spot animals. We nevertheless took the boat safari to the backwaters, as we were keen to see the large species of birds anyway. So we set forth with binoculars and life vests. The river was full due to the rains with lush green ginger fields on the banks. Consequently, we were enjoying the backwaters with our fellow guides.
It was a leisurely boat ride spotting the stork , the osprey, the kingfisher, the cormorant, eagles, woodpeckers, hornbill & heron until our boatman was finally close to the Bandipur forest peering through the binoculars. We all followed his outstretched arm and we couldn’t believe our eyes. On the banks was a tiger sitting quietly as if waiting for us to get close. Just a few yards away on the other side was another tiger coming out of the thick bushes.
Finally, the motor was switched off in the boat and we veered towards the coast. Binoculars were passed around for a closer look. Smiling glances exchanged. We were left speechless.
It was the piece de resistance of our trip to Kabini. To conclude, The Cafe Coffee Day group of companies owns the Serai Kabini Resorts. Other properties include the Bandipur Forest Reserve & the Chikamaglur resort nestled between the coffee & spice plantations.
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