Some 80 kilometers from Mysore, through a beautiful country landscape with curving roads, large tanks and few vehicles, past the heart of rural Karnataka, and in the shadow of vast forests of the Western Ghats lays the Kabini River Lodge.
A showcase to the wealth of Nagarhole and indeed wild Karnataka, Kabini has a rich history dating back to more than a century. Kabini is a visual treat. Sambars, spotted deer, gaurs, wild boars, elephants, leopards, tigers - it is the place, widely considered to be the mecca for wildlife sighting.
The forests extend as far as the eyes can see. Sandwiched on both sides by the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Nagarhole National Park, the Kabini River preserves among the last remaining wilderness in the country.
What is now the Kabini River Lodge was earlier the hunting Lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore and a favorite of his guests. The lodge is located in Karapura Village on the backwaters of the Kabini dam. During the late 18th and early 19th century - it was common to see Viceroys of the British East India Company at Kabini. Lord Mintow, King Edwards, Lord Mountbatten, Lord Irwin and the Russian Grand Dukes visited Kabini during their stay in India. Later on, JLR took over and began its path breaking experiment of community based ecotourism in a wilderness setting.
The journey begins at its very gates and its story is best told while sipping coffee at the very regal Viceroy Lodge. The antique furniture, the regal appearance and dozens of very old photographs whisper about the ancient roots of the place. There are photographs of the Maharaja of Mysore and his hunting party, some black and white stills talk of the elaborate kheddah operations undertaken to capture elephants.
Crocodiles silently submerging, otters curious enough to offer a few seconds of precious viewing, birds totally nonchalant and assured of the protection accorded to them, leopards observed more on trees and silently fading away into the wild, elephants frolicking in the waters and the tiger frequently seen looking over his kingdom - the magic of Kabini is not explained in mere words.
There are more prints of hunting parties of every sort, tigers, leopards, gaurs and mahseers. History breathes from each brick and the forests have tales to tell.