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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Summer Evenings with Birds at Kukkarahalli Kere, Mysore

The first time we headed to Kukkarahalli Kere, all I intended was to spend some time relaxing out in the open, preferably reading my book, while Samhith played around by himself. But with sights like these, that was not to be!

I first read of the lake in a magazine, which mentioned it as one of the less known green lungs of the city, far from the touristy crowds. It sounded inviting enough, but I would never have headed there if we hadn’t found ourselves at a loose end every evening. Everything in Mysore seems to shut down around 5 PM – the palaces, the museums, the art galleries, the zoo…. What were we to do then? I couldn’t possibly expect Samhith to walk with me aimlessly along the streets. Since I didn’t want to spend time in the room, engrossed in the idiot box, I chose instead to head out to the lake, where the vast, green expanse, created over a hundred years ago, proceeded to charm us!

These Purple Moorhens, plentiful in the marshy area around the lake, were the first to capture our attention. We hadn’t seen any before, so out came my camera at once, all thoughts of reading forgotten!

As we walked along the banks of the lake, eager to see what other birds we could spot, a movement in the trees caught our attention. It took us only a few moments to spot the bird – a Grey Hornbill! Over the next couple of days, we saw lots of these birds, but I couldn’t manage a decent capture. The only time I did was at the Karanji lake, but more about that later.

With so much water around, there were plenty of water birds…. Such as Pond Herons

And Purple Herons

The next time we found ourselves with a  couple of hours to spare, off we headed to the lake once again, this time all set to watch birds… and we were well rewarded for our enthusiasm too! The other side of the lake seemed filled with birds…. Even more than the day before! As Samhith said, it felt we were back at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary (yes, that’s for another post too!)

White Ibis and one Grey Heron... far off on the other bank of the lake. 

And besides, what we had assumed were ducks, turned out to be a family of Common Coots, another bird we had never seen before!

Many of the birds we saw are common ones, but for us, it was a wonderful experience, more so since we didn’t really expect to see any of them in the middle of May.

Besides, this was the perfect opportunity for Samhith to renew his acquaintance with birds… and in the five days we spent in the city, we had plenty of such opportunities. You will have to wait to read more about them! 


  1. Nicely captured images Anu. I saw my first purple moorhens and common coots in Delhi at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. There is something so exciting to see some bird species for the first time, even if it is common enough, isn't it? :)

  2. One of my friend was talking about Kukkarahalli Kere a few days ago and now I landed on your blog post... I think I should make a plan to go there. Thanks for nice photos.

  3. I am Sure You Had a Beautiful Evening.
    The snaps Are Beautiful & this is the first time i am watching some of them.

  4. What a lovely time you spent by the lake! I wish one day I could travel with my son, like you. My son has already developed some liking towards birds (at least that's what I think) and he loves to travel. Hope this doesn't change in future!

  5. Thank you for penning this down, although i regularly visit the lake for jog, but fail to recognise the birds,


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