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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.

Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi - a Birdwatchers' Paradise!

“I have never seen so many cameras at once!” was my first thought as I entered the Old Magazine House at Ganeshgudi, near Dandeli. I already knew of Ganeshgudi as a haunt of ardent birdwatchers, but even that hadn’t prepared me for their cameras or the size of the telescopic lenses which greeted us on our arrival! I wondered if I would be able to see any birds with my humble camera, and if I would even be able to take it out amidst such magnificent specimens! As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. While most of the ardent birding enthusiasts were indeed focused on getting the perfect images, there were enough birds around for us to see, and close enough for even me to get some decent clicks! However, the best part of Ganeshgudi was that we didn’t have to go to see the birds – they came to us! All we had to do was sit quietly and observe!

Our first visitor was this White Bellied Blue Flycatcher, which is a common visitor here, but a new one for us…

Next came an Orange headed Ground Thrush… We saw this bird often during our stay, but I chose to share this photo since it was clicked by Samhith.

The next morning, I woke up later than planned, and missed sighting a Paradise Flycatcher, and also an Indian Pitta – a lesson to us, never to wake up late, no matter what the reason! Our first sighting was an emerald dove, but I didn’t get a decent photo. I did, however manage to capture the White Rumped Munia

And the Little Brown Flycatcher, both of which perched happily on the water baths so thoughtfully provided.

Taking a short walk to the entrance of the lodge, we spotted a few more birds…. Such as this pair of Plum Headed Parakeets….

And a flowerpecker

Coming back, we found this pair of Yellow Browed Bulbuls

A little away, this Ashy Drongo was busy flying to and fro….

Trying to photograph a woodpecker I spotted among the trees, I glimpsed this Black Lored Yellow Tit..

And managed to capture the woodpecker itself, which was a Lesser Yellow Naped Woodpecker

And then, along with them, spotted the Velvet Fronted Nuthatch too!

Amidst all that green foliage, spotting the Leaf bird wasn’t an easy task…. I eventually did spot it though, helped by the others around me…

The Malabar Grey Hornbill put in an appearance too…

And, though we missed the magnificent Male Asian Paradise Flycatcher, we did spot a juvenile….

Among other birds, a pair of scarlet minivets kept us busy for a while,

And an Eurasian Blackbird seemed to be the least colourful among all the birds we had seen!

But it wasn’t only birds that we saw here…. While Samhith was fascinated by all the spiders…. (as usual)..

We also spotted a mongoose…. Which probably meant that there were snakes around!

Of course, busy as we were, with trying to spot as many birds as we could, we had little time to think of anything else!

We spent just one day at Ganeshgudi, and I can honestly say that Samhith enjoyed the experience as much as I did. He wasn’t the only child there, and had plenty of company of his own age. They talked of games and built bonfires, and had a blast, while the adults, though expecting complete silence, also happily showed off their wonderful lenses to the children, letting them see through, and spot birds, helping to identify them, and explaining their behavior. The staff at Old Magazine House were even more helpful, always being on the lookout, though almost invisible to our bird enchanted eyes!

I visited Ganeshgudi in Jan 2014 as part of a trip organized by, a website dedicated to developing responsible tourism in Dandeli. The stay at Ganeshgudi was arranged with my birdwatching interest in mind, and I am especially thankful to both, as well as Jungle Lodges, for making our stay comfortable and memorable. This is one place I will certainly visit again, soon!

Note to self: Buy a better camera, or at least a better pair of binoculars before visiting Ganeshgudi again!


  1. Agree with you. These days I find bird watchers who hardly watch the birds but are busy clicking and sharing on SM.
    What a delight it is to really sit back and watch the birds....

    1. Thats a part of everything these days, Wandering Mist! whether it is birdwatching or travelling or even just any events, everyone is busy clicking and sharing. However, my experience at Ganeshgudi was a more positive one,because they werent just photographers, but naturalists, bird enthusiasts and generally people who spent a lot of time just looking at birds. we learnt a lot from them!

  2. What happened to your DSLR which you acquired some time back.

    1. I dont have a DSLR., PNS. what i have is a bridge camera which has a good zoom, better than the ordinary point and shoot cameras. however, it was no match for all those wonderful ones we saw there!

  3. Looks really great! And you have managed to get some wonderful shots with your camera Anu...
    -- Houseboats of Srinagar

    1. Thank you, Siddhartha!!! There were so many more birds that we saw! though I was happy to at least get some of them!

  4. those are some beautiful pictures , you know I always wanted to take good pic's but for some reason I have never managed to get it right...

    I am sure it was a great day out


    1. Thank you, Bikram!!! well, photography is just a part of it.... more important is to enjoy what you see, and remember it :D but then again, maybe you can try a photography course or something...that might help.

  5. I love all the colorful birds; it's so interesting to see the varieties and how they differ from ours here in the Southeast U.S.! Thanks for sharing! One of my favorite things to do is relax for a few minutes and watch the birds at our bird feeders in the back yard (and let the dog out the patio door to chase off the squirrels that are stealing seed from the feeders!). I've tried to take some photos of the birds at the feeders but all I have is my cell phone and it's next to impossible to get a clear pic with it. I think even if I did have a decent camera I'd end up with blurry shots anyway; I am always half a second too late when I take the photo. :)

    1. Thank you so much, Natalie!! I would so love to see the birds you have, out there... and psst..letting you in on a secret... most of my shots are blurry too... these are probably one tenth of all the photos i clicked... only these came out decently enough to share.. the rest are all junk :( so dont give up!

  6. Wonderful avian captures. Would love to visit Ganeshgudi someday.

    1. Thank you, Niranjan! Am sure you will love the place! do go soon!

  7. Place is just another heaven .!!!!

  8. Loved the trip report. Ganeshgudi is indeed a heaven for birders. OMH is the place to be when visiting Ganeshgudi.

    1. Thank you, Kartik! I am glad you agree!! OMH is indeed the place to be at Ganeshgudi!


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