The area around the Mastigudi Watchtower is magical, both during the cold as well as the dry season. It is a busy spot because of the many safari jeeps that pass the area. However, very few of them actually halt here, as it is not really considered a ‘hot spot’.
The watchtower is just a landmark and is not open to tourists. It overlooks the backwaters, at the confluence of the Balle and Kabini Rivers. The entire bank is lined with the Giant Bamboo, which grows in clumps and meet at the top, creating what I call ‘Gateways’ through which the wildlife must pass on their way to the river.
When the dam is full, a small inlet of water is formed; resembling a cove, and as the water recedes, an open area with a small depression is exposed. The soil in this depression remains moist, as a few puddles of water remain. This spot attracts a lot of wildlife, mostly Spotted Deer, Wild Boars, Gaurs and Elephants. A few crocodiles can also be found basking on the banks. The usual waders as well as storks, herons and the like are usually around. I once saw a Tiger there, but that is immaterial to the charm of the place.
At the beginning of the cold season this place is best approached by boat (when the water level is still high enough) and that is exactly what I did yesterday. The light as usual was magical and I spent about half an hour in solitary splendor, before returning home. Sharing the space with me were a herd of Spotted Deer, a Wild Boar duo and a female Elephant with her calf.
As we gazed, I saw the biggest crocodile I have ever seen in my life. It must have been over 13 feet long! It however, preferred to part company with us and disappeared into the water.
I took a few photographs but I must admit that I am yet to master the art of capturing the magic of the light.