Travel

Jungle Camping: The Unexplored Side of Srisailam

The holy town of Srisailam might be recognized as a major pilgrimage destination in the state but I always believed that there is more to this place than what meets the eye. Its geographical location makes it scenic, surrounded by Srisailam hills and the Krishna River, making it a gorgeous canvas of forests, waterfalls, and caves. But knowing is not enough for the adventurer in me. So a few of my college buddies and I planned a camping trip to Srisailam and experienced the wild side of this otherwise hallowed place. We booked a convenient Hyderabad to Srisailam cab which took us about five hours to reach Srisailam.

Camping at Nallamala

Once we reached Srisailam, we stopped to stock up on supplies and other essentials. The dense forests of Nallamala are just 17 Km outside Srisailam in a quiet corner of Kurnool. We had our cab so continued with the same.

We pitched our tents at the designated camping area, fringed by lines of sandalwood trees and bamboo groves. That day, we spent our time hanging out at the campground with other campers, followed by a long walk through the woods, hearing the cacophony of retreating migratory birds.

Around late afternoon that day, we reached the forest edges, where we saw a small tribal village. One of my friends, who is very good with the local language, befriended a farmer and learned there were many such communities around. He and his family seemed very hospitable and asked if we would like a tour. It was like stepping into another time, another world, where the 21st-century paraphernalia hasn’t tainted life. After a brief tour, we returned to our camps, to spend the rest of the night by the bonfire while crickets and other nocturnal creatures chorused in the background.

Safari in Srisailam Tiger Reserve

The next day, as planned, we headed for the Tiger Reserve. It was barely half an hour’s drive from our campground. We availed a convenient and top-rated car rental in Srisailam with a local driver for our journey. The sanctuary is a part of Project Tiger and is the largest tiger reserve in India covering five districts. We decided to camp again for the day and find a safari tour the next day, and if I am lucky, I would see a big cat. Later that night, I think I heard a roar and rustle behind the campground. In the morning, we found out that it was a leopard out hunting and they had found a dead deer nearby.

Our safari started in a Jeep along with a guide from the Forest Department. We drove on the dusty trails through forests of axlewood, Teak, Sal, and frankincense. Though I was hoping to see tigers or at least a leopard, it was too bright for them to be out. But we did manage to encounter a herd of scampering antelopes and spotted deer and a few random peafowls. Our guide told us about the famous Black Buck, which can now rarely be seen and kept away from tourist zones.

And that’s how the weekend ended, in the heart of nature, and making me finally see a whole new side to the pilgrim town of Srisailam.