A good friend of mine says, “Life in Bangalore city has gone totally mechanical, nature is totally destroyed, and it’s just over!”
I say, “Cities are always like that.” They keep growing, spreading, pushing and consuming the villages, and people from the current generation cannot keep up with the speed of the cities’ growth. We sit inside and curse the government as we share black and white photos of the old city market over the social networks. Today our street might have lots of trees along its edges, but tomorrow they could be gone.
Why? Because we ask for it. We cry for better facilities; we cry for metro trains, less traffic, and more convenience. It all results in one thing: CHANGE. Then we grow old and lose our hot-blooded passion. We start complaining just like our fathers and grandfathers did. The same friend asks me angrily, “What is your solution, then?”
I say, “Head out for just 15- 20 kms from Bangalore. You will see beauty and happenings you would never even imagine!”
There are tons of places to visit near Bangalore. Let’s check out the west side of Bangalore, which is my favourite place to visit. Hundreds of people visit Big Banyan Tree and the Manchanabele Reservoir, which offers a decent picnic spot for families and friends. But many will not notice the clean, tree-lined roads passing through lovely little villages on the way. Ramohalli Road on the way to Big Banyan Tree runs past two lakes which look like heaven during the early morning and evening.
A morning at Ramohalli Lake, on the way to Big Banyan Tree.
An usual foggy morning near Bhimanakuppe Lake
Nearby Innovative Film City will be jam-packed during the weekends. People spend a lot of money in the artificial environment of this man-made amusement park, but they are unaware that close by there are two lakes and hundreds of villages rich in nature and culture. The farming activity, festivals, and fairs are a treat for your senses, and visiting the surrounding unspoiled land will enrich your life. In winter these places are divine. The foggy mornings, the sun rays piercing through the line of trees, show us how beautiful the world can be.
Bhyramangala Lake, just beyond Innovative Film City, Bangalore.
Sunset at Nelligudde Lake, Bidadi.
At Kanva Reservoir Lake near Ramnagar, you can see a huge body of water with wonderful Ramnagar rocks and hills as backdrop. As you travel down the narrow roads, you come across rows of trees and small houses packed together. You’ll see farmers and shepherds working, villagers sitting and chatting near the temple, kids playing, and women toiling. Let me tell you, you will become a humble viewer here. It’s like something straight from the pages of RK Laxman’s Malgudi Days!
An unusual mix of fog, clouds, and light brings some amazing colors to Kanva Lake, Ramnagar.
A villager passes by on a foggy morning near Kanva Reservoir, Ramnagar.
On the way to Kanva Reservoir, Ramnagar.
A villager busy with his morning work.
Besides nature, there are village events you really should see. The cattle fair of Magadi is one. Every year, thousands of farmers come to Magadi and live in tents for a week while they trade off their cattle. Kengal, near Ramnagar, also hosts a cattle fair, and both are worth exploring. They start after December and continue through May. There are village festivals such as Karaga, the Annamma Devi, Avalalli, Ramnagar, Kengal, Magadi, and Revana Siddeshwara Fairs, and many others that happen around these places. Firewalking and folk dances are only two of the many activities you can witness that reflect the rich culture that has survived through the generations in India.
Cattle fair at Magadi, a one hour drive from Bangalore.
Devotees hurry up to the temple at the top of the hill on Revana Siddeshwara hill near Ramnagar.
A farmer cooks during a cattle fair at Kengal, a one hour drive from Bangalore.
After firewalking, devotees offer flowers to the fire at Revana Siddeshwara Fair.
Tell me now, isn’t Bangalore beautiful? Isn’t “City” just a name tag? I’ll bet this is the case for every other city, too. All you have to do is get up off your couch on Saturday and Sunday morning and travel a short distance to experience the beauty of nature and the exciting happenings in the villages.
Important tips to fellow photographers and everybody visiting these places:
You’ll get the most enjoyment from all these places if you visit when these events are scheduled. Do some research first. I recommend that you spend time exploring the villages on your own without your camera. Before you attend one of these huge events, visit just to ask people for information. I took all of the photos you see here after visiting many times and making detailed observations.
Do not come charging in with your expensive gear and fully loaded photography vest looking like a killer photographer on a hunt! Dress simply, be kind, courteous, and respectful to the villagers, and they will treat you to their real hospitality.
Never, ever harm nature in any way, either directly or indirectly. Whatever you bring with you, take home with you when you leave. Do not leave trash behind, including plastic bags.
The goal is not to capture the photo, share it, and receive compliments or win prizes. The goal is to explore, learn, and enjoy the experience before capturing it in photos. Let our kids see what we saw in real life, not just through photos.
The last thing I ask with my begging hands is, please, please do not disrespect the local residents in any way. Capturing villagers in photos, only to abuse them through excessive Photoshopping , or use their photos to make insensitive, “amusing” composites are examples of disrespectful practices we see all too frequently. I think this is not a thoughtful thing to do to people you do not know, who have not agreed to be used in so rude a way. Perhaps you and your friends would like to do that to photos of each other. Even I wold enjoy seeing those!