Mrugavani National Park is recommended for a visit should your children/you can spend an entire day feeding one sambar deer. Now, one may wonder if feeding one sambar deer can be the sole purpose of visiting a so-called national park? Yes, it is. And, children can love the experience. Just that, it could have been a lot better.
Do not believe me? Read on. The below is basis the Mrugavani National Park visit in February 2020 with my five-year-old twin daughters.
Wikipedia page says that this national park covers an area of 3.6 square kilometres or 1211 acres. Telangana tourism website reiterates the same number. I suppose, 1211 acres have to be huge, really huge. Well, the visitors are limited to about less than an acre, or an acre or whatever, that one can walk through in 8-10 minutes, all possible directions.
No hard feelings, though. Nature is better left alone, away from humans. In which case, there is no point in going if the visitors are limited to such a small space.
The Flora and Fauna
Telangana tourism website informs that the park has been home to 600 species of plants and animals. It also mentions that the fauna is as varied as they come. It mentions about some animals as the most striking species for the curious traveller.
Well, they have to be taken at the face value. There is nothing to satiate the curious traveller, that s/he could walk in 10 minutes flat. Whatever trees that are present in the visitor area, none are named. Leave aside, further information about them.
My daughters asked me about the flora and fauna, that they were promised basis my google search. I told them that nature’s gems are better-kept secret. They asked back, then why are we here?
Jungle Safari, Watch Tower, Environmental Education Centre & Museum
We asked for the jungle safari. The driver told us that we will not be able to see anything apart from dry trees. In his suggestion, it was a waste of money and time. We dropped the idea.
We went to the watchtower. The steps were dilapidated and the railing was broken on both sides. It was not safe to climb for five-year children. We dropped the idea.
We went to the Environmental Education Centre. It was locked. There is a Forest Department office within the visitor area. Upon enquiry, we were told that the centre is opened only when someone asks for it. After some 10 minutes, it was opened. A person kept snooping behind us to ensure we do not know what. The information inside looked like a google copy-paste job, fit for a school project of 12-14-year-olds but not for the consumption of five-year-olds. After looking at some animal replicas, the children lost interest in 10 minutes, we walked out and the doors were locked again.
Wikipedia page mentioned a library, a museum, an auditorium and nature walk with guides. I suppose all these were hidden and locked from the visiting public, should they run away with them.
The children and I were getting exasperated.
The Sambar Deer
The girls noticed a sambar deer in the enclosure in the visitor area. They rushed towards the animal. The deer looked expectantly at them. The girls asked if they could feed the animal. I asked a staff person walking by. He shrugged his shoulders and asked us to proceed with leaves as food.
That was it. The girls started. They would have started feeding around 1030 or so. The next time, I looked at the watch, it was 1630. They went on and on and on. There were numerous leaves on the ground, they tweaked some leaves from shrubs, I pulled some leaves from the trees and that is all that we did for six full hours. I fed the children during lunch, and they fed the animal – breakfast, lunch and snacks, all rolled into one.
The sambar deer obliged for the entire time. S/he kept walking along the enclosure railing, but not even once went inside. The girls kept getting company throughout the day from other children in feeding the animal. The other children came and went, and B +ve and O +ve were nonstop.
It was tiring for me. But, for the girls, it was sheer delight. As an adult, for me, it was like can you please stop now? As children, for my daughters, it was like there cannot be anything better than this.
This is what and who the children are. I got them to visit the national park and all its paraphernalia. Not a single aspect worked, as promised. The adults screwed it up. The children found their amusement, what they ought to be doing as children, which we adults would never comprehend.
We left at 1630 as the guard pushed us out. It was Mrugavani National Park closing time, at 1700 hours.
The girls felt blessed to have got an opportunity to feed one sambar deer for the whole day.
What’s more to life than that?
PS: If it is more for you, please do not visit Mrugavani National Park, it is an outright dud. Trust the Government to be a complete killjoy by making it zilch experiential and ensuring that nobody takes any interest in knowing about the environment, leave aside the conservation.