The Butterfly Safari Park at the Thenmala Ecotourism Center (Tagline: India’s first planned eco-tourism destination) in Kollam district claims to be the first of its kind in Asia. Naturally, it is a place of great interest to me, a certified butterfly-lover. Quite a few varieties of butterflies do visit my backyard. But the safari park has shut the gate on its butterflies to me for the second time in a row. Sheer bad luck.
The last time I went there was in October 2015, all eager to see some of the winged delights. I was informed then that the morning session closed at 9 a.m. Nine bleddy a.m! It was already 11 a.m. by then. We had been walking around looking at other attractions not knowing or bothering to check the timings of the butterfly park. But this time around I was determined to not make that mistake. I was going to reach on time. And what’s more, I had no intention of wandering off anywhere else.
Accordingly, we got up quite early (I even made sandwiches as stopping for breakfast would make us late) and left promptly at 6 a.m. It is a two-hour drive and we were there exactly at 7-59 a.m. to the dot as predicted by Google maps. That gave me one hour of butterfly-time, I calculated, rubbing my hands in glee. But my glee turned to gloom when the L&M who had gone to get the tickets came back and broke the news. You could go on the butterfly safari only at 3 p.m.
But, they had told us it closes at 9.a.m. It is ONLY 8 now!!!!!
The man at the counter was unmoved. He claimed that they had ONLY ONE time slot for visiting the park and that was 3 p.m. That’s the time the tour guide comes, and it being a forest area, visitors had to be accompanied by a guide. I was skeptical of his claims. ‘The last time I came someone informed had informed me….‘ I began to explain. No, he cut me short. There never was a morning slot. Besides, he added in a discouraging tone, October was the best time.
All of it sounded fishy to me, to be frank. Especially when the man helpfully passed the brochure to me and I found printed on it very clearly this, that the park stays open in the morning till 9 a.m. So why were they keeping it open if not for visitors?!!!! But by then he had vanished. We went back and sat in the car and had breakfast. I moodily chomped on the sandwiches. Hunger had to be appeased even if butterflies were unreachable.
Once the sandwiches were demolished, I proceeded to click the few monkeys lurking around waiting for the tourists to start trickling in. There were some stray dogs too. And we decided to go back. May be stop at the dam on the way back, but that was all. There was no way we could wait till evening as we had other commitments. And anyway, what if we did wait and they came up with some new excuse to cancel the evening trip? Something like, the guide hasn’t turned up and so no trip today, come tomorrow. Anything was possible.
What is the point of establishing something and not taking proper care to maintain it? Why can’t the correct times for each activity be properly displayed? We went on a Sunday and the weekends are the times they have maximum crowds, the man at the counter had said that too. In spite there was no one to guide us or give proper answers to our queries. What’s the use creating a website and posting awesome pictures and all? Why haven’t they mentioned the fact that the elevated walkway can be accessed only when a certain number of people are there? Just take a look at this page about the Butterfly Safari Park. One can’t even make sense of what’s written. Is this the best they could come up with?
Such a disappointment not being able to see the winged beauties. No idea as of now when next we’ll be able to make it. But the drive itself was B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. Mist added mystery and magic to the morning, and the greenery was a delight. Then there was the chatty policeman who traveled with us part of the way who didn’t know left from right (or right from left, as the case may be). So yeah, it wasn’t all bad, especially since I saw a couple of Brahminy Kites sitting on a branch on the way back.
©Shail Mohan 2017