Saturday 13 April 2013

The reserve forests of Bangalore

Mention forests to a Bangalorean  and the immediate answer is Bannerghatta. The Bannerghatta national park and the Bannerghatta forests are so firmly rooted in  the minds of Bangaloreans that they instantly associate the name with forests.
True, Bannerghatta is one of the last remaining forests of Bangalore along with Turhalli and both these forests are situated in south Bangalore, But what many Bangalorens do not know is that there is another forest located in west Bangalore that has a reserved forest.
This forest is the only sandalwood reserve of Bangalore and it hosts a variety of flora and fauna. What is more, the forest is within the BBMP limits and it is very much part of an urban landscape. 
This is the Jarkabandi reserve State forest in Jalahalli, which is one of the most beautiful layouts of Bangalore. Jalahalli today is more known for the Air Force station, HMT factory and the Ayyappa temple but few would associate it with the presence of a forest.
The reserve Forests cover 494 acres and it is distributed in two blocks called A and B. The forests are off the Forest Region Road in Jalahalli.
The forest is important as it hosts several species of wildlife-plants and trees too. The forests are covered with eucalyptus and in some parts it is rocky and the vegetation is typical of a thorny and shrub jungle.
There are many sandalwood trees and this forest was declared a sandalwood reserve way back in 1901.
Residents and Forest Department officials say they have spotted leopards, sloth bears, pangolins, jackals, porcupines and several species of snakes, including the cobra, krait and viper.  Herpetologists have listed at least nine species of snakes in the forest.
There are also over 71 species of birds and among them are four species of owls, bats and pigeons
The forests have a fairly large collection of native acacia trees apart from neem, ficus, pongamia, amla albesia and pterocarpus. The forests is protected by a compound and prior permission from the Forest Department is required to visit the forest. 
The forests was part of a bigger green cover and the Jalahalli forests were known for the presence of tigers and other bug cats. However, much of the jungle was cleared when Jalahalli became home to several thousands prisoners of the second world war captured by the British.
Several thousands Italians captured in Europe were billeted in prison camps here. The last vestiges of the once famed Jalahalli forests vanished when the Government gave land for setting up the Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT).   
Today, the Air Force Station, HMT. BEL and the reserve forests still have managed to hold on to the green cover and if Jalahalli is known for its green canopy, much of the credit should go to them.
By the way, the number of Jalli trees gave the locality the name Jalahalli.

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