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The People I Met On The Road : P Gowri Shankar

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Posted On : July 1, 2015
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The passion for Travelling has given me some great opportunities to meet really wonderful people. Recently I met Gowri Shankar.

There is a name that is always associated with Gowri Shankar.  It is not name of a human, name of a place or anything.

Ok, for those who are not into snakes, reptiles and so on,  let me tell you straight away. Gowri Shankar is associated with snakes. Not just any snake, but the King of them all. KING COBRA. He rescues King Cobra, He learns about King Cobra, He observes and protects King Cobra. He is a walking encyclopaedia as far as  King Cobras as well as other snakes and reptiles are concerned.

One normal day in Gowri's life

One normal day in Gowri's life

[ Pic Credit : Sharmila, Kings Platter ]

My recent visit to Agumbe rainforest gave me this wonderful opportunity to meet this wonderful person. Agumbe is the second wettest place in India. Due to the heavy rainfalls; frogs, snakes, reptiles including King Cobras find the rainforests of Agumbe as an amazing place for their stay. Thus Agumbe rainforest is home for many King Cobras.  The search for spotting a snake in that dense rainforest led me to Gowri and his research and education centre inside that forest.

Gowri started handling snakes when he was in 9th standard which means when he was only 13. Since then he is dealing with snakes. His passion and purpose in life was very clear to him early in his life. Later in his life he became  an animal inspector (at KARUNA, formerly BSPCA, Bangalore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) , education officer (at the Center for Herpetology, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Mamalapuram Chennai), a Conservation Officer at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS).

He has also worked with  National Geographic, BBC, Nat Geo Wild and Discovery for quite a few Documentaries on King Cobras.  ‘The King and I’,  ‘Secrets of the King Cobra ‘, ‘Asia’s Deadliest Snake’ , ‘One Million Snake Bites’ and ‘Wildest India’. These are some of the documentaries in which Gowri has either worked or featured.

He is currently doing his PhD on King Cobras. He is also running his own education and research centre in Agumbe rainforest. This centre is organising camps and other activities in Agumbe for creating awareness towards conservation through workshops and camps. In their own words, the vision of this centre is "To become a self sustaining premier conservation centre that empowers right action through environmental education and state of the art scientific training in environmental field studies."

Even though he is a very busy person, he found a couple of hours from his busy schedule when asked if it was possible to meet him for a coffee.

Meeting at the coffee shop with Gowri Shankar

Meeting  with Gowri Shankar at the coffee shop

He is a very down to earth person. He talked about snakes, King Cobras, the rainforest and much more. He shared with us, his adventurous snake stories, rescue call experiences, little known secrets about the snakes, how they train themselves to spot snakes and so on. It was a very interesting evening.

I learned a lot of new things that day. I learned that snakes are in fact very peaceful creatures. They either stay away from things that are not their food or flee from it, if given a chance. But if someone is deliberately trying to handle the snake, it is called 'inviting danger'. Especially if it is highly venomous snakes like King Cobra.

While photographing this viper, the advice given to me was that, twice the length of the snake is  safe distance. If you are going towards further, you know what to expect; a great shot, either by you or by the snake! 😉

Viper : Up close and personal

Viper : Up close and personal

Another interesting thing I learned that day talking to Gowri was about certain frogs. I never knew certain frogs can actually eat small snakes! Google it and believe yourself, if you are like me.

He also talked about Kalinga foundation, the research and education centre he runs and the opportunity it provides for amateurs as well as professionals who are interested in Herping. [ Herping is the act of searching for amphibians or reptiles] He offered his help as a guide during such a herping session. I am hoping to go back to Agumbe to spot more snakes, frogs and whatnots! 😉

 With the help of such an expert I am sure I can spot something really interesting.

For more information on Kalinga Foundation

To read personal blog of Gauri Shankar

For planning a trip to Agumbe rainforest


Written by : Trablogger
Trablogger aka Jithin is an Indian travel blogger who is obsessed with leading a travel life. When he is not traveling, photographing, writing or blogging, you can see him thinking about sustaining this travel life or helping someone to travel more.

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I know its contagious(: ... in march to april in Orissa in Chratrapur beach I think those turtles hatch...got to wait till next year... I will give you the details if next year I hear of it... till then have to satisfy ourselves singing "teenage mutant Ninja turtles" songs and hope we can support turtle power next year...helping them to help the sea instead of falling prey to preditors(:... I thought Vizag was Goa later I learnt it was vishagapatnam(:... option was direct train for 29hours, or indirect mid night train... or catching bus to Vizag(16 hours) then from there… Read more »


Yup(:... that lady is handy in letting me know the events on... you know she is married and very thin lady... she went to help the Uttaranchal people in flood, travelling all by herself and spending her husband's money... a bit wild she is...sort of my inspiration(:... that turtle episode though I know I watched it only through facebook conversations thought me something... its ok to travel alone anywhere when required, travel 16 hours by bus...also there must be something in the turtles that everyone were so crazy and happy to see it(:... the conversation in the group concluded with… Read more »


Hey, about the turtle thing... in Orissa one particular place turtle hatch eggs during April - May season. One lady I know, knows a NGO person with that she arranged this year oppurtunity to people who want to volunteer to go there and well leave the baby turtles to the sea, or near the sea(: I almost was to go with the odd creature in the Bangalore group being the sole lady or girl... but the turtles hatched suddenly and everyone all the guys made plans among themselves to go to Vizag and Orissa and dedicate their while turtle putting(:...… Read more »


not advise, like this person you mentioned is animal lover so maybe he can help with the funding if he is happy with the cause the boy is biking for anyway... just checking, I am not obligated to help them was just checking... I will tell them to check this page out anyway... actually these guys the whole family did something different... there was a Kerala doggy, she got an accident in Kerala, these guys brought the dog out and amputated her leg... and outside her flat put bed and pan for that creature. They feed it, take care of… Read more »


hmmm...looks like you like these wildlife stuff... I touched snake on a school trip long long ago(: this rain forest is a must go for me sometime surely. Now, my flat neighbour who has a son was asking me advice or help for fund collection for his son who will ride bike from India to China for a good cause PETA some wildlife stuff(: could you help, next time I meet him I can tell him something helpful maybe... other than this good going with king cobra and frogs(: ... great photo of that snake and nice write up about… Read more »


aaaaa.....shouts...aaaaa (coz snake) 😀 I will do a post on snakes soon. *shudders*. Aaaaaa....Cobras are still scary for me.

Maniparna Sengupta Majumder

Nice...creepy crawly tales... enjoyed reading it... 🙂

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