Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weekend in woods

I guess this is my first ever blog entry with photographs from my own country. I'm gonna keep it less verbose. It's the most dynamic trip I ever went, with absolutely no plan and destination undecided. When we left my place in the evening, I remember telling my parents that we shall be staying in Mysore and heading to Coorg the next morning. Even after reaching Mysore, we were still arguing whether to stay in Mysore or continue to Coorg or head to Ooty. We agreed upon the latter option and took the road towards Nanjangud, Gundlupet. At Gundlupet, we missed the road and did a 100km+ detour by unwittingly entering Kerala. Instead of entering Bandipur reserve (NH67), we took the Mulehole, Sultan Bathery route (NH212). We reached Gudalur at 7 in the morning and we rented a lodge for a couple of hours for freshening up.

We passed through Mudumalai reserved forest area, like a snail, hoping to find some wildlife, we could spot few deers and black faced monkeys. We saw elephants and tigers only on the warning boards that read "Elephants crossing zone" or "Help protect tigers" but not the living ones. The forest was kinda dry due to heat. We reached Masinagudi and decided to stay there in some jungle resort. In the noon, we spent time walking in the woods with a guide, trying to find something. All we found were a dozen of black faced monkeys and truck load of elephant excrement but not a single elephant. Later in the evening, we took safari but that again was disheartening. We found a carcass of a cattle mangled by some carnivore, bison beyond my camera range and as usual, deers were ubiquitous. We dined and wined well in the resort.

We were still chasing dreams of seeing wildlife the next morning, we went for a trek with a guide from our resort. All we found were deers and dumps of elephants. The guide told us at some point that he could smell elephants, trying to make us happy by the miasma of the forest, but we were disappointed. We had rubbery chapatis for breakfast and took leave from the resort and head towards Ooty. We had to climb the nilgiris ghat section (winding roads among the mountains) and the car had it's toughest time doing that. Maruthi Alto suck when it comes to passing a ghat section, it didn't allow us to shift the gear to second from first.

Ooty is a hillstation in the state of Tamilnadu, known for it's pleasant weather and tea estates, it's a popular mid-range honeymoon destination. The weekend crowd in Ooty was at it's peak, the weather was balmy but the traffic was bad. We wanted to go to Botanical gardens, but it was overcrowded and the price for taking the camera in was very discouraging. We did some chocolate shopping in Modern market (near Botanical gardens), had lunch at Hyderabad biryani house and left to Coonoor.

Coonoor is yet another hill station, less crowded than Ooty. It's located just 20km from Ooty and it's got an army regiment which explains the presence of army men in the city. It's an old and calm city with many monuments from British era. One of this tour guide, made us change the decision of entering Sims park. Paying 50 rupees to him, we took a tour to one of the tea gardens and a tea factory. He told us that it's the place where a song from Raja Hindustani was shot, though I haven't seen that song. The landscape was nice, we got up-close-and-personal with tea plantations and the tea factory was interesting too. From there, we came back to Ooty and had dinner.

We started our return journey after dinner, we passed through Masinagudi and Bandipur forests slowly, spotting few deers and a bison. We planned to goto NagarhoLe reserve from Mysore, but once we reached Mysore, we were all so exhausted that we called the idea off. We stopped at the grand Mysore Palace for a short while for photographing and came back to Bangalore.

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