Bhavana, Rohit & Mira were in Coimbatore for a week in June'08 for the final phase of their annual vacation to India. I had planned a trip to Mudumalai for a stay in the Forest Lodge and go on a jungle Safari. Accordingly we left Coimbatore on 28th morning via Mettupalayam towards Coonoor & Ooty. Before we started the climb we stopped over at the foothills for breakfast of yummy sandwiches . Mira was joyous at seeing the large crowd of monkeys enroute perched on the trees, sitting on the parapet walls and dashing around the roadside. We briefly stopped to enjoy the breathtaking view of Law Falls adjoining which are the Glendale Estates as well as the Tantea plantations. At Coonoor we took a drive through the restricted Wellington, HQ of the Madras Regimental Centre. The old Boys Bridge had been demolished and a new bridge is under construction.Then we continued on towards Ooty past Aravangadu Cordite Factory, Ketty & Valley View & finally reached Ooty. We stopped briefly at Preeti Classic Hotel for rest and coffee and to stretch our limbs. Mira had youghurt & milk and gleefully pranced around the spacious restaurant.
Next we went to the office of the Wild Life Warden Ooty to reconfirm our accomodation at Masinagudi. We met an officer Mr.Venkatesan who immediately rang up and spoke the Reception Office at Theppakadu informing them about our arrival and to extend full assisteance to us.
We had lunch at Dhaba Express or more popularly known as Sachin's Dhaba ( no relation to Tendulkar !) The setting was elegant and simple, ambience was good, it had a clean kitchen and the food was delicious. The menu for the day - Egg Bhurji, Dal Makhani, Dal Tadka Fry, Chicken Biryani, Chicken Tangdi Kabab, Palak Paneer, Tandoori Rotis & stuffed Kulchas.
The quantities very very generous. After lunch we left straightaway towards Mudumalai. We decided to take the Kalhatty ghat route comprising 36 steep hair pin bends. The car was driven mostly in 2nd gear in view of the steep incline. Ramesh, our driver negotiated the gradient well. The view was breathtaking and enroute we crossed a Holiday Camp, the Mystique Manor Guest House, Kalhatty Falls, Bison point before we reached the base of the ghat. We reached Masinagudi in about an hour and a half from Ooty. We checked into the Forest Lodge which had three sparsely furnished rooms and as we had booked all the rooms we had the entire cottage to ourselves. The Khansama was called Ismail. We unloaded our baggage, relaxed a bit, had tea and then left for Theppakadu which was reached after an eight kilometre drive through the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. Enroute we spotted peacocks, wild hog & deer. We crossed a bridge over the Moyar River to reach Theppakadu. We spent some time at the Sylvan Lodge which is located on the banks of the Moyar River. We sighted a large herd of deer which ran past the lodge into the forest. At the Range Reception Office we met one Mr.Moorthy who informed us that the elephant ride had been cancelled that day due to rain. He then guided us to the elephant camp.
At 5.30 pm we went to the elephant camp in Theppakadu to watch the elephant feeding. Here there are about 20 elephants of which 15 elephants are used for elephant rides for tourists and the balance elephants are used by the department for forest clearance and other miscellaneous works.
There were around 50 tourist who had gathered to witness the elephant feeding. There is a separate enclosed bay provided for mixing the food. The various items of food for each elephant are measured and placed separately on a table with a placard bearing the elephant's name placed besides for identification. The menu comprises various proportions of ragi, horse gram, jaggery, a full coconut, rice,salt, sugar cane. The elephant keepers enter the bay and after thoroughly mixing the various ingredients into a large ball take the same to the respective elephants for feeding.
We also saw a baby elephant calf which forest officials had recently found abandoned in the forest. The entire elephant feeding operation, which lasted close to an hour,was thrilling to watch and very educative.
We then returned to base at Masinagudi. The Khansama Ismail had prepared chapatis and vegetable curry. Then we watched a bit of TV before retiring for the night- breaking news was that the PDP had withdrawn from the coalition in J & K. Fortunately we had carried liquid mosquito repellants which saved us from the menace of the deadly mosquitoes. Next morning we left early for Theppakadu for the forest Safari Tour by camouflaged van which took us on a guided tour deep into the tiger reserve.The tour lasted 45 minutes but we could not spot any animals barring Deer & Nilgiri langurs. After our return we went on an elephant ride atop "Ganesh" into the jungle. This was really very exciting and adventurous and lasted close to an hour. But alas all we could see were peacocks and the flying squirrel. The charge per person for the van tour was Rs.35/- and the elphant ride Rs.400/- for 4 persons.
On return to camp at Theppakadu Reception Centre we found a large family of Nilgiri Langurs sitting atop the reception center and congregating on a nearby trees. This was indeed a very rare sight I had the opportunity of shooting some good pictures at close quarters.
The reception centre has a small canteen serving snacks & beverages, which is run by the Tribal Welfare Association. The profit generated is utilised for development and upliftment of the local tribals.
We returned to Masinagudi for breakfast. Enroute we saw another family of langurs feeding by the road side. Ismail served us all idlis, dosa,pongal and generous quantities of chutney & sambhar. We then packed up and departed. We reached Ooty by around 12.00 noon and drove straight to Ooty Lake for boating. But as luck would have it we were compelled to drop the idea due to persistent drizzle. We went next to Charing Cross Road where we stopped over to buy Ooty's famous home made chocolates at King Star. We lunched at at vegetarian restaurant. Rohit had a Gujaratai Thali while Bhavana, Guhan & I had Aloo & Methi parathas.
After lunch we headed straight back to Coimbatore. We returned to the Den around 4.30 evening. For picture gallery log on to: