Sunday, July 17, 2005

The forests of Bandipur and Mudhumalai

I spent the last two weekends in the Bandipur-Mudhumalai area. The first weekend was in Bandipur, and the second in Mudhumalai. I don't know how much the Lonely Plant to India covers it, but there is surely a lack of good resourecs on the web for these areas. These are some of the thickest forests I have ever seen, replete with wild life. Over the two weekends, I saw herds of wild elephants, even tuskers, lots of deer, a pair of black bucks, some mouse deer (something I didn't know existed!) -- but seem to have a lot written about them -- and some more.

The first weekend in Bandipur we stayed at Tusker Trails. Good food, good cottages, friendly staff and good set of activities to do -- in all it was a perfect weekend getaway from Bangalore. The second weekend I had extended family in town, and we stayed at the Casa Deep Woods in Mudhumalai. The facilities weren't as great (no pool!), but in general things were better organized. We did a short trek through the forest and on the way back chanced upon a huge herd of deer. Seeing the deer run and jump across a stream was a fascinating sight -- beyond doubt it is one of the more beautiful creations. As I write this I recall more than one stories I saw on National Geographic featuring deer being caught and eaten by alligators or tigers or lions... Ugh!

Anyway, Mudhumalai itself was great. After a day in Mudhumalai we headed to Ooty. I had made reservations at the Willow Hill. While it didn't meet my expectations, it was definitely a nice place to stay. I was hoping for it to be more of a retreat with much more charm. Ooty itself scored low on the charm factor. We visited Pykhara and Glenmorgan on the way to Ooty, and thanks to the clouds and the greenery most of these places looked right out of a Hitchcock thriller (in a good way! :). The next day we headed to Avalanchy and Coonoor. The small trek to the Avalanchy lake was nice -- through the greens and exposed land, along a small stream. The drive from Avalanchy to Coonoor was quite spectacular. The drive is surrounded by very green tea estates all around. With the clouds descending down to the hills, it made for a very enchanting drive. We didn't visit a tea estate till we reached Coonoor -- where we were disappointed somewhat at the High Fields estate. Next time I plan to spend a more chilled out time at a tea estate and do little else in Coonoor and Ooty.

I am back in the Bangalore noise now. Over the last few months I've gone from liking this place to disliking it completely to getting used to it to the point I've stopped caring enough to like it or not. Lavanya Sankaran recently wrote a book with stories from the city -- I read only the first couple and I found it just as superficial as I find this city. Nevertheless, there is money pouring into the city, and people too, with hardly any room to accomdate the latter. So, it goes on.

I'm considering another trip to the Himalayas sometime -- Hemkund/Valley of Flowers is a potential candidate, and Ladakh-Zanskar valley another. There were some discussions on a bicycling trip to Leh, but I doubt it'll happen this year. I am sorely out of shape and it requires a lot of training. Meanwhile I am happy to follow Lance's trail in France.

1 comment:

vtg said...

Hi Vikas

I am planning for a 6 day / 5 night trip to Ooty . After a bit of search was settling down on Willow Hill. Saw your comments and am keen to have your valuable feedback about the choice. Frankly I was impressed with the limited photos on their web site , but felt different after seeing 1 which showed a front view . It did fall short - I was also expecting a cottage type. Please do let me know

Thanks and Regards