MASINAGUDI-BANDHIPUR.....THE LAND OF RAVING WILDLIFE
January 1, 1970
THE INDIAN JUNGLE
It was indeed a wonderful way to connect with the nature.
After slogging for months like a maniac at workplace, me and my husband decided to take a break from the mundane jungles of city life and visit the evergreen jungles somewhere. After quite a lot of search and discussion, we decided to go to masinagudi since it was a distance which can be easily covered by car from our place-chennai. There are two routes to reach masinagudi from chennai. One is via mettupalayam-ooty and the other is via mysore-bangalore both of which comes to about 600km. We decided to go via mysore-banglore just so we can enjoy the lush greenery enroute to masinagudi-bandipur.
Now, a little info about the place. MASINAGUDI is a town in tamilnadu,India in the MUDUMALAI NATIONAL PARK. Its counterpart in the state of karnataka is the BANDIPUR NATIONAL PARK. The national park was declared a TIGER RESERVE in the past decade.
We started our journey from chennai in the evening and reached bangalore that night. We stayed overnight at bangalore and started early morning next day to masinagudi via mysore. That was when the actual trip began.
Surrounded by tress on either side of the road, the road travel from mysore to masinagudi itself proved to be a great stress buster and elevated our moods.
It was around lunch time when we entered the forest road. With light shower to greet us and greenery to welcome us, we journeyed on past bandipur into mudumalai wildlife sanctuary. Enroute we were also welcomed by quite a lot of elephants on the road side. There was no uproaral about seeing a elephant as it was a way of life there. Finally around 2pm, we reached our resort-JUNGLE RETREAT.
Now i can go on and on about the resort itself. It was a porsh existance admist the nature and in sync with it. They didnt have a fence around so that animals could freely roam around the area. They had a pool which served as a watering pit at night for elephants who might come by. The pool was made of rock bottom so that even if some animal fell into it, it could leap out without slipping. The resort covered a whooping 30 acre with about 12-15 cottages and rooms sprawled here and tree. Since it was not an enclosed property, the management in the resort had certain rules.
- The guests are not allowed to roam about alone after 7pm. Even if they want to come down to the restaurant after dinner, they should not come alone. They are required to call the front desk who will send a gaurdian to accompany. This is to ensure the saftey of the guests because in the dark, the animals can be lurking anywhere. The gaurds take us in the gypies to
the front, pan out the light before we get down and then let us descend.
- If any animal roams into the resort area, the guests are not to harm them. YES,THE ANIMALS ARE THE FIRST PRIORITY THERE. But in the past 30 years the resort has been operating, there has not been a single mishap to any of the guests which is quite impressive.
- Alcohol is allowed only in the lounge area.
- Strict curfew of 10pm.
- No bachelor group or corporate group allowed( they have had some bad experience )
- Guests are not allowed to take any fruits or vegetables or meat to their rooms for reasons known.
The resort housed 2 tree houses. We stayed in the family tree house. It had steps leading from the ground to a sit out in first floor. From there, wooden steps ascend up to the tree house with trap door like entrance. It was surreal. It also had a private deck in the second floor. Since it was a small town, we were prepared for a basic food eperience only but what we had was a sumptous three course meal through out our stay. From south indian to north indian to foreigners, the cuisine was well planned out to suit everybody. And boy, it was super yummy!!!
INTO THE WILDERNESS
After lunch, we were taken by the guides belonging to the resort to elephant camp. The guides were local people with a passion for wildlife. Their childlike enthusiasm on seeing an elephant everytime and the way they admired its growth,its walk etc was so contagious that one just starts enjoying simply their presence. We watched the elephants being fed. There were about 10 elephants when we went. They responded only to their trainer. We then went for elephant safari to ride on the elephant for a short distance. Felt like the world was under our feet.
Next, we were taken on a road travel to see if we could spot any animals. And boy, what a ride it was. From elephant groups to little black bears to a sprawling tiger to wild boars to wild deers, we saw everything.It was not so much as catching the sight of animals which excited us but as i told before the enthusiasm and passion of the guides caught up with us and we started seeing nature in all its beauty. We then understood what it really meant to connect with nature.
After the park was made a tiger reserve, the Govt is dead serious that no one is outside on roads after 8pm. All the roads are locked down and one cannot go to bangalore or ooty after that. So we returned to the resort by 8pm, had dinner and hung around the lounge playing games and chatting till 10pm. We were then taken to our tree house and after careful search, they allowed us to enter the room. That night, we heard sounds below our tree house. Seeing from our window, we watched as a majestic elephant passed by our tree house. But alas, as long as we humans dont hurt or threaten them, they mind their own business. We had a peaceful night.
Next day, we decided to start the day with a hike up one of the mountains. It took us a good 3-4 hrs to cover the hike path of 6-7kms. We spotted lots of tiger and cheetah and elephant footprints on our way. .But curiosly, we were not afraid. We were only eager to catch sight of any of them( just kidding!!!!). The guides explained the flora and fauna of the area in detail. Our breakfast was packed for us to be eaten on the mountain top…romantic it was with the breeze blowing by, birds chirping nearby and leaves prancing around. Our guides then took us to the local village and showed us around. We watched upclose their way of life. The people were so friendly and welcoming which is very rare to see in cities now a days. We visted the tribal temple with its small entryway which only the priest can enter.We came back to the resort to a delicious lunch and right after we decided we would go on a wildlife safari into the jungle. Since mudumalai doesnt offer it, we had to go to bandipur for the safari. It is govt operated and there are no private safaris now. And also prebooking is a must. Safari can be experienced in a bus, gypsy or open topped van. Each comes with a different price and operates for a specified time. We opted for open topped van which we were told ventures the farthest into the jungle and is for about 2hrs. But no luck favored us as we could not spot the elusive tiger or cheetah on our ride which we were so eager to see. We did see scores and scores of deers, elephants, wild boars. The return journey to our resort was fruitful though as we saw a bear munching upon greenery on the roadside right outside the resort.
After a adventurous day, we called off the day quite early and retired to bed soon. We slept to our muscles content next day and woke up to see beautiful deers roaming in front of our tree house. We walked admist them, had breakfast, lounged for a while, played in the badminton court, surrendered to thai massage, scourched the pool and relaxed like crazy till our check out time late in the afternoon.
With heavy hearts but refreshed minds, we bid adieu to the entire crew who made our trip memorable and started from there. And there, right in front of the resort gate, we saw a deer skin on a tree which was put there by a leopard the previous night..though we failed to see a leopard or cheetah, we were quite enthralled to just see a video of it prowling the resorts( yes, the resorts have night vision cameras on record mode all night to capture any animal activity).