A Casual Trip to Masinagudi…
It was May, peak summer and we friends were keen on going on a holiday. We wanted some place close to Bengaluru. But we wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. After much vacillating we zeroed in on Masinagudi. The options to stay were limited. As it happened to be summer holidays for schools, all available options were pretty much booked. The search for a place to stay finally led us to The Jungle Retreat.
We started at 9.30 in the morning, made our way through Bengaluru traffic from Hebbal and hit the NICE road. The traffic eased and it was a smooth drive with the thought of a nice getaway sinking in our minds, surrounded by music from the FM channel…
We stopped for lunch at Indradhanush, in Channapatna. The Gobi Manchurian and Bisibelebath tasted absolutely divine for us hungry souls. After easing our appetites we were all set to hit the road again. We cruised through Mysore effortlessly with a view of the magnificent Palace and Chamundi hills to hit Ooty road.
The stretch of road near Nanjanagud was bad owing to new road laying work in progress and to add to our woes it rained heavily and the visibility was poor. We waded our way through it and reached Bandipur to the beautiful view of the forest, it was a carpet of green. Slight drizzle and melodious songs of Kishore Kumar added to the beauty of the drive.
The real adventure started when we entered Mudumalai forest range. We were greeted by a beautiful peacock standing right next to the road. Absorbed by its beauty we drove ahead only to be chased by a wild elephant. It gave us a real scare but with quick thinking our friend somehow drove past. None of us were quick witted enough to capture it on film though. Soon we reached Masinagudi.
Masinagudi is a quaint little town nestled at the foothills of Nilgiris. This town is as close to WILD as it can get. It is dotted with many resorts like the one we stayed The Jungle Retreat. It is a family run place with friendly cats, dogs and people. As we checked in we were informed that food would be served at the central place and we would be escorted before dawn and after dusk from our rooms as wild life roam uninhibited within the resort, devoid as it is of any electrical fencing. They had these innovative trap cameras that swung into action when it detected movement and captured visuals of animals that came into the resort at night. During our stay it was a wild elephant on one of the nights.
Day 2: Early morning our cottage was surrounded by a herd of deer and it was a sight to behold. The day began with bird expedition with Rajkumar, the resident birdwatcher. There are a lot of birds nestled in the resort like blue-winged parakeet, Malabar grey hornbill, short billed minivet and bulbul. We also spotted a Malabar giant squirrel. Later in the day we went for a scenic drive around Moyar dam. We were lucky enough to spot some deer and Indian gaur.
Afternoon, post lunch we relaxed around the pool with beautiful view of the Nilgiris surrounded by mist, rising high, right in front of us. We chitchatted while birds gave us company. A slight drizzle made the scenery all the more amiable.
Evening we drove to Masinagudi town to pick up some essentials and spent the rest of the day chatting and a having a good time chilling in the pristine surroundings.
Day 3: After a quick morning tea and breakfast we headed to Ooty. The journey up the mountains negotiating the legendary 36 hairpin bends and taking in the spectacular panoramic views was a thrill as always. As all of us had been several times to Ooty before, we skipped the regular tourist spots in Ooty. Instead we decided to drive on to Coonoor taking the Kundah route which is slightly longer but breathtakingly scenic.
We stopped for lunch at The Taj Gateway Hotel on Church Road, Coonoor. After an awesome lunch we drove back to Ooty. By then it started raining heavily and we headed back to Masinagudi as there was nothing much we could do in Ooty because of rain.
That night we went for a drive in the quest of big cat, and spotted quite a few animals in the dark by the highway. But the big cat eluded us.
Day 4: After breakfast we packed our bags and leisurely headed back to Bengaluru. Back to the din, the traffic and the routine. The memories, though, would remain, of a fun trip. Something to reminisce about long after…
(Masinagudi is part of Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, a declared Tiger Reserve in the Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu. The Reserve shares boundaries with Kerala and Karnataka)