September 26, 2013

Masinagudi- Amidst Wilderness...!!

The car took a left at Theppekadu fork, crossed over a bridge on which sat a few macaques which stared at us as we passed by. We reached Bokhapuram which has a beautiful colourful temple and our resort Glen View, was further up and the last one on a huge line of resorts in this small forest village. The last stretch of 300 meters to the resort was actually a dirt track with protruding stones. My car almost wept. However it definitely gave a glimpse of the rustic side of Masinagudi.

Mudhumalai sanctuary
The temple at Bokhapuram
Being on the edge of the forest cover has its advantages. Nestled beautifully amidst thick vegetation, the resort seemed away from the chaos of tourists in the other resorts which were adjacent to each other. The foliage added to the resort's setting and the sunlight peeping through the greenery along with distant fog engulfed hills made for some stunning frames. There were different kinds of flora around and fauna in the form of arthropodas (insects, spiders, centipedes etc) and amphibians (frogs) were seen all over the place. It undoubtedly made a creepy feel in my mind and that made it all the more exciting. There was also a wild pig that was roaming around the cottages but shied away when I went close enough. We spend the afternoon strolling around the resort. There was a small stream that flowed beside the resort. There was absolutely no sound other than the trickle of water, it was green all around, water droplets fell from the branches, silence engulfed the place and that was the moment when I first experienced the wilderness of Masinagudi. We decided to avoid the government safari bus from Theppekadu and instead booked a jeep which would take us through Mudumalai wild life sanctuary which is also a tiger reserve. Being on a private vehicle has its disadvantages too as we could not drive deep into the forest area and were majorly restricted to the main road.


Resort premises
Fresh, green and wet
Our driver, a very enthusiastic person with a fair knowledge of wildlife took us into the sanctuary on his jeep and doubled up as a guide and naturalist. He had been a part of the national geographic team that shot in the sanctuary a year back and was quite aware of animal movements and took us to spots which had high chances of wildlife sightings. We first spotted a wild fowl that was loitering around followed by a peacock. As always it was the brilliant azure colours that caught my attention. We were on the look out for elephants and guars as the population of both inside the sanctuary is quite high and our guide was quite sure that we would sight a few. As we moved ahead, many spotted deer were seen by the side of the road happily grazing and popping up their head on hearing noises. Langurs (hanuman monkeys) were seen aplenty perched on tree tops clutching their babies.




We drove ahead into the woods for long and reached the entry gate of Bandipur national park. From there we returned back and on the way we spotted a group of guars at a distance enjoying their solitude. We were quite happy to spot them and to have ticked one off the list (elephants being the other). We explored more and drove along slowly so as to not miss any wildlife sighting. Did not find anything interesting on our way back to theppekadu other than langurs and spotted deer. Our driver insisted on driving in the other direction and wanted to make sure that we did sight interesting wildlife in addition to whatever we had already seen. So off we went on the road that lead to Ooty and stopped within half a kilometer. A herd of elephants (mostly females and a couple of babies) numbering 7-8 were strolling a few feet away in the woods. The young one was quite playful and kept running around while its mother pulled it back. After capturing a few photographs of this wonderful herd we went ahead.

Guars in the woods

 A few  meters ahead a vehicle had stopped but when we turned our head to check, found nothing. Upon asking the people in the car ahead of us, one of them blurted- "Tigerrr". They had seen a glimpse of it while it was about to cross the road but suddenly retreated back into the bushes. All looked at each other and my guide was more than sure with his huge experience that there was a stripped cat in the bushes. On to our left was thick bushes, then a small valley and a river further down. The tiger must have gone down to drink water and now wanted to cross the road back into the forest. The engines stopped grumbling, people spoke in hushed voices and waited patiently for the big cat to cross over. The tiger had sensed human presence and probably that is why it never came out. Suddenly my co traveller screamed and claimed she saw half a paw. Excited about seeing the big one come out, we waited and waited for long. The tiger never came out and we had to return back with heavy hearts. So close, yet so far. As we waited for the cat, there was a peacock that showed itself on the other side of the road. Gorgeous it looked. The tiger must have gone back to the river and crossed over to the other side is what my guide said as he drove back.


We were back at the place where we had seen the elephants. Many vehicles had stopped by to see them. The herd had moved closer to the road and wanted to cross over and go down to the river. However with so many vehicles parked, they were quite apprehensive and waited near the road. The one in the front was a large female and she was the one to take the lead. We were first in the line of vehicles and had a good view of the elephants. The herd still took its time to cross and we waited patiently at a distance of 50 meters away from them. Suddenly the elephant that was leading the way got onto the road, trumpeted and did a mock charge towards our vehicle. There was a scream inside the vehicle. Our driver being the sensible person with good reflexes immediately started the engine and flashed the headlights. The pachyderm stopped after 20 meters and then waited. We also waited as the other females in the herd along with the babies came closer to the road to cross over. Only the first one crossed over and while it was crossing our sensible driver turned senseless. He wanted to make it more adventurous and went closer to the elephant that had almost crossed over.We were at a distance of 5 meters from her when she turned around, took two steps towards us and trumpeted. Had I stretched my hand out, I could have touched her trunk. The jeep being an open one, the dreaded thought of being airlifted by the elephant ran through my mind for a second. We shrieked, shouted at the driver for being senseless and then drove back before the remaining herd crossed over. Phew, that was a terrifying experience. 


He justified his act and said he was well aware of animal movements, their reactions and their mock charges. However we were quite upset with his actions and did give him a hearing. We just wanted to see wildlife, not encroach into their territory and irritate them. However, he wanted to make it a memorable experience for us and that was a unforgettable one for sure. It was already dark by the time we reached back Theppekadu and on our way to the resort we spotted a couple of guars by the road in the dark grazing away happily. Without bothering them much we drove back to the resort. An eventful day came to an end with the sound of cicadas through the night. 

Masinagudi and the safari through Mudhumalai sanctuary was definitely memorable for interesting sightings and frightening experiences. It had all- elephants, guars, deer, langurs, fowls, peacocks and a just missed stripped cat!

Signing Note- As wild as it gets...!!

Route- Bengaluru- Mandya- Mysore- Nanjangud- Gundlupet- Bandipur- Mudhumalai- Masinagudi
Distance- 240 Kms

44 comments:

  1. What a lovely forest and beautiful clicks of peacocks.

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  2. I can't believe...is it a peacock...it looks so small....lovely write up and great place!

    http://renuka-voyagerforlife.blogspot.in

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  3. Masinagudi is one of the most exotic & captivating wildlife sanctuaries in India. Your experience is well narrated and the photographs are fantastic and has captured the essence of this wild life eco system. You are really fortunate to be able to sight an elephant herd. Great post.

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  4. Simply described post... Pictures are beautiful...

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  5. Beautifully narrated and lovely pics!!

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  6. Lovely Walk through this is..Loved the Captures as well.. :)

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  7. I would have banged my head in frustration if you had seen that tiger hahaha! I mean, just the other day you saw one in Bandipur! And here I am, back from Nagarhole and all I saw were hundreds of spotted deer and nothing else. You are definitely on a roll!

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    1. Haha. You cant be so mean. Nagarhole too has loads of wildlife. Inf act, luck plays a major role in sightings.

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  8. Lovely pictures. Masinagudi provides a lot of sightings.

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  9. Oho ... so many elephants! I have few memories of this place which I visited long back with my Dad! Lovely place. Nice report Niranjan.

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    1. Thanks Kusum. It is time for you to head there again.

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  10. Beautiful, I would love to be there.

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  11. I have driven through mudumalai sanctuary and it is definitely one of the most exciting ones!!

    Which resort you stayed in please...next time I might make a booking there :0

    Kankhal , Haridwar ~ Birthplace of Sati (one half of shiv shakti) in Hindu mythology

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

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    1. I stayed at Glen view resorts. Head to Mudhumalai soon.

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  12. Nice descriptive post and with beautifully captured images :)

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  13. Wow, some truly spectacular photographs, Niran!

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  14. Great. Never really heard about this place before. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Glad that you liked it. This is en-route Ooty from Mysore.

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  15. Due to eye ailments I was refraining from visiting blogs. Today it was a nice experience to learn about this sanctuary. The photographs are a feast to one's eyes. Thanks.

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    1. Glad that you liked it. Hope you feeling better now. Take care.

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  16. Hi,
    I really like your post.
    Thanks for sharing such great information. It is very informative and provides knowledge of
    Resorts in Masinagudi

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  17. I agree. We used to go there often when we lived in Conoor. Beautiful pictures Niranjan.

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  18. Lovely photos and lovely write up..seen Mudumalai a couple of a times but not Masinagudi..hope to visit once.. but your encounter with the elephant was a close call..and these days one reads more about such encounters and a few even fatal I think these drivers should be taken to task. There is strict instruction from the government not to intimidate the wild animals. I hope your chiding did some good.

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    1. Thank you. Masinagudi is just a small village near Theppekadu. We in fact drove through Mudumalai. Yeah, the driver was so sorry for his act later on. They actually need to be given strict instructions by the forest officials.

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