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Old 29th December 2011, 14:33   #1
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Default Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Sometimes one comes across roads that require a 4WD.

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Often those roads lead to interesting places.

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I wondered around such places for a few days during and after the Christmas weekend. My original plan was to go to Kaladunghi in Uttarakhand, driving down from Bangalore, but I gave up that idea on the last day because of:
  • Not enough leave (so it would have had to be a cannonball run of close to 6000 kms up and down)
  • Fog (slow speed, less chance of animal sightings)
  • Health (was not feeling fully well).
OT: I will probably end up making the drive in early March. Idea is to roam around the Kaladunghi forests on foot – same forests where Corbett grew up – the ones described in Jungle Lore. Anyone interested in joining me for such a drive/trip (with another vehicle or in my vehicle), let me know. But it will be a total fast drive + nature immersion trip.

Anyway, I ended up going to the Nilgiris once again. I spent a lot of time walking and offroading on a number of hill trails in and around tea estates that required the 4WD system of the Fortuner. I even had to use the 4LL in places to regulate my speed. Nights were spent sitting around a campfire chatting with a Nepali ‘night duty’ guard.

Had a hairy encounter with some elephants. Imagine something like this walking towards you as you try to take some photos before scooting - and trying to figure out the optimal time for scooting

Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris-dsc_0588.jpg

Last edited by nilanjanray : 29th December 2011 at 14:46.
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Old 29th December 2011, 14:54   #2
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

@Nilanjan - Great to see you exploiting the full potential of the Fortuner.

I hope this was only a preview and more snaps are coming up.
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Old 29th December 2011, 17:26   #3
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Sad to hear you plans for Kaladunghi didn't go afloat. Guess what, No fog here since last few days due to chilly weather...
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Old 29th December 2011, 18:33   #4
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

It require a 4x4 to see as always heard " grass is greener on other side of Hill" small modifications to the saying
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Old 29th December 2011, 19:37   #5
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Awesome pics. And surely you must have had a hair raising experience with the tusker.

One of my friends had a narrow escape as the tusker (irritated probably by a flash) charged at them and they had to reverse in the jungles at full speed. (The venue was Corbett National Park)

Awaiting more pics.

Cheers,
Tapish
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Old 29th December 2011, 19:53   #6
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Lovely snaps, your car look great. Shall follow your thread for more snaps and details.

The elephant pic is interesting, how far was she when you took the snap ?
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Old 29th December 2011, 22:14   #7
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Awesome pictures. You have got some serious talent with the camera.Post more Pictures
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Old 30th December 2011, 09:56   #8
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Great photos. Where in Nilgiris are these pictures taken ?
Bring on more pictures.
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Old 30th December 2011, 10:38   #9
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Great pics, so which place in the Nilgiris?
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Old 30th December 2011, 10:45   #10
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Awesome photos. Appreciate if you can let us know the place in Niligiris. Getting tempted to go there on my Vitara
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Old 30th December 2011, 14:26   #11
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Thanks for the appreciation folks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkaile View Post
Sad to hear you plans for Kaladunghi didn't go afloat. Guess what, No fog here since last few days due to chilly weather...
Plan postponed, not cancelled. Will be there during springtime.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapish View Post
One of my friends had a narrow escape as the tusker (irritated probably by a flash) charged at them and they had to reverse in the jungles at full speed. (The venue was Corbett National Park)
Not surprised - not a good idea to use flash in front of elephants, or make loud noise. Also wearing bright clothes or perfume is not advisable. Single male elephants are pretty unpredictable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AvonA7 View Post
The elephant pic is interesting, how far was she when you took the snap ?
35-40 feet I guess. I took adequate precautions though. It would be suicidal to just stand in front of him in open ground and click - elephants are much faster than humans.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ride_4_Fortune View Post
Great photos. Where in Nilgiris are these pictures taken ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Great pics, so which place in the Nilgiris?
Quote:
Originally Posted by sureshurs View Post
Awesome photos. Appreciate if you can let us know the place in Niligiris. Getting tempted to go there on my Vitara
I went to a tea estate a few kms from Coonoor, and a jungle resort in Masinagudi. If you search for "tea estate stay Nilgiris" in Google, you will find quite a few options for staying in old bungalows in the middle of estates. Most estates will have trails that one can use for offroading.

Anyway, back to the trip:

It was a relaxed high speed cruise to the Nilgiris via NH209. The roads were empty, and the weather was lovely. Took a break for late lunch at Bandipur, and reached Coonoor before it got fully dark.

I was staying at a tea estate. All other places were full, and this was the only place available when I enquired at the last moment. I had the entire place to myself - no other guests. I like it that way when I am in the mood for solitude.

The nights were pretty chilly - apparently the temperatures were close to 5 degrees or below after midnight, as per a field officer. Anyway, I had packed for North Indian/Himalayan cold, so was prepared for anything over sub-zero temperatures. The advantage of a SUV is that one can sleep in the vehicle if required, and can carry all sorts of stuff even if they are not required e.g. I had a tent and a sleeping bag (rated for -5 to 0 degrees temp) that I didn't use this time.

After spending a few days there - walking, offroading and reading - I came down to Masinagudi. Then back to Bangalore.

Some more pictures...excuse the image quality since a few were taken with my mobile phone.

Coming back from an evening drive...had to use low range in a few places while descending to regulate the speed. Wasn't too difficult offroading in the dark. But sometimes I had to get down to judge a rock or drop - can be exciting given that there are animals moving around that time of evening.
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A Gaur silhouetted over the tea bushes.
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Leopards are frequently sighted basking on top of these rocks in the evenings. Tigers also sighted once in a while. I was unlucky to see anything even though I went there in the late afternoons.
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This bird is pretty common in the estates. Looks black with the naked eye.
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Pine cones
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Finally, Bison & Bisons in the same frame.
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Curious boar. You don't want to get him angry...once roused, he charges and fights till he or his opponent is dead.
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Sometimes spotting an animal can be difficult. This picture was taken at full zoom. When looking with naked eyes, only movements betray the presence of such an animal. In this case, it was swishing of the tail.
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Last edited by nilanjanray : 30th December 2011 at 14:32.
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Old 30th December 2011, 16:14   #12
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Old 30th December 2011, 16:27   #13
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Is that a Number Plate slot mounted Light bar (sometimes called UniBar) that you've used for mounting the off-road lights/Fogs/Driving Lights? If yes, could you please link me up to the website/seller?

Any issues of "dancing" lights due to vibrations?

Which lights are you using?

BTW, Excellent pictures!!!
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Old 30th December 2011, 16:38   #14
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Some good snaps there Nilanjan. Looking forward to the remaining bit of the story.

BTW do you have any video's of the climb/descent that you had to do in 4LL.

Cheers
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Old 30th December 2011, 16:45   #15
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Default Re: Christmas Offroading in the Nilgiris

Ah ! Delightful snaps again Nilanjan. I'll be damned if I don't join you one of these days for a usual sortie of yours to the Nilgiris.

Was looking at the terrain - did you require the HL/LL range during the day time ? Wouldn't the H with the permanent AWD feature be more than enough there ? Or do the snaps look very placid compared to reality ?

I truly hope there are more snaps to follow. Wonderful as they are - it gets the goosebumps going too.

PS: Also appreciate the fact that if you were on a hard LL terrain and were battling at the steering wheel - you wouldn't have been in a position to shoot anything - except guys asking silly questions !

Last edited by Guderian : 30th December 2011 at 16:49.
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