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Old 6th April 2012, 20:23   #1
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Default From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

It has been 1.5 years since my first and last travelogue. It was extremely enjoyable writing it and overwhelming reading the responses. Writing out a travelogue helps in retaining the experience in the brain far above photos and the last vacation remains fresh in my mind even after one and half years only on account of writing the travelogue.

After the last trip to Goa http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-sorpotel.html (Love Story - Sun Surf Sand and Sorpotel) , I have made a couple of trips including one more to Goa, but did not find anything blog-worthy or travelogue-worthy.

When you at the beginning decide that you are going to share your thoughts with the world, you tend to take that much extra effort to be observant and capture experiences..

This trip was long overdue. Due to various constraints at office, children’s school (inspite of Kapil Sibal’s best efforts) and home we finally zeroed in on the single weekend of 31st March which seemed to be the only weekend working out. Such statements may sound a bit exaggerated but it seemed to be true. Once the date was figured out the question came up as to where?? A 3 day outing restricts the number of places one can visit since it needs to be a sufficiently short driving distance so as to avoid travelling time eating up the vacation time. Robert Pirsig in his classic “Zen and the art of motor cycle maintenance” about travelling from nowhere to nowhere by the longest possible route but then I am sure he never had the pleasure of driving on Indian roads. My trusty steed Lucia (Honda City GXi, 2004) is capable enough to carry us from any point to any other point but then has a delicate disposition and having her low undercarriage hitting speed breakers at every village does no good to her mood nor my wallet.

From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi-lucia.jpg

Lucia

Any way to come back to travelogues, my favourite travel spot after Goa happens to be Masinagudi.

Kenneth Anderson seems to be known to many of the readers but for those not, KA is the souths answer to Jim Corbett. Unlike Gentleman Jim, KA’s stories were full of spice and masala. There is considerable debate about the authenticity of his stories with no conclusion but then it hardly matters. What matters is that reading his stories will make you want to leave every thing and rush to the jungle, substituting a tent with a brick and mortar place of stay, fruits and roots with Biryani and chicken curry. He will manage to impart his love for the jungle by his writing. The few photos on earlier editions of his books just don’t convey the same feelings that his text does. Having lived on a diet of Kenneth Anderson for the last couple of years makes Masinagudi a bit more special. I normally stay in a place which is next to his famed Mavanallha hut which he used to visit frequently.
This trip was planned some time back in terms of place to stay and dates but actual planning started about half an hour before the travel. A friend and his family were accompanying us and we set sail on a hot Bangalore morning of 30th March. Mysore road has become quite monotonous and from tips picked up on T-BHP, we decided to try out Kanakpura road. We normally try and leave early morning but this time thought that we would go without any tension and leave at a more earthly hour of 08:30. We did manage to leave on the dot of 08:30 but were still in Bangalore at 10:00 after staying in the wrong lane on Hosur Road. Missing the turn to the NICE road, finding the next U turn after a few kms and tracing the route back consumed a lot of time and it was closer to 10:30 when we crossed the territorial limits of Bangalore. The Roads are in good condition but cyclists and small town traffic hinder speeding. Scenery is far better than Mysore road and we land up at Chamrajnagar at 1:00 pm. Mention was made in TBHP about a new resort called Nijaguna Residency and their web site looked promising. The resort ensure mindshare by putting up hoarding starting about 50 kms before Chamrajnagar at every 200 meters and strangley for many kms after leaving the place too. Initial impression of the place was good. The place looked neat and clean and had courteous staff with very few customers. The menu was quite exhaustive but the chefs in the place had apparently not seen the menu and had a disconcerting habit of sending the waiters back 10 minutes after every order to tell us that the item was not available. After some rounds of investigation and negotiations we did manage to get some food of quite good quality and did manage to hit the road again at 2:30 or so. The road from Chamrajnagar to Gundulpet is well done and there was not much traffic and in a short time we crossed Gundulpet and entered the Bandipur gate.

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Bandipur Gate

The first thing that hits as we enter is the scorched vegetation. The area was absolutely dry and brown.

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Mudumalai Range - Bandipur is far worse

We reach the Bandipur reception in a short time. Those who have been regularly visiting Bandipur would have noticed an unprecendet proliferation of 2 species called Humanus Moronus and Humanus Ignormamus. These are the scientific names of these species and the colloquial name might not be appropriate for a family friendly site. The behaviour of both these species is the same while the motivations are different and hence it is difficult to distinguish between the two. It is difficult for even a <ahem> scholar like myself who has been studying these species for years. I will digress here from the travelogue to give readers some behavioural examples and leave it to you to figure out which of these species I am talking about
  1. The family who feed road side deer potato chips right out of the packet
  2. The person who stops his car in the middle of the road, blocks the road, gets out of the car and beckons everyone excitedly to show them a peacock
  3. The car full of young men trying to provoke a dignified elephant who just wants to graze in peace and actually throwing stones at them
  4. The person who gets out of the car with his children and approaches wild elephants to show them at close quarters or photograph them
  5. The car drivers accomplice who throws used diapers out of the car in the middle of the forest.
This list could go on. Note that I have seen all these incidents while 3) is anecdotal from reliable sources. I have heard a sad incident a few years back of 4) when the enraged elephant killed the person.
Members of these species inhabit the area around the reception and I was astonished not to see any sightings. Maybe the heat had got them too ?

Since the chances of spotting wildlife was next to nil in this heat we cruised at a comfortable and safe speed without looking out for wildlife. As usual, a stray flame of the forest tree pops up on turns in sharp contrast to the scorched trees and fills us all with amazement and wonder as we see the tree as if in flames.

At 4:00 PM we reach Wild haven after crossing Masinagudi which is going to be our headquarters for the next 18 hours. This place seems to be known to many readers and we have been going to this place for the last many years and it is a pleasure to meet our old friends among the staff – the ever smiling Ramu from Gorakhpur, Victor and manager Jolly. Like all resorts in these areas there is an army of dogs with names like Soda, Hot dog etc. Soda is showing signs of obesity but does welcome us and makes pals with the children in our group. We remember our first visit to this place in 2007 when we sat on the porch in the middle of a thunderstorm and kept watching lightning hits on the nearby hills. It was a son et lumiere show which went on for the good part of an hour and it was obvious that there was going to be no encore this year since there was nothing resembling a cloud in the sky.

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Wild Haven - Different views

We immediately rush to a friends cottage near the forest. It is too dangerous to drive so we hire a jeep and land up there. In a short while, an elephant lands up at the place and starts blocking the exit. There are anxious moments of some people as the elephant approaches their car but our host does manage to distract the elephant with a combination of threats, pleading and cajoling. One or all three seem to work and the elephant keeps going away and then coming back. Once in a while he makes his displeasure known by hitting his trunk against the flimsy awning.

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We need to keep taking cover and going back to his porch after the elephant moves on. This cat and mouse keeps going on and due to the distraction of the elephant we cannot observe any other wild life save for the stray animal that crosses once in a while. The driver has been told to pick us up before dark and anxious moments start once we realize that there is no signs of him. Frantic calls to him elicit the same response that he will be there in 5 minutes but through some detective work find out that he is at Kalahatti and can make it only if he drives at supersonic speed. The elephant takes a proprietal attitude to the road which causes us to abandon all fantasies of walking to the main road. A short while later we hear a familiar noise of diesel engines in the distance with creaking of the body and headlights. The elephant shakes his trunk in disgust and ambles away a distance away. A quick sprint and we are safely in the jeep. The thin sheet around the jeep provides us some psychological satisfaction of protection though it is well known that a gentle tap from the elephant would smash it in no time. A friend of mine had to spend Rs. 60k on his Honda Civic after getting a loving tap from an elephant We are back at wildhaven and head downtown to Masinagudi.

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Masinagudi Center of town

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Masinagudi would not be known to people outside Bangalore and I am not sure how many non wild live lovers in Bangalore too know about the place. Masinagudi would best be described as a hamet right on the foothills of the Nilgiris. Ooty is just 24 kms from this place and many would not imagine the wild life that inhabit the neighbouring forests. I have seen tiger paw marks just 400 mts from the main road and tigers do walk on the main road. I can imagine the beauty of this place a few decades back while right now is gradually evolving into any other city. Most of the cars are KA-01/03/05. Masingudi has just one main road with one big cross road. One heads towards the SIngara dam while the other heads towards some other dam and is called the Moyar road. It is now almost 8 and we fo for a short drive on the Moyar road. There is abundant wildlife on this road but in the dark it needs a lot of skill and patience to sight anything. One of the things to do which looks dangerous but is very safe is to switch of the lights and just gaze at the stars and the jungle in the starlight or moonlight. Remember to keep the engine running – never switch of the engine and be ready to move at signs of an elephant.

We are back a Wild haven and sitting round the bonfire chatting with our affable host John Karim and his views on wild life and eco tourism which are at sharp divergence from mine. John used to see Kenneth Anderson when he (John that is) was a young boy and talks about his soujourns into nearby forests in those years.

After a heavy dinner, It is soon time to retire.

End of Day 1

Last edited by deepak_misra : 7th April 2012 at 14:29.
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Old 7th April 2012, 13:09   #2
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Default Day 2

After a restless sleep I get up at 6:00 AM and walk outside the cottage. At this time the place should be overflowing with deer but today they seem to have disappeared. I stare at the mountain next to Wild Haven covered in mist. The chirping of birds and distant cry of a peacock along with the complete absence of traffic and human sounds relaxes me more and more.

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Hills covered in mist

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Mist Clears a bit later

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Wild Haven - morning view


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The watering hole next to Wild Haven


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Proliferation of Cactus. I dont think this is native but is spreading wildly

In a short time the rest of the party is up and we decide to travel on Moyar road again. We see a bit of wild life and our checklist is crossed once we have seen elephants, sambhar, peacock etc. We drive down to the end of the road which has a dam the name of which eludes me. The village around the dam is a quaint one and the gulmohar or flame of forests glow brightly. We walk around the reservoir and then drive down to a nearby temple overlooking a valley which I think are the Satyamangalam forests but am not sure. In the distance we see a herd of elephants with calfs. They are too far away and we are soon on the way back. Except for a bison with digestive problems, 2 elephants, a mongoose, a sambhar and lots of birds we can and some we cant identify we don’t see anything else.

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Boar on Moyar road skillfully avoiding a bore


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Sensible deer using the zebra crossing

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Peacock.

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Elephant

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Dam

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Trees near dam

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Traffic Jam

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Spot the elephants in the valley

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Elephants

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Bison with digestive problems
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From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi-300peacock.jpg  


Last edited by deepak_misra : 7th April 2012 at 13:57.
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Old 9th April 2012, 11:44   #3
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Default Re: From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th April 2012, 13:40   #4
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Default Re: From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

@deepak
one more block buster from you!
i must admire your way of narrating the things, kudos!

waiting for more.
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Old 9th April 2012, 13:45   #5
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Default Re: From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASHISHPALLOD View Post
@deepak
one more block buster from you!
i must admire your way of narrating the things, kudos!

waiting for more.
Thanks so much. The internet connection at home is down and I still have 1.5 days more reporting to be uploaded. Stay tuned.

Deepak
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Old 9th April 2012, 14:22   #6
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Default Re: From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

Hope you are not finished yet. Really enjoyed reading your travelogue. Time to get on a diet of KA, I guess. And you are so right about Humanus Moronus and Humanus Ignormamus. Some of them keep honking all the while and keep driving as if they are driving on a F1 circuit. I pray for their extinction.

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Old 9th April 2012, 17:01   #7
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Default Re: From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

Very nice Deepak. I really liked the way you have narrated the whole trip. I too read Kenneth Anderson and I agree with you that his stories contain a bit of masala. Personally, I find his stories more appealing than Corbett's because of the local flavor he has. By local flavor, I mean, all his stories are based mostly in and around Bangalore (within driving distance).

You are very true about Humanus Moronus and Humanus Ignormamus. I have sighted plenty of these species during my drives to different wildlife reserves. And I am embarrassed to say that a couple of my friends belong to these species. I guess, we can club both the species and call it Humanus Idiotus
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Old 9th April 2012, 17:51   #8
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Default Re: From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

Aha, another Kenneth Anderson fan. For around 10 years since I read the first KA I never came across anyone who has even heard of him. As addyhemmige said its somewhat more intresting to read about places you know of well.
Yes, somehow feel people have gone more stupid in dealing with wildlife. I been travelling frequently through Bandipur- Wayanad wild life park (NH 212) since past 13 years almost. However should say since past 2~3 years have seen lot of people getting off of their cars / bikes and trying to capture picture of animals or themselves inside forest, this was never the case before.
Guess popularity of mobile/ digital cameras and a false feeling that what all they see being done by experts in NatGeo/ Discovery/ Animal planet can be done by anyone has to do with this.
Last time I went to Masinagudi our safari jeep driver was saying about deers getting killed after eating discarded chips packets are a common thing over there.

Also, is this the website of place you stayed : Wildhaven ?
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Old 9th April 2012, 18:06   #9
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Default Re: From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

Quote:
Originally Posted by addyhemmige View Post
Very nice Deepak. I really liked the way you have narrated the whole trip. I too read Kenneth Anderson and I agree with you that his stories contain a bit of masala. Personally, I find his stories more appealing than Corbett's because of the local flavor he has. By local flavor, I mean, all his stories are based mostly in and around Bangalore (within driving distance).

You are very true about Humanus Moronus and Humanus Ignormamus. I have sighted plenty of these species during my drives to different wildlife reserves. And I am embarrassed to say that a couple of my friends belong to these species. I guess, we can club both the species and call it Humanus Idiotus

I personally found Corbets books a bit like science text books and did not convey the jungle with the same intensity as KA. Yes - we do need a more scientific study on Humanus Idiotus and the different variants

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjbiju View Post
Hope you are not finished yet. Really enjoyed reading your travelogue. Time to get on a diet of KA, I guess.
Thanks Biju. Yes do read the books. If you are fond of wildlife you will be hooked.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mpksuhas View Post
Aha, another Kenneth Anderson fan. For around 10 years since I read the first KA I never came across anyone who has even heard of him. As addyhemmige said its somewhat more intresting to read about places you know of well.
Yes, somehow feel people have gone more stupid in dealing with wildlife. I been travelling frequently through Bandipur- Wayanad wild life park (NH 212) since past 13 years almost. However should say since past 2~3 years have seen lot of people getting off of their cars / bikes and trying to capture picture of animals or themselves inside forest, this was never the case before.
Guess popularity of mobile/ digital cameras and a false feeling that what all they see being done by experts in NatGeo/ Discovery/ Animal planet can be done by anyone has to do with this.
Last time I went to Masinagudi our safari jeep driver was saying about deers getting killed after eating discarded chips packets are a common thing over there.

Also, is this the website of place you stayed : Wildhaven ?
You got the link right. Thats the place. The incidents of people getting out of cars etc. are due to ignorance. They just dont realize that animals are not predictable and just because a gentle giant looks docile, it might not be. This is a basic confusion between the idea of a zoo and a forest. Incidents of human species feeding deer is very prevalent near the Bandipur reception. I think the forest department has given up or does not have the manpower to enforce laws. I used to see earlier having picnics on the road but that seems to have mercifully stopped.

There is a yahoo group for KA fans - kennethanderson
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Old 9th April 2012, 18:35   #10
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Default Re: From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

Beautiful trip you had there.
Btw, the other dam is called Mayar Dam (note its an 'A', not to be confused with Moyar gorge), and that road is one of the most desolate roads you can ever come across. Evenings in fading light is the best time to get the real feel of the scrub jungle.

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There is a yahoo group for KA fans - kennethanderson
You KA fans have never come across Kenneth Anderson Nature Society??

Kenneth Anderson Nature Society

They are doing some stellar work in Melagiri and are trying to get it named after KA
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Old 9th April 2012, 23:02   #11
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Default Re: From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi

Nice travelogue, thanks for sharing!

I am a regular at Wild Haven - not sure whether I have seen you there.

That elephant - I have quite a few pictures of him, at the same place (not naming for obvious reasons) and elsewhere. Identifiable by his tusks.

The deers sometimes disappear when there are wild dogs around.

That Moyar Road temple - it overlooks the Moyar Gorge (the valley you mentioned). I used to go for late night drives on Moyar Road - drove there at 11 pm even in my unreliable Indica years back - but have stopped since the forest guards stop private vehicles especially after 8. I guess they make enough money from the local taxi drivers (who go for 'safaris' on Moyar Road),and so try to discourage private vehicles from going on drives in the night - bad for local business.
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Old 10th April 2012, 08:37   #12
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Beautiful trip you had there.
that road is one of the most desolate roads you can ever come across. Evenings in fading light is the best time to get the real feel of the scrub jungle.

You KA fans have never come across Kenneth Anderson Nature Society??

Kenneth Anderson Nature Society

They are doing some stellar work in Melagiri and are trying to get it named after KA
I too love that road particularly at dusk. The only problem is the many safari jeeps that ply. it is very rare that we have not had any sightings. Many KA fans (myself included) are members of both groups. KANS is more active in fieldwork and kennethanderson yahoo groups is more into discussion about KA writing and history.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Nice travelogue, thanks for sharing!

The deers sometimes disappear when there are wild dogs around.

That Moyar Road temple - it overlooks the Moyar Gorge (the valley you mentioned). I used to go for late night drives on Moyar Road - drove there at 11 pm even in my unreliable Indica years back - but have stopped since the forest guards stop private vehicles especially after 8. I guess they make enough money from the local taxi drivers (who go for 'safaris' on Moyar Road),and so try to discourage private vehicles from going on drives in the night - bad for local business.
I think the dryness is forcing the deer to go into the jungles and they will come back once it rains. Maybe we should have a team-bhp wildlife meet in WIld haven sometime

I heard that the incident of the french tourist beeing killed by the elephant was what forced the forest dept. to reduce incursions by humans into forest land. I went on a most enjoyable trek before that incident - these have all but stopped now. Resort owners dont want to take the risk.
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Old 10th April 2012, 10:17   #13
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Maybe we should have a team-bhp wildlife meet in WIld haven sometime
Good Idea...I second that!! (though not immediately)
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Old 10th April 2012, 13:01   #14
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Nice travelog, enjoyed reading it. The species you spoke about in your writing can be seen everywhere once you enter a forest area not just Bandipur The other funny but dangerous thing is clicking a pic with the flash on, it zaps the animals and they run away.

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Old 11th April 2012, 20:37   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepak_misra View Post
After a restless sleep I get up at 6:00 AM and walk outside the cottage. At this time the place should be overflowing with deer but today they seem to have disappeared. I stare at the mountain next to Wild Haven covered in mist.
Deepak, thanks for posting the excellent travelogue. I am planning a trip to masinagudi on the 5th and 6th may 2012. Looking for stay options when I saw your post on Wild haven. I tried to register for room through their online facility, but there was no response. Do you have any telephone numbers which we can call to book? Also it would be helpful if you can list down the total amount that you had to pay.
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