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Old 5th October 2015, 13:29   #1
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Default It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

The very thought of driving out of Bangalore on a vacation during a long weekend sends shivers down my spine. The traffic is maddening, starting from 5 PM on the eve of the long weekend and getting back into the city on Sunday night is equally crazy. Add to that the long queues in each toll collection point and finally the hordes of inconsiderate drivers on the roads - there goes the joy of a vacation or a drive.

Usually, my vacations involve more of driving and less of staying in some place. Ideally I like to drive all day long and then find a place to crash for the night. Given that I am going to be tied up for the next five weekends, I really wanted to go for a drive during the Oct 2nd long weekend. I had only two requirements - take less crowded roads and avoid toll roads as much as possible.

With all these thoughts in my mind, I came up with a plan to drive the jungle circuit of KA, TN and KL. The plan was to start after a late breakfast on 2nd Oct - hoping that all the maddening crowds would have already left - drive down to Bandipur gates - via BR Hills - and stay in a resort for the night. Then start from there on the 3rd morning, as soon as the gates open, drive across to Gudalur and then from there to Sulthan Bathery. From there drive through Wayanad forest reserves and Nagarhole. Then head back to Bangalore via Hunsur and Mysore to be back home for dinner on the 3rd October.

The route taken -

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So I called up MC Resort - it is the closest to the jungle gates - and made a phone booking for a room for one night, dinner included. I was able to bargain for ₹ 3500 all inclusive, as against the advertised rate of ₹ 5000 + tax and was super happy.

As planned, we started from my home in Bangalore at 10:00 AM on 2nd October. I usually fill fuel up the previous day to a long drive, but this time decided to fill up on the way instead. So, pulled over at Shell petrol pump in OMR - near Gopalan Signature Mall. I am a regular to that outlet and usually go there 3-4 times a month. This time, the attendant was a new girl whom I have never seen before. When it was my turn, she said "Sir only V-Power. Regular petrol is out of stock". I had tried V-Power before and did not notice any difference and was unwilling to pay ₹ 8.00 per litre premium. I pointed out to her that the stock board shows 26000+ liters stock and asked her to change that and display a "No Stock" board in my presence. The manager of the outlet came and said "Sorry Sir, we have stock, but the pump for this particular bowser is not working. Please move to another bowser and fill up". I was in no mood to spoil my drive and let it go. Moved to another queue and filled up. But was a bit disappointed to see the quality of CS in Shell going down. Let me not digress too much here.

Four hours later, I was at Yelandur, where one needs to turn right to go to BR Hills. The drive so far was peaceful. Getting out of Bangalore was relatively quick and painless. I was told that there is a darshini on BR Hills. So we decided to have lunch there and started climbing the hill. So far the roads were very good, albeit two lane undivided, with sparse traffic and I was enjoying the relaxed drive.

Here is what the road mostly looked like -

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-11147886_10153204735941279_5808674608267350751_n.jpg

Once we reached BR Hills, we asked for directions to the darshini and were directed to a rundown shack with a dark ambience. Apparently, that was the only place there. The food was average, but the hospitality was awesome. The elderly gentleman who served us was hovering over us and insisting that we take some more rice. He appeared to be genuinely concerned that we were eating very less. After lunch, we headed towards the temple. We had no plans of visiting the temple, but just wanted to get a good view for the surrounds.

After climbing up a muddy road, we stopped the car here -

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12108119_10153204736021279_3746193543578456154_n.jpg

and were rewarded with this view -

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12096488_10153204735741279_7717843274613154014_n.jpg

Then we headed out, as it was already 4:00 and needed to get out of the jungle before the gates closed at 6:00 PM. The drive down BR Hills via K.Gudi and Nagavalli was pure bliss. The forest looked like a carpet of green, the road was in a reasonably good shape and there was barely any traffic.

There were hordes of deer grazing away peacefully -

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12122511_10153204736786279_4985294436148405997_n.jpg

We spotted what looked like a snake's head peeping out of a termite mound, But when I stopped and zoomed in, I realized it was some kind of monitor lizard, soaking in the sunlight in preparation for a night of hunting

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12118596_10153204736131279_6452781105958835248_n.jpg

When we reached Nagavalli, we were greeted with a lush turmeric plantation on one side

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12143083_10153204736166279_1325207744373601225_n.jpg

and a banana plantation on the other, with the sun playing hide and seek with the hills.

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12074897_10153204736201279_3284508144183850114_n.jpg

The drive from there on to MC Resort was uneventful. We reached MC Resort by 7:00 PM, only to get a nasty surprise. The manager flatly refused having spoken to me or having taken any kind of booking. He blatantly refused having discussed rates and having agreed for ₹ 3500 for one night including dinner. I had indicated that I will be there by 6:00 PM, but was an hour late and would have appreciated if he told me that he thought I was a no show and allotted the room to someone else. In spite of showing him the call logs, he insisted that he had never spoken to me and agreed to anything. I was unwilling to let that ruin my plan. So had a quick discussion with my wife and we both decided we will drive back a few kms where we had seen more resorts and some hotels. We will try our luck there. If nothing works out, we will grab dinner somewhere, drive up to the forest gate, pull over and sleep in the car. Fortunately, we found a room in hotel Sreeadharsh. Pretty basic place with basic rooms, but was quite clean considering it was a relatively new establishment. Had an early dinner (again food was just average) and went to bed.

Woke up fully refreshed and raring to go by 5:00 AM on Saturday. I had been advised against trying to enter the forest bang at 6:00 AM, as there would be a waiting queue and there will be a mad rush when the gates opened. We entered the forest by 06:15 AM, to be greeted by peaceful greenery all around with birds chirping away. It was blissful, just the way I wanted it to be. Soon we passed the forest information center. It was disheartening to see domesticated elephants. While I am used to seeing elephants in temples, somehow it was a bad feeling seeing elephants with chains on their legs in the forest. It just felt so wrong.

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12140831_10153204736551279_985770711296281320_n.jpg

Again hordes of deer grazing away. I got a feeling that the deer have somehow figured out that the area near the road is safe from big cat attacks, if they are willing to put up with the noise of the vehicles.

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12140820_10153204736406279_4118034108348858766_n.jpg

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12107880_10153204736431279_7419278544970313203_n.jpg

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12105827_10153204736466279_7797654748666692260_n.jpg

I guess one will have to take a safari for chances of spotting anything more exotic, but I was not complaining. I was happy with seeing the deer roam around freely, unlike those poor elephants.

The roads between Theppakadu and Gudalur were borderline off-road territory. That stretch turned out to be the worst in the entire trip and threatened to take away the fun of driving in the forests. Luckily it was just a 16 km stretch and we reached Gudalur in one piece for breakfast. After a breakfast of typical south Indian fare of Idly, Vada and Dosa, we headed towards Sulthan Bathery. This stretch was awesome with smooth tarmac, lined with tea estates and sparse traffic.

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12108193_10153204737011279_5474360066466411946_n.jpg

After Sulthan Bathery, we headed towards Irulam and were soon rewarded by a young tusker feeding by the roadside, accompanied by another fully grown female - we guess she must be his mom- who also looked pregnant. By the time we spotted these elephants and stopped, they were pretty close to us - approx 10-15 feet from the road. Not wanting to take chances, I just got one picture of the young tusker and moved on.

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12119177_10153204737091279_6642456785997606336_n.jpg

From there on the roads were splendid with green cover as far as the eye could see -


It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12106862_10153204736826279_5388716852324961433_n.jpg

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12118609_10153204737061279_2271042814812783889_n.jpg

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12118692_10153204736946279_334509946521582341_n.jpg

Somewhere on the way, we stopped at a place to buy some honey. There were coffee plantations there and the green coffee beans looked really nice.

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-12109027_10153204737356279_2186365099500713693_n.jpg

Before we knew it, we were entering Nagarhole and were back in KA territory. Since it was close to noon already, except for the now frequent groups of deer, there was no other movement in the entire forest reserve. The roads were a bit bumpy, but not too bad. I was anyway driving at speeds of 25 -30 kmph as I was really not looking forward to heading back into civilization so soon. Half way through, the roads were freshly topped and became smooth. The forest was so inviting, that I wanted to just pull over and lie down on the grass. I was wondering what it would take to just build a small hut somewhere there and live the rest of my life away from the rat race.

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-11219231_10153204737371279_5699517758657018840_n.jpg

It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu-11988399_10153204737431279_8240631478190854456_n.jpg

Anyway, all good things have to come to an end and we were out of Nagarhole soon. Stopped for lunch at a Coorgi restaurant in Hunsur - first time in the entire trip, the food was really good and tasty. Took the boring divided roads from there to Mysore, took ORR around Mysore and headed back to Bangalore via the beaten path of Mandya - Maddur. After Bidadi, there was a traffic jam due to an accident and we were rudely welcomed back to bumper to bumper traffic and people forming 5 lanes in a 2 laned road. Well, I hate the way I have to do it, but gotta make a living. Reached home by 8:00 PM.

Some interesting observations -
  • The farther we got away from the city, the nicer the people were
  • Saw a convoy of 27 Ford Ecosport cars headed the other way, just after K.Gudi check post. Realized that other brand owners also have their own groups. They just do it silently. (I own a FIAT, so I guess you know what I am talking about)
  • Deer outnumbered monkeys by a vast majority in the entire route
  • Drove a distance of 676 kms of which only 16 kms were really bad, but paid ₹ 0.00 as toll.
  • Would have encountered more vehicles in the first 20 and the last 20 kms, than the number encountered in the remaining 636 kms.
  • While driving at triple digit speeds on divided highways has its own thrills, it can never match driving at 30 kmph inside a forest, with no one else as far as the eyes can see.

Now to start planning the next drive into the wilderness, in another part of the country. How I wish they allowed camping inside these places.

Thanks for reading

Last edited by PatchyBoy : 5th October 2015 at 15:35.
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Old 6th October 2015, 09:45   #2
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Default re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th October 2015, 12:11   #3
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Default re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

Finally you made the trip alone Nice pictures there buddy. You were planning for some haunted roads right, you did not get a chance to do that?

Probably next time I will join you if my calendar is free and we can have that slow & steady race inside the jungle roads

And I agree with you on the groups formed for each cars and I wonder if there is anything here in Bangalore for XUV owners.
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Old 6th October 2015, 12:26   #4
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Default re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

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Finally you made the trip alone Nice pictures there buddy. You were planning for some haunted roads right, you did not get a chance to do that?
Thanks. I found out that those haunted roads are actually pretty crowded in the night. So dropped that plan and decided to hit the forests instead
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Old 6th October 2015, 15:27   #5
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Default Re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

The jungles are okay, but what really caught my eye is your car. Man, those are such tasteful mods. Love the blackened grille, smoked headlamps & rims. Even the black ORVMs & number plate style look simply fab . If I had a white Linea, that's exactly how I'd do her up.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th October 2015, 15:52   #6
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The jungles are okay, but what really caught my eye is your car. Man, those are such tasteful mods. Love the blackened grille, smoked headlamps & rims. Even the black ORVMs & number plate style look simply fab . If I had a white Linea, that's exactly how I'd do her up.

Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the compliments. I hate chrome to the core, especially the plastic variety. So got the grilles painted black. Even the chrome around the logo is painted black. The chrome strips on the bumpers are deleted and those on the doors + the handles are painted body colour. The headlights are dual projectors. The ORVM are from the newer Linea with integrated turn indicators.
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Old 6th October 2015, 18:01   #7
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Default Re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

n
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatchyBoy View Post
The manager flatly refused having spoken to me or having taken any kind of booking.
Fortunately, we found a room in hotel Sreeadharsh. Pretty basic place with basic rooms, but was quite clean considering it was a relatively new establishment.

I had been advised against trying to enter the forest bang at 6:00 AM, as there would be a waiting queue and there will be a mad rush when the gates opened. We entered the forest by 06:15 AM, to be greeted by peaceful greenery all around with birds chirping away.

The roads between Theppakadu and Gudalur were borderline off-road territory. That stretch turned out to be the worst in the entire trip and threatened to take away the fun of driving in the forests.


Some interesting observations -

[*]Saw a convoy of 27 Ford Ecosport cars headed the other way, just after K.Gudi check post.
Interesting circuit for Bangaloreans. Loved the symmetry in most of your clicks. Thanks for sharing.

You were lucky to find a safe accommodation during a long weekend. I always prefer advance payment and some formal transactions through emails as a precautions while travelling with family.

And your decision to enter forest little late was good. First few vehicles might get some additional wildlife spotting but the rest will not get any if following the long convoy from the check post. My learnings is that if you are driving after an hour of the mad rush during day start, you stand better chances of spotting.

Sad to hear about the road condition between Theppakadu and Gudalur. Have cautioned a friend who is planning to drive from Bangalore via Nilambur during Pooja holidays.

Were the cars predominantly KL Registration? Fellow BHPian deetjohn was mentioning about an EcoSport drive organized by Ford during the long first weekend of October.

Last edited by jacs : 6th October 2015 at 18:05.
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Old 6th October 2015, 18:22   #8
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Interesting circuit for Bangaloreans. Loved the symmetry in most of your clicks. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks.

Quote:
You were lucky to find a safe accommodation during a long weekend. I always prefer advance payment and some formal transactions through emails as a precautions while travelling with family.
I offered to do a bank transfer. But that guy said it was OK and I could pay cash on arrival. My bad, I trusted him. Lesson learnt.

Quote:
Were the cars predominantly KL Registration? Fellow BHPian deetjohn was mentioning about an EcoSport drive organized by Ford during the long first weekend of October.
Yes. Most of them were KL. The last one was JH.
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Old 7th October 2015, 09:43   #9
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Default Re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

A great way to spend the weekend.
In the entire route you took baring Bangalore - Kanakpura and Mysore - Bangalore, the roads are devoid of traffic build ups during long weekends too.

The Thepekkadu - Gudalur route is in bad conditions since a while, even Gudalur - Ooty route was in bad condition earlier. However, recent posts in the forum mentions patch work was done.

If you were driving towards Masinagudi, would have suggested to visit Chemmantham. This is one of the so called spooky place in this area, which was mentioned by Kenneth Anderson in his books.

Though, it has lost its spooky touch as per this travelogue (From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi).
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Old 7th October 2015, 13:50   #10
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Default Re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

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If you were driving towards Masinagudi, would have suggested to visit Chemmantham. This is one of the so called spooky place in this area, which was mentioned by Kenneth Anderson in his books.

Though, it has lost its spooky touch as per this travelogue (From Chaotic Bangalore to Calm Masinagudi).
If you have read the story, the first time you enter the place is always spooky. The "spookiness" factor reduces thereafter. If you have not read the story you might wonder what this is all about.
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Old 7th October 2015, 16:55   #11
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Default Re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

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Originally Posted by PatchyBoy View Post
[*]Saw a convoy of 27 Ford Ecosport cars headed the other way, just after K.Gudi check post. Realized that other brand owners also have their own groups. They just do it silently. (I own a FIAT, so I guess you know what I am talking about)
They call themselves TrailBlazers and are a group of EcoSport Owners from Cochin. They connect via Facebook and have their community there.

I have not joined the group, but my Ford Service Head is there in the group. I read a post on their trip to BR Hills on their page.

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Now to start planning the next drive into the wilderness, in another part of the country. How I wish they allowed camping inside these places.

Thanks for reading
It was indeed great to read your write up, myself being from Sulthan Bathery we usually do an evening drive via Gundlupet, and Gudalur to cover Wayanad WLS, Bandipur and Mudhumalai in less than 2 hrs.

Camping facilites are available at Bandipur, And Wayanad WLS. You missed Muthanga (Wayanad WLS) since you routed through Mudumalai. Camping is there too.

I am not sure of Tholpetty near Nagarhole but there should be some facilities there.

You can also plan with a stay near Nagarhole/Kabini which would have given you much more animal sighting and return via mudumalai.

Cheers Keep Driving.
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Old 7th October 2015, 22:51   #12
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Default Re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

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Originally Posted by PatchyBoy View Post
Usually, my vacations involve more of driving and less of staying in some place. Ideally I like to drive all day long and then find a place to crash for the night. Given that I am going to be tied up for the next five weekends, I really wanted to go for a drive during the Oct 2nd long weekend. I had only two requirements - take less crowded roads and avoid toll roads as much as possible.
Wish it was me who was driving into these beautiful scenic locations and immersing into the flora and fauna available all around, which, by the way is unaccessible in today's fast paced metro life.

I may be wrong but I guess that owing to the routine lane overtaking/jams/high-speeding you may have opted to avoid toll roads. Correct me if I am wrong.

Very picturesque locations. My hearty congratulations.
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Old 8th October 2015, 10:50   #13
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Default Re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

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Originally Posted by PatchyBoy View Post
Some interesting observations -
  • Saw a convoy of 27 Ford Ecosport cars headed the other way, just after K.Gudi check post. Realized that other brand owners also have their own groups. They just do it silently. (I own a FIAT, so I guess you know what I am talking about)
Ha ha ! I loved that dig!


That said, lovely photos and crisp travelogue! thanks for sharing!
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Old 29th December 2016, 12:17   #14
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Exclamation Re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

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The very thought of driving out of Bangalore on a vacation during a long weekend sends shivers down my spine. The traffic is maddening, starting from 5 PM on the eve of the long weekend and getting back into the city on Sunday night is equally crazy. Add to that the long queues in each toll collection point and finally the hordes of inconsiderate drivers on the roads - there goes the joy of a vacation or a drive.

Usually, my vacations involve more of driving and less of staying in some place. Ideally I like to drive all day long and then find a place to crash for the night. Given that I am going to be tied up for the next five weekends, I really wanted to go for a drive during the Oct 2nd long weekend. I had only two requirements - take less crowded roads and avoid toll roads as much as possible.

With all these thoughts in my mind, I came up with a plan to drive the jungle circuit of KA, TN and KL. The plan was to start after a late breakfast on 2nd Oct - hoping that all the maddening crowds would have already left - drive down to Bandipur gates - via BR Hills - and stay in a resort for the night. Then start from there on the 3rd morning, as soon as the gates open, drive across to Gudalur and then from there to Sulthan Bathery. From there drive through Wayanad forest reserves and Nagarhole. Then head back to Bangalore via Hunsur and Mysore to be back home for dinner on the 3rd October.

The route taken -


So I called up MC Resort - it is the closest to the jungle gates - and made a phone booking for a room for one night, dinner included. I was able to bargain for ₹ 3500 all inclusive, as against the advertised rate of ₹ 5000 + tax and was super happy.

As planned, we started from my home in Bangalore at 10:00 AM on 2nd October. I usually fill fuel up the previous day to a long drive, but this time decided to fill up on the way instead. So, pulled over at Shell petrol pump in OMR - near Gopalan Signature Mall. I am a regular to that outlet and usually go there 3-4 times a month. This time, the attendant was a new girl whom I have never seen before. When it was my turn, she said "Sir only V-Power. Regular petrol is out of stock". I had tried V-Power before and did not notice any difference and was unwilling to pay ₹ 8.00 per litre premium. I pointed out to her that the stock board shows 26000+ liters stock and asked her to change that and display a "No Stock" board in my presence. The manager of the outlet came and said "Sorry Sir, we have stock, but the pump for this particular bowser is not working. Please move to another bowser and fill up". I was in no mood to spoil my drive and let it go. Moved to another queue and filled up. But was a bit disappointed to see the quality of CS in Shell going down. Let me not digress too much here.

Four hours later, I was at Yelandur, where one needs to turn right to go to BR Hills. The drive so far was peaceful. Getting out of Bangalore was relatively quick and painless. I was told that there is a darshini on BR Hills. So we decided to have lunch there and started climbing the hill. So far the roads were very good, albeit two lane undivided, with sparse traffic and I was enjoying the relaxed drive.

Here is what the road mostly looked like -


Once we reached BR Hills, we asked for directions to the darshini and were directed to a rundown shack with a dark ambience. Apparently, that was the only place there. The food was average, but the hospitality was awesome. The elderly gentleman who served us was hovering over us and insisting that we take some more rice. He appeared to be genuinely concerned that we were eating very less. After lunch, we headed towards the temple. We had no plans of visiting the temple, but just wanted to get a good view for the surrounds.

After climbing up a muddy road, we stopped the car here -


and were rewarded with this view -


Then we headed out, as it was already 4:00 and needed to get out of the jungle before the gates closed at 6:00 PM. The drive down BR Hills via K.Gudi and Nagavalli was pure bliss. The forest looked like a carpet of green, the road was in a reasonably good shape and there was barely any traffic.

There were hordes of deer grazing away peacefully -


We spotted what looked like a snake's head peeping out of a termite mound, But when I stopped and zoomed in, I realized it was some kind of monitor lizard, soaking in the sunlight in preparation for a night of hunting


When we reached Nagavalli, we were greeted with a lush turmeric plantation on one side


and a banana plantation on the other, with the sun playing hide and seek with the hills.


The drive from there on to MC Resort was uneventful. We reached MC Resort by 7:00 PM, only to get a nasty surprise. The manager flatly refused having spoken to me or having taken any kind of booking. He blatantly refused having discussed rates and having agreed for ₹ 3500 for one night including dinner. I had indicated that I will be there by 6:00 PM, but was an hour late and would have appreciated if he told me that he thought I was a no show and allotted the room to someone else. In spite of showing him the call logs, he insisted that he had never spoken to me and agreed to anything. I was unwilling to let that ruin my plan. So had a quick discussion with my wife and we both decided we will drive back a few kms where we had seen more resorts and some hotels. We will try our luck there. If nothing works out, we will grab dinner somewhere, drive up to the forest gate, pull over and sleep in the car. Fortunately, we found a room in hotel Sreeadharsh. Pretty basic place with basic rooms, but was quite clean considering it was a relatively new establishment. Had an early dinner (again food was just average) and went to bed.

Woke up fully refreshed and raring to go by 5:00 AM on Saturday. I had been advised against trying to enter the forest bang at 6:00 AM, as there would be a waiting queue and there will be a mad rush when the gates opened. We entered the forest by 06:15 AM, to be greeted by peaceful greenery all around with birds chirping away. It was blissful, just the way I wanted it to be. Soon we passed the forest information center. It was disheartening to see domesticated elephants. While I am used to seeing elephants in temples, somehow it was a bad feeling seeing elephants with chains on their legs in the forest. It just felt so wrong.


Again hordes of deer grazing away. I got a feeling that the deer have somehow figured out that the area near the road is safe from big cat attacks, if they are willing to put up with the noise of the vehicles.


I guess one will have to take a safari for chances of spotting anything more exotic, but I was not complaining. I was happy with seeing the deer roam around freely, unlike those poor elephants.

The roads between Theppakadu and Gudalur were borderline off-road territory. That stretch turned out to be the worst in the entire trip and threatened to take away the fun of driving in the forests. Luckily it was just a 16 km stretch and we reached Gudalur in one piece for breakfast. After a breakfast of typical south Indian fare of Idly, Vada and Dosa, we headed towards Sulthan Bathery. This stretch was awesome with smooth tarmac, lined with tea estates and sparse traffic.


After Sulthan Bathery, we headed towards Irulam and were soon rewarded by a young tusker feeding by the roadside, accompanied by another fully grown female - we guess she must be his mom- who also looked pregnant. By the time we spotted these elephants and stopped, they were pretty close to us - approx 10-15 feet from the road. Not wanting to take chances, I just got one picture of the young tusker and moved on.


From there on the roads were splendid with green cover as far as the eye could see -


Somewhere on the way, we stopped at a place to buy some honey. There were coffee plantations there and the green coffee beans looked really nice.


Before we knew it, we were entering Nagarhole and were back in KA territory. Since it was close to noon already, except for the now frequent groups of deer, there was no other movement in the entire forest reserve. The roads were a bit bumpy, but not too bad. I was anyway driving at speeds of 25 -30 kmph as I was really not looking forward to heading back into civilization so soon. Half way through, the roads were freshly topped and became smooth. The forest was so inviting, that I wanted to just pull over and lie down on the grass. I was wondering what it would take to just build a small hut somewhere there and live the rest of my life away from the rat race.


Anyway, all good things have to come to an end and we were out of Nagarhole soon. Stopped for lunch at a Coorgi restaurant in Hunsur - first time in the entire trip, the food was really good and tasty. Took the boring divided roads from there to Mysore, took ORR around Mysore and headed back to Bangalore via the beaten path of Mandya - Maddur. After Bidadi, there was a traffic jam due to an accident and we were rudely welcomed back to bumper to bumper traffic and people forming 5 lanes in a 2 laned road. Well, I hate the way I have to do it, but gotta make a living. Reached home by 8:00 PM.

Some interesting observations -
  • The farther we got away from the city, the nicer the people were
  • Saw a convoy of 27 Ford Ecosport cars headed the other way, just after K.Gudi check post. Realized that other brand owners also have their own groups. They just do it silently. (I own a FIAT, so I guess you know what I am talking about)
  • Deer outnumbered monkeys by a vast majority in the entire route
  • Drove a distance of 676 kms of which only 16 kms were really bad, but paid ₹ 0.00 as toll.
  • Would have encountered more vehicles in the first 20 and the last 20 kms, than the number encountered in the remaining 636 kms.
  • While driving at triple digit speeds on divided highways has its own thrills, it can never match driving at 30 kmph inside a forest, with no one else as far as the eyes can see.

Now to start planning the next drive into the wilderness, in another part of the country. How I wish they allowed camping inside these places.

Thanks for reading
Please refrain from getting down from vehicle in the middle of the jungle . If its a bad day , you may be caught by a surprise animal attack .

Last edited by ashish_BHP : 29th December 2016 at 12:18.
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Old 29th December 2016, 20:45   #15
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Default Re: It's a jungle out there - A drive through the forests of Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu

Great write up!

Had driven to K Gudi couple of times with a visit to BR Hills.The route from BR hills to KGudi is filled with greenery and wilderness. Drive will all your windows down and no music. It's just you traversing through dense forest. Amazing.
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