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Old 9th September 2016, 15:45   #1
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Default Long weekend in Kunjapanai (Kotagiri Taluk)

This is my second post after Kashmir, penning on a lazy friday afternoon, where Karnataka has come to stand still with bandh called for cauvery water dispute!.

If there is one thing common with most Bangalorean's, that would be our love for long weekends and we look to head over to wherever we can get bookings at short notice. This time it was the Independence Day long weekend falling on Monday.

Called up our friends Ramesh and Poornima who live in Wonderful old bungalow in kunjapanai, with a 100 acres of pristine forest surrounding it and a wonderful stream flowing a short trek away, and off we were to our daughters favorite location.
As of now, they give a room in their bungalow for known folks to stay and soak into the nature. Shortly, they would be launching the eco resort "wild canopy ". Will share the details at the end of this thread.

Making an early start (5.30 am) from Whitefield we took the familiar route to Mysore Road and were expecting huge traffic enroute. Did contemplate whether to take the longer but fastest route via Coimbatore to Mettupalayam and then hit the kotagiri road to Kunjapanai or the sathyamangalam forest route via kollegal, but then as usual hit the Mysore route via ooty for the love of Bandipur and Mudumalai drive.
Whether we did manage to spot some wild life or not we did spot huge traffic on the way. Looks like half of Bangalore hit the road on any long weekend. There seemed to be an unusually high percentage of bikers heading towards Mysore this time.

Giving a skip to our usual haunt for breakfast at kamat Upachar near Bidadi which was crowded to the brim, we proceeded a few kms ahead and broke for breakfast at Kadambam hotel. Food was good and the specialty was Sakara Pongal(a sweet version of the pongal) and the icing was we did not spend too much time there.
With Smrithi up to her usual Dj’ing and playing our favorite “journey songs” we hit Bandipur within 11 am.(Wonder if there is a thread on favorite songs we play while driving considering how much time we spend on the road with music for company!).

The steady procession of cars making a beeline towards Ooty ensured that minimal sighting was possible what with near bumper to bumper traffic.
Lunch time saw us reach Ooty where we decided to skip our usual lunch haunt at Nahar and after Kanthi made a quick search on Tripadvisor we decided to break for Lunch at The Culinarium about 8 kms before we hit Coonoor. The ambience was pretty good and they serve mainly Italian/English food. Smrithi loved it though me and Kanthi not so much. It was a kind of “hang out” leisure place with good ambience where food was so-so. Then keeping true to the traveler’s law where if you are reaching a destination on time then something has to go wrong we took the route to Mettupalayam via Coonoor instead of taking the Kotagiri road to reach our destination. Kanthi all the while kept asking for Kotagiri board and me saying, this is not kotagiri road and both of us not bothered to connect the pieces!.

Not only did we lose a few hours in the bargain we also had to forego the sheer pleasure of taking probably the best road of the journey amidst thick green cover of trees and amazing weather and butter smooth winding roads. Infact one of the simple pleasures in life is to have a leisurely traffic less drive on winding good roads with apt music being played and icing on the cake being superb weather and a nice tea shop to boot. Must confess that Tamil Nadu generally ticks most boxes.
Finally we did reach the familiar bend to the “KalliKudar” ( “Wild Canopy” in future)

Culinarium Restaurant:
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Kullikudar entry:

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On reaching the gate, we were as usual welcomed by our canine friends who were delighted to see us. There were now 11 dogs a few of them familiar from our previous visits (last was 5 years back) and a few of them new and a cat called “poonai”. The notable new addition was the St.Bernard Sandy.
For people who are not too comfortable around dogs all of the dogs at Wild Canopy are very friendly and harmless. Smrithi was absolutely delighted to play with the dogs.
After a hot and warm cup of tea whipped up by Poornima we started chatting till night descended and settled to a delicious dinner. Next day held a promise of Trek, going to river and gorge.

Sunday morning, We just lazed around Kallikudar with Judy (friendly one).

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As we were all set to trek to river/gorge, we were told that due to the presence of a lone tusker and a pair of elephants with baby elephant, the normal trek through the forests to the beautiful stream was not possible. The same also did not give us a chance to go to the gorge.

River and Gorge which we trekked during our last trip:

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Sensing our disappointment, Ramesh arranged for a trek to a nearby village where there was a local festival on. The village chief (Thalaivar) accompanied us on 2 hour trek to his village perched on top of the nearby hill.

Trek Around the Kallikudar to the village top:

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The view from the top was truly mind blowing! Acres and acres of green trees amidst surrounding mountains with a beautiful lake in the far horizon and we could have spent an eternity soaking in the view. We were told that it was old Veerappan territory. We were also regaled with how the Erullas (the tribe of the over 200 families staying in these hills) lived with nature which took care of most of their needs. He recounted how they collected Kombuthenu(roughly translated to peak honey - kombu thenu (apis dorsata)) by diving into the valley from the top on ropes and collecting the honey found in the rock crevices. They did this generally at night so that the men would not be scared to look down which in the daylight would I imagine be a very scary proposition. He also showed us wild plants and leaves which served as medicinal remedies for various illnesses.

Views from Top

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Thalaivar Explaining the kombu then process

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Nearing lunch time we made our way back to the resort on our own through the forest but not before we made a detour to the highway to enjoy a hot steaming cup of “sukku” tea and hot bhajjis from the tea shop adjoining the forest check post.
After a hot delicious lunch whipped up by Parmeshwari (Who is virtually family for Ramesh and Poornima and adored by the dogs) we planned to drive up to Kotagiri. The drive was sheer pleasure and with light rainfall, the weather was simply fantastic. We stopped for an exotic flavored tea and some Arun ice creams at Silver tip café a km away from Catherine falls, in aravenu village. Worth the place to go and chill out for some time.

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There is something to the combination of rain and mist in the hills which has a magical effect and this was a magical moment all the way up to the base point of the falls. We also spotted a bison on the way which scampered across the road. Walking to the falls through a tea estate, we actually stopped a small distance from the actual falls as Smrithi was complaining of leg pain. However we felt the journey itself was well worth the visit though we didn’t quite make it to the destination

Way to Catherine Falls
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As the evening set in we decided to go to Kodanadu view point, which welcomed us with pink flower laden cherry trees and a few purple flowers along the way. Thick mist and light rain notwithstanding, we merrily clicked away to glory admiring our surroundings. Nilgiris and Western ghats never cease to surprise us and lure us towards it when we take on our wheels. The view point was surprisingly crowded with dancing and singing by a large group entertaining us all. The actual view point was mist covered and the mystery of the view it offered was left to be uncovered another day. If one thinks Kotagiri may not offer much compared to Ooty/Coonoor, I would urge to reconsider. Kotagiri is less crowded, tucked inside and offers magnificent views while driving from Mettupalayam to Kodanadu view point

Breath taking views along the way

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Calling an end to another wonderful day we made it back to the resort for dinner. Saw the Indian hockey team suffer a heart breaking loss to the Belgians before deciding to call it a day. We were interrupted from our sleep by the dogs barking at two big bears who had dropped in to the resort. After hanging around for some more time with some powerful torches in the hope of seeing them return back, we were finally overcome by tiredness and hit the sack.
Morning after wolfing down some crisp dosas made by Parmeshwari we were all set to head back to Bangalore. Saying goodbye to her furry friends we started off via Metupalyam-bhavani sagar dam-Bannari-Dhimbam-Chamrajnagar-Kollegal-Kanakpura –Nice road-dommasandra-Varthur-home. The route was pretty much not crowded considering that Mysore road would have been a nightmare. The only problem was that eating options for vegetarians are pretty much thin but with no tolls except for the nice road toll it was definitely much faster. The road was also good all through. Reached home by 6.15 pm without much strain.

A word about Ramesh and Poornima and the Wild Canopy. They are a nice couple who are extremely passionate about the eco system and wild life deciding to give up on their high flying careers (Poornima is a lawyer specializing on environment and Ramesh is an ex banker IITian) to stay amidst 100 acres of pristine forests. They live in co existence with the wild life which includes bears-leopards-elephants-a range of exotic bird life-bisons –deers-wild dogs and other animals of course along with their beloved dogs. They help the nearby tribal’s and continue to make a difference in their lives including donating land for their welfare.

They have decided to open their doors to a tree house built a km away in their property which would house 5 separate rooms interconnected by a walk way. The resort named Wild Canopy is planned to be open from early September and in fact we too were not allowed to see the tree house before it was fully ready and a surprise for us too. They can be contacted via madurampoornima@gmail.com and their web site is www.wildcanopyreserve.com

Looking forward now to the next long weekend as also the promise to update on the all the other trips in between yet to be penned.(Lets see it was Chinar forest, Hampi, Kudremukh and Masinagudi trips which I still need to update!).
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Last edited by vijayols : 9th September 2016 at 23:44. Reason: Completing the travelogue
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Old 12th September 2016, 14:43   #2
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by GTO : 12th September 2016 at 14:43. Reason: Bump
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Old 12th September 2016, 18:30   #3
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Default Re: Long weekend in Kunjapanai (Kotagiri Taluk)

Lovely travelogue vijayols!

Originally Posted by vijayols View Post
If there is one thing common with most Bangalorean's, that would be our love for long weekends and we look to head over to wherever we can get bookings at short notice.
I'm sure that's the case with people from the Metro cities.

The notable new addition was the St.Bernard
Whoa that's an awesome breed and pretty friendly.

Pretty crisp and refreshing travelogue. The pictures look wonderful, very nicely penned down.

This seems like one of those places wherein you don't have to use any filter or need amazing photography to capture the beauty of the place. The views are pretty breath taking and makes for a perfect weekend getaway.

Thanks for providing the details of the resort as well. Looking forward to the Hampi travelogue (Been years since I last visited).
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Old 12th September 2016, 18:59   #4
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Default Re: Long weekend in Kunjapanai (Kotagiri Taluk)

So happy to read this. I grew up in that area and many of the sights are familiar.

That lake in the far distance looks like the view to Upper Bhavani (Bhavani Sagar).

The Apis Dorsata that you mention are Rock Bees. Their sting is deadly painful but they produce a far tastier wild honey than the more common honey bee - Apis Mellifera and Apis Cerana.

It is difficult to get the honey from the Apis Dorsata's hives because they are almost always located in extremely difficult places to access.

The local people and the indigenous Irula Tribal people have evolved ingenious ways of getting at that honey though.

When we lived in that region we used to get a regular supply...

Your posts really made me happy and brought back happy memories of some of the best years of my life, when my Dad was planting in the Nilgiris (Kotagiri Area).

Heaven on earth - I consider it. Even now, 20 years later.
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Old 12th September 2016, 19:20   #5
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Default Re: Long weekend in Kunjapanai (Kotagiri Taluk)

Thank you Omkar.I am sure all of us living in metros just love the long weekend and probably believe in the adage the road is the limit as far as traveling especially for bhp-ian's go.

My daughter Smrithi just went bonkers playing with the big fella Sandy who was just adorable and wanted to jump on us all the time.

You are again spot on that the place is truly photogenic and most of the shots in fact due to sheer laziness is shot on my nexus 5 and not in my basic SLR.

Have my write up prepared on our trip to Valparai-Chinnar wild life sanctuary and awaiting my wife Kanthi to help organize the snaps.The Hampi travelogue hopefully would be next.
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Old 12th September 2016, 19:31   #6
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Default Re: Long weekend in Kunjapanai (Kotagiri Taluk)

Thank you Shankar.Am delighted to hear from you.A confession is that your posts were among the primary reasons Kanthi and me decided to get the yeti and we share your love for the yeti.(I love my Micra too though).

Yes the lake in the horizon indeed is Upper Bhavani which we too are looking forward to revisit again.The complaint we have with TN and Karnataka unlike Kerela is that you need to get some contacts in the government department to stay at these places.Muthathi forest remains one of the best experiences we ever had.

Thalaivaa did explain how the locals from his village collected the honey and looking at the sheer drop of the hills it was amazing how they did manage to take such incredible risks to collect the honey.

Glad that the post re kindled old memories and truly it is one of the places we consider heaven on earth and close to our hearts.
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