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Old 30th October 2010, 08:51   #1
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Default Bandipur, Ooty - Panther, Tiger, Tea estates and Mist

We went to Bandipur and Ooty last weekend. The trip was kind of unplanned, but we had lot of fun. We even managed to see a full size panther and elephants during the morning jungle safari at Bandipur.

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Day 1: We started from Bangalore on October 21 around 11 A.M. Reached Bandipur at 6. Road till Mysore is great as usual, except for few unmarked bumpers. Had lunch at some restaurant at Mandya. Road from Mysore till Nanjanugad was a pain. I was crawling at 20 kmph for the most part, although other cars were driving much faster on that stretch.

There was some shooting going on at Bandipur. We orginally planned to reach Ooty on the same day. But it was already dark by the time we reached Bandipur. It was also a full moon night on October 21. So we decided to stay at the forest and take the safari. We also planned to take the safari at night in our car. from my past experience, I think the chances of seeing wildlife at full moon night is much more. However, the forest is closed for all vehicles at night and we had to cancel the plan of jungle safari.

Most of the resorts were booked because of shooting. But we managed to get a room at Bandipur plaza. Decent resort at Rs. 1000 per night. Food was cheap and the quality was good. they also had a souvenir shop at the resort.

Day 2: Next day morning we started when it was dark. But the road was closed and we had to wait till 6 A.M. I also discovered that diesel was leaking from the pump, but once the car warmed up, the problem was solved. We reached Bandipur around 6.10, but the safari started at 6.30. It was daylight by then and we lost hope of sighting any tiger. But we did spot a big panther, which went into the jungle as soon as we reached the place. We also spotted elephants, deer and monkeys during the safari. Safari ticket costs Rs. 95 per head. However, I would think Mudumalai sfari would be a better option. the forest is dense, and I think there are more tigers in Mudumalai than at Bandipur.

You can take your own car for safari with prior arrangement from the resorts. But we were short of time and did not take our car.

We took the Gudalur route to reach OOty. the choice was deliberate for a number of reasons. I think the route is more scenic. It goes through Mudumalai forest and after Gudalur there are a number of tea estates and view points. This route is also not as steep as the Masinagudi route. Last time I went through masinagudi route, the car got heated and we had to wait. So this time we decided to take it easy. My wife was also not very comfortable with the idea of driving through steep route and taking unnecessary risk when alternate routes were available. On the downside, this route is longer, and there would be volvo and other buses driving at very high speed through narrow roads. This is really dangerous. the road is narrow at places and they would not be able to stop if there is sudden oncoming traffic or any other problems. Even KSRTC Volvo buses were driving at high speed through this route.

We reached Ooty by 12.30. On the way, we visited Pykara waterfalls. Nothing great.

We called Space inn resort and made booking. Although we had no idea about the resort and we were trying to find a good option on the way. Space inn resort actually turned out to be cheaper at Rs. 1300 per night for a cottage. When we reached there, we were really impressed. The resort is located about a km from the end of the lake. We were just two of us, but the cottage had two double beds in two rooms, and a common area for dining and watching tv. One room, however, did not have any door.

We spent the day roaming in the lake and botanical garden. For boating, you can take paddle boats for 2 at Rs. 80 per boat, or paddle boat for 4 or motor boats for 8 at Rs. 360. They also have horse riding options near the lake. We had lunch at a restaurant near the lake. Food options are really limited. The restaurant we had food in was cheap, but the food was cooked in coconut oil (kerala influence). Also, the drinking water is served hot at Ooty.

We wanted to take the train to Conoor but could not take it due to lack of time. It takes about 3 hours from Ooty to Conoor and back.

Day 3: We started at 9 in the morning and reached Bangalore by 7.30. 1 hour wasted at traffic jam on Mysore road. We had lunch at Udupi at Gundalpet (?), few kms ahead of Bandipur. Lunch options are limited between Bandipur and Gudalur. At Bandipur, the resorts do have restaurants, but it is kind of expensive, except Bandipur plaza where we stayed at night. If you want decent food, you might want to try Udupi at Gundalpet for lunch, I think that would be a better option.

On the way back, the road from Nanjanugad to Mysore was bad. I was driving at low speeds and all the buses and commercial vehicles started honking. Very irritating. If they cannot overtake because of oncoming traffic, they should wait for the turn, but should not honk. Specially if the road is bad and I was driving at the leftmost lane possible. In one case even a bus overtook me and stopped in front of me for some time. You can drive at whatever speed at whatever road, but it is not fair to honk at somebody driving slow on bad roads.

Enough of complaints . Hope you enjoyed the travelogue and the photos.

Last edited by sumannandy : 30th October 2010 at 08:55.
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Old 30th October 2010, 11:15   #2
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You had a great trip. Waiting to see panthers photos.
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Old 30th October 2010, 12:29   #3
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Leopards, tigers and lions belong to the panther family. Due to this, I believe people started calling panthers are separate from the leopards, when I guess they are the same.
Nowadays, Panther is a term more associated with black panthers, which I believe exist in Dandeli forests and rest is called leopard.

Waiting to see the panther photos. Spotting a leopard in wild is extremely difficult as they are nocturnal and shy away from humans, unless otherwise they are in conflict areas, the conflict being between humans and them. Spotting panthera tigris and panthera leo is now becoming a regularity in T-BHP.
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Old 31st October 2010, 07:16   #4
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The panther disappeared before we could take any picture.

Here are some more.

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Old 31st October 2010, 09:37   #5
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Can you share with us more info (contact) on Bandipur Plaza and Space Inn? Prices sound very reasonable. And is the Bandipur Plaza at Bandipur itself?

I thought that after the Court order, teh Gundulpet-Bandipur-Mudumalai road is kept open 24x7 instead of the 9 pm - 5 am closure - any idea why the roads were not reopened at night again?
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Old 31st October 2010, 11:33   #6
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Bandipur plaza is next to JLR.

I do not have the contact number. But if you are driving from Mysore, it would be on your left just before JLR.

Space inn resort is really value for money. Food option is limited (you have to order in advance, and I think they provide you with dinner and breakfast only), but rates are reasonable.

Here is the website.
:: Welcome To Spaceinn Resorts ::

Bandipur road is closed till 6 in the morning. We were waiting in the queue from about 5.40. Not sure why it is still closed. We were not aware about the court order, so we thought it was supposed to be closed.
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Old 31st October 2010, 11:46   #7
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Suman Sir, nice short travelogue. Impromptu trips are the most exciting, I believe. But my wife prefers planning. If you can post more photos it would be great. It is cheering to note lots of big cat spotting in South Indian forests - you, jacs, smsrini and earlier vinay kumar also I think

@MX-6 : what you are talking about is the genus Panthera. Panther in common speak denotes leopard, cougar/puma and jaguar

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Old 31st October 2010, 11:48   #8
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For now that pic. of the hot Puri would suffice and make up for the missing panther's. Nice photographs and write up, keep it coming.
And we both were there photographing the same landscape at a different time, year, weather, level, angle and composition.
Regards,

Yours.
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Mine.
Bandipur, Ooty - Panther, Tiger, Tea estates and Mist-img_2992.jpg

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Old 31st October 2010, 20:08   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
Suman Sir, nice short travelogue. Impromptu trips are the most exciting, I believe. But my wife prefers planning. If you can post more photos it would be great. It is cheering to note lots of big cat spotting in South Indian forests - you, jacs, smsrini and earlier vinay kumar also I think

@MX-6 : what you are talking about is the genus Panthera. Panther in common speak denotes leopard, cougar/puma and jaguar
Thank you. Planning is helpful specially in the weekends. At Bandipur we did not get rooms in one resort as there was some shooting going on. And the room we got in the other resort was the last available room. The Space Inn Resort was also completely booked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fazalaliadil View Post
For now that pic. of the hot Puri would suffice and make up for the missing panther's. Nice photographs and write up, keep it coming.
And we both were there photographing the same landscape at a different time, year, weather, level, angle and composition.
Regards,
Thank you. Your pic looks really great.

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Old 31st October 2010, 22:04   #10
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Very informative piece of writing. I am also going to do this route in my SAFARI. The inputs about the SAFARI were priceless. Guess I will face the same problems you did since mine is also a TCIC
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Old 1st November 2010, 03:36   #11
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Nice write up and good photos as well. Its unfortunate that you were not able to capture the Leopard, at least you got to see them, thats good.
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Old 1st November 2010, 11:24   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheARUN View Post
Very informative piece of writing. I am also going to do this route in my SAFARI. The inputs about the SAFARI were priceless. Guess I will face the same problems you did since mine is also a TCIC
Thank you. You might want to take the Gudalur route. The Masinagudi route is steep and my car got overheated. This time there was no problems except diesel leakage when cold (which was present earlier).

Enjoy your trip.

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Originally Posted by chethan.ram View Post
Nice write up and good photos as well. Its unfortunate that you were not able to capture the Leopard, at least you got to see them, thats good.
Thank you.
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Old 1st November 2010, 12:08   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sumannandy View Post
Thank you. You might want to take the Gudalur route. The Masinagudi route is steep and my car got overheated. This time there was no problems except diesel leakage when cold (which was present earlier).

Enjoy your trip.



Thank you.
Oh. I did the Masinagudi route/36 hairpins in my swift ( I'd my friends telling me their bikes/cars' engines became unresponsive when they did it ), but mine just held fine. It was an experience ( a nice one I mean ).
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Old 1st November 2010, 12:35   #14
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HVK : I thought the court order in Jun/July was to uphold the ban on night traffic, not sure if you're referring to something after that. It still is 9 PM - 6 AM closure, per the notice boards and the authorities and that I think is in line with the court order ( except that I'm not sure if the order mentioned 5 AM or 6 AM ), unless I'm missing something.

Past the Kakkannala checkpost into TamilNadu, even photography is banned :(

I'd think the ban probably is required ( just my opinion ) and more monitoring of traffic and vehicular speed during the day.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Can you share with us more info (contact) on Bandipur Plaza and Space Inn? Prices sound very reasonable. And is the Bandipur Plaza at Bandipur itself?

I thought that after the Court order, teh Gundulpet-Bandipur-Mudumalai road is kept open 24x7 instead of the 9 pm - 5 am closure - any idea why the roads were not reopened at night again?
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Old 1st November 2010, 19:57   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airguitar View Post
HVK : I thought the court order in Jun/July was to uphold the ban on night traffic, not sure if you're referring to something after that. It still is 9 PM - 6 AM closure, per the notice boards and the authorities and that I think is in line with the court order ( except that I'm not sure if the order mentioned 5 AM or 6 AM ), unless I'm missing something.

Past the Kakkannala checkpost into TamilNadu, even photography is banned :(

I'd think the ban probably is required ( just my opinion ) and more monitoring of traffic and vehicular speed during the day.
Not sure about banning photography. I don't think we noticed any board with the information. We were not told anything by the checkpost officers either.

In fact on the way back we noticed people stopping their cars and searching for wildlife at Mudumalai as well as at Bandipur.

What is really bad is the usage of horn. At least in one case we heard one vehicle using horns in the forest. I think horns should be banned.

We had a scary experience with a group of elephants. The tusker got mad at the sound of the reverse siren and chased us. It came within 2-3 feet of the car. That was in a different jungle couple of years back.

But drive through Mudumalai forest is a good experience, specially in early morning.
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