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Old 11th April 2011, 16:16   #1
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Default Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track

Although I have benefitted immensely from the experts here in Team-BHP, this is the first time that I am writing my own post. I hope this benefits anyone planning a short group-getaway to the Nilgiris from Bangalore.

We planned an extended weekend getaway to coincide with the Apr 4 holiday here in Bangalore. We were a total of 12 family members, including 3 teens, who were traveling in three cars. And since we had senior citizens as well as several ladies in the group, we intended to drive less and stay more. With the summer already upon us, we wanted to head to the hills for a ‘cool’ get-away.

After scouring the net for several days, we zeroed in on a 5D/4N vacation to the Nilgiris. Since a couple of family members were very keen on a jungle safari, I decided to include the Mudumalai or Bandipur sanctuary in our plans. An important criterion for us was to find a place that allowed us to stay together as a group – that is when you get the most out of a group tour. Somehow, I am not a keen fan of staying at hotels & lodges.

So, after pouring thru Tripadvisor.in and HolidayIQ.com, and going through the travelogues here in Team-BHP, I finalized on the trip plan below:
• Day 1: Stay at Mudumalai – finalized on ‘Green Woods Nature Camp’ as our stop-over
• Days 2 – 5: Stay at Devashola estates, off Coonoor / Ooty

Places intended as sight-seeing:
• Mudumalai / Bandipur safari
• Avalanche & Emerald lakes (off Ooty)
• Trekking amidst the tea-estates of Devashola

While I will not go into a detailed travelogue, here is a summary of our 5 day trip. I will let the pictures do the talking at the end:

Highlights-
The best part of our visit was the home-stay at Devashola Estates; we stayed at the sprawling bungalow called Sultana Cottage right amidst lush greenery. Early mornings were ushered in with the bird-calls from a rich variety of the avian species. During the day, whenever we ventured out into the estate, we got to see groups of bison, grazing on the grass amidst the tea plantations. And the rest of the time was spent lazing around on the swing, hammock or the rocking chair in our balconies overlooking the Nilgiris hills.

While Devashola has several bungalows, the best is the Mango-Tree bungalow, perched right atop a hill. The view from this place is simply magnificent. Unfortunately, this place was booked by the time I tried; we only got to see this place when the estate folks took us on a jeep safari. Do note that this place is far too remote to club the stay with any plans to make short trips to sight-seeing spots…obviously, you won’t feel the need once you reach this heaven on earth.

The other best part was the trip to Emerald Lake, amidst the Red Hills. The entire Red Hills area is cordoned off against development of any kind and hence you will find no hotels, restaurants or resorts, and definitely no tourists! Unfortunately, this also means that the roads are completely deserted, ill-maintained, and unless you are the adventurous kind, you may fear to treat the last 7 – 8 kms leading to the lakes. For us, since we were traveling with ladies and senior citizens, we aborted our drive just 5 kms before reaching Avalanche lake, and instead, just picnicked on one of the smaller lakes in Red Hills area. Only after we had packed up and were all set to go to our home-stay did we come across a few local lads who extolled the virtues of the pristine Avalanche lake and encouraged us to go the next few kms to reach the place. Unfortunately, since it was getting dark, we did not venture out.

My sincere advice to anyone intending to visit Avalanche will be to pack a picnic hamper and leave from Ooty/Coonoor early and do go the 20 km distance to Avalanche. I am sure you will not forget the place. There is a homestay run by the Vijaykumars there and so it is not like the place is entirely desolate…

Lowlights
After seeing and staying at pristine natural spots around the Nilgiris, the two trips we made to the cities of Ooty and Coonoor were the most disappointing. The places are so crowded, congested and commercialized that I find Bangalore to be better in terms of breathing space! And if you have to do boating or visit the Botanical gardens, the one back home at Lumbini and Lalbagh are a great alternative.

The other lowlight was that we found the Mudumalai sanctuary closed for the summer. So, we had to make do with the more expensive (Rs 300 against Rs 45) jungle safari at Bandipur. I have made this safari a couple of times in the past and this time too, my experience was similar:
• We got to see peacocks, deer – Cheetal & Sambar, hares, and finally some elephants during the safari. And we had to strain our necks and jostle amongst ourselves to get turns to see through the bus windows. And after the tiring safari in a rickety bus, we got back to the main roads in our cars.
• And this time we saw lots more elephants!, peacocks, lion tailed macaques, monkeys, wild boars, cheetals and sambhars – in lot more numbers, and a lot, lot closer, right off the main roads!

This is no sour-grapes, but folks, if you are visiting Mudumali/Bandipur, simply avoid the Jungle Safari. Instead, drive through the forest roads (but be sure to follow all regulations) and get to spot some beautiful wildlife.

Overall, when in the Nilgiris, avoid the tourist trail…there is so much pristine beauty to be experienced off the beaten track!
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Old 11th April 2011, 17:46   #2
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Default Re: Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track

beautiful pictures - especially of the vista with the hills and water at Emerald.
the close up of the peacock is very nice too. Wish he had spread out his tailfeathers - thats a lovely sight to see indeed!
nice travelogue - glad you enjoyed the Nilgiris - it is probably amongst the most beautiful areas situated close to us here in Bangalore. I am always surprised at the strong pull that I experience everytime I see pictures taken in the Nilgiris.

Last edited by shankar.balan : 11th April 2011 at 17:47.
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Old 11th April 2011, 21:02   #3
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Default Re: Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track

Quote:
Originally Posted by chetan_l View Post
The best part of our visit was the home-stay at Devashola Estates; we stayed at the sprawling bungalow called Sultana Cottage right amidst lush greenery. Early mornings were ushered in with the bird-calls from a rich variety of the avian species. During the day, whenever we ventured out into the estate, we got to see groups of bison, grazing on the grass amidst the tea plantations. And the rest of the time was spent lazing around on the swing, hammock or the rocking chair in our balconies overlooking the Nilgiris hills.

While Devashola has several bungalows, the best is the Mango-Tree bungalow, perched right atop a hill. The view from this place is simply magnificent. Unfortunately, this place was booked by the time I tried; we only got to see this place when the estate folks took us on a jeep safari. Do note that this place is far too remote to club the stay with any plans to make short trips to sight-seeing spots…obviously, you won’t feel the need once you reach this heaven on earth.
We stayed at the Palaniappa estate in December while my brother stayed the first day of the trip in Mango Tree bungalow. We had in fact visited the Sultana Cottage while it awaited the scheduled guests for the day, sprawling place I must admit. As a matter of fact you will bump into bisons almost on a daily basis at the Devashola estate.

Considering that Sultana estate is possibly among the lower reaches of the estate was it warm?

There is no doubt that Mango tree bungalow is possibly the best of the lot.
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Old 12th April 2011, 10:22   #4
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Default Re: Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track

@shankar.balan: Thank you for your comments. I will try and upload some more photos later. The beauty of Nilgiris is indeed enchanting.

@pypkmsrikanth: Yes, Sultana is at a lower altitude and hence the temperature is moderate. During the first week of April, the day time was pleasantly bearable. We also had a cloudy couple of days, so that helped... But Mango tree is sure to be much cooler. We visited the place in the evening and out came sweaters and jackets!
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Old 12th April 2011, 14:49   #5
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Default Re: Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track

Hi Chetan,
Nice write-up. Love to see some pictures on Green Woods Nature Camp. How was the food in Devashola Estates?
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Old 12th April 2011, 17:45   #6
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Default Re: Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track

Hi @Ranjith, please find below a few snaps of GreenWoods Nature Camp. This is a small camp off Mudumalai (on the Gudalur road) - quite a cosy place, and the max number of pax who can stay at any time is not more than 20 or 22. The hospitality at this place is fab...in fact, I picked up a stomach bug on the way back to Bangalore from Ooty and since we had stayed here earlier, I rushed to this place for a rest-room break! That was like heaven-send for me.

Relaxed for a couple of hours while the caretakers prepared some simple home-style meals; we had our lunch and then departed on our way.

At Devashola, you have individual cooks for each of the cottages. Our caretakers at Sultana prepared really good food, especially for breakfast. Chappattis tend to be a bit fat, and rasam a little tangy, but otherwise the food was very palatable. Very little oil and masala!

Please note that the water at both Devashola and GreenWoods is a bit brackish. For people who are cautious about water, it is best to carry plenty of drinking water.
Attached Thumbnails
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Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track-greenwoods-2.jpg  

Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track-greenwoods-3.jpg  

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Old 15th April 2011, 01:33   #7
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Default Re: Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track

I have been against posting info of the Emerald lake and Avalanche. I drove down a few months back after a very long gap. It pains to see most of the Hills being converted into farms, what used to be trees all the way are 'bald' hills growing vegetables for greedy folks. Ofcourse we could add tourists to this. chase all the remaining Thars ( NO NOT MM THARS, Nilgiri Thars) towards munnar, where they have more respect.

For the record, I could put up pics of the emerald and avalanche year by year from the 80 to 88.

Not everyone cares about the hills. I request our friends to keep those restricted ( avalanche is very much restricted) areas, restricted.

No, I am not greedy, I just want these hills or whats left of them to have a fair chance. I would love our grand children to cherish the Hills.

I request friends not to post about Avalanche. (because, anyone can google and get the info!)

I Know only the ones from those hills will understand this message.

Thanks dear Bhpians!
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Old 15th April 2011, 10:31   #8
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Default Re: Trip to Bandipur and Nilgiris – off the beaten track

@YeeJay - this is a very different and thought-provoking perspective you bring. Now that I think about it, I recognize the profoundity of what you have said. Thanks much for opening my eyes!

I guess I will be a lot more introspective before I rush in again with similar posts - I was indeed planning on posting about another hidden gem in Wayanad; but will now desist...that too, is a well-preserved area
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Old 20th April 2011, 23:48   #9
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Default Re: I thankyou! It does take a lot of maturity to have said what you did friend!

Thankyou dear friend! It is in fact nice of you to understand. Unless and until we can have the search within the responsible forum I guess its not a good thing to post!


Most would consider I am paranoid about the place etc,. Ive grown up there on those hills. Its the only place I am still in love with and its the only place I want to retire and be buried in.
( The bunch of Gaur we see in pic 6(?) Why would they want to be there in the first place? Because they read somewhere Tea is good for health? happens only because of encroachment) Humans need to control their greed and learn to co exist with other natural inhabitants.

And if there are no trees or natural beauty out there Im not going to have a comfortable buried experience. Ofcourse Im very selfish and particular about that.

Thanks again.

Psst I might want to Ping you on that secret location. LIke a most of us! I hope thats not too much of a problem?!

A.T : If only Elephants and Gaurs were carnivores with a bad appetite!

Last edited by YaeJay : 21st April 2011 at 00:05. Reason: Missed out encroachment, benefits of tea, and other such things? but will It help me? :D
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