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Old 14th April 2011, 11:21   #1
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Thumbs up Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

I, along with fellow BHPian and wildlife enthusiast Vinay did a trip to JLR Kabini in March, we were lucky that Kabini was beaming with wildlife and spotting was really good (including a huge male leopard) but the mighty Tiger gave us a slip.


Some snaps from Kabani trip (By Vinay)

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Leopard

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Dhole

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Back in Bangalore and we decided to continue the tiger hunt. We have been hearing about repeated tiger sighting near Jungle Retreat, a small resort (rather call it a homestay) nestled in the Tirunelly forest near Wayanad. We have tried booking this place many times earlier but used to be always occupied; this time found it available during the long w/e starting 2nd April and did the booking. Late realization came that the World cup final is on the same w/e and India has advanced to quarters. Mr. Anil, the resort owner assured that he will arrange for a TV in is his office area so that we wonít miss the match if India reaches the final (rest is History!!!). Two of my friend wanted to join us with families, since Jungle Retreat had only 3 rooms, they booked in Agraharam Cottages, a resort close to Tirunelly Temple

Jungle Retreat

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Trip Day:
Our plan was to start early morning and be at the resort by 11.30 am, previous evening, idea of hitting Nagerhole at gate opening time of 6 am struck us (to increase chance of tiger spotting), call with resort ensured that we will have our breakfast waiting. Took my Elantra for wheel balancing and wheel alignment at the newly opened Iyengarís tyre clinic in JP Nagar 7th phase, met a newbie BHPian there who came and introduced himself after noticing my BHP stickers, he was off to Masanagudi next day.

We started our trip at 3.15 am from my house close to Kanakapura Road, had a smooth drive on Mysore road with very scarce traffic. Only issue during the drive was the alignment was bad and Elantra steering started rattling at high speeds (yet to find time to go back and give them a piece of my mind for ruining my drive). At Srirangapatna, took the deviation to Hunsur. Road from Srirangapatna till Yelwale is bad but manageable, I feel it worth taking this than going all the way to Mysore and taking the work in progress ring roads. Hunsur to Nagerhole road is as usual, the not so smooth, but Okish narrow road. For those who are not familiar with this route, enter Hunsur town and look for the bus stand, immediately after the bus stand is the road to Nagerhole road (there is a small hidden board to guide you).
On the Nagerhole road soon after Hunsur town the entire road was blocked for some maintenance and there were no deviation boards. It was early morning and we could not find any souls to ask for directions. I was running Waze on my HTC for GPS, but Waze not being so rich in content for inner roads could not show me any alternative. Following own inner sense of direction, got in to a narrow bye lane, meanwhile Vinay tried getting direction from Google. With support from Google we were back on the main road and reached the Nagerhole gate at 6.30 am

Team

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Our Official Wildlife Photographer and fellow team BHPian Vinay

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Nagerhole Gate
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It was thick fog inside the forest making it next to impossible to spot even an elephant in the middle of the road.

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There was an unusual silence in the forest with a noticeable absence of deer and other herbivore which generally represents the presence of some large carnivore in the area. We rolled down the windows and drove at snailís pace listening for any alarm calls. Soon we heard few alarm calls from Langur & Spotted Deer very near to the road but luck was not with us. After travelling some distance we spotted large heard of deer, few Sambars, one very curious barking deer who stared at our camera for few minutes and offered a good shot (they generally make a dash for cover when spotted), couple of Malabar Giant Squirrels, Wild Boar etc and we found us at the exit gate with no trace of the Tiger.

Barking Deer

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Stag

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Malabar Giant Squirel

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Took the turn to Tholpetty before entering the Kutta town and soon entered Kerala. Unlike most of the other forest border check posts, there are no entries to be made here generally (and no greasing of the palm). I was expecting checking for liquor at the check post since it is election time in Kerala, but they also didnít bother to trouble us. By now it was 7.30 am and there were no further animal sightings in Tholpetty. There is a small tea shop in the middle of the Tholpetty forest the only other building there is a small forest office. This shop and the owner Kuttettan is quite famous in Kerala through printed and visual media for its mouthwatering Unniyappam (sort of dumplings made with rice, jaggery, coconut pieces etc) and the special butter milk.

Kuttettan

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Kuttettan's secret reciepe

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Deviation to Tirunelly temple is in front of the shop. We took a small break at Kuttettanís teashop (named Jungle View, very apt name!!!), had our share of Unniyappam and steaming tea (too early for buttermilk) and took the route to Tirunelly temple, 8 Kms on this route is our place of stay for next 2 days. We spoke to Anil and the resort caretaker Pramod was waiting on the road to guide us in

Elantra at fork to Tirunelly Temple

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Stay
Pramod our guide, caretaker, night safari man etc for next 2 days welcomed us with a warm smile and guided us to our cottage. Soon we were served coffee followed by a sumptuous breakfast of Puttu, Kadala curry, Bread, Omelets etc in the gazebo near the grass field. Food here is delicious and the main dishes are cooked on wooden fire that gives it the typical traditional taste. Our package included all meals, but it is not a fixed menu unlike most other places. Pramod checks on your preferences and charts the menu for next meal in discussion with you. We had a good nap followed by a yummy lunch (remember we have chosen the menu) followed by Team Indiaís trip to glory. Whole day, we could hear lot of alarm calls which confirms that the forest is pretty much active with carnivoresí movement. We heard about sighting of a Tigress & 2 cubs very near to the homestay and may be that was the reason for the alarm calls. Our friends in Agraharam cottage joined us in the evening, while returning they were lucky to spot a leopard. After the match, around 11.30 pm we went for the night safari with Pramod. It is a pretty long drive taking close to 2 hours covering Tholpetty sanctuary end to end and the road till Tirunelly temple and back. Pramod is an expert in spotting wildlife and knows the areas frequented by various animals that give an excellent chance of sighting wildlife. Next day was a repeat of the previous day with more food, sleep, safari and more wildlife. We didnít go any sightseeing except for visit to Tirunelly temple and the drives looking for wildlife.

Alpha Male Ghar during Night Safari

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Tirunelly temple
It is a very old temple in the middle of the forest (did I read somewhere it is the oldest temple in Kerala?) dedicated to Lord Vishnu near the beautiful Brahmagiri hills. Around 1 km walk from the temple through forest road will take you to Papanasini, a holy mountain stream. One dip in the cold Papanasini waters in reputed to wash away all sins committed in a lifetime and is famous for rituals for the departed souls. Nearby is the holy temple pond called Panchatheertham and a Siva linga in a small cave. From the temple you can have a good view of surroundings and the grasslands of Brahmagiri peak (may spot some elephants there if you are lucky). Temple renovation which was going on since the last few days was almost nearing an end with the Kalasam and related ceremonies.

Paapanasini

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Brahamagiri view from temple

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About Jungle Retreat:
This place is on the main road to Tirunelly, but donít have a board to publish their presence and I have never noticed this place on my earlier trips. They got a good fan club on Trip Advisor and is known for animal spotting from the resort verandah, excellent service, homely food etc. Rooms are very spacious and very well maintained. Property is protected with electric fence and is surrounded by forest on all sides. There is plain grassland facing the room balconies and the restaurant; we saw deer there very often. It seems elephants, gaurs, wild dogs etc are common on this grassland even during day.
But when we were there, Teak timber logging operation was in full swing and there was lot of human and tractor movement in the surrounding forest due to which animals were keeping away. They have only 3 rooms and prefer accommodating only 2 families at a time. They operate a night safari on Tirunelly & Tholpetty roads as part of the package, though the safari is confined only to the main road (you can do the same in your car if you wish), I felt it is worth since the resort caretaker (who is the driver) is familiar with the spots where animals frequent and hence spotting chances are more.

Watch Tower at Resort
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Field in front of Resort - Do you see the small bamboo hut, this was pulled down by a tusker the after we left the place

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Deer in the field

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Hornbill - shot from our varendah

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Return

We settled our bills and moved from the resort around 11 am on Monday 4th April with a promise to return soon. We were surprised when they charged only the package rate though we would have taken additional small eats, coffees, limejuice etc etc. When this was pointed, it was brushed off with a smile. We had a fantastic two days stays there and really enjoyed staying inside a forest homestay with animals around though sighting around the resort was comparatively less due to increased vehicle movement due to festival in the temple and Teak timber logging in the forest.

The thought of Tiger still eluding us was nagging in the back of mind, so decided to try our luck taking the HD Kote road through Kabini though the roads are bad around JLR. Reached Mysore without spotting Tiger, took the Malavalli, Kanakpura road to beat the maddening traffic on Mysore road after the long weekend (word of caution Ė 15 to 20 Kms around Malavalli is really bad). On the way we could see everywhere people playing cards for Ugadi. Close to Kanakapura a Tata Safari with Team BHP stickers overtook us, sorry I didnít take a picture or make note of the no.

We were home by 6 pm, planning for the next Tiger hunt is on, signing off till then
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Old 14th April 2011, 13:17   #2
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

The wayanad forest has more chance of animal spotting as compared to nagarhole or atleast that is the perception amongst the people.

The forest check post between kutta and tholpetty gets good palm greasing from lots of timber lorries, hay lorries and cattle transport. So they are well fed to care to short eats

Looks like the resort has a major man-animal conflict!

Beautiful pictures by the way
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Old 14th April 2011, 14:05   #3
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

Beautiful!
Love you guys enthusiasm one day should join you and Vinay with my chottu camera to capture those beauty.
@Vinay - that bazooka looks cool. What is it btw? 400??

I remember driving in the midnight after the gates at muthanga closed on me through the thirunelly temple kutta road back to bangalore. I did that by 12:00PM in the night with my Civvy and often used to call my wifey from her sleep to show wild elephants on the route!!
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Old 14th April 2011, 14:51   #4
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

Lovely!! the first picture is worth all your efforts. It looks as if one is in Africa! We saw these long tailed flying squirrels in BR Hills but could not capture them as they just vanished. Lucky you. See my travelogue

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...lady-luck.html (A road trip in a Jiffy and Lady luck!)

My chota camera did not do justice to sighting of Leopard we had in BR Hills

Lalu, time we all moved to giant camera like the one Vinay is having. I just bought Nikon D3100 has to buy a good lens now.
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Old 14th April 2011, 17:12   #5
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

Hey Bobby,
Great Travelogue..... Enjoyed reading it. Thanks for adding my pics.
The first pic is one of the good shot I have taken this year....Planning to get it framed for my living room.....
I was carrying the same 100-400mm lens and if I am not wrong Lalu already have Nikon DSLR with a bazooka lens....
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Old 18th April 2011, 10:26   #6
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

Quote:
Originally Posted by maddy42 View Post
The wayanad forest has more chance of animal spotting as compared to nagarhole or atleast that is the perception amongst the people.

The forest check post between kutta and tholpetty gets good palm greasing from lots of timber lorries, hay lorries and cattle transport. So they are well fed to care to short eats

Looks like the resort has a major man-animal conflict!

Beautiful pictures by the way
As you rightly told, it is only a Perception

Yes, the resort is right in the middle of the forest, but I think they live in harmony with the wildlife and try not to disturb them


Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
Beautiful!
Love you guys enthusiasm one day should join you and Vinay with my chottu camera to capture those beauty.
@Vinay - that bazooka looks cool. What is it btw? 400??

I remember driving in the midnight after the gates at muthanga closed on me through the thirunelly temple kutta road back to bangalore. I did that by 12:00PM in the night with my Civvy and often used to call my wifey from her sleep to show wild elephants on the route!!
Don't try to flatter us Laluji, you are the master traveler and inspiration for many BHPians. Let us plan a trip to Wayanad soon.. BTW are you planning for Kerala during Easter week?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Lovely!! the first picture is worth all your efforts. It looks as if one is in Africa! We saw these long tailed flying squirrels in BR Hills but could not capture them as they just vanished. Lucky you. See my travelogue

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...lady-luck.html (A road trip in a Jiffy and Lady luck!)

My chota camera did not do justice to sighting of Leopard we had in BR Hills

Lalu, time we all moved to giant camera like the one Vinay is having. I just bought Nikon D3100 has to buy a good lens now.
Kabini was simple awesome, light was excellent when the snap was taken in the morning. Try to plan a trip during the summer to JLR, I am sure you will love it. Not sure how I missed you thread earlier, its excellent and you had some great sightings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinay.pillai View Post
Hey Bobby,
Great Travelogue..... Enjoyed reading it. Thanks for adding my pics.
The first pic is one of the good shot I have taken this year....Planning to get it framed for my living room.....
I was carrying the same 100-400mm lens and if I am not wrong Lalu already have Nikon DSLR with a bazooka lens....
Thanks Vinay, more than the travelogue, it's your snaps

Last edited by gadadhar : 18th April 2011 at 10:36.
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Old 18th April 2011, 12:32   #7
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

Nice trip Gadadhar. And thanks for the lead on the resort - looks good for a 'forest feel' stay. Any contacts?

And good to see Vinay back in action here - the last post of him was his earlier Kabini visit about a year back, if Iam right
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Old 18th April 2011, 13:23   #8
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

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Originally Posted by gadadhar View Post
Let us plan a trip to Wayanad soon.. BTW are you planning for Kerala during Easter week?
Wifey is now at Leh, and me with my PPGs chilling out at Bangalore. I do not have any plans as of now. But if you are travelling I can join in as well.

PM me your number - we could make some plans
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Old 18th April 2011, 13:53   #9
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

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Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
Nice trip Gadadhar. And thanks for the lead on the resort - looks good for a 'forest feel' stay. Any contacts?

And good to see Vinay back in action here - the last post of him was his earlier Kabini visit about a year back, if Iam right
Vinay is doing lot of trips, but being lazy to post in the forum

Jungle Retreat Wayanad: has got the contact details, owner is Mr.Anil, he works in Oracle Bangalore. Resort caretaker is Pramod.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
Wifey is now at Leh, and me with my PPGs chilling out at Bangalore. I do not have any plans as of now. But if you are travelling I can join in as well.

PM me your number - we could make some plans
Very sorry this time, my car is loaded to capacity for the trip, got 4 adults plus junior. I plan to go via Mangalore to visit my brother in law and loan his BMW for the trip to Kerala, should be reaching Kalady on Sunday evening and will be there in Kerala for a week.

How come you skipped Leh, PPGs should be having vacation now?

Last edited by gadadhar : 18th April 2011 at 13:55.
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Old 18th April 2011, 14:02   #10
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

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How come you skipped Leh, PPGs should be having vacation now?
I could not get away from office this time for that long.
PPGs are having their vacation, and VBS.

Beamer for the trip
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Old 18th April 2011, 14:05   #11
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Beamer for the trip
Thought of giving it a spin on our Kerala roads, return planned either through Valparai or Kumali.
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Old 19th April 2011, 12:41   #12
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

Good write up.
I have been a member for close to 2 years now - but this is my first post. I have actually stayed in the jungle retreat wayanad twice in the last year, and I was lucky to see the Tiger once and a leopard with its kill the second time. The photos you had put up gave me such wonderful memories - thanks for that. The elephants in the fields, the gaur next to your cottage - amazingly wild place! Clearly remember Anil telling us - "animals have the right of way"; just perfect attitude I thought!

I will perhaps write my own travelogue on my Wayanad odyssey sometime soon. But thanks once again for the lovely pictures and the nice write up.

Regards
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Old 19th April 2011, 14:24   #13
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Good write up.
I have been a member for close to 2 years now - but this is my first post. I have actually stayed in the jungle retreat wayanad twice in the last year, and I was lucky to see the Tiger once and a leopard with its kill the second time. The photos you had put up gave me such wonderful memories - thanks for that. The elephants in the fields, the gaur next to your cottage - amazingly wild place! Clearly remember Anil telling us - "animals have the right of way"; just perfect attitude I thought!

I will perhaps write my own travelogue on my Wayanad odyssey sometime soon. But thanks once again for the lovely pictures and the nice write up.

Regards
Thanks for your appreciation

Leopard with a Kill and a Tiger is awesome, hope you will pen your experience soon

Anil's comment on tusker pulling down his bamboo shed was "We are in their house/habitat, so they have the right of way here, when it comes to animals, I will never complain".. Respect him for that

We are waiting for the next opportunity to make another trip there
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Old 20th April 2011, 10:00   #14
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

Did you all spend a night in the watch tower? We had asked them to arrange a couple of mattress for us to be put in the watch tower, which they did. Perhaps the best night we spent ever! Saw elephants down below 10 ft away, and they had no idea we were watching them, and since it was a moonlit night, we could see the herd very clearly. Early morning at around 4-ish we heard the leopard call, was pitch dark by then and it was a bit nerve wracking.
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Old 20th April 2011, 12:49   #15
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Default Re: Looking for the ever elusive Tiger in Tirunelly forest near Wayanad

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Did you all spend a night in the watch tower? We had asked them to arrange a couple of mattress for us to be put in the watch tower, which they did. Perhaps the best night we spent ever! Saw elephants down below 10 ft away, and they had no idea we were watching them, and since it was a moonlit night, we could see the herd very clearly. Early morning at around 4-ish we heard the leopard call, was pitch dark by then and it was a bit nerve wracking.
There electric fencing was non-functional due to some reason during our stay, so they were not very supportive on our idea of spending the night in watch tower. Planning to try this during the next visit.
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