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Old 16th April 2022, 14:03   #1
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Default Winter in South India - Starting from the coast and ending in the jungles

It was that time of the year again. The travel bug had bitten and we were itching to hit the road again. Our last trip had increased our expectations so we decided to add more variety to our trip. The only fly in the ointment was the rising COVID cases. As it happened earlier in April 2021 when we had planned a road-trip and cases started rising, a similar thing was happening this time after all our bookings were done. The COVID cases started to rise from mid-December. To add to the complications, a project that I was working on got delayed and I was worried it could affect our travel dates. I did end up working on the project till the nth hour just the previous day of start but the bigger worry was the rise in COVID cases. Also, the sudden imposition of weekend lockdown in Karnataka and Sunday lockdown in TN did affect our plans a bit. So with less than a week to go we had to change our plans, which was initially coast to coast from Pondicherry to Goa but we changed it to Pondicherry to Bandipur to counter these unexpected COVID measures. Nevertheless, some surprises did await us and in the end we were glad that the trip turned out great with some unexpected experiences.

I will try to give elaborate explanations wherever possible more as information sharing but will try to find the balance with the visuals as well so as to keep it interesting.

Some statistics:

Number of travelers - 2 (Wifey and I)
Destinations/Route planned - HYD-PONDICHERRY-COONOOR-OOTY-BANDIPUR-HYD
No. of Days - 13 Days. Started on 8th January and returned on 20th January.
Total distance covered - With local travel included it was 2,457 Kms., door to door.
Vehicle - Ford Ecosport with 90K on the Odo.
Fuel expenses - We spent nearly Rs.14K.
Cameras Used - Canon 90D & S21 Ultra

Some observations from the trip.

1. Roads in TN are AMAZING!!! Even in the interior routes that we took, we hardly encountered bad roads.

2. In the second week of January, Ooty wasn't too cold. I don't enjoy cold weather much and thankfully Ooty was bearable, so was Coonoor.

3. All touristy locations in TN that we visited required double vaccination and they were noting down all the details before allowing people inside. Very impressive!

4. While we went with full preparations in terms of carrying vaccination certificates, even carried TN E-pass although it wasn't mandated, nowhere in the entire trip we were stopped and asked for these. On the contrary only the couple of times when we were stopped, it was for checking if we were carrying liquor bottles and this was when exiting Pondicherry.

5. No secret this one but plan touristy locations on weekdays. We were lucky to encounter no traffic or crowd in most places, especially Ooty, which I personally had the impression of being very crowded, commercial and touristy. More on this later.

Day 1 - Hyderabad to Pondicherry

Day 1 was the longest ride of our trip. We decided to reach Pondicherry (will refer to as 'Pondy' henceforth) in one go. Our destination for this day was a resort named 'Ocean Spray Resort', technically located in TN but very near to the border with Pondy. As usual, we got a bit late and while we wanted to start by 4:30AM, we left our parking only at 5:30AM.

The route taken was Hyd-Narketpally-Miryalguda-Chilkaluripet-Ongole-Nellore-Chennai Bypass Road-Ocean Spray.

We took the Vijayawada highway (NH65) but did not take the route via Vijayawada and Guntur, instead took right from Narketpally onto NH167A. This route is a two-lane highway, that connects briefly to NH36 and then onto NH16 (Kolkataa-Chennai NH) just before Ongole. The only issue was with finding breakfast on this route as there were hardly an options, till you touch NH16. We learnt this the hard way as we thought of having an early breakfast at around 8AM and were planning stop at the next decent restaurant. Till nearly 9AM, we did not find any, leave alone decent ones. We realized that the Hyd-Vijayawada highway probably has more options unlike this less-preferred route.
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Just a little after 9AM our stomachs cheered loudly when we saw this oasis in the desert on our right. We saw quite some cars parked there so we decided to take a U-turn and explore this option. To our relief, this turned out to be a wonderful decision, a home-made type of family-run restaurant, with outdoor seating in the midst of their small open space. Decent toilets as well. Couldn't ask for more with social distancing in mind, so after a decent breakfast and refreshing tea, we decided to roll-on.
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The rest of the drive was quite uneventful but some roads through Andhra are scenic and we stopped at one place to do some stretching as well as click some pics in the green fields with a small hillock in the background. The local farmers were friendly and were telling us to come in and explore more so we spent some more time here before we decided to move on.
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Glad we stayed away from this little hairy itchy monster.
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We were doing decent speeds and by 2PM we were feeling hungry again(yes we love food so this keeps happening often), as it was lunch time. Now we were already on NH16 since quite some time and had just passed Nellore. On the left we saw Saradha Convention, and this looked very enticing and modern. It had different options like London Street, CCD, etc. Clean bathrooms as well. We stopped here for lunch and the parking and everything was super nice and spacious. Most importantly food was decent too.

CCD and parking space for your understanding
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After a relaxed meal and getting fresh, we decided to start and only stop after we reach the resort. It was almost 3PM.The fuel was already low because of the speeeds we did. I didn't wanted to refuel in AP due to high rate but was forced to. So just filled up enough to reach Pondy.

Soon we crossed into TN and were surprised with no checks at the border RTO. After some road that took us through some small towns we reached the bypass around Chennai. This would land us in the southern part of Chennai and connect us to the ECR road that goes to Pondy. Last stretch of 1 hour was done in twilight and we did encounter some traffic on this road as it was a Saturday. By 7PM we reached our resort. The trip meter showed us 780kms and we managed to complete it in 13.5hrs with a couple of food breaks and a couple of stretch breaks. We completed the check-in formalities, the room was decent and after getting fresh, we came down for dinner and then finally retired into our room after a short walk. The resort looked very big and with lot of water and bridges, we wanted to see how it looked in the morning.

Day 2 - Exploring Pondy

The second day started early for us as we decided to walk down to the beach. This resort is not a beach resort but has a back gate that takes one through a small colony and in about 100 meters you are on the beach. Being the East Coast we wanted to witness the sunrise but low clouds played spoil sport and we witnessed a slightly late sunrise. But the whole atmosphere and ambience early morning on the beach is something I expect from beach destinations and this is what we enjoyed. There were a lot of fishing boats around, some parked on the beach and saw some returning by 8AM. We came back, got fresh and completed our breakfast by 10AM.
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Does anyone know what the long spiny one is called?
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Morning in the resort
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Today was a Sunday and a lockdown in TN. Since the resort is in TN we asked them if we can go to Pondy or if there is a strict lockdown. They informed us that there is no Sunday lockdown in the UT and was limited to the State. In fact some of their hotel workers came from there and they were not stopped. We decided to test our luck and decided to visit the White Town part of Pondy and the usual well-known cafés around here.

We started off a bit apprehensive about being stopped but as soon as we were on the road we did see some traffic and that put us to ease. Pondy was business-as-usual and we were happy to have taken the chance. While in Pondicherry, we visited the Coromandel cafe and walked around in the White Town. Beautiful vintage buildings and clean roads all around, although the White Town area itself is a bit underwhelming as it's a small portion of the overall city. We also visited the Promenade as it's walking distance from the Coromandel Café. It was middle of the day and quite sunny so we decided to have our lunch and return early from Pondy and come a little later in the evening the next day.
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Had a relaxed lunch and went back and then we suddenly realized that we saw a waterbody the previous day but it was twilight and we couldn't see much so thought, why not explore that for some time before going back to the resort as it was just 3PM or so. So instead of going back to the resort, we went a bit further and turned a bit inside on a village road and that took us right next to the waterbody we saw. Spent some time there photographing.
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We saw what family and teamwork looks like here. The male one was bring the straws by venturing far into the water, finding good quality straws and bring them to their nest while the female one would arrange them. Small thing but a beautiful thing to look at, admire and learn.
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We got out from there went back towards our hotel and then we noticed some greenery around and lot of birds and we decided to do some bird photography. Here are a couple of pics we got.
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Finally reached our resort and got fresh, relaxed and decided to look at some photographs and retired early to bed after dinner but not before taking some pics of the resort in the night. Here's one example of how good the resort looks at night with all the whites and reflections. Pardon the low quality as the phone camera was really struggling here.
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Day 3 - Visit to Auroville and Promenade

Auroville was highly recommended by friends so we thought today was the day we could visit this place. We just walked in and took the walk that one takes to Matrimandir (The crystal shaped temple in their campus) and back. It's a nice place, full of trees and greenery but I believe for a more serious experience of this village, one has to spend a day and look into the life of the people here. We will probably do this some other day but for this time we had just 2 full days so didn't wanted to spend the entire day here. After coming back, we had lunch in one of their cafes. The food was good and reasonably priced.
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After our lunch, we decided to visit White Town and the Promenade Beach again, but before that we decided to visit the Sacred Heart Church. It looks very unique and not so elaborate as some of the Old Churches you will see in Goa or Kerala but it's actually very beautiful from inside. We took the divine blessings and set off to explore more.
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We wanted to visit another famous café here but for some reason it was closed. There was another renowned café named Cafe Des Arts just beside this so decided to have Crepes there. This is what happens with foodies, not hungry but for taste will overeat anything, anywhere. :-)
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We then took a walk near the Aurobindo ashram, searched the market nearby to purchase some souvenirs but most of them were selling stuff that we could get anywhere. Finally we got some fridge magnets from the shop right on the beach so we managed with them. But happy that we got something, we spent some time sitting peacefully on the rocks at Promenade beach and when it was finally getting dark decided to head back. We setoff towards our resort and it was almost 7:30ish by the time we reached.
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We retired after dinner with the excitement of traveling to the hills the next day.

Pondicherry was planned primarily as a place to tick it off our bucket list. I personally didn't have much expectations plus I'm not a beach person but we wanted to cover at least some known/touristy places and especially the cafes since my wife is a foodie and likes experimenting with different types of food. We will probably visit again to visit some offbeat options in Pondy, which we couldn't cover this time.

Last edited by saleem_k : 22nd May 2022 at 10:48.
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Old 17th April 2022, 12:45   #2
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Default Day 4 to Day 5 - Coonoor, Toy Train & Botanical Garden Experiences

Day 4 - Journey to Coonoor

Our Day 4 started off the usual way since there was no hurry to reach our next destination. Our destination was Tea Nest Annexe and it showed around 8 hours, we were hoping to do it in about 7.5hrs. We started off from Ocean Spray resort at around 10:00AM after breakfast and checkout formalities. The roads all the way till the foothills of the Nilgiris are butter smooth and we were able to maintain decent speeds.

The only impediments to not maintaining decent speeds were the road constructions due to which only one side of the 4-laned roads were used and the traffic was obviously slow on such stretches. By around 1:30PM we stopped at Sarvana Bhavan on the way. I believe this was between Salem and Coimbatore but don't remember the location exactly.

Personally, for me the boring part of the trip was now over and I was hoping things will get interesting as we climb the hills and pass through the forests.

We stopped here and clicked a few pics because the map showed that the ghats were about to start. We were all excited coz the next few days we would be spending up in the hills.
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And that is how the last 1 hour of our journey looked like. I was thrilled.
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Some amazing views in the ghat section while climbing to Coonoor. We stopped for pics frequently whenever we got some parking space towards the side. Most of the climb is narrow roads with occasional broad roads here and there.
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We didn't take any other breaks as we were already getting late and the light was getting worse. The resort manager was also calling us thinking we were lost but we assured him we'll reach by around 6PM and he need not worry. Soon after we reached, completed the check-in formalities and decided to freshen-up and rest. Clicked a couple of pics and these were clicked a little past 7PM. It already looked very dark and like late in the night.
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That's the Coimbatore city all lights and glowing.
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About the resort
The property where we stayed is called Tea Nest Annexe, part of the overall Tea Nest Resort but is a little further inside the tea estate known as Singara Tea Estate. The Annexe property has just two units and there were another couple there by the time we reached. Seemed like enthusiastic travelers when I spoke with them. We parked our car behind theirs and this is the only available space for parking. 2 cars can fit in. 3 will be a squeeze, unless these are small cars.

The rooms are quite basic but have everything we need. The menu is limited too and the food is okay. This property is best suited for large families or friends, around 6-7 folks who can stay together and enjoy the entire property. It did seem a little underwhelming when we arrived but by the time we left, we really fell in love with this property. Of course there were other reasons too and some really exciting ones and I'll share those experiences as we progress but I will definitely prefer visiting this property again.

---

We decided to retire for the day as the next day we had booked our toy train tickets from Coonoor to Ooty and back.

Day 5 - Toy Train Ride to Ooty and Back

I woke up early morning to see the views that I missed the previous evening due to low light and thought of capturing the sunrise time-lapse but the clouds played spoil sport and only after a certain height on the horizon did the sun appeared and I couldn't get a good time-lapse. Our jinx with sunrises was continuing here as well. It was very chilly and dew had settled down all around. The car looked velvety draped in this morning dew.
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It was a beautiful morning in the hills.
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The path that leads to the road down below. This is a steep incline and when I arrived, I was a bit apprehensive but the car did not struggle when climbing up. It might struggle in slippery circumstances but I'm not really sure.
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The property has the old world charm.
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We got ready by 10AM, all done with bath and breakfasts. We booked the morning train that departs at 10:40am from Coonoor and the return train in the evening scheduled at 4:30pm. The Coonoor station is just 15 minutes from our stay. The plan was made in such a way that while in Ooty, we decided to explore Botanical Gardens. So off we went and decided to park our car in Coonoor station. Fortunately, we got a decent parking place and my worries were put to rest. I usually am uncomfortable when I don't get a good parking.

The cute Coonoor station's entrance.
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Notice how empty it is.
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Posing around till our train arrived.
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Now let me tell you how lucky we were. Since it was a weekday there was not much crowd. We booked first class and luckily there were not many passengers in first class so the TTE gentleman decided to spread us out and gave most of us exclusive spaces even though the seat numbers were nearby for some of us. Thus all travelers that day in first class had exclusive space all to themselves and most importantly I was happy coz we could shuffle right or left and take photos as we wished.

Yes, we had this entire space to ourselves.
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Our train arrived on time and Coonoor is where the switch happens from steam engine to diesel engine due to steep inclines henceforth till Ooty.
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Our journey started and I can't post all pics here but everywhere we looked it was beautiful. The cute little train stations like Ketti, Wellington, Lovedale, etc., some that we saw in movies, were wonderful to look at in real. Here are just a handful of photos from among the many we clicked.
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Some mesmerizing views as well. This is the La Montana hotel that we on a later date passed on our way to Ooty, by road.
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Finally we reached Ooty a little past 12. The train was late and was stopped for quite some time near one of the stations, for inspection. We didn't mind that though.

We took an auto to Botanical Gardens. This is probably a tourist place but it's maintained really well. I've seen many touristy places spoiled but this one doesn't seem like that. With restrictions all around on carrying plastic bottles/covers, the area seemed to have been saved from littering. Some pics from the Botanical Gardens, which frankly speaking won't do justice to the wonderful place it truly is.
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We roamed around in this park till around 2PM, enjoyed the cold weather and the overall ambience. Even in the afternoon we were feeling that nippiness in the air. We decided to leave and bought some tea, chocolates and souvenirs in and around the garden. Had lunch by around 3:30PM in Pizza Hut that's a slight walk of about half a kilometer from the Botanical Garden, towards the city. We also saw Anand Bhavan and one more option there but it was crowded so went here. After our lunch, we returned to Ooty station and waited there for our return train.

Contd...

Last edited by saleem_k : 22nd May 2022 at 12:35.
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Old 17th April 2022, 13:38   #3
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Default Day 5 - Return from Ooty contd... & Day 6

Day 5 contd...

By around 4PM we reached the station and decided to take some pics around this beautiful and iconic station while waiting for our train to arrive.

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In the return journey too, we were lucky because the crowd was even less. There was just one another family apart from us in the first class. We decided to take it slow and not click too many pics and enjoy the return journey as we clicked a lot while coming up. But we couldn't contain ourselves.

Still at the Ooty station waiting
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We finally started our return journey. After some distance we suddenly felt brakes being applied. A screeching sound was heard and for some reason it didn't seem like a usual stop coz there was no station around. We got curious and craned our necks to see why the train stopped and then we saw Gaurs crossing the tracks and that's why the train stopped to let them pass. By the time we clicked, we could hardly capture any but most importantly no one was harmed. If you look closely you will notice the white part of Gaur's hind legs, in the following pic.
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The sun was setting and rays of the last light passing through the tall pine trees, made the scenery stunning.
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Most stretches are like this.
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The only tall bridge in this journey.
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Almost reaching our destination.
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Thus ended our wonderful day experience with the toy train journey. While we usually don't do the typical tourist stuff, we wanted to do this because we wanted to experience travel in trains and especially in the hills. Also, would give us some bragging rights when recommending Ooty. :-) We were definitely worried about COVID and trains but thankfully, call it good luck or fate, everything turned out in our favor and in the end we got the best seats, the best views and good weather all through the day.

The next day, our itinerary was mostly to explore some known places in Coonoor. Something exciting awaited us on Day 6 and we didn't have any clue about how wonderful this day was going to turn out.

Day 6 - Exploring Coonoor and a surprise

Woke up next morning to try and see if the time-lapse could be better than yesterday. It was the same issue with the sun appearing only after rising considerably.
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The clouds were playing hide and seek today and the scenery was changing continuously.
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Today, we decided to visit a couple of view points around. We wanted to keep the day relatively relaxed but since some tourist spots were nearby we thought of visiting them to tick them off our list. We decided on visiting two view points, one is Lamb's Rock and the other is Dolphin's Nose. We were also suggested Sim's Park for boating but we decided to skip it and keep the day relatively free.

Our first stop was Lamb's Rock. This was just about 20 minutes from Tea Nest and it's a nice place but it was foggy all around so we did not see anything. There is a point at the top, till where one can go, but nothing was visible from there. We spent half an hour hoping things might clear up but no luck but it felt like the clouds were passing through us. Nevertheless it's a nice place to walk around and explore.
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A nice walkway.
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We left this place and thought of trying our luck at Dolphin's Nose. The drive from Lamb's Rock to Dolphin's Nose was amazing with the fog and scenic views.
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Dolphin's Nose was a little better and clearer but only for a short time.
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It soon got foggy.
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Catherine falls are visible from Dolphin's Nose and we got a decent time-lapse of the clouds clearing and the waterfall appearing.
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The parking at Dolphin's Nose.
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We started from here after spending a little more than half an hour. On the way we stopped at Glendale Tea Factory outlet. We found this location quite beautiful and since we were planning to purchase some tea/coffee, we thought of trying this outlet. The folks here were quite gracious in indulging us in some tea tasting so that we could make up our mind. We liked Masala Tea very much and decided to take it for ourselves and for our extended family.

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We had seen these flowers being sold near Botanical Garden as paper flowers and those that don't wither even if not watered for an year. We bought some and then we found a lot of those here. The bee decided to enhance the pic.
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We started off from here after spending nearly half an hour. It is a great spot to have tea, buy tea and click photographs.

On the way to our lunch destination.
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Wifey did some quick research and we decided to have lunch in a place called 180 Mciver. The place is great, has outdoor seating and a great menu.
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Again an old and classic property and has lodging option as well.
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After a sumptuous lunch we decided to head back to our resort and spend the rest of the day exploring the tea estate around. Reached our stay, got fresh, and went trekking in the adjoining tea estate. We decided to climb the tea estate and see how high can we trek. The views got better as we climbed higher.

In the midst of the tea estate with the backdrop of Coimbatore city.
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We didn't climb or go further into the tea estate coz we saw a Gaur family feeding. We were already considerable distance from our stay so decided to trek down to the main road. This main road goes back to our stay and if we go further from our stay we go to the tea factory and the Manager's estate. We decided to walk on this road and as we went further we saw a lot of Gaurs on the downward slopes as well.

Count the number of Gaurs in this pic! :-)
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We were walking on this road, taking selfies...
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And suddenly we noticed something unusual on our left. There was this huge natural rock, in the middle of the tea estate, about 100m-120m from the road where we were walking. For the naked eye, it seemed like some animal sitting on the rock. Is it a goat or is it a dog? I wasn't carrying my camera but realized my phone has a 10x optical zoom. We decided to use the equipment we had to see what it was because it did seem much larger than a dog or a goat. And then... WOW!!! It was a leopard, sitting majestically on the rock probably sunbathing, right in the middle of the tea estate. I'm sure it noticed us and and the occasional vehicles and people passing by and it was least bothered. We didn't imagine that our evening walk would turn out so adventurous.
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To be continued...

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Old 23rd April 2022, 18:10   #4
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Default Day 6 contd. & Day 7

Day 6 contd...

For the next one hour wifey and I spent our time on this road to get more action and better photographs. Since our stay was just a little walk, about 40-50m from that point, I decided to get my camera from the room. I must applaud my brave wife here as she agreed to stay there and keep any eye on the leopard till I got the camera. I helped setup the mobile tripod and gave her my mobile to get some videos if possible at 10x zoom.

The brave lady.
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The leopard was already aware of our presence and was looking directly at us. We took quite some pics here, not posting all as they are mostly similar coz the leopard did not move from there and before it left, we decided to leave as it was getting dark.
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I decided to go in a bit and get a better shot coz my 300mm was doing a good job but I wanted a slightly better close-up, which I wasn't getting.
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The leopard realized this probably and became a bit more alert. I decided not to stretch my luck and stuck to that place and clicked a few pics.
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With this unexpected encounter, we were thrilled and decided to rest and check out some pics we took. It was chilly again at night and I decided to take a night shot as tomorrow we were leaving for Ooty.
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We always got a bit unlucky with leopards coz whenever we saw them, either they were too far or moved so quickly that I couldn't get a good shot. But this one didn't move for more than an hour. At this point, we didn't realize that this trip was going to be a leopard-focussed trip. More on this when we enter Bandipur but yes this was probably a divine indication of the near future luck of ours.

Day 7 - Onwards to Ooty

The next morning was our last morning here so I woke up early and take advantage of the morning light to take some pics. Also, decided to go out and check that spot again to see if the leopard was still there. A silly part of the optimistic me was telling me that the leopard probably is still there. But yeah luck won't stretch and it wasn't there but there were a lot of gaurs around towards my right on the downward slope, where we saw a lot of gaurs yesterday evening as well. Suddenly, I realized one was on my left, just below our stay and I was startled a bit to realize this one was so close. It gave a glance and decided that the scrawny creature wasn't harmful and went about munching, after that short disturbance I caused.
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The slope on which there were many.
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The Gaur on the left slope eventually got down from the steps that were a little further away. I decided to record a video instead of clicking a pic.
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After some walk and mobile photography, I decided to go back and get fresh. There was no hurry today as our destination was about 1hr 45mins, so we decided to take it easy.

The beautiful morning view.
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After we got fresh, wifey and I decided to take a short walk again and take some final pics before we leave. This time the Gaurs decided to bid us goodbye and surrounded our stay from all sides.

Gaur se dekhiye is Gaur ko. :-)
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What if the Gaur slipped? I thought of moving my car for a moment but realized I was a bit too paranoid here. I trusted the Gaur to be better than that. I definitely had my heart in my mouth for a moment here. Actually something else...
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Like I mentioned in my earlier post, when we arrived here, we eventually fell in love with this place and surely it wasn't love at first sight but it definitely is a love that's going to last forever. We clicked a few pics around.
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That's where the manager stays and on the left is the tea factory building.
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We went in one final time to complete the checkout formalities as our packing was already done.
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We bid goodbye to our hosts who took good care of us, promising to return again. We started at around 10:30AM from here and our destination was 'Destiny - The Farm Resort'. The drive as usual was wonderful. Everywhere and every turn was amazing scenery. The roads as usual were good.
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We passed by this resort as well. This is the same hotel designed on the slopes of the hill in a stepped manner, which we saw during our train journey to Ooty. I shared the pic in one of my earlier post.
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We took some interior routes through some beautiful villages. While the roads were narrow, they were good without any potholes. We decided to stop at one scenic place and took some pics.
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We had to ask for directions at a couple of places and the villagers were more than happy to help with directions. Once we were back on the main highway, the road widened and it was much easier to drive. There was not much traffic as well. We stopped at one more beautiful scenic place. Probably a view point coz there was some littering around. The bane of our tourist locations. :-(
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The one that brought us here. Perfectly blends in with the surroundings.
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Finally, we reached our destination 'Destiny - The Farm Resort'... well almost! Ironically destiny played a part in we visiting this resort. Like I shared in the introduction, we had to change our plans at the last moment due to the weekend lockdown in K'taka and the Sunday lockdown in TN and this led to us booking our stay here. In 2020, we had planned for this resort but March onwards a lockdown was imposed and we couldn't go then.

About 'Destiny - The Farm Resort' - My Take

The resort is located beside the Emerald lake and is a vast property. The biggest advantage is its location and probably its biggest disadvantage too. The last 1.5 kms to the resort goes through forest area and it seems the resort can't lay a road coz they won't get permission from the government. Because of this it's a rollercoaster ride for about half an hour in their canters. We have to park our vehicles in their parking and even the last 100m to this parking is really bad. Ecosport could manage this but we also saw Honda City and a couple of other low slung cars. I'm sure they had to drive agonizingly slow to avoid underbody hits. They have a secure parking and a person constantly staying there and looking after the guests' vehicles. We were disappointed with this half an hour journey in their vehicle coz they have these huge canters and it shook us up really bad. If there are old people or people with spinal issues, this is not recommended. But once we reached the resort, all that was forgotten and forgiven coz it's like you are literally transported to a piece of heaven. The views all around are amazing.

---
It's difficult to put everything in words so I'll let the pics do the talking. The main part of the resort where majority of the rooms are. We too stayed in one of them.
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The emerald lake. We went here after lunch and spent some time here still and just taking in the views. We noticed there were tents as well and later we got to know they organize camping too. This area, however, is out of bounds late in the evening coz all around it's a jungle and there are high chances of animals coming here.
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It was Pongal on the day we reached. The resort organized some games and activities for both the staff and guests. It was a great evening and a lot of fun. Kudos to the resort staff for organizing these and they very sportingly participated and made it fun for everyone around.
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This was the view around 6PM. We had some snacks and tea and after walking around and enjoying the evening ambience, we retired to our room.
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That is how Day 7 ended for us. We initially didn't have any plan for the next day (Day 8) as we wanted to stay in the resort and explore it and just relax. But an incident happened in that last 100m stretch before their parking, where the road was really bad. Just as we were about to arrive at the parking, something hit the underbody or so I though coz we heard a decently loud thud. I was a bit surprised coz there seemed to be nothing on the road and also it wasn't such a bad place where this happened. We were recording this 100m stretch through a phone so I went through that footage multiple times and I couldn't make out what hit the underbody. Also, since it was Saturday next day and the day after that would be Sunday lockdown, we thought of exploring a few places around Ooty on Saturday. Fortunately, the next day we realized that we just a hit a wooden log beside the road, which was hidden by the bushes and it was nothing bad as we expected. I checked the underbody too and nothing was there. Thankfully all was well and it put me to ease.

Last edited by saleem_k : 22nd May 2022 at 11:12.
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Old 24th April 2022, 11:41   #5
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Default Day 8 - Sightseeing in Ooty

Day 8 - Sightseeing in Ooty

I woke up early next morning to see how the view looked like. This is how it was. It was quite chilly though, more than what I felt in Coonoor.
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About the room and view, since we booked this stay at the last moment, we were forced to choose whatever room option was available. While this room was good, it was on the ground floor. Had a decent view but the privacy is a bit compromised when sitting in the balcony or if we keep our curtains open.

We got fresh and decided to leave the resort by around 10AM. Like I was telling in my earlier post, the disadvantage of this stay is the location coz it's on the edge of the forest so the last stretch requires one to take the resort transport and that's usually this military style canter. But if one decides to take it at odd times, they are charged for the to and fro journey but if one takes it at the checkout times, it's free coz one is clubbed with other guests who are checking out. We were asked to be ready by 10am as some guests were checking out.

For some reason they changed their checkout time by an hour so we were lucky to get a ride in the resort's old Willys Jeep as we were the only guests going out at that time. The ride in this one was much better and tolerable coz of the low height. The ride in their canters are really bad coz of the severe body roll as the GC is quite high.
Time for a pose, while waiting for the jeep.
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This place is very scenic and instagram worthy, frankly speaking.
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Stopped on the way again, to catch some scenaries.
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The roads are amazing.
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Our first destination of the day, or so we planned was Doddabetta peak. While someone in the resort did tell us that there were some landslides that damaged the road and it has been closed for quite some time, they were not 100% sure. So we decided to explore anyways as driving around is always fun, especially in such scenic locations. As expected, the peak was closed but the ride on that road was good.

The next destination we decided to visit was St. Stephen's Church. Unfortunately, this too was closed due to COVID. We just clicked from the gate and decided to visit Pykara waterfall.
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We had to park on the road as their parking was almost full and had to walk a considerable distance to reach the entrance.
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On the way this scenic ground was so tempting to go and play some sport. As you can see they were playing cricket.
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View of the area around the Pykara waterfall. We couldn't see any waterfalls and we thought we were at the wrong place coz there is also a lake with boating, with the same name.
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We started descending the steps and soon enough we realized that this calm water was getting furious a little downstream.
Attachment 2300079

This place was a bit crowded as it was Saturday but nothing too much.
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Further downstream it again becomes peaceful.
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Don't know which bird but clicked it coz it was near.
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The entrance to the waterfall, snapped as we exited. As you can notice they were noting down the details of all visitors and were allowing only those who were double vaccinated.
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It was noon by then and we decided to go back and have lunch somewhere but on this route, we decided to get a bit adventurous and take a lesser known route that went to Glenmorgan. I heard about this place in another travelogue and thought of exploring this route. The route was amazing, quite scenic although very lonely. After going further, we found this amazing lake with the backdrop of a hill and all around it was amazing.
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Unfortunately Glenmorgan was closed and a little further away we were stopped by the police at a checkpost saying we can't go further. So we turned back and thought of exploring some scenic location in this route.

We came across this stretch of the road with the tall pine trees (I think). There was a muddy road going down beside the main road so we thought of getting down here and exploring the area and clicking some pics. The entire area seemed very peaceful and scenic so clicked a few pics around here and just enjoyed the ambience for some time.
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This doesn't seem too steep but while coming up there was a minor wheelspin coz one of the tyre was resting on a rock and it was a slightly sudden and steep elevation.
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This was the view from where we were standing.
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The whole place and ambience was magical.
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We returned from here and passed the shooting spot and the pine forest; both were quite crowded as it was a Saturday.
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We didn't wanted to go to any other tourist spot coz our resort itself was a destination in itself and it made more sense to spend time inside exploring the resort. While we were going to do that anyways on Sunday as it was a lockdown, we thought of going back and getting some rest.

On the way back we saw this church. What a location!!!
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We reached out resort's parking and were waiting for the resort's vehicle to arrive. This is the view from here.
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While in the morning we were lucky to get the Willy's jeep, in the evening we got their taller canter, which shook the internal organs out of us. While going back we were told that the previous day they heard some tiger roar on this stretch coz this was the edge of the reserve forest and it seems quite some times the animals do come till the periphery of the forest.

Last edited by saleem_k : 22nd May 2022 at 10:39.
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Default Day 9 - Explore Destiny and Day 10 - Onwards to JLR Bandipur

Day 9 - Exploring Destiny Resort

This was a Sunday and there was a Sunday lockdown in TN so we decided to take as much rest as possible and explore the resort. I can't sleep till late on holidays, feels like I'm wasting time so I woke up early and realized there was fog all around. I couldn't see anything so decided to sleep a little more. Finally woke up around 7:30AM and decided to see if the fog is settling down. It sure was but this is how it was just a little before 8AM.
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It started clearing up and by 8:30AM, this is how it was.
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Like the previous days, there was a chilliness in the air so we decided to go out in the sun and enjoy the warmth. We went for breakfast and then decided to explore the resort and walk around a little more, something that we couldn't do the past 2 days.
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Went down a little further where there was a small farm and option to do fishing. While we were offered the opportunity to catch fish, we did not take that bait coz we don't enjoy that activity much. So we just walked around, soaked the sun and enjoyed the farm and animals around.
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After we soaked up enough sun, we decided to go back, get fresh and relax. Later we went out for lunch and had a nice tasty lunch outside their restaurant.
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We then thought of going towards the lake as the weather was worth exploring the outdoors. So off we went.
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The lake looked peaceful and serene. We decided to just sit there and do nothing, just enjoy the solitude and the calmness with the cool breeze blowing.
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We soon realized that it was getting a bit darker coz the clouds were coming onto us. This is the area of the jungle from where the stream comes and meets the lake. I wish I could walk in the path of the stream and just go inside the jungle and explore it. But, obviously can't so decided to just look from here and enjoy. :-)
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It started drizzling a bit and since we didn't wanted to drench ourselves, decided to walk back to the resort.
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We spent the evening near the reception area where Tambola and other games were organized. It was a fun evening and then we decided to go back to our room. One thing we did not do at the resort was enjoy the bonfire that is arranged behind the restaurant, where they also organize games and other activities for kids, during the evening time. Maybe next time. This is how our stay ended at this resort. I will again highly recommend this provided the individuals are fit enough to endure the shaky journey from the parking to the resort and vice versa.

Day 10 - Checkout from Destiny & Check-in to JLR Bandipur

The last phase of our trip was now approaching. This is a difficult phase most times coz you already realize that your trip is ending in a few days but there is also the excitement that the best is preserved till the last. We woke up leisurely coz our journey to Bandipur from Destiny was around 2.5 hours (this was a miscalculation that we realized later). Nevertheless we thought that checkout at 10 would still give us an arrival time of 1PM in JLR, which was good enough for us to be ready for evening safari by 3PM. Unfortunately, during checkout we got delayed coz we were clubbed with another family in the canter and they took some time during checkout. By the time we checked-out it was 10:30AM. Till that time we decided to click some parting shots of this little piece of heaven.

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During this delay, we had a chat with one of the sr. employees their. He was quite instrumental in organizing games and events during our stay there and he did a fabulous job of keeping the guests engaged, which we noticed right from the day we landed. I'm not sharing his name for the sake of privacy but when we were having this conversation, he shared about how he was left jobless after covid for nearly an year inspite of good experience. At that moment, we could see the pain in him although we was sharing all this with a smile on his face. I'm sharing this because a lot of times when we travel, we do not treat people and employees of these resorts properly. Sometimes we have this thinking that we are paying and so we should be treated like kings. It has been a difficult time for the hospitality industry and the folks have gone through immense hardships and pain and we all should be a little more empathetic during these travels and interactions with the people who host us and take care of us while we are there, whatever level they may be and if possible deal with them with a little more respect and patience. I don't want to sound philosophical but just want to convey that some goodness during our travel always helps the good karma come our way. :-)

It was 11AM by the time we reached the parking. We put all the luggage in the car and by the time we departed from here it was nearly 11:15AM. On the way we stopped a couple of times for pics of the Emerald lake that stretches quite some distance away from the resort. After this, we decided that no more stops and pics coz we were already getting a slightly late.

Now here's where the miscalculation happened. The map showed the time and distance via the Masinagudi road. This route is one way and we can't get down from Ooty. We can only climb up towards Ooty on this route. We were not aware of this fact since we never travelled on these routes before. The sad thing was we descended 14 hairpin bends out of the 36 and then we were stopped and told that we can't descend via this route and will have to go through Gudalur route. This was quite frustrating coz if they had stopped us when entering this road, we could have saved considerable time. When we told this to the policman manning this checkpost that we should have been stopped when entering this road, he asked us to stop and specificlaly inform the police at the top about this coz he was unable to reach them via phone. We again had to ascend these 14 hair pin bends and although we were getting late, we stopped near the police manning the entry to this road and told him that he should stop people who are going down. He was least bothered or didn't understand what we were telling, I don't know but had a very nonchalant attitude and was saying he can't do much. We didn't wanted to argue further and waste time so off we went. Now we checked google maps and it added additional 30-40 minutes to our route and this meant we were reaching around 3:15PM. This was not good coz we would then miss our evening safari. I had to drive fast and thankfully there was not much traffic probably coz it was Monday so we were able to maintain decent speeds. Unfortunately, we missed many scenic places on this route where normally we would have stopped and clicked pics, especially the pine forest stretch along this route and some beautiful secluded lake. We will definitely cover these the next time but for now we were running against time to reach our destination.

We were literally calculating minute by minute as I was able to cover good distance in decent speeds and the arrival time reduced by nearly 15 minutes but was still showing between 3-3:05PM depending on traffic, etc. We called up the resort guy and told him that we have a check-in but will do that later after we go to the safari first. He was quite okay about it and told us to relax and come and not hurry coz he'll still stop the safari vehicle but since we didn't wanted others to be inconvenienced we decided to reach at least by 3PM.

Again, we did not enjoy the beauty of Mudumalai forest coz we were driving a bit faster but since it was a forest with speed breakers at regular intervals, we decided to drive normally but still a little faster than what I would have preferred. By 2:55PM we reached the resort. By then the vehicle had gone to the forest office for the regular registration kind of a thing that they do before every trip and we were able to use the loo and have some snacks by the time the vehicle came to pick us up. There were already other guests in the vehicle and off we went. Wifey and I were happy that we did not miss the safari, although we had to manage with no proper lunch and no time to rest after our descent through the winding roads of Ooty.

Here are some sightings we got from today's safari. The weather was slightly hot here compared to what we experienced in the hills in the last 6 days.
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The usual ones. I like Sambar Deer for their personality. They have a distinct one compared to the spotted deers.
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Got a decent shot of this one just before it decided to move on.
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The sightings of the animals are a bonus and the entire experience of roaming around in the jungle is very therapeutic for me. I love such sights.
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I love capturing the birds as well even thought I may not know their names.
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This peacock on the dead bark complemented each other really well.
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We had small encounter with the elephant family here. The male one charged at our vehicle aggressively and for a moment we were worried coz it was quite close and could easily reach us. Thankfully it was a charge and nothing more. With little ones around the family was very protective and trying to gauge if we were harmful or not.
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Looks royal.
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The driver of our vehicle left this part of the forest and entered the other side. They probably already had news about a couple of tigers in that side. Suddenly there was commotion in the vehicle and the driver was talking with the other passenger in the front seat in Kannada and we couldn't understand but suddenly everyone was made aware of the tiger in the bushes. It was difficult to look at them coz they were below the level of the bushes. Thankfully they heard our vehicle and stood up and that's when we got an opportunity to click. I had to stand up fully and rest my legs on the vehicle's side panels. It was quite difficult to spot with the naked eye initially. But once they stood up, they were clear to spot

The first glimpse.
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And then it finally stood up but only for a short time.
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It did not stand for long and then settled down and never got up again. There was one more in the bushes but it was difficult to click leave alone seeing it. Nevertheless we were happy that our effort in reaching on time for the evening safari did not go in vain. :-)

Went back, completed the check-in formalities and got a room allotted and we settled down, content that we not just made it but also spotted the big cat. With this spotting our count including our last Kabini trip where we did 4 safaris and spotted tigers in all our safaris, was 5 not out. :-) But we realized that the law of averages will eventually catch up.

We ended the 10 day of our trip after a sumptuous dinner spread.

Last edited by saleem_k : 22nd May 2022 at 11:16.
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Default Day 11 - 2nd Day in Bandipur

Day 11 - Morning and Evening Safaris in Bandipur

There is a wonderful board in the resort that gives information about Bandipur. Clicked this later but sharing this upfront.
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We woke up quite early as we had to be ready for the morning safari. Considering the slightly high temperatures the previous day we decided to dress light. This was a mistake coz it was foggy and quite chilly. By the time we realized it was too late and we were just praying for the sun to be up and warm us up. Nevertheless the forest looked amazing.
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Thankfully the fog cleared up a little around 8AM.
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Catching the early morning sun.
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This Crested Hawk Eagle was a cool one. It was sitting on the lowest of the branches and even though we passed under it, it didn't really care or fly away. Gave us some nice shots.
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The cleaning routine was on.
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In the blink of an eye.
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We also got to see a couple of mongoose not sure if they were mongoose couple. These are always a bit difficult to photograph due to their constant movements and shy nature but these two were a bit patient.
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Beautiful morning in the jungle with so many hues.
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This parrot was getting its early morning nutrition.
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Peacocks are always beautiful to click, with the morning sun, the color and clarity was amazing.
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This one was also immersed in its cleaning routine till we made it a bit uncomfortable.
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We came back from the Safari by 9:30AM. Although we did not see any big ones, the morning was amazing. Yes, we were feeling better by now coz the sun was out and the chill subsided a bit. Came back, had breakfast and then retired to our rooms. Sat down in the verandah and clicked the resident cat of the resort. Seems like it has a monopoly over the area.
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Since this was a weekday, there was hardly anyone in the resort. Just 3-4 families and therefore the resort looked deserted. I heard that it's usually crowded during the weekends.
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After rest and relaxation we decided to get fresh and go for lunch so that we could be ready for the evening safari. And later, off we went.

I really love this Elephant statue in Bandipur, very creative.
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And then the real elephants inside. This young one was just rolling and enjoying while the mother was keeping a close watch on its antics.
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A little further away this tortoise family was doing the balancing act, probably practicing for their evening circus show.
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Suddenly, there was a call received by the driver of our vehicle about a leopard on a tree nearby. By the time we reached there there were already 7-8 vehicles waiting and pointed us towards the right side. The leopard already got down by then and was behind the trees. We just got a glimpse and then everyone was sure it will cross the road. It surely did. While we didn't have a great vantage position in terms of where our vehicle was, we still were able to get a few decent shots of this one crossing the road.
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Actually it looked quite relaxed and did not display the usual shy leopard behavior. It was taking its own time now, enjoying all the attention and observing things around in a relaxed manner. After gracing us with its presence for some more time, it just slithered away inside the jungle.
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A couple of vehicles including ours went to the other side to see if we could get another glimpse of this one but it never showed up.
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We went away from there and went near the lake, where we were earlier today morning. It looked so different in the evening.
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This lone tusker was munching away as the sun was setting. We bid it goodbye and went back to our resort. As soon as we reached the resort there was some excitement again that a leopard was visible on the rock on the hill, right in front of the resort. Again, everyone took out their binoculars and cameras but seemed like it was too late. We had some good evening snacks and retired to our rooms.
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This is how our day 11 went by. The evening safari was lucky again coz we spotted a leopard and we were quite happy with todays proceedings although the morning safari was a bummer in terms of sightings but was wonderful in terms of the ambience and views. Day 12, the last day of our trip was tomorrow and we had a couple more safaris to go by. We were already happy with the proceedings till now so whatever we could see next, we realized would be a real bonus for now. With that thought in mind, we retired early after a tasty dinner.

Last edited by saleem_k : 22nd May 2022 at 11:17.
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Old 8th May 2022, 12:30   #8
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Default Day 12 - Last Day in Bandipur & Day 13 - Return to Hyderabad

Day 12 - Last Day in Bandipur

This was the last day of our trip, not just in Bandipur and this is always a difficult day coz the reality strikes that we have to go back to our usual routine and boring life, very soon. Nevertheless, we decided to enjoy whatever the safaris offered, without much pressure coz we had decent sightings till now.

Today's morning safari was not very exciting. We didn't sight anything except for a couple of birds plus the Malabar Squirrel that decided to show us some action.
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Again, a Hawk Eagle, if I'm not wrong.
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There was a small family of Wild Boars as well.
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Didn't see anything after these.

Came back to the resort and decided to walk around and see if we can find any birds in the resort. We indeed found this Coppersmith Barbett.
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We saw these monkeys enjoying the rooftops of several cars in the parking, some of them liked the luxury cars better. :-)
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We decided to relax and get ready for our last safari today evening. Yes, last safari coz we decided not to go for the morning safari the next day as we had a long drive back to Hyderabad and we didn't wanted to start too early and get shaken up when we had nearly 14hrs drive back home.

The safari started with a great surprise. As soon as we turned right from the main road and entered into the safari zone, right opposite to the Bandipur Forest Office, there was excitement as already a safari jeep in front of us stopped and everyone was looking right. When we reached them they told us about a leopard on the tree and also a couple of cubs, out of which one was still on the tree while the other one got down by then.

This tree. Can you spot anything?
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Here it was, the mother. We were here for the next half an hour or so and it was changing its seating position continuously.
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As I mentioned earlier one cub was still supposed to be on the tree and finally, there was some moment and the cub came out and revealed itself to us.
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It was trying to navigate its way onto the lower branches and we got a couple of decent shots
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The folks around, who probably are families of the forest guides/drivers, helpers, who are living just near the entrance of this safari zone were also fascinated by the leopard and its cub and were watching them.
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We decided to move on as we had spent considerable time there and both mom and cub were in no mood to get down and were in their drowsy state. So off we went inside the forest.
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The rest of the safari was uneventful, except for some birds and peahens we did not see anything else.
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The naturist then decided to go back and check on the same leopard we saw when entering the zone, so off we went to see if we could get any action now. The leopard and its cub were still sitting and we waited and waited and now I did not feel like taking any photos coz all were coming out similarly and the light was also dying out as it was now nearly 6:15PM. Soon enough the cub got moving and decided to go to its mom. At such young age we could see it was an expert navigator on the tree. We couldn't get decent shots coz of the foliage but eventually it reached its mom and they both had a short cleaning session.
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This cub is alpha and it will soon rule among its leopard counterparts here in Bandipur. It led the way and starting getting down the tree. The mom eventually had to follow. We were glad to see some movement and now it was nearly 6:30PM and we had to end our safari plus the light was really bad. Still got a few decent shots of this entire sequence. Sharing a few.
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After they got down, they vanished while we were expecting them to come out and walk from near our vehicle, instead we got to know that they both went out onto the main road and crossed to the other side. We went to the main road and waited a bit but didn't see anything. They already crossed over. So we set off towards our resort with the satisfaction of seeing something different in our last safari.

This elephant board is very nicely made. Whatever direction you look from it looks like a statue of an elephant but it's just a thin board. In the background, if you notice closely, a green-colored house, opposite to that house is where the tree was where the leopard and the cubs were. That's how close they were to the main road. So high chances for those who do not take the safari in Bandipur that you might still spot something from the road, provided you are not speeding.
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Came back, had snacks and retired to our rooms. We were in no mood to go for the dinner coz we were feeling a little sad by the thought of going back to the regular grind. But thought of having a light dinner and after a quick dinner, we came back to the room, packed almost everything except those that we require next morning and retired for the day.

Day 13 - Travel back to Hyderabad
We woke up leisurely this day as we had already communicated to the staff there that we won't be taking the morning safari. Most of the packing was in place already from last night so after getting fresh and packing the remaining stuff, we were all set to check-out after breakfast. The breakfast is usually served by around 9AM coz the guests are back by 9:30AM but the staff was very coooperative when we asked them if they could start a little early for us as we will check out early. They ensured they started about 15mins early so that we could have early breakfast and checkout. They were also ready to pack some things for us but we refused as we decided to take the lunch break in B'lore and not eat much in between.

Parting shot near the dining area.
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After tipping the folks there who were very helpful all through our stay and making it pleasant for us, we decided to do the final settlement and checkout. By the time we checked out it was nearly 9:45AM. This is the room where we stayed and we'll definitely come back the next time.
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The route we decided to take was via Mysore - Srirangapatna - Take right from Belur Cross Roads - Neelamangala Town - B'lore - Onto Airport Road/NH44 - Finally Home.

We crossed Mysore by around 11AM.
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On the way after nearly an hour from Mysore we stopped here for a small stretch break.
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We reached B'lore by around 2:15PM and we decided to stop at a place called NH7 Refuel, which is a little after the B'lore Airport, just before we take left for Nandi Hills. We were here in one of our earlier trips and the food was decent. Also, since this was on the exit towards Hyderabad from B'lore, we thought that we could gun the last stretch after this. This time the experience was a bit disappointing though and they tried to give us something that was an excuse of a dish compared to what we would get in Hyderabad. Though eventually they replaced it with something else, initially they were trying to push that dish to us but we refused. Good thing is they didn't charge for it. Anyways, with a mixed experience here, we decided to move on quickly and it was already 3:20PM by the time we started.
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One more usual pitstop for us is Hotel Blue Moon, which is a little after Ananthapur, on the outskirts. The traffic was sparse and we were maintaining decent speeds till here. We reached here by around 5:30PM and decided to stop and have some snacks and also took the loo break. We both really love this place coz the place is spacious and clean and their food has always been good. We checked out from here by 6:15PM.

We were chugging along and maintaining decent speeds. By around 8:30PM we were nearing Food Pyramid. After our heavy snacks, we decided to skip dinner and keep driving. However, I wanted a stretch break and since there are loos here we decided to utilize them. By around 9PM we decided to start and stop only when we reach home.
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This last stretch was uneventful except for some VIP vehicle with some pilot and following police vehicles, which didn't allow us to overtake and if we were trying, they were blocking us. We didn't have any other option but to follow at their pace till the ORR arrived and we took the ORR, while they went straight. Reached home by around 11PM so it took us a bit over 14hrs.

In conclusion, this was again a different type of trip for us. In our last trip, we were confined to our resorts mostly coz they were a little away from habitation and going out wasn't really required coz there was so much to explore within the resort itself but this time we did things a little touristy, visiting some famous tourist spots and explored the places where we stayed a little more. Overall, the trip definitely threw some surprises, mostly pleasant and we really enjoyed them.

A little about our car's performance. As I already indicated in my first post, the car has completed 90k on the odo and is a 2016 model.

1. The car performed flawlessly and with just two occupants and two big suitcases and other bags, there wasn't much weight to carry but nevertheless there was no lack of power even in the ghat roads. The 1.5 diesel mill does a great job be it in the plains or on twist curvy roads in the hills.
2. I didn't calculate the mileage much but considering my driving speeds and the additional torque and revs required while climbing the hills, the mileage hovered at around 15kmpl on an average, as per the display.
3. The high gc of the car has been a blessing. In these 90k kilometers hardly 1 or 2 times it scraped and even in this trip, which was mostly good roads there was no problem at all. The only place where I was a bit worried was the small stretch before our resort in Ooty, which I mentioned in my earlier post. Even there it did a great job. Also, the small footprint makes it easy in the narrow twisties and when passing a town or city traffic.
4. No punctures or any other issues, touchwood! I had changed to Yokohama at around 60k and they are running fine till now.
5. I didn't drive much in the nights except for 4-5 occasions during the trip and since I had upgraded my lights to more powerful LEDs, visibility isn't an issue.
6. The body roll is very much controlled in the twisties thanks to Ford's dynamics and the monocoque chassis.
7. The only thing I wish was a slightly bigger boot. With two big suitcases I had to straighten the rear seats a little for them to be accommodated with ease, otherwise if you have 4 folks with such suitcases, it will be a squeeze.
8. Also, due to its ageing and probably the Yokohama's the road noise is a bit high post 100kmph but music makes it manageable.
9. Overall, it has been a reliable companion in all the trips and gives me the confidence of navigating some difficult terrain as well.

Until next time, thank you all for taking the time to read. It took me quite some time to pen the different segments and therefore took more than a month to complete this travelogue. Next time, I'll try to be more timebound.

Thank you all. The End.

Last edited by saleem_k : 22nd May 2022 at 13:19.
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Old 22nd May 2022, 15:34   #9
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Default Re: Winter in South India - Starting from the coast and ending in the jungles

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!

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Wifey did some quick research and we decided to have lunch in a place called 180 Mciver. The place is great, has outdoor seating and a great menu.
You may know this already but this villa is where the popular movie Kapoor & Sons was shot. Its a very popular place now.

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Old 23rd May 2022, 09:36   #10
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I really appreciate your patience. A very thorough and elaborate travelogue with nice pictures.
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Old 23rd May 2022, 10:54   #11
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Thoroughly enjoyed reading your travelogue. Great pics all around and especially of Bandipur.
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Old 23rd May 2022, 16:21   #12
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Wow, that's some level of detailing that you have covered in your travelogue. Thanks for sharing . Great justice to the 2500 km journey!

Your pics of Pondicherry specially, reminded me of our own plans to visit that place, but then covid 3.0 happened and we couldn't proceed. For sure, your TL has rekindled the desire!
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Old 23rd May 2022, 16:46   #13
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Default Re: Winter in South India - Starting from the coast and ending in the jungles

Very nice travelogue, with some lovely pictures! A very nice road trip of 2500km too. Your trip had a nice variety - from scenic Pondicherry to the jungles of Badipur. You got some great sightings too in Bandipur. The wildlife photos are very nice!

Thank you for taking efforts to document your journey and sharing it here.
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Old 25th May 2022, 08:56   #14
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Originally Posted by Gannu_1 View Post
Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!



You may know this already but this villa is where the popular movie Kapoor & Sons was shot. Its a very popular place now.
Thank you for the information Gannu_1. I wasn't aware of this till you told me. I did not see the movie btw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajjay View Post
I really appreciate your patience. A very thorough and elaborate travelogue with nice pictures.
Thank you Rajjay!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vabhian View Post
Thoroughly enjoyed reading your travelogue. Great pics all around and especially of Bandipur.
Thank you vabhian. Yes, I preserved the best till the last and I love wildlife photography the most so some extra efforts go in that direction. :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshMachine View Post
Wow, that's some level of detailing that you have covered in your travelogue. Thanks for sharing . Great justice to the 2500 km journey!

Your pics of Pondicherry specially, reminded me of our own plans to visit that place, but then covid 3.0 happened and we couldn't proceed. For sure, your TL has rekindled the desire!
Thank you JoshMachine. Yes, do plan Pondicherry in such a way that you cover some places around as well. We couldn't do that and personally for me it was a bit boring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.AD View Post
Very nice travelogue, with some lovely pictures! A very nice road trip of 2500km too. Your trip had a nice variety - from scenic Pondicherry to the jungles of Badipur. You got some great sightings too in Bandipur. The wildlife photos are very nice!

Thank you for taking efforts to document your journey and sharing it here.
Thank you Dr.AD sir for your kind words! Your travelogues and writing have been a great source of information and inspiration for me. I'm honoured by your comment! :-)
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Old 25th May 2022, 14:23   #15
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Excellent Travelogue with beautiful pictures of Ooty. No wonder Ooty is called Queen of Hills in South India. One more thing. Some patches in the Highways or other roads are prone for accidents and accordingly named so. In your case, I see that you are prone to Wild Animal Sightings. In your future travels, I know that you will prove it.
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