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Old 3rd March 2010, 11:54   #1
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Default Muthanga, Wayanad: Mykkara homestay - Succumbing to the call of wild again !!!

Part 1 – Planning:

Woke up on 6th Feb with this thought -“12th Feb Friday is a holiday, another long weekend, time for another long drive”. As expected better half and Jr. were excited as usual, but again as expected my dear wife repeated the same old story “No more forest and wildlife, let us go some other place this time”.. Little one played it safe and announced he is happy to go anyplace provided he get enough space to play outdoor games. I gave a good thought over wifes idea; take count of the trips done recently and found that My dear Elantra has seen only Bangalore and forest roads during last 1 year (except for my trips to native – Cochin and Munnar), so I thought it is a good time to take him somewhere, else who knows even vehicles has got a soul and may feel bored???. Wifie started searching on Team BHP, other sites, making calls, but all in vain; it is a long weekend and you know the guys in Bangalore, they were not like me to wait for the last moment to make arrangements. End result was no good rooms available in any places matching our criteria. I decided it is high time I take control and announced with a crooked smile that “Now I will identify the place, forest or all have to come”. So now it was my turn to identify and place and as expected my search went around forest and wildlife – Tried my regular place, Pepper Green Village near Kuruva Wayanad and found it is fully booked (guess too many BHPians are there these days), zeroed in on Mykkara homestay. Called up the owner Mr Basheer and found that they have 1. Two rooms available 2. it borders the Muthanga forest and can see wildlife sitting in the homestay verandah (what else you need) 3. ready to cook any local dish you ask 4. Noolpuzha river nearby to prove my angling skills (I am not the catch and release man, believe in eating my catch – so Cauvery and Mahaseer is not my cup of tea). I made the booking and spoke to my cousin in Cochin about joining us there in Muthanga and he was more than happy to come. We decided to start from Bangalore 8 ish in the morning and my cousin will start around 5 so that we can reach the place around the same time. Wifie made some mention about using her new i10 for the trip which was overruled by both father and son (big time Elantra fan). That is the end of the planning phase.

Part 2 – Execution:

JP Nagar to Mac Donalds – Got up at 5.30 am on 12th Feb morning due to the excitement (like Tendulkar how much ever you bat/travel, I am exited before any long drive), and we were ready to hit the roads by 7.30 am. Calling my cousin I found that they had started at 5.30 and is nearing Guruvayoor by then. From our place in JP Nagar 9th phase, we hit the Kanakpura road and then took NICE to Mysoore road. Early morning NICE was empty, so thought of stretching Elantra a bit to see how good he is after 3.5 years and 55 K on the odo. Holding back info on what was the top speed Elantra could achieve to avoid any arguments from fellow BHPians around whether it is safe and right to do it etc. Would like to mention that we were all wearing the seat belts and road was absolutely empty and I had a very good view of next 500 mts since it is a straight run, so I feel there was no risk and didn’t do anything unethical. On entering Mysore road traffic was normal and we could achieve good average though we stayed within 120 km/hr limit. Our first break as usual was at Mac Donalds around 9 am(shifted from Kamat to here due to pressure from Jr., it’s the freebies and not the burgers he wants – hope some day Kamat will start giving away similar freebies).

Incident at Mac – I had come out from Mac and was enjoying a smoke bit away from Mac (since it is part of the fuel station) and saw a middle aged family getting in to an Innova parked near by Elantra. I saw the lady getting behind the wheels and husband and son getting in to the back seat. Lady started backing the car, I though she is an expert since she didn’t roll down the window to look behind and husband was not telling her the direction, my feel was she was using the side mirrors and back mirror to do the job like any good drivers. Suddenly I felt something amiss because of the speed she was reversing and could a see poor little Opel Corsa parked in her path. I am not sure whether I shouted, but it was over by then and back of Innova had hit the Corsa. I could see tail lamps and back bumper of the Corsa badly damaged. Next was the big surprise – Our dear lady shifted to forward gear and just zoomed out the place, I noticed that none of the occupants in the Innova turned back to see the damage happened the Corsa. I could note the registration number and informed Mac staff about the incident, but they could no identify owner of the Corsa in Mac, maybe poor chap has gone to another restaurant behind the gas station. We gave details of the Innova to Mac staff and started next lap of our journey feeling very bad about the Innova lady, sad about Corsa and relived about my Elantra being unharmed. Irresponsible behavior of the Innova lady was of discussion in our car for a long time and we kept and eye for this car on the way to Mysore but could not spot it. I am not sure whether I could have done something to prevent her from driving away, maybe I could have jumped in front of the Innova, but I think she would have probably knocked me down and drove away..
Mysore, Muthanga, Elephant encounter, Muthanga Morning Safari, Elusive Tiger, Fishing, Wildlife at homestay, Food etc etc to follow… Now back to work, hope to come back soon
Will try to post some snaps..

Deva (Jr.) infront of Mac, You can see the poor Corsa behind..
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Muthanga, Wayanad: Mykkara homestay - Succumbing to the call of wild again !!!-wayanad-100216-123.jpg  

Last edited by gadadhar : 3rd March 2010 at 12:12.
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Old 3rd March 2010, 12:11   #2
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Nice to see a herd of elephants. So majestic. So beautiful. Wish you had a super zoom to capture the babies closer.
Reminds me of a joke I read somewhere.
A british lady was on a safari in India with her husband.
Man: Darling, Herd of elephants!
Wife: (indignantly and ignorantly) What do you mean heard of elephants? Ofcourse I've heard of elephants.
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Old 3rd March 2010, 13:04   #3
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Gadhadar, nice travelogue, looking forward to more of your experience. Not shocked of the incident , with women drivers this is common...i am not meaning everybody is that way.
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Old 3rd March 2010, 13:38   #4
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Sad to hear about such incidents. People have no conscience. I guess, they would get paid back some day in full and with interest. Terrific snaps of the beast! Looks very nice. Yes a zoom would have taken it further.

Where are the water bodies?
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Old 4th March 2010, 15:16   #5
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Mac to Muthanga continued – By the time we reached outskirts of Mysore it was close to 9 AM, took the ring road towards Gundelpet to avoid the morning traffic in the city. Road condition is good on the ring road but keep a watch on the numerous cross roads for crossing vehicles, also you may find it lacking proper direction boards at few of the junctions. Mysoore till Nanjangud is still bumpy; it would have been the same for last 5 to 6 years, wonder why Karnataka government is ignoring this stretch. Once you cross Nanjangud roads are good all the way till Muthanga. After crossing Gundelpet we took the left turn to Sultan Bathery (Kerala road). Traffic was very lean from here and it is very scenic with lot of vegetable and flower gardens on the way. There are shops selling locally sourced fresh vegetables and will see many Bangalore cars stopping there on the way back to pick some stock.

Elephant charges a Santro – Soon we entered the wildlife sanctuary, respecting all rules of the forest, reduced my speed, switched off the music & rolled down the window to catch some fresh air and listen to the sounds of the forest. Vehicle density is less on this forest stretch compared to the busy Bandipur – Muthumalai road. Soon we saw a Tata Indigo stopped on the way and people with cameras looking out of the window. Those who are used to driving in forest stretches know what that means – there is some wildlife around, so look around. Brought my car to a halt at a safe distance from the Indigo; spotted a herd of elephants waiting to cross the road in the forest on my right hand side in front of where I had stopped. It was group of around 20 nos with 2 very little ones, 3 Sub adult tuskers (one in the snap is a teenager with good tusks) and rest cows. They were eying the 2 stopped cars and were trying to judge whether it is safe to cross with the little ones. If you notice the way elephants handles their little ones, they are more protective than humans and the situations was like mothers waiting with the kids at a zebra crossing. Only difference may be that they cannot carry their little ones. I decided to move my car forward, cross the herd and then stop. Idea was to make them comfortable to cross, give me the flexibility of accelerating away if elephants charge and also to get a good camera angle. Once I did this my wifie started clicking by leaning out of the window (she has mastered this art and has found this the best way of getting unobstructed shots of wildlife, those who want to try the same, please make sure you have a good grip on the vehicle in case the driver has to move the vehicle suddenly). It was then a white Santro came and they stopped where I had stopped earlier, ie before the where elephants are waiting to cross. After watching all this for some time the elephants decide to cross and mother along with few babies tried crossing but they aborted the attempt since a 2 wheeler guy whizzed pass them (check the snap). This made them agitated a bit, but soon they started crossing in front of the Santro at a very close range. Once most of them have crossed our Teenage tusker made an appearance like any other teenager (check his looks in the snap), made a loud trumpet and charged the Santro. It was a mock charge which he aborted few yards before the car. Imagine the plight of the people in the Santro, facing an angry wild elephant in full glory (have anyone heard an angry elephant trumpeting, believe me. It will freeze you for a moment) with their only exit path completely blocked. It was clearly fault of the Santro guy, he woul have either stopped at a safe distance or would have crossed the elephants and then stopped.

Few tips from my experience of driving through our forests - Keep a safe distance from wildlife when you stop, make sure you have an exit path open (either forward or reverse), check other stopping vehicles does not block your exit (once my friend had stopped at a safe distance after crossing a lone tusker and was clicking snaps, another car crossed and stopped right in front blocking his path. To worsen the matters it was a group of drunks and they started shouting upon which Tusker charged. My friend had to bulldoze his vehicle out hitting the bumper of other car and sped away, can’t blame him for not stopping to check the damage done to other car and the fate of its occupants). Also if you are watching elephants grazing on onside of the road, make sure to keep an eye around your vehicle and other side of the road, it has happened many times that some elephants from the herd may try to inspect your vehicle without you taking notice. There are many other important tips and thumb rules listed in other threads in this forum

Reaching Mykkara homestay – After this episode we didn’t encounter any other wildlife except for monkeys and spotted deer. Soon we crossed the checkposts and entered in to Kerala, our host Mr Basheer has asked to give a call on reaching Muthanga Safari point. Mobile signals though week is present here and we could reach him after few attempts and he guided us to the homestay. It is hardly 200 mts from the safari point, but you need a keen eye to spot the small board dangling on a tree and the small mud road towards left leading to the resort. To make matters worst, there will be numerous trucks and other vehicles parked waiting for clearance from Kerala Sale tax checkpost (is around 300 mts from mud road deviation further on the Kerala road) and they may block/hide the small mud road completely. On the mud road, it is another 700 mts of bad road to reach the homestay, but manageable by any vehicle at a slow pace. I took a total travel time of around 5 hours including break of around 45 minutes covering 215 kms. My cousin from Cochin took around 10 hrs since his kid started feeling nausea in the Tamarashery ghats and was forced to take frequent breaks

Stay at Mykkara – This is 55 year old traditional Kerala house with 3 rooms, each room having 4 single beds and is suitable for families travelling in group. One room is on the 1st floor with a beautiful sit out overlooking the open fields and forest. There is one tree house but may be suitable only for bachelors since there is no attached toilet. There are 2 huts that are made inline with the traditional tribal hut architecture and have got all basic facilities. I will recommend this homestay only for true wildlife lovers; please don’t expect the luxury of a resort here.

Highlights of the stay are

  • FOREST & WILDLIFE all around -Saw deer roaming all around the place even in broad daylight, Couple of Giant Malabar squirrel used to be always present, heard elephant trumpeting in the surrounding forest. Elephants used to come to the homestay courtyard till last month, but now they have put few electric fences here and there.

  • Campfire & Barbeque

  • Fishing in nearby Noolpuzha river

  • Catching lot of eyes glowing in the night in the parked car’s headlight (had a dead battery before leaving, that’s another story)

  • Excellent food

  • Met and spoke to like minded wildlife enthu guys from Bangalore, Kerala and UK.

  • Place though old, can be maintained a lot more cleaner

  • There is no electricity; it runs on Generator & Inverter. We were told that inverter will be running all through the night, nights here are pitch dark and we found the inverter was not working when we woke up in the night. We had a tough time to locate my Cig lighter and then wakeup the caretaker to switch on the inverter. So make sure you have a good flashlight if you go there

  • Toilets can be better maintained

  • Hot water for bath is supplied from the kitchen and is not available always, Solar heaters would have been a good addition

  • Facilities are basics and can be improved
Forest Safari at Muthanga – Best part of staying in Mykkara is it’s proximity to the safari gate; you can be the first one there when the park gate open at 6.30 am which gives you a good chance of catching more wildlife. You can use own vehicle for the Safari if its SUV (Qualis, Tavera and similar vehicles are also allowed) or can hire Mahindra jeeps operated by local guys. Basheer has arranged a jeep for us on Saturday morning, setoff at 6 and was one among the first vehicles to enter the forest. You can hire a local guide by paying Rs 100, I am not sure whether this is mandatory, but is recommended since they are from the local tribal community and are very knowledgeable about the forest and wildlife. Vehicles enter the forest through a gate at the Safari point, spent around 1.30 hrs inside the forest covering around 6 kms and exits at another point. Roads inside the forest are mud roads and are not that bad and can be managed even by cars (may be a different story when it rains).
Sight of a huge tamed tusker with biggest tusks I have ever seen welcomed us at the start of the safari, our guide told us that they are the longest tusks ever recorded for a captive Asiatic elephant (check snaps). Moving deep in to the forest our guide informed us that there is some large carnivore on the move; hence the absence of regulars like deer, Sambar, Wild boar etc. I have explored most of the game sanctuaries in South India, have seen leopard and other carnivore, but was never lucky to meet king of the Indian forest – TIGER in wild. It was total silence in the jeep and all us were eagerly waiting for the first glimpse of the big cat. Then we saw fresh foot prints of tiger on the same road we were travelling and it was on top of the tyre track of the previous vehicle (check snaps). Our guide announced that previous vehicle would have passed probably 10 to 15 mts back and tiger is very near and probably walking on the road ahead of us. We followed the footprints at a very slow pace for around 500mts and then the prints disappeared. Mighty beast has decided to elude us for one more time, left the jeep path and has disappeared in to the vegetation. It was big disappointment for all of us, but yes – always there will be a next time. Our nest encounter was another fresh set of bear footprints, again no luck and no sighting. Only wildlife we sighted during our early morning Safari was a peacock (I see it very often near my office in Bangalore) and a Giant Malabar squirrel (they were present in the homestay). Guide consoled us telling there were no other wildlife moving since TIGER is on the move, we returned as a disappointed lot.

At homestay there was an excellent spread of traditional Kerala breakfast with Puttu and Kadala, our friends from UK were thoroughly enjoying this with ample supply of our own Bangalore beer KF. We were welcomed to join the party, but being a responsible BHPian didn’t want to fall in to the trap of drink and drive, hence declined the offer politely. Since we have seen most of the places in Wayanad earlier, we visited our friend in Meenangadi and then went to Sultan Bathery to pickup some Kerala stuff like Tapioca, Bananas etc. We also visited Edakkal caves, place was packed due to the long weekend, so decided to turn back after buying Goose berry in honey (no Wayanad visit will be complete until you pick this), slippers, car backrest etc made of Ramacham (supposed to have lot of healing powers)

Last day of the trip –By the time we had settled bills and ready to move was around noon 12.30. There awaited the big surprise, my ever dependable Elantra refused to crank due to a low battery. I have only myself to blame for running the headlights last 2 nights, that too when the battery was almost due for replacement. What next - let us jumpstart, my cousin’s brand new i20 was there to support the trick, but no Jump start cables were available. Make shift cable in the form of Electric wires arrived soon. Connecting i20 to Elantra using the make shift cables failed to bring the huge CRDI engine to life, it would have been no proper contact for the wires to the battery terminals since it was only held tight using hands at both ends (no clips). Since I have started my driving days with Ambi’s and Mahindra’s I am quite used to the good old proven method of push starting the vehicle, but was holding back since my Elantra user manual says “Don’t try to Push start”. Next ˝ hr was spend on debating this and decided to take the risk of trying it. Thanks god, it worked and Elantra came to life (can someone throw light on why push start is not recommended by Hyundai) and by 1.45 we are ready to move.

Way back to Bangalore – On the way back we saw the same herd of elephants moving in the forest, otherwise there is nothing much worth mentioning. Didn’t dare to switch off the engine all through since I didn’t trust the physical abilities of my wife and son to repeat another round of push starting. For this reason we had to skip lunch and munch on some sandwiches picked on the way from Barista. With no breaks except for the biological ones, we were back home by 6 pm.
I got the battery checked next day and changed them since they were past their best days and didn’t want to land up in the same situation in middle of some forest

Aftermath - Back home, started thinking about the next drive with a silent promise to wifie - “NO FOREST”. Heard my Mobile rang and saw the name of fellow BHPian Vinay (Linea guy) flashing on the screen. Reason for the call – “Team BHP meet in Nagerhole in March, are you game”. No prices for guessing the answer, wifie and son are happy as usual and we have started packing. May be we will catch the elusive Tiger this time.

Status of my NO FOREST PROMISE - There is always a next time, till then let the Forest Saga continue
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Old 4th March 2010, 17:01   #6
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Hey Bobby, very well written....good detail as always. especially the elephant charge....
This video I found in youtube, just sharing here in your thread (hope you don't mind)
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Old 4th March 2010, 17:40   #7
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Wow ...waiting for more
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Old 4th March 2010, 21:31   #8
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Nice travelogue. Enjoyed reading it.

Originally Posted by gadadhar View Post
After crossing Gundelpet we took the left turn to Sultan Bathery (Kerala road).
You meant right turn to Sultan Bathery I suppose.
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Old 4th March 2010, 23:02   #9
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This is an elephant chase video which my cousin shot on a Jeep Safari in Kabini

This video has got 3.5 star rating, 23 ratings, 60000 views and 23 comments so far.

Since I uploaded this video on Youtube, I have been contacted once by a representative of Animal Planet and again later by a private production house making a movie for National Geographic.

We gave them approval to use the above video, but not sure if it has been used in any documentary.
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Old 5th March 2010, 09:47   #10
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MX6 - That's a good joke.. I was using a simple Canon with no good zoom, a new one with 20X optical zoom is on the way, hope to get better shots in next trip

Majic - Thanks, I feel we should not generalize as women being responsible for this

ampere - Agree with you completely.. Water bodies - There isn't much except for Noolpuzha towards this side.

Vinay - Thanks for your comments.. Hope it was not too detailed to be boring.. Thanks for the video..

speedsatya - Thanks, done with this episode, hope to pen more after the Nagarhole BHP meet

sbraj - Thanks for the correction..Sorry for the typo, its the RIGHT turn
smartcat - That's amazing, will keep a tab on whether this aired sometime
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Old 5th March 2010, 10:53   #11
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Very well written!!!Visiting forests is not only about Tigers or Leopards, its just sheer luck to sight these mighty ones. But one should enjoy Forests on the whole for their diversity.

Nice photos!!! really enjoyed!!
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Old 8th March 2010, 09:18   #12
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Originally Posted by srikanthpotluri View Post
Very well written!!!Visiting forests is not only about Tigers or Leopards, its just sheer luck to sight these mighty ones. But one should enjoy Forests on the whole for their diversity.

Nice photos!!! really enjoyed!!
Thanks Srikanth.... Mykkara is a good place to listed to the sounds and beauty to the forests.. Tiger and Leopard, yes. there is always a next time
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