Travel Review

Trip to Mudumalai Tiger Reserve

For last three days, I had been to the most memorable trip. Myself, wife and son along with the family of my son’s friend had gone to stay in a forest cottage owned by a common friend of ours, a naturalist. The private house is nested inside a forest, secluded, near Bokkapuram Village, Masinagudi, on the outskirts of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. A remarkable location it was – for city-dwellers like us, hearing our own breathing in late evenings was an unknown experience.

Bandipur Tiger Reserve

Mudumalai Tiger Reserve - Tourist Centre

Mudumalai Tiger Reserve – Tourist Centre

We went to Mysore from Chennai by flight, then drove down about 2 hours to Masinagudi. We passed through Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka state and then through Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu state.

Once we settled down in the house, our host warned us; in the night if we hear (wild) elephants approaching we should run into the bathroom and stay there till they left. For someone who by choice has not installed steel grills for safety on their front door, to prevent animals from getting hurt, I was curious on her idea of building the bathroom door stronger – I asked her. For which, laughingly she replied, NO, the bathroom doors are as light as the other doors in the house. The reason we will be safer from elephants there is because the bathroom entrance opening is the narrowest – even a baby elephant can’t get through it . Needless to say I didn’t sleep a wink on the first day.

On the first day, we spent the time in the house and the stream near-by. Every day in the late evenings and early mornings, animals like deer, elephants and sometimes Leopards (we were told) come to the stream nearby. Being a naturalist, the house we stayed didn’t have any walls around the compound – they prefer to have the animals roam around freely, so they could silently observe them. The house had minimum furniture – no Television, no Radio, no ACs, no electrical appliances other than ceiling fans and a water motor – to keep the place noise free and be inviting to animals.

The house where we stayed

The house where we stayed

Running water stream, just 2 minutes walk from the house

Running water stream, just 2 minutes walk from the house

View from our rooms - peaceful

View from our rooms – peaceful

Look, who came to see us next day morning - Deers

Look, who came to see us next day morning – Deers

From a near-by hilltop, the view of the plains below. Circled in the centre is the house where we stayed

From a nearby hilltop, the view of the plains below. Circled in the centre is the house where we stayed

Lunch at Masinagudi Rest House

Lunch at Masinagudi Rest House – 976 M above mean sea level

The second day, we went to the place to nearby temples and the kids were busy observing birds – they were everywhere and in plenty.

When driving in the forest, our host parked at safe distance whenever she saw a herd of elephants - our of respect for their habitat and safety

When driving in the forest roads, our host parked at safe distance whenever she saw a herd of elephants – out of respect for their habitat and safety

One of the many check dams in the villages

One of the many check dams in the villages

The forest was a birds galore

The forest was birds galore

அருள்மிகு மாரியம்மன் திருக்கோயில், சோலூர், பொக்காபுரம், நீலகிரி மாவட்டம், தமிழ்நாடு

அருள்மிகு மாரியம்மன் திருக்கோயில், சோலூர், பொக்காபுரம், நீலகிரி மாவட்டம், தமிழ்நாடு

Dazzling view of Goddess Mariamman, presiding deity of a local temple, Bokapuram

Dazzling view of Goddess Mariamman, presiding deity of a temple in Bokkapuram, Nilgiri District, Tamil Nadu

The black stones represent the Gods & Goddess, worshipped by local tribes in the area

The black stones represent the Gods & Goddess, worshipped by local tribes in the area

Lord Ganesa's temple over a hilltop

Lord Ganesa’s temple over a hilltop

Enchanting view of Sunset

Enchanting view of Sunset

The third day, we left the house before dawn, so that we could reach the forest office of Bandipur tiger reserve, in time for the forest departments’ official tour inside the reserve.

Young elephant at the santcuary run by the Bandipur forest department

Young elephant at the sanctuary run by the Bandipur forest department

Being XMAS, the staff quarters were decorated with christmas decorations. Wild flowers adding their charm.

Being XMAS, the staff quarters were decorated with Christmas decorations. Wildflowers adding their charm.

Monkeys, wondering what we humans are queueing for, in front of the tourist centre

Monkeys, wondering what we humans are queueing for, in front of the tourist centre

Guided by a forest ranger, we were taken responsibly inside the reserve in a private Jeep (SUV). In the tour, we were treated to sightings of many animals in their natural habitat.

Peacock dance in its splendid form

Peacock dance in its splendid form

Ravishing beauty of Peacock in its natural habitat

Ravishing beauty of Peacock in its natural habitat

Watch tower - I was told if your a naturalist you can book to stay here overnight - not for me

Watchtower near a lake frequented by animals – if your a naturalist you can book to stay here overnight – not for me

Early morning, Deer outing to drink

Early morning, Deer outing to drink water

Wild mongoose (in the centre)

Wild mongoose (in the centre)

Indian Black Turtle (in the centre)

Indian Black Turtle (in the centre)

Near the end of the tour, we had a thrilling experience. The ranger had stopped the Jeep, deep inside the forest and was explaining about animal behaviour, when a young wild elephant that was staring at our vehicle, suddenly came charging towards us. I was sitting on the side facing the raging elephant – my breathing literally stopped. The ranger sensing my fear, whispered something to all of us. I didn’t hear any of his words, my whole life was flashing in front of me.

By then, the elephant had come to about 10 feet from our vehicle, it stopped on its track, stood there for few moments, gave us a commanding glare and turned away. That’s when I started breathing again and delayingly understood what the ranger had told us – “relax, nothing to worry, please keep absolutely quite, don’t make any noise or movements“.

Young wild elephant charging at our vehicle

Young wild elephant charging at our vehicle

See the back of the animal, my breathing resumed

See the back of the animal, my breathing resumed

Lunch at Sylvan Lodge, Theppakadu - 878 M above mean sea level

Lunch at Sylvan Lodge, Theppakadu – 878 M above mean sea level

On the last night of our stay, our host had planned a treat for the kids – she had organised a tent inside the house so that the kids could stay late night and observe the sounds.

Tent for the kids

Tent for the kids


Also published on Medium.