Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Refreshing Weekend in Blue Hills - Masinagudi

Planning of a Small Trip: After coming back from Ladakh it was continuous 3 months I was working in Office and coming back home, a regular metropolitan routine life. My inner mind was looking for a relief from the daily city life and soul was getting a call from nature. After a brainstorming I decided to spend some days in Madhumalai forest during the Christmas holidays. Amit and two of my other friends also were ready to spend some time in the valley of “Blue Hills”. This time Rima, my wife was in Kolkata and Rumi, Amit’s better half was abroad. So it was a bachelor trip. Once the date we planned I booked two cottages in Blue valley Resort in Masinagudi. Masinagudi is situated in Madhumalai WLS, Tamilnadu and on the way to Ooty from Bandipur. At the last moment one of our friends couldn’t make up this trip due to his some personal problem and we three decided to leave Bangalore on 25th Dec 08 night. The idea behind this was to reach Bandipur in early morning and to enjoy the beauty of jungle and wildlife in the early sunlight.

26th December, 08 9:00 PM - Masinagudi

The whole day was very exciting. We started from Bangalore at around 2 am in the morning. The road was without any traffic at that time and we reached Mysore by 5 am in the morning. Amit was looking for the road that goes towards Bandipur and ignored a one way. We stopped our vehicle infront of Mysore Palace to take a small break. Suddenly a cop came and fined Amit Rs 300 which was not in our worst dream that we could be fined to break one way in that early morning. Amit was sad so I took the control of the car and drove outside of Mysore. We were just killing our times by driving slowly, stopping by the road sided tea stalls as we were quite ahead of our scheduled time. And thus we entered the Bandipur WLS with a golden light of morning sun. As soon as we entered into the jungle a beautiful Cheetal welcome us in the forest.

Pradeep, our third friend who has come in jungle first time was thrilled. The calls of the Peafowl were a welcome relief from the traffic sounds of Bangalore. The whole way through the jungle we drove very slowly. We spotted many Brahmany Starling, Yellow Footed Green Pegion, Spotted Dove, Redvented Bulbuls, Chestnut-Tailed Starling, Brown Shrike, Magpie Robin, Jungle Myna on our way. We stopped for a while to shoot a Peafowl, but traffic inside the national forest doesn’t bother any rules.

They started honking while passing our vehicle. We reached Theppakdu at around 10:30 am and started towards Masinagudi. Amit was very confident about the road and confidently took us in a wrong route. While coming back from the wrong route I spotted one raptor sitting idle on a high perch from corner of my eye near one small bend of a road. Immediately we took a mud road towards the tree and identified a Crested Serpent Eagle. After a whole night driving we all were tired, but seeing this magnificent bird we felt a charge inside us and with in moments we were ready with our camera, lens and tripod. After getting some decent shot of this bird we approached a little further and the bird was on alert pose. My 6th sense asked me to be prepared for a flight shot. I was clicking the bird continuously while it decided to leave the perch with its magnificent wing span.

Amit was not penalised for guiding us a wrong route.

We reached at Blue Valley resort by 11 am and the resort was beautiful. We had our breakfast. There were lots of birds infront of our resort. We could identify Scarlet Minivet, Small Minivet, Long Tailed shrike, Red-vented Bulbuls, Spotted Dove, Sunbirds around the resorts. I took a small nap while Amit was running behind the birds with his equipments. We had our lunch by 2 pm and again went for a sleep. We were called by 5 pm for an evening safari. The safari was not as good as it was just a zeep safari outside the Madhumalai forest. We spent our time in evening with some beer bottles beside the fire place in the room. The atmosphere was cool. After having dinner now we have already headed towards our bed. We have a plan to wake up early in the morning to spot more birds around the place.

27th December, 2008 9:30 PM

Yesterday night a big herd of elephants came almost inside our resorts. The local people used crackers to chase them out. We heard the sound of crackers and breaking trees and bamboo shot till mid night. Today’s morning was very dull compared to yesterdays. We couldn’t see any bird activity near our resorts. We drove outside the resort and were roaming around the village in search of birds. Suddenly we heard a call of wood pecker. After searching we could notice a pair of Black Rumped Flameback, but they flew before we could take a record shot. We reached at a patch of small jungle in search of birds. Suddenly we noticed one Red Jungle Fowl, but it too vanished with in second before we took our camera. We started exploring the jungle by walk. Now the Barbets have started their conference and it seemed we were in a world of Barbet. After walking around 10 minutes inside the jungle we spotted one Brown Fish Owl. It spotted us before we spotted it and flew to another branch. We were behind this and it started playing hide-and-seek with us. We didn’t notice we came quite inside of the jungle behind this Fish Owl. Suddenly one sound made us stop for a second. It was an alarm call of Sambar. And we noticed ourselves are deep in a jungle without any arms (read without our tripods) which can be a habitat of Leopard. With in a minute we heard the alarm call again and decided to come out of the jungle immediately. While we were coming back we heard the alarm call few more times. It took 15-20 minutes to come out in the open area from where we started. The morning has been gone with out any good image. While having lunch we were told that we would be sent to Madhumalai Jungle Safari. We were ready by 2 pm and that was our biggest mistake. Whoever is reading my write up my sincere request not to take this safari as Tamil Nadu Govt is only taking money from the tourist and providing none in respect to a Jungle Safari. They have some noisy buses packed up with tourist after waiting a long time in ticket counter queue. The bus just took a small route outside the main jungle and didn’t stop anywhere infront of the wildlife whatever we have seen like Cheetal, Peafowl. The bus only stopped infront of a group of Langur. The afternoon was also wasted waiting for the jungle safari and spending the worst time in jungle with polluted bus and noisy tourists. We had nothing except returning to the resort and take rest as the sun has already set and there was no light for photography.

28th December, 2008 10:00 PM

Today morning again we started roaming around our resorts in search of birds. We could find many numbers of Brahmany Starling, Jungle Myna, Coppersmith Barbets, Fantail, Ashy Drongo. The RW and RV Bulbuls were plentiful so were the sunbirds, Jungle Babbler and Mynas, Drongos and Spotted Doves. While we were returning back a Spotted Dove was having its morning bath infront of our resort. We had to leave from Masinagudi as our trip is over. So we started after having breakfast. While coming back we could spot Bar Headed Geese in a water tank near Mysore, lots of Black Ibis, White Ibis and Egyptian Vulture just outside the Mysore.

It was a good small trip in the jungle, out of the city life. Though it was not a great trip from the photography perspective but we got our oxygen for the next three four months until another trip would be planned.

Our Team Was –

  1. Amit Mitra – IT Consultant, Logica CMG
  2. Pradeep Dey – Network Engineer, Accenture
  3. Neloy Banerjee – Senior Security Analyst, Accenture.


Shriya said...

nice post and nice shots
Next time going into a mud lane be careful
The forest guards know what to extract

As for safari, always try to do the jeep safari at bandipur
van safari at mudumalai is a sheer waste of time. Some van drivers play "loud engine games" with elephants showing off their elephant scaring skills. In a van safari, you need to be in the front couple of rows to see anything worthwhile.
you can see some of my bandipur mudumalai wildlife / bird pictures at http://www.wildlifesanctuaryindia.com/wildlife/
Best regards

raj patil said...

hi……nice concept blog and pictures.Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and important
information of Mudumalai.Its summer and a great time for picnic.I would recommend the
madumalai to everyone.If you have any specific information about madumalai you can check Masinagudi Homestay

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