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Saturday 24 November 2018

A Drive to Thengumarahada - Nilgiris | Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve Safari - Thengumarada

A ride through the
Sathyamangalam Tiger reserve to Thengumarahada Village in the Nilgiris was something i was waiting for a while to happen. And all of a sudden without much Hicups, the Forest department itself have introduced safaris through the reserves. And let me tell you these rides can be pulled back to pause anytime because i believe they are still on trial basis with rides only on saturday and Sunday as both Sathy and Mudumalai tiger reserves have a decent increase on the count of Big cat and mammals in general, and if its causing any disturbance to their habitat or behavior, the forest gates would be again closed for outsiders. Before that happens i would strongly recommend to any of the wildlife enthusiasts who are reading this to experience this 5 hour 50 km ride. No where in India you will get to experience a 5 hr forest single vehicle ride at such nominal cost of 650 per head.  I will provide the link for registration at the end of this blog. The minimum required no of people is 5.

Thengumarahada" The Rice bowl of Nilgiris" is the largest among the seven tribal villages along the Moyar valley in the Sigur plateau. Even though situated on the edges of Nilgiri District, the only bumpy Muddy road to the village is through the Sathyamangalam Tiger reserve starting from Karachikorai, 3 km from Bhavanisagar of Erode District. The police and forest check post at Karachikorai is the entry point and without proper permission from the forest department no outsiders are allowed. There is one bus which plies from Thengumarahada and return back to stay there. Buses are searched each time for any outsiders and if found they would be dropped off before the checkpost. If you have any relatives inside the village you can tag along with them.

The village can been seen in size of a matchbox from the Kodanad View point near Kotagiri, a popular tourist spot with splendid views of Nilgiri slopes and the Dhimbam Hills of Eastern Ghats. Being situated between the Western and Eastern ghats, being surrounded by Sathyamangalam and Mudumalai Tiger reserve and being isolated from the restrictions of any outsiders,proper road, bridges, transportation, Life at Thengumarahada still felt special to me.

To reach Bhavanisagar from Gudalur me and my Dad took a different route from Bandipur  crossing Vaddagere, Arakalavadi, Ammachavadi joining into the Talavadi highway.

The brilliant morning sunshine through the agricultural villages and the Suvarnavathy dam made the drive more beautiful. After Punajanur and Hassanur driving down via the Dimbham Ghats with 27 U turns was scenic upto Bannari. The Bannari Amman temple here is well known and popular among the locals and neigbouring district so we got down to have a quick look at it.  I have come across all these places many times while reading the book " Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand ". I was actually lost into those forest thinking about the Man who ruled these forests for more than 30 years. Thinking about the 50km ride inside STR was more exciting. By 2pm we reached Bhavani sagar dam and this is the second time i am here. Fish from the lake is the specialty here and both of us had a stomach full of different varieties of fish fries and curry with rice. It was excellent.

By 2.30 pm we reached Karachikorai forest checkpost. An year before i was on the same spot with my wife to enquire about Thengumarahada when we visited Bhavani Dam. While booking online 3 days ago i knew 3 seats were already booked and myself and dad will make it 5 as total team members for the ride. A family of 3 from Chennai was relieved by seeing us because forest staffs were not letting them go with the safari as the minimum team should be 5 persons. Soon calls were made from the staffs to the ranger office and by 3.15 a  Bolero forest Jeep arrived with Guard Perumal. 
My dad seated in the front while the family of 3 seated in the middle and for my photography convenience i took the rear which had two seats facing opposite. I could now jump around both sides if anything was spotted. I was more keen on capturing the landscapes around and the Nilgiri hills and for wild animals i was just hoping to see Blackbuck, Hyena ( rare thing to spot ) or a leopard.  Just as we crossed the second check post the Bhavanisagar lake was visible on the left.
From the Bhavanisagar dam where we had lunch its impossible to get an entry to climb up and see the lake. For public 1 special day of an year is permitted and thousands of people turn up for the event. Ticket sales on that particular day would cross 4 lakh rupees is what Guard permual told us. But here the entire lake is just left free for us to enjoy.


                                Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra)

Within the next 1 km my wish came true, inside the bushes to the left i spotted two Blackbucks. Most clicks went out of focus as the jeep was still shivering but i managed to get one finally before the blackbuck faded away into the forest. I was happy for the day. I cant ask more and for the next 4 to 5 hrs it was an amazing experience in terms of just enjoying the forest along the moyar river. On the whole we spotted Hare ( lots of them), spotted deer, Wild dog ( couldnt click ) and some monkeys but what really impressed me was the sharp hills on the sloppy Nilgiri sides. I have never seen this view on any photographs and scanning through one such mountain i sensed a familiarity but only after sometime i knew i was on top of that mountain called Rangaswamy peak two years ago. Just couldnt believe what it looked from the plains.

The road was tough and the feeling was really wild. We passed Ghazalatty Dargha after 10 kms and there were several streams till we reached a diversion to Hallimoyar Village. Waterflow was less in those little streams but it would be nearly impossible to cross on raining months. The final diversion to the left goes to the village bordered by Moyar river. The straight road leads to the Mangalapatti STF camp which houses the Special Task Forces which hunted down the Brigand Veerappan. After the demise the STF has overstayed here and converted it into a massive training camp that can accommodate more than 250 personals.

Mountains of Nilgiris above Thengumarahada  

By 5. 30 pm our last stop was just before the village on the Moyar banks. Spent some time on the river.

The return journey through fading lights to pitch dark till 8pm was an awesome experience. Perumal guard who was driving the Bolero kept on revealing stories surrounding the reserve from start to finish . My dad really enjoyed the day, he said never has he experienced such a journey through any forest like this before. As i have captured beautiful landscapes this time i will be coming back to try my luck with more wildlife sightings sooner next time.

Online Booking Link :
Phone Booking Number   : 9600912528 - Rajarathnam

Saturday 20 October 2018

Narasimha Parvatha Trek || Agumbe Trekking

View Enroute Agumbe Ghats
Narasimha Parvatha Trek route which lies through the jungles of Someshwara wildlife sanctuary starts from Malandur village near Agumbe in Karnataka till Kigga at the other end.  Since camping is not permitted on the peak now, we had to complete the 20 km trek by sunset on the same day. Two      weeks before I called up Forest     Guard Mr Gurunath conforming about our trekking dates. Booked train tickets from Calicut to Uduppi for my cousin Sreejith aswell who is joining me on the trek.  I had a long journey from Chennai to Gudalur in the Nilgiris, picking up my wife and son from Gudalur to Calicut the next day and stayed at my wifeys home at Calicut to catch the morning train to uduppi. Friday 19th October me and Sreejith reached Uduppi by 2pm and the next bus took us to Agumbe by 5pm. A small village with a deserted look. It was pooja holidays and the long weekend had many tourists, but somehow we managed to get a decent room to stay in the one and only visible lodge at Agumbe. Had dinner from the opposite hotel and settled for the night. Next day morning we vacated the place and had breakfast with packed lunch and reached the Barkana falls road by 8am waiting for Mr Gurunath. As soon as he came he arranged a guide Thimmapa for us. Entry tickets was 200 rs per head and guide fees was 500rs per group. Next we had to reach Malandur by an auto which is again 6km. Never thought we would reach malandur safely because the auto driver was heavily drunken and was rolling all over the hills as if he was skydiving. Thimmapa showed us his house and we waited him to get ready and by 9am we started trekking…   

Me & Sreejith @ thimapa's house  Trek starts from Malandur Spotted a small snake here...                                                                                                                                           

Several patchy grasslands with deviations...

Sreejith and Myself trying hard to find the Rainforest we imagined... i know that spotting a King cobra purely depends upon Time and luck factor but the word Rainforest in Agumbe is often used to the Cm 's of rain received in the region and has nothing to do with the type of evergreen thick rainforest. It is no different from the type of wildlife sanctuary shola forest what we see in karnataka excluding the Tiger reserves.

 Barkana Falls. similar to Bandaje falls in charmadi. Eventhough we were on the edge of the big rock, the flow  beneath was blocked.

 Beautifull views with a two layered waterfalls on the opposite mountains.

After 4hrs the sholas were giving upto the grasslands and the lesser thickening surrounding was engulfed with mist.

                                                                                                                                                 Selfie @ the Peak 
The final grassland stretch had more inclines i slowed down the pace and rested at a couple of places. The breaks had two purpose. .one was to sip up water and oxygen and the other was to clean up hanging leeches from our leech socks. By 2pm we reached the peak and it started raining. Since there wasnt any cover in the near sight we continued walking down upto the water source near the old house and refilled our thirst and opened the packed lunch.

  After 13km of climbing up hill we are now descending down to the Kigga side. The trail was almost lost for the first 1 km. From then on the next 4 km was mostly through a long ridge without much altitude changes. The final 2 km had some steeps and rocky paths.

Reached Kigga by 4.30 pm .Thimmapa bid good bye to us near the small lake at Kigga village as we saw him running to catch a bus back to agumbe. We got bus to sringeri and settled for the night. Next day morning back to Mangalore by bus and back to calicut by train i was back with my son and wifey sharing another wonderful word called "Trekking".

   Team: Anish, Sreejith, Thimappa
Place  :  Narasimha Parvatha Peak, Agumbe, Karnataka.
Elevation Min/Max : 1150 Meters,
Km Covered      : 1day|| 20 Kms 
Forest permission : Gurunath ( Forest Guard - Agumbe )- Ph : 9448248024