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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