The arrival of the Nilgiri landscape begins after an hour drive from Mysore. Infact the road trip to the Nilgiri mountains starts with the entrance to the Bandipur tiger reserve and further continuing to Mudumalai tiger reserve.As we proceeded in our road trip to the Nilgiris, just half an hour before the entrance to Bandipur reserve forest, we came across numerous sunflower gardens which forced us to take a pitstop to enjoy the majestic colourful combination of the yellow colour with the dark clouds in the sky.I have never seen such a vast open field of sunflower, so it was a thrilling experience to me that made me overjoyed at the start of this road trip.Although the local farmers charged Rs. 100 from us for taking pictures but it was worth to spend the money to capture the stupendous landscape of the yellow fields with the dark clouds in the monsoon sky.I was fortunate enough to capture it in my camera amidst the monsoon clouds in the sky.Tourists travelling to Bandipur must keep in mind that the main entrance gate to the forest closes at 8 o’clock in the night.So one must plan accordingly their road trip to Bandipur.
Mudumalai is an extension of Bandipur forest which falls in Tamil Nadu.So due to the change in state there is a check post where forest officers check for inner state permit and relevant documents for the car. Travellers please note that cigarettes and alcohol is strictly prohibited inside the forest.We entered Bandipur reserve forest at 6:30 in the evening and we were welcomed with numerous herds of spotted deers, grazing freely in the rejuvenated grasslands of the forest.As we proceeded further we encountered herds of wild elephants playing with the branches of the trees that encircled our road.Due to monsoon, the rainfall did wash away all the dirts from the grasslands and the leaves of the trees which increased the greenery of the forest.The dense canopy of the trees and the soothing green colour of the landscape provided to us a fresh new experience of our unpolluted earth.What more does a traveller need in the introduction to a road trip?
The highway intersecting the two reserve forests is also much narrower which I think is a safety measure to prevent the over-speeding of the vehicles and allow a safe pathway for the wild elephants.
Mudumalai reserve forest in the morning
Greenwoods nature camp was our first halt in Mudumalai forest,which took us a 7 hour drive from Bangalore.The Nature camp is situated within in the vicinity of the Mudumalai forest so encounters with the wild animals are common at night. Infact when we reached the campsite at the night the caretaker showed us plenty of spotted deers grazing on the ground just infront of the camp. Greenwoods nature camp offers tented accomodation which gives us a feeling of a forest camping deep into the Nilgiri biosphere.
Tent accomodation in Greenwoods nature camp.
At night even elephants came in the vicinity of our campsite which forced the caretakers to rush into the forest with firewood.But I must say that the campsite organizers have provided enough protection from wild animal encounters by building electrical fences around the campus.The caretakers even provide us with bornfire and barbeque chicken which enthrilled our night stay.The cost for the bornfire arrangement was Rs 500 and they charged 1.5 kg barbeque chicken at Rs 650.Price of accomodation for one tent is Rs 2800 which includes a delectable South Indian breakfast.
Apart from the expenses which we cant avoid,I must say that we had a unique rural experience away from the hustle and bustle of the city life which enabled us to gain the proper zeal to explore the Nilgiris further in our road trip.In the morning we explored the nearby trail to the forest where we spotted birds and spotted deers. The vast open field in front of the nature camp is surrounded by mountains where local farmers can be seen grazing their domestic animals .Our monsoon visit proved lucrative enough to catch a glimpse of the picturesque Mudumalai forest as fresh drops of rain soaked the bright green colours of the surrounding fauna.
The camp also organises a safari and a visit to a nearby dam at the cost of Rs 1600.We did’nt avail for the safari as we had to hurry up for our trip further to Kotagiri,which was our next destination.It waa a perfect start of our first day in our road trip in the Nilgiris ,as we chased the monsoon clouds towards Kotagiri.
Pit stop at Masinagudi on our way to Ooty.
Most of the travellers visiting the Nilgiris prefer Ooty as their prime destination and overlook some of the best offbeat towns in the Nilgiri belt. Kotagiri is one of them and we decided to explore the tea gardens in the Nilgiri belt in this town.The drive from Mudumalai to Kotagiri was exquisite, with meandering roads encompassing dense coniferous forests and tea gardens.
After covering the numerous hair pin bends on the highway.
We booked the Vanamala farms homestay in Kotagiri which is another 1 hour drive into the outskirts of Kotagiri. I must say if you are not ready with cooking food on your own and if you do not prefer a real remote place( with not even a nearby grocery store or restaurant ) then this is not at all suited for you.We left Vanamala farms and decided to stay near the center of the town since it was already dusk when we reached Kotagiri. Thanks to the owner of the Vanamala farms as he arranged an entire flat for us, since we were unaware of the remote location and unavailability of Vanamala farm. Neverthless it was an exquisite experience for us to drive down to the remote tea estates and coming back to the centre.
Our accomodation in Kotagiri.
In the morning we were mesmerized by the mist created by the light drizzle of the monsoon winds in this part of India.The visibility on the road was not well enough but the greenery and the mystic atmosphere created a romantic road trip for us.The Nilgiri landscape is at its best once we try to explore it in the monsoon in the offbeat towns in the outskirts of Ooty. Kotagiri is a must stay for all nature loving travellers in order to see the pristine forests with infinite stretches of tea plantations along the highway.
As we drove down towards Coimbatore
View of Coimbatore town.
After driving down the hilly terrain from Kotagiri to Coimbatore, the stretch till Annamalai was mostly through a smooth state highway in the rural villages of Tamil Nadu .We reached Udumalpet the last town after which Annamalai tiger reserve starts .We were astonished to see plenty of windmills along the highway which brought in a different landscape other than the green mountains , in our road trip.The land on both the sides was barren giving away the opportunity for the government to set up the renewable energy production for which Tamil Nadu is a leader in our country.Altogether it was an unique experience for me to see such high towers of windmill structured together on both sides of the road.Till now there were only forests and tea estates but this one hour stretch of the road trip thrilled us with a different landscape of human civilization in the form of white coloured windmills , rotating gently with the monsoon wind.
Wind mills in Udumalpet.
The Annamalai tiger reserve is divided into two parts with the second one being named as Chinnar wildlife sanctuary which falls in Kerala.Just before arriving Munnar we came across the dense Chinnar forest that starts just after the Kerala state checkpost point.As we enter the wildlife sanctuary we encountered a panoramic view of a huge waterfall which can only be reached through a jungle trail arranged by the locals.Kerala is indeed gifted with so many perennial waterfalls in this country that attracts adventure seekers from all over the world
In this whole journey from Udumalpet to Munnar along the dense forest of the Annamalai tiger reserve there are 4 police checkpoints where rigorous car checking is done along with the relevant documents of the car.Each of them charges Rs.50 each for moving tourist vehicles.Alcohol,cigarettes,scissors and any sharp items are strictly prohibited inside the forest.Although these checkpoints do interrupt our journey to Munnar but all of these are necessary to maintain the biodiversity and wildlife in Southern India.The second image is in Annamalai tiger reserve as it was already dusk when we entered the reserve forest.
The roads are very narrow owing to the restrictions that makes the traffic slower which assists us in enjoying the majestic view of the dense canopy along the highway.Wild animal encounters are common while driving towards Munnar ,though we only got to see peacocks.We were lucky enough to get colourful clear skies that enhanced our spectographic moments to enjoy the greenery.Driving amongst such exquisite scenery we reached Munnar,our final destination of this road trip, by evening 8 o clock.
Waterfall in Chinnar wildlife sanctuary.
As we crossed Annamalai tiger reserve in the dusk time.
Probably India is the largest tea producing country in the world and the fact is proved while we visit the hill stations in North Bengal and that in Nilgiris. Well I have been to both of these parts but there is an added advantage for a tourist visiting the Nilgiris. The roads are pretty much smoother in South India, which helps us to cover more tourist spots in a given time period.While Munnar is a beautiful hill station nestled among the tea gardens, the best view of this greenery can be experienced in the Top station highway and if you want less traffic then go towards Chinnar wildlife sanctuary.The best parts of this tea gardens are in monsoons when the green mountains is lightened up with the unpolluted blue sky , sometimes interfered with the dark clouds that brings in the drizzle.The rich vegetation in the hill combines in a spectacular way with the dark clouds to give the perfect green painting to our eyes.Road trip in Munnar was worth a value for us as the monsoon helped us to take panoramic views of the sparkling scenery of the Nilgiri landscape.
I always felt monsoon is the best time to visit the Nilgiris and my assumption was precisely correct when I visited Munnar. Top station is the farthest point in Munnar to visit some exquisite spots in Munnar while following the road towards Matupatty dam.It provides a panoramic view of the Nilgiri grasslands with sparkling view of the entire peak of the mountains.In monsoon the place looks marvelous with paintings of various coloured clouds hovering along the peaks of the green mountains.
View from Top station.
As we reached Top station the sky allured us with a clear sunny sky but at the end dark clouds started to collide on top of the peaks creating majestic reflections of the sun rays on the dark clouds which were sneaking through the peaks creating ecstating moments for photography.Top station has numerous view points which can be reached by walking down through the muddy steps along the edge of one of the mountains.Top station is a must visit place to experience the majestic views of the Nilgiri hills in the pristine monsoon of our country.
Views from Top station.
Just few kms from Echo point while coming from Top station we arrived at this pristine destination where the clear sky with white clouds were creating majestic reflections on a lake.
The air is refreshing with a fresh fragrance of the monsoon winds that beautifies the greenery in Munnar.Instead of visiting the entry point of the Echo point , a nature lover must lie down in this place which is an extension of the lake and the meadows in the Echo point.Monsoon clouds sneaking through the sun rays add to the stunning features of this place.The water reflects multiple colours of the clouds which camouflages with the alluring greenery of the Nilgiris.
A half an hour drive from the Top station in Munnar leads us to the Kundala dam, a hydroelectric project built in 1946.It is also Asia’s first arc dam project.The building of this dam has carved out a reservoir amidst breathtaking scenery,and it has become as one of the major tourist attraction in Munnar.
View from Kundala dam.
As we visited the site in monsoon, we waited for the dark clouds to hover on the surrounding green hills to fetch for us the best landscape photo of this place.Horses and cows can be seen grazing on the grasslands surrounding the fresh water of the reservoir.Altogether just before the arrival of the rainfall the alluring combination of the green hills with the sparkling reflections in the reservoir left us spellbound.There is also a boating facility organized by the locals to help the tourists see the green mountains of the Nilgiris more closely amidst the fog and the mystic climate.
View from Kundala dam.
Just 15 minutes drive downhill from Kundala dam we reach Mattupatty dam. Mattupatty dam is a concrete dam built on the Top station highway in Munnar which acts as a major source of water supply for irrigation and source of electricity for the state .Kerala tourism has done a lot of hard work to promote this beautiful tourist destination surrounded by hills and dense forests which has been a grazing ground for the wild elephants.They have built an amusement park called Cow boy park where tourists can enjoy a lot of adventure activities including zip line and rope walk.Fish spa and delectable South Indian food joints are also available in this man made park.
Activities in Cow Boy National park.
In this time of the year the sky of Munnar looks delightful with the monsoon clouds playing hide and seek with the clear blue sky.The sharp reflections of the clouds on the reservoir looks majestic that adds to the alluring greenery around Munnar. It is always obvious to mention that along the Top station highway there are numerous picturesque tourist spots which can give us the ultimate experience of the Nilgiris in monsoon. Munnar is at its best in monsoon when its reservoirs have more water and the mountains are rich in vegetation.
View of Mattupatty dam reservoir
Thanks to the weather that it perfectly fitted in with our iterinary to explore the Nilgiris. Munnar offered us the perfect landscape to enjoy the monsoon with an alluring greenery in South India.The conclusion of the trip was even more wonderful when the previous night downpour washed away all the pollution from the tea estates and the next day the sky was clear and sunny.The stretch from Erivakulam national park till Chinnar wildlife sanctuary is covered with numerous estates which are even more beautiful due to less traffic and numerous streams of waterfalls. We returned our way back to Bangalore via Chinnar and Annamalai wildlife sanctuary through Salem,but we never hurried through our tour and availed every oppurtunity to capture the last glimpse of the enigmatic Nilgiri mountains in this year monsoon.