Mudumalai – A wild drive into woods….

I had a transit time left with me in my project; where else can one plan being a wildlife lover?? Yes this time it was a drive to Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.

Called up Wildlife warden – ooty for bookings at mudumalai tiger reserve, the booking process is made ease.

The plan was to halt at Mysore on 14th Feb 12 and early morning drive to Bandipura and then reach Mudumalai.

15thFeb 12

We started our wildlife odyssey to bandipura on 15th Feb 12 at 5.00Am from Mysore, the roads were deserted. Sindhu was really happy with the long and early morning drives.

Finally we entered Bandipura Tiger Reserve; you won’t believe there is so much of traffic where I could count 10 vehicles per minute. I was really disappointed with the starting of my trip. My mind insisted me to take an about turn and drive straight to KGudi… 🙂

Hmmmmm… with no hopes in such condition we silently moved on to check the availability of the jungle safaris, another disappointment was awaiting me there were nearly 40 cars parked in front of the department and waiting for their turn.

Sindhu suggested that we move on and reach mudumalai. The climate was chill and very pleasant we spotted Indian Peacocks beside the road and common langurs were in plenty.

  

I would take few lines to tell you about Mudumalai: Courtesy – Wikipedia.

The Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, lies on the northwestern side of the Nilgiri Hills on the interstate boundaries with Karnataka Mudumalai, which means ‘first hills’, is one of the first wildlife sanctuaries established in India. The sanctuary is divided into 5 ranges – Masinagudi (in Karnataka), Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota.

One can often spot herds of endangered Indian elephants, vulnerable Gaurs, and Chitals. The sanctuary is a haven for Bengal Tigers and Indian Leopards and other threatened species. There are at least 266 species of birds in the sanctuary, including critically endangered species like the Indian White-rumped Vulture and the long-billed vulture. 

 We reached Thepakadu were in a forest dept is located and enquired about the cottage we booked for, it was intimated to us that the check in time is at 12.00Pm… Hmmmmm the time was still 9.00Am with big question mark on our faces we decided to have breakfast.

Upon enquiry we were told that hotel “TamilNadu” serves breakfast in theppakadu a short walk from the forest dept lead us to our breakfast table. With still more time remaining we made our way towards Bandipura.

From Mudumalai border we passed the welcome board towards Karnataka state. After crossing the check post we moved on slowly peeping around and getting irritated with ongoing traffic.
 

 A small bird drew my attention, without identifying the bird I just clicked the photos later I was informed that the bird was “Blue Caped Thrush”.

After spending some time we moved on further without any action we reached bandipura forest department the time was 10.30Am, we decided to drive back by the time we reach we were supposed to get the cottage. On the way back we observed the peahen on the road and moved ahead with capturing the beauty.

A slow drive took 45 mins to reach Thepakadu, I went and enquired the cottage status and luckily I was handed over the keys to occupy. It was 5km from Thepakadu and towards “Gudlur” town.

The board stating “Abhayaranyam – Mudumalai Tiger Reserve” welcomed us. Short drives uphill from the sign board lead us to our beautiful cottage.

First safari was at 3.00Pm and we had missed it our next safari was at 4.00Pm. I took the safari tickets surprisingly it is much cheaper compared to our bandipura. We boarded the bus and it was the Q system, unfortunately we got last seat. The bus went on the tar road towards gudlur and we entered the forest area. I was really gripped in anticipation of any wildlife action.
Well the bus had a normal crowd were they felt as if they were in zoo, repeated shouts by me to keep silent made me embarrassed in some situations. After 15 mins or so we spotted a herd of elephants calmly grazing without paying any heed.
I was fortunate to photograph one such elephant, after spending some 5 mins observing the herd we moved on and later safari dint yield any wildlife sightings.
It was 5.15Pm when we reached back to Thepakadu forest department. As far as my knowledge forest becomes alive only after 5.00Pm, with hopes we drove towards moyar valley and found fresh elephant dung but could not spot any.
It was getting dark and time was 6.45pm we drove back to Masinagudi town to have dinner. The hotel had no customers and took him 30 mins to give us the parcel.
While coming back in the night I had told Sindhu to catch the eye shine besides the road, we dint find any wildlife until we reached the Masinagudi bridge. I got a eye shine on left hand side of the road I slowed down the car and finally halted it, Ahh it was a mouse deer which crossed the road unfortunately I was not able to capture the photograph.
Sindhu was very happy in sighting the mouse deer which was a new species to her, another 5km towards gudlur, we spotted a herd of elephants which were grazing I stopped for a minute and captured the nature with naked eyes, as it would have been very dangerous to photograph using flash.
It was a double joy to her, she saw a mouse deer and 15 elephants in single drive… what else nature can offer you? Happily we went for a sleep.
16th Feb 12

The early morning alarm woke us up at 5.30Am, after refreshing ourselves we started for a morning wilderness drive towards bandipura and moyar road.

Moyar road was standstill with out any sightings we returned back to Masinagudi and drove towards bandipura, the mist had covered the entire locale few common langurs were already doing the watchman job on the top of the tree. Honking Lorry’s, Buses, and Jeeps started rushing towards ooty in the speed of 60-70km. Though Forest department have put the sign boards and speed breakers to slow down, none of the vehicles will follow…

I was happy in seeing Indian Roller the state bird of Karnataka. We moved on further when we heard Indian Peacock calling it was indeed a wilderness feel. It had positioned itself on the dead tree beside the road.
As usual Bandipura was filled with tourists; we took an about turn and started back to Masinagudi. On the way back I found “Brahminy Maina” aka “Brahminy Starlingspent few minutes photographing it later on we moved further and spotted “Serpent Eagle” at a distance. I captured a record shot of it.
Reached Thepakadu it was time to have breakfast we went to same hotel “TamilNadu” and had the same dosa’s this time too. Thepakadu has elephant camp and you can enjoy seeing the tamed elephants taking bath at moyar river.
  
While returning back to our cottage we spotted an elephant beside the road, it was sub adult and grazing peacefully until it was disturbed by tourists. We happened to witness the mock charge.
We reached the cottage and it was time to wrap up and start towards namma bengaluru, packed the baggage handed over the keys to respective personnel and started the journey.

Few other birds which we spotted en-route to bengaluru were “Red-vented Bulbul”, “Green Bee eaters” and “White belied drongo”.

 Birds spotted @ Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
  1. Indian Roller
  2. Brahminy Kite
  3. Brahminy Starling
  4. Hoopoe
  5. Purple sunbirds
  6. Scarlet minivet
  7. Black drongos
  8. White belied drongo
  9. Blue capped thrush
  10. Serpent Eagle
  11. Ashy prinia
  12. Indian peacock
  13. Common Myna
  14. Jungle crow
  15. Jungle babbler
  16. Greater flame back woodpecker
  17. Rose ringed parakeets
  18. Spotted dove
  19. Asian koel
  20. Pied Bushchat
  21. Green bee eaters
  22. White throated king fisher
  23. Indian wagtail

Mammals spotted @ Mudumalai Tiger Reserve

 

1.      Indian elephants
2.      Mouse deer
3.      Malabar giant squirrel
4.      Wild boar
5.      Spotted deers

Driving direction to Mudumalai:

Bangalore–>Maddur–>Mandya–>Mysore–>Nanjangud–>Gundlupet–>

Bandipura–>Mudumalai

Distance covered: 250km one way

Mode of transport: 4wheeler

Unforgettable trip to Bandipur

TIGER!! The word was in the air, “Hey Tiger spotted @ Bandipur”, “Maga Tiger!! 4 cub’s in bandipur anthe”…

We decided to bet our luck, and started our journey to “Bandipur” on April 30th @ 9.30 PM from Bangalore. Rajeev invited us for dinner at his place mandya without considering huge risk, we reached his place by 11.30 PM, hmmm had nice Vangi bath and Curd rice… Spent good time with his parents and started to Mysore.

Finally reached Mysore by 12.45 PM, the plan was to stay at Ravi’s cousin Mr.Niranjan’s place. We decided to leave at early morning by 4.00 AM to Bandipur. The wildlife odyssey kicked off as expected and reached bandipur at 5.45 AM on 01/05/09.

The safari busses were ready to hit most anticipated game reserve in next 5-10 mins, already bus was filled with tourists. Our intention was to hire gypsy. Unfortunately it was booked for 6.30 slot and we had to wait for next gypsy safari at 8.00. I don’t know whether it was unfortunate…or fortunate…..

My instinct proposed to go for bus safari at 6.30 which was ready in a min or so. I expressed the same to Karthik, the next moment the tickets was with us and finally ascended the bus.

It was habitual to karthik when ever we headed to wildlife watching to woods. Karthik dreamt about tigers, leopards sometimes man eaters also the result was we were landing up without sighting even a Barking Deer!! So this time I strictly told karthik not to sleep or don’t dream about tiger sighting at bandipur and this time he followed honestly…

Bus headed to safari track, it was 5 mins drive. It all happened in 5 seconds adult Tiger and a cub was sitting beside the safari track Karthik and Ravi excitedly shouted TIGER!! We were around 25 people in a bus and only 8-10 of us could catch a sight…. I was able to capture photo in naked eyes. Those memories last long…..

We stopped the bus for almost 20 mins waiting it would return back… but no luck…L with eyes widely open peeping outside each nook of the forest hoping again we might have an opportunity to sight the big cat.

The safari ended at 8.00 with few snaps of CSE and Peacocks.

Our gypsy safari was at 8.30, we were more thrilled to enter into woods with great expectations and I narrated the whole scene of Tiger and its cub passing beside the safari track to jeep driver [Mr. Sunil]. He was very happy and asked us to show the place where we sighted the TIGER, gypsy halted there for more than 30 mins we were so fortunate to see fresh pug mark on the mud.

After an hour or so our jeep safari also ended with sighting of few sambars and chittals . The last hope was our next evening safari at 5.30 PM.

We had 6 hours for our next safari and quickly planned to “Gopala Swamy Betta” which is 20km from bandipur, the temple was heavily crowded with more than 300 -350 tourists.
The Gopala Swamy betta is attracting more tourists from all corners, but one sad thing is most of the people are careless, arrogant, illiterate they throw plastics and waste materials where ever they want. Though forest department board says “Plastic Free Zone” you can see plastic bottles, covers, eatable covers in many places which are harmful to environment.

We had good lunch at temple took few hours rest enjoying to climate and nature witnessed in front of us. Planned to leave by 3.30 to bandipur for our last safari.

The evening safari was yet to start and unfortunately the climate turned worst and it started raining heavily and we thought our plan would be flop mean time our TL: Trip Leader Govardhan distributed snacks which we got it. Mr. Sunil made it clear “Sir I don’t think we can sight big cats in this rain” Man proposes God disposes, we were helpless. We could sight a herd of 20-25 elephants and a herd of 15 bison. The safari ended at 6.30 due to bad weather.

Hats off to BANDIPUR… 5secs of TIGER sighting will last long in memories.