We have been planning to explore the beauty of Nilambur and surroundings since two years and we could fulfill it during Sept- Oct 2009. We, a group of 8 members headed by Mr John started from Trivandrum at 11PM on 29.09.2009 in Amrita express. The other team members include Basheer, Roy, Tarun, Nazar, Sasi, Pramod and Murali. Murali joined us at Shoranur railway station, the next morning. We started our journey to Nilambur by Nilambur passenger from Shornur at 7 am. The passenger train cruised via Pattikkadu and some other stations which can hardly be called as railway stations by its look. The train was filled with locals travelling to Nilambur and it was heavy rush while nearing Nilambur station. The train reached Nilambur station at about 9 AM. We were all stunned to see the rush in the station as the station was filled with those who are traveling to Shoranur by the same train which will be returning after few minutes.
John sir’s friend, one Dy Thahasildar(Retd) picked us from the Railway station in an innova car. Praksahan who was the driver of the car was a friendly chap. We directly went to the PWD rest house Nilambur. All got ready by 10.30 AM. We had our breakfast from a Vegetarian Restaurant ‘Sagar’ near the Rest House. John sir and his friend were seen charting the tour programme and we could see them giving directions to Prakasan.
30.09.2009 ( First day)
Kanoly Teak plantation: We first went to the Kanoly Teak plantation site where the entry fee is 10/- per head. In order to access the plantation site we have to cross the Chaliyar river. A beautiful hanging bridge has been constructed across the river now. It has become easier for the tourists to go to the other side of the river. I was told that earlier tourists used to go there by canoe. The view of the Chaliyar River from the middle of the bridge is astonishing. We could see a number of canoes engaged in taking sand from the river. A small stream called Mundanthode flows from the plantation site to the Chaliyar River. It was interesting to see the clear stream water of the Mundanthode merging with the muddy water of the Chaliyar River. Teak is known as the paragon of Indian timbers. Its scientific name derived from the Latin word TECTONA which means “carpenter’s joy”…. . And so goes the saying teak and rogue can lie anywhere. The Canoly plantation originally had 14.8 acres from which teak of 9.1 acres was cut for the use of alleys of the Second World War. The rest of the 5.7 acres of the plantations is still being preserved for historical importance as well as research needs. It was informed that there are a total of 117 teak trees which are being preserved now. A lot of renovation works are being carried out in the plantation site to attract the tourists. Thanks to the forest department.
Aadyanpara Water Falls : From the Canoly Teak Plantation we proceeded towards the Aadyanpara waterfalls which is about 13 KM from Nilambur. The water falls is so lovely to watch and the water is so pure and clean. I was also told that it is as dangerous as its beauty too because of the undercurrent. The water level would suddenly rise if there is rain in the hill. John sir and Tarun couldn’t withstand the persuasion of the cool water and they had a nice bath from the safer side of the falls. There were only a few tourists as it was a working day. The gooseberries which we had from the banks of the waterfalls, sold by the locals, was relishing. Even though we wanted to stay there for a long time, we didn’t want to miss out the other places as well. We decided to proceed further and Prakasan told me that it is better to have lunch before leaving to other places as it would be late otherwise.
We had given order for lunch in the Vazhiyoram Restaruant, a project of Tourism Department. The Restaurant is in a beautiful location with Vadapurampuzha River flowing along the back side of it. We had lunch from there and took one hour break at that place.
Teak Museum: Prakasan told me to visit Teak Museum first as it gets closed after 4.30 PM. The entry fee to the museum is Rs20/- per head. We get a lot of information regarding the various kinds of teak woods with its display inside the museum. It’s a must watch place and the lovely garden on the back side of the museum is worth seeing. I was told that we can see various kinds of butterflies around the garden. We spent around one hour in the museum and the garden.
Nedumkayam Forest Depot: From the teak museum we proceeded towards the Nedumkayam forest depot which is almost 10-15 km from Nilambur. There is a beautiful woodhouse built by a British Engineer named Dawson inside the nedumkayam forest area. The woodhouse is on the banks of the river Nedumkayam which flows from the ootty hills. The woodhouse is now under the forest department and there is a full time watcher who takes care of the building. There is no electricity supply to the woodhouse. It was learned that Dawson, the British engineer who stayed there in connection with the construction of the bridge across the Nedumkayam River met with an accident while swimming in the river and was drowned. In view of the services that he rendered and on the basis of the request from his widow, he was buried there itself. The scenery below the woodhouse near the banks of the Nedumkayam River was awesome. Although only four of us went to see there, we really enjoyed the time we spent over there. We had to return from that place with half mind as it was getting late. The watchman told us that wild elephants come there during evenings. There is also a settlement area nearby the river on the other side. The jeep road via the bridge goes to Manjiyam. I was also told that Ootty is only 20 KM from there if we go through forest area, although there is no specific path for trekking. We also visited the burial place of Dawson, the British engineer which is only walkable distance from the woodhouse. Tarun also took some pictures of the burial place in his mobile phone and had some comments about the British Engineer. He may have thought about the hardships faced by the Indian workers during that time.
At about 6.30 PM we returned to Nilambur and stayed in the Forest Bunglow, Chathumenon House near Teak House. As we reached there late, we had to take food from outside. We were very upset to hear the news about the boat accident occurred in the Thekkady Lake and all were behind the news the whole night.
Myself , Tarun and Sasi were in the same room. While Tarun occupied the bed and we found our bed on the floor. Early in the morning I heard Tarun making some noises and searching for his mobile. After switching on the light he was doing something in his mobile phone. On further enquiry I could understand that he had a dream that “Dawson sayippu” came and lay near him on the bed. Tarun was deleting the pictures of the burial place of Dawson which he had taken from the Nedumkayam. Tarun couldn’t sleep after that and tried to wake up everyone. We had great fun over that incident and everyone pulled his legs over that. We also had to get ready early as Prakasan will be coming by 8 for travel to Ooty.
Prakasan came at about 7.30 AM. We started our journey to Ooty at about 8 AM. via Edakkara and Vazhikkadavu. We could see the “Cattle market” at Edakkara, which is a rare site now in Kerala. We had our breakfast from Vazhikkadavu. Then we slowly proceeded our journey exploring the beauty of the Nadukani churam. There was a mild rain and the scenic beauty of the place is unforgettable. Prakashan told us that there will be landslides during rainy season and the road gets blocked more often during that time. We could see that a lot of patch works have been going on there in the roads. A toll of Rs 20/- per vehicle has to be given to the Tamil Nadu Government in the border. Nadukani churam is almost 60 Km from Ootty. From Nadukani, Sultan Bathery is only 42 KM towards left side and Gudalur is on the right side. From Gudalur Ootty is just 50 KM towards east and Mysore is 110 KM towards west.
When we reached Gudalur we decided to have a drive through the Mudumalai forest area. The mild rain with cool breeze compelled us for that move. We had a slow drive towards Mudumalai Wild Life Sanctuary which is about 17 KM. As it was raining there were only few vehicles running through that side. There is a check post of Karnataka forest Department before entering the Bandipur Wild Life which is about 15 KM from Mudumalai. They were having a thorough check of all the vehicles moving by that way. The Karnataka Government has restricted the traffic through this area after 8PM as it would disturb the wild animals. We saw peacocks and hundreds of deer while traveling through the way. Stopping of vehicles on the road is not allowed and mobile inspection team of the Forest department is agile in making sure that no one is violating the rules.
Bandipur is a calm and quiet place with continuous cool breeze. We spent about one hour there. Monkeys and pigs are common there. One thing we have to make sure is to close the doors and windows of the vehicle while parking. Otherwise our belongings will be in the hands of the monkeys at the top of the trees. The monkeys there not scared of humans. Entrance to the forest by the bus of forest department is possible between 6 AM to 9AM and 4PM to 6PM.
Some of us wanted to go up to Gundalpet which is only 30 KM from Bandipur. But we decided against it as it would fetch a lot of time. We then moved towards Mudumalai and the Karnataka check post people had a search in our vehicle once again in the border. From Mudumalai we turned left. Masinagudi is only 7KM from there. Ootty can also be accessed via Masinagudi and it is only 39 Km from Mudumalai. As the passage is extremely dangerous with 39 hair pins the traffic is restricted. Only one side journey is possible through that path. Vehicles are normally not allowed to come back via that passage as there were a lot of accidents before.
Masinagudi is a small town. It’s actually the valley of Ooty hills. There are lots of resorts available which are away from the town. It is all inside the woods, which is not that dense. The scenic beauty is astonishing and we really enjoyed the drive through the place. We could see the hills covered with mist on almost three sides. The greenery there with the village atmosphere is a tremendous experience. We made an enquiry for accommodation in one of the Resorts called Jungle Retreat. It is located inside the jungle and we found that no rooms are available. Reservations have to be made in advance. I think the resorts are being run by Bangloreans. The tariff is also on the higher side. It is seen that most of the vehicles coming through that side is with Karnataka registration.
We returned from Masinagudi at about 2PM and moved towards Ooty covering 39 hairpins. Prakasan had a tough time managing that and we didn’t have our lunch too. We decided to have food from Ooty as there are no good restaurants available in Masinagudi. Heavy mist covered the roads and it was getting hard to drive because of the poor visibility of roads. We reached Ooty at about 3 PM and occupied PWD Rest house which was arranged with the help of Tamil Nadu Liaison officer. Thanks to Manu Lal, our dear friend for that help. The rest house is nearby the botanical garden. As there was mild rain and mist we could only go to the Botanical Garden during the evening. We had a small shopping at the Tibetan Shop near the Botanical garden. Tarun had a long chat in Hindi with an old woman in the Tibetan shop. They were talking about the freedom of Tibet from China. The old women couldn’t understand the deaf and dumb language which Tarun used in between his hindi and therefore the old women was forced to talk in Malayalam which made us laugh. We purchased some woolen clothes from her shop and returned giving all the best for her fight for freedom of Tibet. We enjoyed the cool atmosphere of Ooty in the room after having dinner from Amaravati restaurant near the rest house.
It was Gandhi Jayanthi Day. We had 1mt prayer before going for the local Ooty tour. We had our breakfast at about 8.30AM and went to Ooty Lake which was crowded becoz of the holiday. We decided not to go for boating considering the Thekkady mishap. Also it was drizzling.
We went to the Ooty railway station from there. It was heavy rush out there and therefore our plans to go to Coonoor by train had to be set apart for the time being. We then went to the Rose garden. That was a good experience watching variety of flowers and enjoying the atmosphere. Entry fees to the rose garden is Rs20/- per head.
After that we proceeded towards Dodabetta peak. Dodabetta is the highest peak in Ootty. Dodabetta means big mountain. Although it is written over there that it’s the highest peak in South India, we cannot agree to that. Dodabetta peak is 8640 feet above Mean Sea Level. But the Anamudi peak in Idukki District, Kerala is 8842 feet above Mean Sea Level which shows that Anamudi is the highest peak in south India. We were there in the Dobabetta peak at about 12 noon and the atmosphere there was unbelievable. We couldn’t even see each other becoz of the mist. We couldn’t see the suicide point and other view points becoz of the mist. But altogether it was a wonderful experience. We were trembling with chillness and a cup of ice-cream could only aggravate it. There was heavy rush in the Dodabetta peak becoz of the holiday.
From Dobabetta we went to Kottagiri which is about 25KM away. We wanted to go to Coonor as well which can be accessed from there. Kottagiri is a small town. The traffic through this road was very light. We can also go to Mettupalayam via Kottagiri other than the common path used by tourist via Coonoor. We had our lunch from one of the Vegetarian Restaurants named ‘Kasthuri’ in Kottagiri as guided by a local taxi driver. Food was nice. Hats off to the hospitality of the Tamilians.
At about 2.30PM we returned to Coonoor which is about 20KM from Kottagiri. We reached Dolphins Nose at about 3PM. It is just a view point. The road to this place is very narrow and works are being carried out for safety. Cement bricks are laid on the roads in most of the areas. The place is about 15KM from Coonoor. The view of the Catherine waterfalls, Kottagiri village and Mettuppalayam from this point is worth seeing for the travel to reach there. The guides charge Rs 5/- for the telescopic view of these sites from the location. Lamb’s rock which is about 5 KM from the Dolphin’s nose is just a view point. We could see the lamb standing in the rocks in the mountain through the telescope. It was hard to find a lamb as it was foggy out there during that time.
Sim’s park is a small park in Coonoor for children. It’s nothing when compared to the Botanical garden in Oooty. We then rushed to Coonoor railway station to catch the last train to Ooty from there. But we reached there late by 5 mts as the last train departed at 4.30PM. The train journey from Coonoor to Ooty takes about 1.5 hours although it is only 20KM from there. We missed the travel by train through the hills. We decided to experience it the next time. We then came back to Ootty by road and reached Ootty at about 5.30PM. We could experience the beauty of Ootty in rain as it was raining cats and dogs while traveling back.
After having a walk around the streets of Ooty we all settled in the Rest House.
Since there was rain we decided to return early in the morning as we could only go slowly. We started our return journey at about 7AM carrying the good memories. We had our breakfast from Gudalur. Gudalur is also famous for Tea, coffee and cardamom. We proceeded towards the same route from Gudalur which we had gone ie via Nadukani and vazhikkadavu to Nilambur and reached Nilambur railway station at about 11.30AM taking little breaks in between. We thanked Prakasan for his support through out our journey. Train to Shoranur started at about 11.50AM and reached Shroranur at about 2 PM. We had lunch from the IRCTC Vegetarian Restaurant at the shoranur Railway Station. Murali had to leave to Palakkad from Shornur. So the other 7 members of the group returned to Trivandrum by Janasatabdhi Express which was running at the right time. We reached Trivandrum at about 9PM.