Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Us all "Enthu Cutlets" exploring the diversity of nature that is Coorg and Kerela

Day 2

The term enthu cutlets was coined by Anjali who along with Mini and Harini who kept us all entertained with their witty and humorous chatter. And I thought that this term defined us to the T and had a good ring to it and thus added it to the title...

Day 2 started very early since we had plans to visit a lot of places which included a forest Safari at Wayanad Forest, Irppu falls, Dubare Elephant training camp and Valnoor Fishing camp. We were originally planning for Nagerhole but we were informed that Nagerhole recently fell prey to a forest fire and the forest was closed to outsiders. But their was hope since we were told that we could visit The Wayanad forest in Kerela. The drive to Wayanad was amazing through the winding roads and lots and lots of coffee plantation and lots of colourful flowers.

Wayanad forest was a 20 kms stretch and it was part of the same forest but the name and the state was different. We started at 6:30 and met Ambar and Gokul on their bikes. We rode on through Gonnikoppai, Ponnampet, Hudekeri, and then reached High Falls Holiday Homes where Anjali and Mini had made reservations. This place is a beautiful place to stay. A night there costs about 800 for three beds and food is extra, veg plate is 70/- while non veg plates are 125/- each. Irppu falls is very near to this place and you can do a short trek there from this guest house. It?s a home stay again which is typical of Coorg and you will get home cooked food and home treatment too. The people are generally very friendly. If you are interested you could be taken around a tour of the estate. They also have a basketball court where you can amuse yourself with when you are not trekking around that area.

Wayanad forest is just ten odd minutes from here and once you reach the forest, you have the option of taking your own jeep along with a guide which is economical and cost you some 150/- bucks or go in a rented jeep which will cost you 450/-. Mini took up this opportunity to ride on the bullet. We wanted to let the girls feel what it was like riding through natural beauty... its addictive.. Bikes are not allowed inside the forest so we took Ambar and Gokul along with the guide and as we drove deep in to the forest we enjoyed the sights and sounds of the wild. Everytime we would comment on something or the other, the guide would shhh.. at us and suddenly we would stop and he would show us the animals . It is a definite advantage if you know Malayalam. Gokul was a Malayali and he would translate what we would be informed by the guide.

Anjali had this dream of meeting with her favourite reptile, the crocodile and the whole time she was hoping against hope that we would come across this beautiful creature and when she was informed that there were no crocs anywhere she was very disappointed but that did not stop her from craving for a crocodile. Everybody whom we came across knew about her fascination for crocodiles and did not hesitate to tease her but she was vehemently for crocs and I was having thought bubbles with the pic of Anjali spending the rest of her life with her fav crocs and that was not a pretty picture though that Australian guy makes crocs look so sweet. BRRRRR again.. I personally have no dislike against this reptile but I certainly have a heavy dose of respect for creatures-who-can-snap-your-bone-just-like-that-however-friendly-you-are, no matter what... but as I believe opinions and likes differ from person to person and I respect that too....

The guide told us some stories about how an elephant almost destroyed one jeep and how there was one jeep full of Python babies and showed us a dead bison which the tiger had killed but could not drag it due to its size. As we went deeper and deeper into the forest about 17 kms into the forest we saw a broken down Aiyappan Temple and I was wondering to myself who would take the trouble of coming so deep into the forest and build a temple where it was fraught with danger from wild animals? We stopped at a watering hole took some pics and then continued on round the forest and came out to the main road. The whole drive was an experience but if you really want to see wild animals you have to reach there really early in the morning like say 6:00 am or stay there till dusk when the tigers come out. The guide told us that spotting wild animals is better on weekdays since there are few jeeps moving around and weekends are not a good idea since there are lots of people coming in and going out and the animals stay in their own safe place and do not venture out much because of so much noise. My advice is to stay somewhere near by for a night do the safari and then carry on to other parts of Coorg. You can book yourself into Nagerhole Resort if you wish or a High Falls Holiday Homes where you can get a cab arranged for yourself to take you to the forest.

As we came back from Wayanad, we stopped at Irrupu Falls which was flanked on both sides by the Brahmagiri range in the Western Ghats. One can also go for an hour trek to this range if one is interested in trekking. The falls is a nice one but when we went the water was moderate but yet there was a good amount of crowd flowing in to take bath at the base of the falls. That motivated our specially Anjali and Ambar to go and stand and take a shower despite the fact that they would be dripping wet. Though Rocky was dying to dive in, he was cooly enjoying the view as he forgot his get-wet-in-the-falls shorts... as for me ... i was content splashing around in the cool water at a much more sedate part of the falls...

Mini struck a conversation with a toddler as we were leaving as to what was that thing floating near on of the stones in the water where we were all enjoying the cool stream of water passing over our feet. Mini very maturely pondered that it could be a spider but then pat came the answer from the toddler that according to the books spiders have 8 legs and this creature had 6 legs... and that set Mini thinking on what could the creature be..... maybe some alien or maybe a spider who lost two legs ... LOLOL..

While returning from the falls, Anjali decided to bike it out with Ambar. Both of them were wet and they thought that the open air would dry them up. We decided to go to Kutta to have lunch since that was the nearest town on the way back from Nagarhole and Wayanad. While coming down from Kutta, we bought a quarter bottle of gin and mixed it with half a litre of mountain dew and six of us freaked out with that for the heck of it by the side of the forest. We dropped the girls at their guest houses and I am sure they enjoyed their rides through the cool route. As for Ambar he was one content man for reasons only a man-who-got-the-chance-to-give-a-ride-to-babe(s) knows. LOLOL. ( Our biker friends were very envious of Ambar when they got to know about this ha hah a !! ) Anyways, the gals decided to stay back since the guest house was out of the way from where we were going.

We carried on to Dubare Elephant Training Camp. We had to cross the river by the boat to reach the camp. From afar as we were softly being rowed across the river, I saw elephants enjoying their bath in the river with the mahouts scrubbing them to glory... what bliss... one wonders !!! I was tremendously thrilled to see that we could enjoy elephant rides after all and guess what !! we were just in time for the ride. It was going to be my first ride and I was very excited. The last riding session lasted from 4:00 to 5:00pm and when we reached it was exactly 4:00 pm.

We met Dr Shivaram ( member of the Coorg Wildlife Society), the manager of this camp, who explained to us a few facts about elephants as I enquired about this and that. He was kind enough to talk to us and we got to know that this place was the oldest training camp and now they had some 6 elephants along with two baby elephants that they were training. The life span of the elephants in captivity is longer and lasts to 80 years rather than the life span of the wild elephants who lived approximately to 60 years. An elephant?s molars are very important in contributing to its life span. As soon as the molars break, the life span of the animal comes down since it cannot eat much. If you are there in the morning by 8:45 for the ride, you will get a detailed information about elephants from this knowledgable man. Its a part of the morning ride.

It was time for our ride and we paid 50/- for the tickets and sat on Vijaya who would be taking us around. In Dubare, there was this guest house which was 107 years old and it is now rented out to visitors. You need to bring your own food if you want to stay at Dubare but the whole ambience of staying in such an old cottage must be cool.

As we ambled along with Vijaya we were lead by a baby elephant who was 6 years old and very frisky. His name was Ganesha. Ganesha, a cute little thing, was more interested in grazing and playing with the other big elephants but he had a job to learn and came with us reluctantly leading Vijaya. He was also being trained to give visitors a ride you see. The elephant ride was the highlight of my trip. They are such gentle animals and so mistreated sometimes.

Dr Shivaraman told us that it was difficult to capture elephants nowadays and they would capture it only to leave them in the wild. It was too much of an effort to train them and I got to know from Harini that elephants roamed that area of Coorg quite liberally not being scared of humans. Harini?s estate was also raided by elephants and they are attracted highly by jackfruits so the estate owners do away with this tree if there is a risk of visiting elephants.

Anyway as we finished our ride, we got introduced to this elephant who was taking her bath when we came in. She was all clean and was going back to her place. As she came up the river bank, DR Shivaraman stopped her and told us to take a photograph with her. Her name was Durgaparmeshwari. She was a 55 years old and in advanced state of pregnancy. She was very friendly and raised her trunk when the camera went CLICK?

We also met Mr Geoffrey Muthanna who was a member of the Coorg Wildlife Society and he oversaw the Valnoor Fishing Camp. We had anyway planned to go there and it was good to meet the manager in person. He was again a friendly man who invited us to his house. We crossed the river with the help of the old boatman who rowed the boat with a long stick and made our way to Valnoor.But not before taking some nice pics as we watched the sun making its descent down the horizon.

Valnoor is very near Dubare. Ideal fishing time is from morning to 11am. You must get your own fishing gear but Mr Muthanna provides you with a pair of fishing equipments if you have not gone prepared. We met him and his family who were very hospitable. They arranged for a guy to take us to the river where we saw a family angling and trying to get a fresh catch. It seems they were fishing for the whole day without much luck.

We watched the sunset from Valnoor over the Kaveri river and headed back to Siddapur where we crashed off early after having dinner at Harini?s house. One more day to go and I was dreaming of Talacauvery and Madekeri and Pandi Curry... yum yum yum... SNOREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE ......

Us "enthu cutlets" were conserving energy for day 3 which we were hoping would be fun...

For more Photos you can click here. Have updated my photo blog with a couple of the snaps.