It had been quite some time since we did a trip together. Studying at the same college we were close till our jobs took us to our own separate lives. Couple of us were now going to far off places for higher studies. We knew at the back of our heart that such a trip may not happen again.
As usual we hacked up a last minute plan and everybody managed to get ready for what was supposed to be a memorable last get together. We decided to stay away from the oft taken hill stations trip and wanted to explore something new. Masinagudi with its many wildlife resorts seemed perfect from some of the pictures and reviews I saw online. Without further ado I made a booking for InnTheWild. For the next day. To be honest not many resorts had accommodation since we were so close to the date. We would leave at morning around 6 to beat the Bangalore traffic and the plan was to return a day later by 6pm. This was a very short trip, so going someplace near was important. Mysore road is known to be notoriously painful to drive on weekends and so we took the Kanakapura – Mavalli – Chamrajnagar route which would then join the Mysore – Ooty route at Gundlupet. This route has very few options to take a break and we decided to pack our breakfast of bread jam, snickers and bananas and reach in time for the lunch arranged at the resort. We had two cars and four of us could drive. This made the driving part less of a hassle.
This was the beginning of rains and we were not sure how much of our trip would be spoilt by it. On the way it was raining in a couple of places but we managed to pile up on the kilometres pretty well. The route was an undivided highway but traffic was pretty sparse which made it an enjoyable drive. Once the route enters Bandipur forests the roads get narrower and we drove slowly so we could spot wild animals. Sparing a couple of deer and monkeys which adorned the way, the drive was pretty uneventful- we were hoping to see some elephants whose sighting are not uncommon on these routes. After reaching Masinagudi we took the road to the right which took us to Singara. Masinagudi lies in the foothills of Ooty and borders on the Mudumalai National Park which is where our resort was in. The road to the resort which leads from Sringara is pretty much non existent and doable only by 4x4s. So we left our cars near the Singara check post and waited for the resort Gypsies to arrive. And what a ride it was. Our Gypsy tossed us around in a trail that had deep troughs too large to be called potholes, rocks and even a puddle the size of a cricket pitch. We managed to reach the resort not out and we were in for a treat.
Ahead of the resort’s main building was a meadow with dozens of deer grazing. The sound of us walking up to our cottages made them look at us with pointy ears. After realizing that we were just another bunch of tourists they go back to what they do, which is pretty much munch the grass, walk a few feet and more of the same. A couple of gaurs (Indian bisons) were also seen languishing but they seemed least bothered by the new company.
Lunch was a wholesome affair with good veg and nonveg options. We talked to the resort manager, who showed us a couple of photographs he shot of wild dogs and tigers inside the resort . We booked a slot for the night safari and left to enjoy the rest of the day.
What ensued was a couple of hours of football in the rain. After the match we were all covered with mud and deer droppings, which by the way the grass was full of. Tired but realising the day was half over, a bunch of us decided to take a walk.
The other side of the resort had a watering hole and hoping to see some more wildlife we strolled towards it taking pictures all the way. On the left the NIlgiri mountains towards Ooty with clouds perched on top gave us a good backdrop for some Profile Picture photography. The was sky was eerily blue and the silence all around was broken only by the chirping of the birds. The machaan,a treetop platform to spot animals was right in front of the watering hole. We walked around and saw some more deer, gaurs and a couple of wild boars.
After dinner the night safari took us around the resort with spotlights mounted atop the gypsies. Once in a while the convoy would come to a stop. In the darkness all we could see were hundreds of eyes glistening and looking at us. Many of them broke into a run scared by our lights and noise. We were a bit disappointed for not seeing anything exceptional and to throw away that feeling we decided to book for the morning safari which would take us deeper into the forest. Little did any us know what lay ahead.
The day was tiring and we made to our cottages for the night. Around our cottage a couple of bisons decided to call it a day and made their bed. The staff were very friendly and told us stories of bears walking up to the cottages and scratching the doors. We were told not to open the doors without asking the visitor the number of legs they walked on. That made us mindful for some time before sleep overpowered us.
The next day we woke up at 5am to a misty morning. We were shuffled into a Gypsy. Standing and grabbing hold of the nearest rail for grip, we started our safari. The roads became more bumpy and animals more exotic: wild hen, woodpeckers, giant squirells and many others we never recognized. We were tired after the last day and not very alert when the driver hushed us and pointed straight ahead.
It was a leopard and it was just sitting there and looking at us. By now we were fully awake and were gazing at the fascinating creature. It saw us, but did not budge. This continued for a couple of minutes. Those carrying cameras managed to get a couple of pictures and we started our vehicle again. The sound drove the animal away. We followed it up to the spot it was lying but it was nowhere to be seen. We were now entirely thrilled to have managed to catch a glimpse of this exotic creature, in what was for many of us, our first real wildlife encounter.
Back at the resort we had breakfast and by then it was time to get ready to leave. I managed to sneak another short walk around the property. I was accompanied by the resort’s environmentalist and we spotted a couple of bear’s paw markings, a king cobra’s skin and some elephant dung. Other guests had by then heard about our leopard sighting and were asking to show our photographs. We thanked the staff for the wonderful experience and left early since some of us had trains to catch to their places.
The return travel took us a bit more time as the gps route took us into shorter but worse roads. We managed to reach in time but we were tired with all the driving and the lack of a good sleep. Going to bed that day I felt a bit sad knowing that I won’t be waking up to be greeted by a hundred deer steadfastly staring at me.
About the Author – Thanks to Jomy Augustine for the amazing travelogue! Jomy, a software developer at ORACLE, Bangalore has covered many beautiful places in and around Bangalore with Masinagudi adding to the list.
For enquiries and to know more about Inn The Wild visit http://www.innthewild.com/