Nilgiri Tahr

Nilgiri Tahr
Nature Beckons you....Listen to her whispers.....

Sunday, March 4, 2012

'A Great Drive - entry for Michelin Pilot Experience by V S Sankar'

Driving to Tholpetty Wildlife Range from Trivandrum......494KMs

Where is Tholpetty?Well,many may stop on their tracks and wonder where exactly is this place!

This Tusker was very cool with himself.....

Tholpetty is situated in Wayanad district of Kerala and is 25kms from Mananthavady town.This place is surrounded by the more famous Nagarhole WLS of Karnataka,which is 15kms from Tholpetty.Kabini reservoir is 35kms away.Tholpetty is part of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary,which is split into 2 parts.One is Tholpetty Range and the other  Muthanga Range.Tholpetty and Muthanga are not necessarily contiguous because of man made plantations of bamboo and eucalyptus.Wayanad WLS also falls inside the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.It is the first of the 14 Biosphere Reserves in India.

Malabar Giant Squirrel..

Spread over 345 Sq.Kms,WayanadWLS also falls under the Project Elephant scheme.One normally encounters wild elephants during their trips to Wayanad.

Very attentive Deer......
One fine morning in Dec we set out to Tholpetty.I had made reservation at a resort very close to the Tholpetty check-post.We reached Calicut around 6pm and I was hoping to reach the resort by at least 9pm.But the condition of the ghat section was very bad and it took a long time for us to even reach Vythiri.I was in constant touch with the manager of the resort and even told him to keep our food in the room allotted to us.

We reached Mananthavady by 11PM!Fortunately the road to Tholpetty doesn't fall in the restricted(9pm-6am) section.The manager of the resort advised me to be careful as wild elephants may stand right by the side of the road.And he was right.After taking a left turn towards Tholpetty-Thirunelli road we saw a young tusker standing by the left side of the road.We only had a 3sec view of him and didnt stop the car to have a more closer look,as it could turn out to be catastophic!

The sun setting behind the forest......

Then the road again split,one leading to Thirunelli and the other to Tholpetty and if you want to go to Kutta and beyond which falls under Karnataka State.We finally checked in at 11:45pm and before we entered the gates of the resort saw a few spotted deers grazing peacefully.

We decided to have a long nights sleep and planned to take the evening safari into the sanctuary.Next day after breakfast we headed to Iruppu waterfalls in Karnataka about 15kms from Tholpetty.The climate was very cool for comforts and we decice not to have a bath in the waterfalls.

The Tusks of the Tusker........
We came back for lunch to the resort and after a few hours rest started our evening safari by jeep.We were excited of the prospect of seeing some elephants.The Tiger,is always elusive and never had a remotest hope of spotting one!

We started off our evening safari into the Tholpetty sanctuary around 4:30pm and were having the company of 2 European tourists.They live in the Alps and were feeling little greenish out here in Kerala.

We saw a few deers,for a start and they were grazing peacefully.A Sambar was hiding itself inside some thick bushes and it was fun watching it.We were not lucky to spot any other wildlife and was almost resigned to the prospect of reaching the hotel without having a glance at a wild elephant.Then,there he was!

Grazing peacefully.........
A tusker,all by himself standing to our left.He looked at peace with himslef and was aware of our presence.Already my Canon 400D with the 55-250 lens was in action.I realised the light to be low for "hand held" phtography and it was not comfortable to use the tripod sitting inside the jeep.So decided to use the stepney tyre as tripod and at the end it woeked out well.

The tusker stood their for some time,with our hearts beating like drums and the adrenaline pumping exhorbitantly.The jeep driver was careful enough to park the vehicle at a safe distance and always ready to accelerate,if  the tough guy charged.That didnt happen and after standing there for about 4 minutes he quietly disappered into the deep thickets.

We came back and had a good night's sleep.The dinner was good with chappathies and veg curry.Since the road was very close to the raod we could hear the buzz of vehicles passing by.The place was reasoably crowded(most of them would staty at Tholpetty) and the night time lorry traffic is reasobable high.

Standing Tall........

The next day morning we started in right earnest with the Alpian friends again for company.The morning safari was comfortable for the climate part but was little dusty.The first sighting for the day was a few jungle fowls and then we saw a deer crossing right in front of our jeep.Saw a mountain squirrel clinging upside down on a tall tree.

A bird and a deer may not be the best of friends!

Again saw some deers and a Myna was perched on top of one deer and was pecking furiously.Whether the deer enjoyed the myna's presence,I was not quite sure.

After about 2 hours we came back and  had a good Kerala breakfast.For the Europeans,bread-butter-jam was always available.

After breakfast it was time for us to bid good bye to Tholpetty and head directly to another wildlife abode.The Nagarhole wildlife sancturay.We have never been to this place and were excited to reach there and meet our wildlife friends.

But what happend at Nagarhole is another story............

How to get to Thopetty?

480 kms from Trivandrum
275 kms from Kochi
100 kms from Calicut
25 kms from Mananthavadi
8kms from Kutta(Karnataka)
111 from Mysore

Where we stayed?

Pachyderm Palace

Kochi office for bookings:0484-2371761
The tusker retreats into the deep jungle

A chance to win a trip to <a href="" title="Michelin Pilot Experience" target="_blank">Michelin Pilot Experience</a> at <strong></strong>