Avalanche near Ooty : Ooty, Tamil Nadu Travelogue by Gsam

 

   

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Avalanche near Ooty

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A write-up of my trip from to Ooty via Ooty

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My spouse and I just spent 4 days in Avalanche which is a reserve forest (Kundah RF) area at 2036 m AMSL, about 30km from Ooty. We were picked up from Coimbatore Airport by our friendly taxi driver Jagadeesan - 09442370007 (we have used his taxi before).  In fact, thanks to Jagadeesan who hails from Nilgiri Distt, we first discovered Avalanche last year.  Our route took us via Karamadai then to Geddai, Manjur, Yedakadu finally reaching Avalanche Forest Rest House, on a very scenic hairpin bend jungle route between Geddai and Manjur. We were thrilled to spot the exquisite banded peacock butterflies on the way. By the time we reached it was around 6.30pm just in time for the fading sun, quite spectacular at these altitudes. The first thing that hits you at Avalanche is the palpably pristine fresh air. That night the minimum temperature was -4C, anticipated and welcome compared to grotty Mumbai!! The next morning we went upto the terrace of the Rest House to watch the sunrise over the mountains behind.  In front was the emerald coloured Avalanche lake and shola mosaic grassland covered hills across. A family of Nilgiri black langurs occupied the trees of the resthouse.  Such beautiful, gentle, shy creatures.  They were busy eating leaves and never came near us for tidbits unlike their Matheran cousins!  We could see a herd of feral Toda buffalos on the meadows across, so we quickly ran there to get some photos.  After a sumptuous hot breakfast, we were taken by Jagadeesans brother Ramesh who works for the Avalanche Power House , to the Avalanche  Valve House is about 300m higher at a 70 degree gradient!  Our route was initially through the dense shola forest behind the EB colony. The jungle was dripping with epiphytes - ferns, orchids, mosses, lichen literally falling off the trunks and branches.  Pristine mountain streams were everywhere, and at parts the shola was dense, dark and seemingly impenetrable (had Ramesh not been there).  The shola forest is what we had come for and we were not disappointed.  After about 2/3 the way up, we emerged at a grassland from which we had a stunning view of Avalanche and Emerald lakes.  From here we climbed (huffed and puffed) the rest of the way on the steep staircase along the penstock, stopping every now and then to take photographs (actually to catch our breath). The cold temperature combined with strong sun shine - high altitude / low latitude, ensured we never felt tired, however we did get sunburnt. Lesson - always wear a hat. From the top near the valve house we had breathtaking views of the Nilgiri ranges, the lakes, Kolaribetta peak directly behind us, and a herd of Nilgiri tahr high up on the rocks behind the valve house.  A recent landslide had destroyed the road going to the valve house, and we were thrilled to see huge pugmarks in the mud which Ramesh assured us were of a tiger - quite possible given the size.  Elephant pug marks were also to be found.  Lots of little white and pink wild daisies (?) were growing everywhere including on the broken road and alongside the penstock. We could have sat there enjoying the views forever, but after a couple of hours we descended along the same route, discovering some more new ferns and orchids in the shola forests.  By this time it was around 4pm, and we decided to drive to the Upper Bhavani reservoir about 30km away.  The very bad road passes the deep Thai Shola valley.  This time we did not see the civet cats, Nilgiri martens, wolves and elephants we saw the year ago, but we were fortunate to see a herd of bisons and scores of sambar and barking deer, all coming down to the lakes around sunset. We also drove further to Bangi Thappal which is in Mukurthi National Park, and on the flip side of the Silent Valley in Kerala.  One can also walk to the Sispara Pass, if you have the permit from the Forest Dept. Splendid views of typical Nilgiri grassland shola mosaic peppered with blood red nilgiri rhododendron trees just coming into bloom.  They are called Pongal pooh (flower) because they bloom around Pongal time which is next week. On our drive back we stopped many deer in their tracks with our headlights. Nights here are crystal clear and you can enjoy the Milky Way in its full glory, except that it is also freezing cold!  The next morning after enjoying our langur friends, and breakfast, we decided to take the trail into the huge shola behind our Resthouse. The caretaker gave us an approximate idea of the route. At the beginning of the trail were many pretty high altitude wildflowers, bright yellow, orange, blue; we have taken photos for identification. Part of the way was through plantation forests of eucalyptus, wattle and other Australian species, some shrubs were so overgrown that we had to literally cut our way through.  Finally we entered the shola - dense, dark and dripping with epiphytes of all sorts, interspersed with small waterfalls and pristine streams. We could hear but not see our langurs.  After quite some time we emerged into a eucalyptus forest, and some welcome sunlight! the path became very narrow along the edge, though it was not that steep.  By this time according to our handy GPS we had climbed around 350m and ended up in a place with fantastic views of Kolaribetta, one of the higher Nilgiri mountains.  We decided to relax at this spot and enjoy the views.  There were a few bushes of beautiful Nilgiri Strobilanthes (Karvy - Kurinji pooh) in bloom nearby to keep us company along with the very tall eucalyptus trees.  Words cannot describe the peace and the pristine fresh clean air.  If there is paradise on earth, this is truly it. And may it remain so always.  After a long while, we decided to return rather than proceed further on the trail which was getting narrower than ever. After boring the caretaker with our experience, we set off for the meadows along the Avalanche lakeside.  These grasslands are surrounded by pine and eucalyptus plantation forests with high mountains in the background and turquoise lake in the front. It looks like a picture postcard from Switzerland !  We attempted walking along the lakeshore, but found it not very practicable, so ended up walking from meadow through pine forest to another meadow, along the road, along the lake, until we reached the EB colony around 4 km away. We saw lots of pretty little bright orange and grey birds in the hedges, like little minivets. Ramesh' wife had a tasty and most welcome tiffin laid out for us which we enjoyed with gusto. Jagadeesan insisted on another drive on the U/Bhavani Road as he was desperate to spot some more wildlife. This time we just went upto Lakidi along the lake and sure enough there was no dearth of sambar and barking deer. The next day was 1st Jan, and we were surprised to ob

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This Travelogue 'Avalanche near Ooty' was posted by Gsam on Friday, January 11, 2008.

Gsam

Gsam lives in Mumbai(Maharashtra).
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2 Comments on 'Avalanche near Ooty'
A travelogue about a trip to Ooty
On 5/25/2011 10:31:36 PM suganthi said...

Beautiful narration and very interesting too. .

On 1/12/2008 11:31:03 AM Uriah Heep said...

...a very tempting narration..but missed the pics!! as for what I could make out, Avalanche seems to be the name of a private resort that's come up in the Kundah reserve forest...am i right with that?!! IMHO the name Avalanche does not quite go with the essence of the Nilgiri hills...or does it??.

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