The longest and the most exciting 9 kms drive of our lives!

Be advised, there is no evidence for the below encounter during our road trip 7, other than 4 eyewitnesses (including me) who were in the car, when this happened. No, we did not see a ghost! This may or may not be about an encounter with an elephant :). “Won’t say anything irrelephant!” (line borrowed!)

jeep safari in mudumali forest, masinagudi

As I had mentioned in the previous post about that we hired a guide and went around the Mudumalai forest. We were in his jeep, he was driving around. We were going slowly looking for wild animals and I spotted a tusker. It was huge and was feeding on bamboo leaves or shoots. It must have been 75 mtrs (I’m bad with calculating distances just by seeing but I just figured that Usain Bolt might have taken less than 10 seconds and more than 5 seconds to reach that Elephant from where we were, so it must have been 75 mtrs. :)). The vegetation was thick around it and in the silence of the evening we could hear the echoing sounds of the elephant breaking the bamboo. IT WAS LOUD and of course, scary.

I’ve seen elephants in temples and circuses before, but seeing them in their natural environment and knowing that we are in its territory adds a whole new dimension to fear/adrenaline. It was big and tall, of course all elephants are, that’s what we thought, but this was really tall. All of us peeped out of the jeep to take a look at this majestic beast. The vegetation was thick, so could not get any good shots with the cam. So there we were, on the road, few meters away from this beast crushing bamboo with such ease that it sends down a chill even to recollect that sighting.

We were there for close to 10 minutes when we decided to move on and see more animals. We went around for couple of hours sighting the usual wild animals -wild boars, bisons, “wild hens”, monkeys, deer,  peacocks and some more elephants.

bison sighting in mudumalai

mudumalai forest road, masinagudi

The sun had set and we turned back to return to Masinagudi. On those roads, we are not allowed to drive after 9PM, as the traffic disturbs the wildlife.  We had our car, Ford Figo, parked in Masinagudi and we were supposed to drive back to Moyar (9 kms from Masinagudi), where we were staying.

So I asked a question to our guide, “have there been any elephant-sightings on the Masinagudi-Moyar road?”, a “yes” or a “no” would have sufficed but he chose to say “Oh, that road is known for a lot of sightings and incidents!!”. Ahem! “incidents??” I asked and he spoke in detail about his 3 encounters with elephants. We (4 of us) asked him what the “to-do’s” were if we came up against an elephant.

These are the things the guide told us:

  • If you are in a car/vehicle, DO NOT get out of it. Stay in it.
  • If it is night time and you have the headlights on, do not turn them off, if you are against a elephant. Logic was that the bright light will irritate the elephant and it will get back in the vegetation and one can drive past.
  • If the elephant charges you, rev the car, and move slowly TOWARDS the elephant.
  • The elephant might come real close but will not dare touch the vehicle. (note: of course there are incidents when things have gone bad, but those poor chaps didn’t have any luck, I guess)
  • Do not try to drive past it, the elephant may turn your way and given its strength can topple a car.

So we memorized all the tips. Already Sandeep thought of a headline that might come in the next day’s newspaper: 4 bachelors killed by an elephant. One from Germany, one from IIT, one from Singapore and then one from namma Chennai. We all laughed, nervously!

We reached Masinagudi. Till then everyone wanted to drive, but not this time. Andy didn’t want to drive. My condition was either I will drive or sit at the back. Deepak also wanted to drive. So, Deepak drove, Andy was riding shotgun, Sandeep and I sat at the back.

THE LONGEST 9 kms

Certain things about human mind:We seek to encounter certain dangerous experiences, for the rush of adrenaline. At the same time we don’t want to die for that experience. We want some sort of a controlled exposure to danger. ex: Bungee jumping – you want the thrill of jumping off a cliff but don’t want to die, so you tie a rope around you and jump – controlled!

Similarly, that day, part of us wanted to encounter an elephant and the rest of us wanted to get home alive to live to tell the story.

Without further ado:

We drove through the winding, narrow, dark roads with humps. The roads were very well designed. NOT!!. If at all it was well designed, it was designed for people to be killed. No, no, I’m sure the engineers did not want to disturb the wildlife, after all we were encroaching their homes. But we had some problems with the road. Winding roads – We couldn’t see past more than 75 meters. Meaning, if we spot an elephant, we had very little time to react. Roads were narrow – if an elephant had to be crossing the road, the length of the elephant would block the entire width of the road. Roads were dark – of course, it’s a forest! but elephants blend in with dark very well. Roads had humps, WHY, WHY?? So one could’t drive really fast if one is being chased by a wild animal?? Nevertheless, we were on the road that destiny had destined for us! – yes, we were very nervous. The car was filled with nervous laughter and every turn we took on the road, we expected to see an elephant. Every huge tree at the edges of the road, seemed like a leg of an elephant. We drove and we drove and we turned and slowed for humps and we turned and there in the darkness was a elephant crossing the road. AN ELEPHANT, 50 meters in front of us!! It was huge, tall, dusty and alone (or part of a herd that had already crossed or about to cross)! There was silence in the car, Deepak braked well – no screech sound! It was right in the middle of the NARROW road. There was no way for us to go. It stood there for 3 or more seconds, perhaps trying to understand what the bright lights were. We did not switch off the headlights. We shrieked (not very loud) and we held our breath. It slowly turned, but away from us, aligning itself to the road. It went to the edge of the road and Deepak decided to rev past it. As he drove past it, not very far from it, it started to turn its head, slowly. We had revved past it by that time and we looked back, it was only darkness. phew! We shouted with relief but we had to drive 3 more km to reach our guest house. We drove and there was nothing more than that one experience.

After reaching our place of stay, we heaved a big sigh of relief and spoke about the experience. In retrospect, one of us should have had the video recording ON through those 9 km. Nevertheless, it was an experience that none of the 4 would ever forget.

 

Road trip to Rameswaram – Ooty – Masinagudi – Moyar Day 3 & 4

Continuing after day 1 and 2…

At around 6 PM we reached Oddanchathiram, where we stopped for tea, of course what’s a road trip without stopping for tea.

tea shop at oddanchathiram

At around 8PM we reached Tiruppur and at Avinashi, we had dinner. It’s a big town, lot of good hotels, petrol bunks and ATM’s. Had a good, filling dinner, withdrew cash and hopped back in the car to drive to Ooty.

ghee roast at Tiruppur

Off we went to Ooty through Metupalayam and Kotagiri. It was a good drive. I love driving at night as there are no pedestrians or two-wheelers on the road. We did spot a Bison grazing on the edge of the road, but it didn’t seem to bother. We reached Ooty by 11:30 PM and stopped by a hotel to checkout the rooms and prices. It was too costly for one night stay and we drove by and saw another hotel, where we finally ended up staying. Hotel Venus, coonoor road, Ooty. I’d certainly recommend this place. It was clean, had a TV, big window (no great view, just a road), polite staff and superb restaurant attached to it that served the best tea (according to Andy and Deep) :). The one small problem is hot water is available only for a couple of hours in the morning, between 7AM and 9AM. But that was not a problem for us, as we were gonna crash and in the morning take a bath and check out by 10AM. It cost us Rs.1400 for a double-bed room. And we asked for two extra beds. We slept, got up, freshened up and went for the tea!

tea at hotel Venus, Ooty

Tea at hotel Venus, Ooty

We had breakfast and tea at the attached restaurant. And moved out to our car to go to Masinagudi. We drove. Since I was in Ooty same time, last year, we didn’t do any “sightseeing”. On the way out of Ooty we did stop by a few place, it was beautiful.

green ooty

Reached Masinagudi by 2PM and then to Moyar, which is 9kms from Masinagudi. Went to the TNEB guest house there by 3PM. Put all our stuff there, came back to Masinagudi for a quick lunch – not the best! 🙂 had lunch, had tea, ofcourse.

sri krishna mess, masinagudi tea shop

Sri Krishna mess (and tea shop), Masinagudi

What makes a road trip?! THIS:

what makes a good road trip

We had called up a local guide for his service, which included a jeep. Parked the Figo in Masinagudi, hopped in the jeep and went around the forest area. First stop at a stream. Elephants at the banks! not! 😛 but we did see elephant dung(I guess), does that count?! 🙂

Stream in Masinagudi

Then the guide (name is Vinod) took us on a long drive, for close to three hours. We spotted tuskers, Elephant herd, Bisons, wild Boar (is there another kind?!), Wild Hen (the guide it was!) and then a peacock crossing the road. The question of course is, why did the peacock cross the road!!

Why did the peacock cross the road?!

Why did the peacock cross the road?!

It was well past sunset, around 7PM. Totally dark, of course, it’s a forest. Vinod drove us back to Masinagudi, where our car was parked. He had told us about his encounters with Elephants and there is a very high possibility that we will run into an Elephant(s) on the way to Moyar, which is 9 kms away from Masinagudi. Those 9kms, is a story in itself and I will post about that later.

So we came to Masinagudi, took the Figo and [longest 9 kms] drove to Moyar. We spent the night there in a TNEB guest house. The next day, 18th Sept, got up, etc. etc. and then started from Moyar to Chennai through Ooty, Anthiyur, Metur, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Chennai!

River Cauvery/Kaveri

River Cauvery/Kaveri, Mettur

Mettur Thermal Power Station

Mettur Thermal Power Station

Some tips:

  • State Highways in Tamil Nadu are brilliant, except for the pedestrian and two-wheeler traffic, which makes it a little risky experience.
  • So try driving at night, watch the speed, watch the road, drink tea!
  • GPS is really handy while driving at night. My mobile [android with gmaps] was very useful. If you have iPhone with ios6, I’m sorry, you will need to buy a map (hard copy). 🙂
  • Please do not litter. Carry a big trash bag, fill that up and throw that in a trash bin when you reach a hotel.
To read every post related to this road trip (RT7), visit JosephJayanth.com/travel/RT7

Cheers

 

Road trip to Rameswaram – Ooty – Masinagudi – Moyar Day 1 & 2

4 days. 4 of us. Ford Figo. 2000 kms.

NOTE:

  • None of the animals/fishes were harmed by us, except the ones that we ate.
  • Most of the photos you see in this blog are taken through a mobile cam, for better pics head to potofshots.com
  • For all the posts related to this road trip, click here
  • All the tweets during the trip are here

The plan WAS Chennai – Rameswaram – Kanyakumari – Varkala – Chennai. But, there is one thing that is never constant during a road trip, that is the destination.

So finally our road trip route was Chennai – Rameswaram – Ooty – Masinagudi – Moyar – Ooty – Chennai.

The route is shown below, we used google maps!

View Larger Map


 Day 1

We started out from Chennai on 15th Sept, Saturday at around 6:30 PM. As soon as I sat in the car Deepak asked me if we should go to Goa, but since we’ve been there before, we finally decided not to go to Goa this time.

We took the NH32 out of Chennai and stopped at Acharapakkam, Kanchipuram, for dinner at Sri Ganesh Bhavan (8:30 PM). That place is a bit costly for that place. 🙂 The value for money thing. Like, how no one will want to buy a Nokia for 40k but then queue up to buy an iPhone for that money – that sort of thing. Not the best place to eat. 30 mins away is villupuram and there is a Ponnusamy hotel on the highway. Should have had food from there.

tweet:

There is a college named “university college of   engineering”. Omg. :D  #RTrip7 #travel #tamilnadu 9/15/2012 10:08:41   PM

Wanted to take the shortest good routes possible, so I had told the guys to take Trichy – pudukottai – Sivaganga. But it wasn’t to be! I had slept off and I had the GPS. So Andy, who was driving, continued going on NH38 towards Madurai. I woke up somewhere before Melur and looked at the GPS, realized we were on the wrong route. We figured, at least now we could go to Sivaganga from Melur instead of going all the way to Madurai and get lost in the “city”. We took the state highway SH38, very short bad patches, but overall a good road. Since we were on this road around 3AM, there was no one on the road, except for dogs but they had blinkers – eyes, which saved its life.

Tea Shop at 3AM

We reached Manamadurai at 3 AM and stopped at a tea shop. Respect!

road trip  Chennai - Rameswaram - Ooty - Masinagudi - Moyar - Ooty - Chennai.

 road trip Chennai - Rameswaram - Ooty - Masinagudi - Moyar - Ooty - Chennai.

manamadurai  road trip to rameswaram, ooty, masinagudi, moyar dhanushkodi

Drove through NH87 and reached Ramanathapuram, town was still sleeping, by 4AM and then to Mandapam

Mandapam :D  #rtrip7. I can smell the sea on both   sides of the road #travel 9/15/2012 4:29:23   AM

This was AN EXPERIENCE!  The sun had not yet risen. Andy driving, I was in the backseat looking at my GPS. I could smell the sea on both sides of the road, I could hear it, I could even see it on the gps but it was dark outside. It was like being in the middle of a sea but not able to see!

mandapam, rameswaram, travel, india

We reached Rameswaram and drove to Hotel Tamil Nadu (5AM) and they didn’t have rooms till 6AM, So we took a walk on the sidewalk adjacent to the waters where people take a dip (the religious one!)

Road trip to Rameswaram - Ooty - Masinagudi - Moyar

 And then there was a little more light… Good Morning Rameswaram

Road trip to Rameswaram – Ooty – Masinagudi – Moyar travel india

It was 6 AM and we went back to Hotel TamilNadu and got in our room. It was only for four hours  and they charged us Rs.1500 for double-bed room. The room was clean and wash area well kept. Took a 4 hour nap, freshened up and got back in the car. Went into the town to get some breakfast, which btw was YUM!

Dhanushkodi (12:30PM)

road trip to rameswaram, ooty, masinagudi, moyar dhanushkodi

Went towards Dhanushkodi and we took a small diversion (500 meters) and came to this beautiful beach. I didn’t know India had such a beautiful, clean, pristine beach!

One side of the road was this beach (hardly any waves)

dhanushkodi, rameswaram

road trip to rameswaram, ooty, masinagudi, moyar

 

We also spotted a Jellyfish and Starfish (we did not harm them! 🙂 )

road trip to rameswaram, ooty, masinagudi, moyarroad trip to rameswaram, ooty, masinagudi, moyar

And on the other side of the road was this rough sea:

road trip to rameswaram, ooty, masinagudi, moyar

It was getting really really hot(one of the reasons why we decided to go to mudumalai forest instead of continuing to Kanyakumari) and we decided to move on.

On our way out, we asked the localites where we can get the best fried fish for dinner, they suggested, we went and was good! 🙂

road trip to rameswaram, ooty, masinagudi, moyar dhanushkodiroad trip to rameswaram, ooty, masinagudi, moyar dhanushkodi

Once lunch was done, we went to Pamban bridge on the way out (2 PM)

pamban bridge road trip to rameswaram, ooty, masinagudi, moyar dhanushkodi

 

and then we were done with Rameswaram and headed to Mudumalai forest through Ooty.

To be continued… 

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