This took a while to put up – August has been a busy month. Lots of travel which translates to more posts coming up later. If you haven’t read my previous post about where I stayed at Masinagudi (and if you are looking for a place to stay there), I’d recommend you first read it.
Vibudhi Malai Murugan Temple
Vibudhi, a Sanskrit word, translates to sacred ash that is distributed at Hindu temples throughout South India. The temple is located atop a small hill. The stairs are quite large – it is required to take giant steps to climb them and can tire out those who aren’t used to hiking/trekking. The temple isn’t open throughout though. The views of Bokkapuram, Mudumalai forest that little hike offers are worth it.
The temple atop the hill provides an excellent subject for landscapes that you’d want to shoot.
A couple of tips:
1. Don’t lug all your gear to the top. Choose wisely and take only those that you need. A tripod may be quite helpful, provided the one you have is a light-weight one.
2. If you don’t want to take the stairs, try the mud track that goes around the back of the hill. It’s supposed to be an excellent test of a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but it’s fairly easy to cover by foot. It takes a bit longer, but is not as stressful as the stairs.
Atop the hill, there was also a clump of rocks. I don’t know why or when these were dumped here, and questions to locals didn’t give me any answers.
We saw elephant dung (probably a day old) which led us to believe that elephants take up the climb too. Try not to stay here too long past sunset.
Plan to go to the hill in the evening, as sunsets here are quite lovely (If weather conditions are favorable).
If you speak to the folks at the resort, they may take you off the normal path to some of the inner areas. Our resort owner had his own vehicle, a custom modified 4 by 4, in which he took us for a ride one early morning to a nearby estate. The landscape was unlike anything I’d seen before. Beautiful grasslands, with mountains in the background and clear blue skies.
We also managed to spot a herd of wild Spotted Deer.
The resort and its surrounding area, as such, is home to several birds, butterflies and mammals. Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Pitta, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Streak-throated Woodpecker, Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Jungle Babbler, Peacocks, Mynas, Starlings, Grey Francolin, various species of Parrots and Babblers are some that I managed to spot or hear. You should be able to spot most of the species mentioned here at just about anywhere outside of the town.
When the birds went to rest, the cows came out.
Pykara Ultimate Stage Power Plant
There’s a Hydro-electric Power station that feeds to the grid near Masinagudi. Though access to the power station requires special permission, the area just outside of the power station is open to public.
I am told that this plant powers most of the areas nearby. There’s also a winch which is no longer used, but has a history. Ask the locals and they’ll tell you interesting stories about it.
Masinagudi also falls within close proximity of Mudumalai National Park. Upon paying a nominal fee, the forest department will put you in a caged van and take you around. Though there are warnings of tigers and leopards, at best, monkeys, langurs, spotted deers and wild elephants are seen. At the time when I visited, the elephants were quite skinny, which the guide attributed to the lack of rainfall.
The entry ticket to Mudumalai forest also entitles the ticket holder to visit the Elephant camp nearby.
There’s also another water body nearby called Moyyar. The road to Moyyar is between the forest and a flowing river. During evenings, it is known for herds of Elephants and Indian Gaurs to cross the road to get to water. Some locals around the area exploit this opportunity to take tourists on an unauthorized, and even possibly illegal, ‘evening safari’ which I would strongly not recommend taking. Many local drivers are not aware of how to approach wildlife, often block the approach path to the water. This not only hurts wildlife activity in the area but also puts the passengers at a risk of being charged by an angry animal, the results of which can be disastrous for both groups involved.
This being tiger territory, the desire of spotting a wild tiger is very strong for those who haven’t seen one. As with many reserve forests that I’ve visited before, there’s always that person who wants to use this as bait and make some quick money. No one will return your money if no tiger is seen. At best, you may only lose a few hundred rupees, but given that some of these areas are quite lonely – avoiding such initiatives should be a safe option. Given that it’s hard to differentiate the scammer from legitimate when you’re new to a town – Let the tiger be – if it’s your fate to see one in this area, you will – there are many-a-people for whom the majestic creature has made an appearance when they were least expecting it.
To conclude, a lovely place for Nature lovers. There’s enough to do for a couple of days. Landscape photographers will have an opportunity to unleash their creativity and make as much photos as they want to.