Masinagudi: An offbeat experience close to Ooty 18/09/2018

Masinagudi: An offbeat experience close to Ooty

The most interesting thing about Masinagudi tourist places is that they are for everyone. From adventure seekers and nature lovers to wildlife photographers and explorers, Masinagudi has treats to delight all kind of tourists. It is located in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu, and is one of the five ranges in Mudumalai National Park. Masinagudi lies at a distance of 30 km from the famous hill station, Ooty. Majorly known for its biodiversity and wildlife spaces, Masinagudi is frequented by tourists all year round. Lush green forests, inhabited by a wide array of flora and fauna species, stunning tall waterfalls, gushing rivers offering animals sightings, and picture-perfect landscapes are just a few of the attributes that make Masinagudi a must visit place.

 

If you long for the adventure of wildlife safaris and love being surrounded by the wild, Masinagudi is the ultimate destination. Wildlife spaces like Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park and Theppakadu Elephant Camp make it a wildlife hotspot. Besides, there is a lot to explore in Masinagudi even for those who are all about nature. Such places to visit in Masinagudi are Moyar River and Pykara Lake. Masinagudi is an apt place that surprises explorers wanting with it nature has blessed it with. It is the kind of destination that offers a variety of experiences and numerous places to explore in such great numbers that a few days in Masinagudi cannot suffice.

 

A wildlife sanctuary, tea estates, farm lands, the mist, and the ghat roads… Masinagudi offers them all. A major attraction in the area is the Tamil Nadu Tea's estate (Tan Tea). The route to Masinagudi lies along the Thamarassery ghat road in Kozhikode and past Lakkidi and Chundel. Picturesque spots await travellers right from Ripon tea estate on the Lakkidi-Gudalur road. Wide expanse of green tea plants spread far from the road, which is lined with 'vaka' trees. There are several hues of green – the tea plants look light green and dark from far. But the green that reects from the tea gardens during sunrise is indescribable. Several narrow paths lead from the main road to interiors of the tea gardens. However, visitors' vehicles are not usually allowed on them as tractors carrying tea leaves ply to and fro. After Meppady town, the tea estates seem even more alluring, with mist pervading all around the place. The next hamlet is Vaduvanchal. From there, a traveller to Masinagudi would reach the state border at Cheladi. There is a bridge ahead, crossing which, one reaches Tamil Nadu. There are, in fact, two bridges – an old one and a new. The old is now abandoned and overgrown with wild shrubbery, but it offers a beautiful sight, aunting greenery and yellow owers. From there, the main attraction is the 'Tan Tea' estate. Tea gardens in Kerala and Tamil Nadu look similar at one glance, but a subtle difference emerges on close examination – the latter are more expansive. On the way is a shop selling fresh tea, straight from the gardens that the visitors can taste while thick mist and cool breeze envelop them. Another side of the story However, the scenic locales hide some sad realities – the life in the 'padys,' which are the single-room quarters of tea estate workers. Most people are familiar with images of labourers plucking tea leaves in a picturesque setting, but unaware of their living conditions. The tiny 'padys' lack even basic facilities and inhabitants live in unhygienic conditions. Such uncomfortable sights present themselves before travellers on the route from Devala to Gudallur. Next point: Muthumalai Gudalur town lies in the valley of the Nilgiri hills which have Ooty as the shining jewel. Gudalur is a resting place for travellers before the climb to Ooty and offers all basic facilities. The weather is almost similar to that of Ooty as it is around 1,000 m above sea level. The road deviating left from Gudalur takes one to the Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary. Once vehicles enter the forest, they are not allowed to stop. Forest ofcials keep a close watch over them. Large herds of deer, peacocks, and other wildlife stroll leisurely close to the road, unconcerned about the passing vehicles. The trees along the path are home to numerous simians. Mudumalai lies on the north-western region of the Nilgiri hills. The Mudumalai national park shares borders with Kerala and Karnataka and is a tiger reserve also. There are four regions in this national park – Nellakotta, Kargudi, Muthumala, and Theppakkad. The road from Muthumala to Theppakkad goes straight to Mysore. Take a turn to the right and you will reach Masinagudi. The entrance to Masinagudi is across an iron bridge. The road is narrow, but smooth. Except for a few safari jeeps, trafc is negligible. Deer roam around freely. Often, elephant herds cross the road. Farm lands Masinagudi is a small town about 10 km from Theppakkad. There are several resorts at the place. Several teams arrange safari into the forest. Many of them offer attractive rates. Even though tourism is a major part of the economy, locals have taken care to maintain traditional farming practices. They have built houses adjacent to the farms and lead an agrarian life. There are elds even right behind the shops in Masinagudi. Visitors will enjoy unique sights like watch towers on top of trees. Tourists planning something offbeat can head to Moyar Dam. It is about 10 km from Masinagudi. There are no compound walls for the reservoir which is placid. There are a few islets here and there where tall trees stand proudly. On the banks are several shady 'vaka' trees with their ery red blossoms. Another feature of Moyar is that it is a water-hole for wild elephants, leopards, and other creatures of the forest. By evening, the safari tourists get active. 36 hairpin bends The forest path to Kallatty awaits adventure seekers. It is one of the steepest roads with 36 hairpin bends. There are no wide bends or long intervals between hairpins on this stretch. In Kallatty, one hairpin bend simply melts into another. The condition of the roads will take you by surprise. Though there are hairpin bends everywhere, the drive is smooth, thanks to the excellent tarmac. Along the route is the 'Ninth Mile shooting hill,' which is a favourite among tourists arriving in Ooty. It offers an amazing view of the sunset. Ooty town is not far away from here but it is advised to turn back from Masinagudi, keeping an Ooty visit for another time.

 

Activities

1. Masinagudi Jeep Safari

  • Experience 2 hours of wilderness fun with a jeep safari in Masinagudi; a forest region located at the foothills of the Nilgiris.

  • Organised every early morning and late evening, this jeep safari will take you through amazing forests and lush green thickets that provides refuge for many species of animals.

  • You can opt for an early morning jeep safari starting at around 06:00 AM, 07:00 AM or the late evening rides at 05:00 PM or 07:00 PM.

  • Come face-to-face with the rarely seen wildlife in their most natural form. Spot an elephant herd freely roam in their own natural premise and hidden amongst shrubs could be chitals and wild boars.

2. Maravakandy Dam

If capturing some great wildlife pictures is one of the reasons for you to visit Masinagudi, this dam will give you just what you want. This dam, built in 1951, is surrounded by lush greenery, and is an absolute beauty in the morning. Maravakandy is the primary water resource to Moyar hydro-electric power house, and is easily one of the primary Masinagudi tourist places. There is an animal watching tower here from where you can witness some breathtaking views, and can get your lens on some amazing bird species and animals. Animals residing in the region come to this dam to quench their thirst, so if you visit this place in the morning, there is a good possibility that you will spot tigers and elephants here. The natural beauty of this place makes it all the more interesting for visitors.

Timing: 9 AM to 6 PM

Entry Fee: No entry fee

 

3. Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary

 

This national park is a treat for wildlife lovers in a true sense, and that is the reason why it is one of the most sought after places to visit in Masinagudi. It is home to many endangered wildlife species, and has been declared a tiger reserve. Some of the major species you can find in Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary are Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard and Indian Elephant. A visit to this sanctuary is also a delight for nature lovers as three types of forest constitute it: tropical moist deciduous, tropical dry deciduous and southern tropical dry thorn forest. The best time to visit the sanctuary is between December and June. A safari through the dense forests of Mudumalai is a great experience to get your adrenaline rushing. If you get lucky, you can enjoy up-close sightings of wild beasts like Bengal tigers and Indian leopards, including other animals and birds that can easily be sighted here

Timing: Van Safari - 6:30 AM to 9 AM and 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM; Elephant safari – 7:00 AM to 8:30 AM and 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM.

Entry Fee: Rs. 15 per adult

 

4. Theppakadu Elephant Camp

 

Masinagudi has some gem of the places for wildlife lovers to explore and experience wildlife and nature from a minimal distance. Theppakadu Elephant Camp is one of those gems which are equally loved by wildlife lovers, wildlife photographers, nature enthusiasts and wanderers. Located close to Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, this elephant camp is home to huge number of elephants. Elephants are trained here. It was declared an elephant camp in 1972, and since then, it has been enticing tourists coming to Masinagudi for varied wildlife experiences. If you have never fed an elephant in your life, this place gives you an opportunity to do so in a controlled environment. A must-try activity here is a thrill-filled elephant safari that you must not skip.

Timing: Elephant Safari - Morning: 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM; Evening: 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
 

 

5. Trekking in Masinagudi

Masinagudi is home to the Nilgiris, a part of the Western Ghats known for its pristine and enthralling beauty. The surrounding hilly terrain provides for a number of adventurous escapades. On this guided trek of around 4 hours, you’re bound to find exotic and endemic species roaming.

This early morning trek begins around 6am from your accommodation and will cover around 7-8km. You could either pack breakfast to have it en route along the banks of River Singara or choose to have upon return. On the trek, surrender yourself to the divine nature abundance in this deciduous forest range. Spot wild animals and rare species of migratory birds such as the Eurasian Blackbird, Collared dove, Sandpiper and Ashy prinia.

 

6. Masinagudi Camping

 

Masinagudi is a part of the Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu. The Mudumalai National Park is a large wildlife sanctuary which has been declared as Tiger Reserve and extends into the states of Karnataka and Kerala. Masinagudi is noted for its rich forests and abundant flora and fauna.

How to reach: Mudumalai (Masinagudi) does not have a railway station. Coimbatore (116 kms) is the nearest junction from Masinagudi having recurrent trains from major Indian cities. Taxi/cab and buses are available from the station to reach Mudumalai.

Airport: Coimbatore Airport

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