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Sunday, September 22, 2013

INN THE WILD – an awesome place to be in the wild



At the onset I need to explain as to why I was a walk in guest at Inn the Wild .  Once the family functions were over I made it a point to travel into the lap of nature and accordingly planned the entire trip , completed my booking at Deep Jungle Home which is about 20 km enroute to Gudalur from Theppakadu Wildlife reception office. Reached the camp site and found it to be deserted except for couple of room boys who showed me the accommodation I had booked and the moment I saw it …thought flashed that I have been conned by the photographs I saw on their portal… Bamboo hut is a bunk bed style accommodation with common toilet which is a big no for me…I was categorically informed that each hut has toilets by the sales person but then it was my mistake that I did not read the reviews of the place before reaching the place. Anyway just moved around the camp site viewing the facilities offered by them and also taking pictures of the two turkey they had inside..came to a decision that this is not the place for me to stay. Browsed the net on my mobile for some other place of stay within the forest and the first name that popped up was “Inn the Wild “ near Masinagudi …called them and I was talking to Mr Shibu Varghese the manager of the property who informed me that there are rooms available and I immediately said that I am coming there for the stay.

The drive from Mysore to Masinagudi itself is an safari as the national highway traverses through two national park i.e. first the Bandipur Tiger reserve and then the Mudumalai Tiger reserve . You can see scores of wild animals during the drive through the forest and for a safe trip please do not get out of your vehicles as informed by the forest department on the placards along the route…yet few people make it a point to do so without worrying about their safety. On 19th September a British national was trampled to death by a tusker as he got down from the vehicle and ventured to close to the elephant for taking photographs. 

Inn the Wild   is a 65 acre property within the 2000 acre coffee plantation in the Mudumalai reserve forest between the upper reaches and the lower reaches of the forest. Normal cars cannot traverse to the resort because of the rugged off road conditions after Singara check post and in the event you are travelling in your car then the suggestion is to park your car at the Singara check post which is about 10 km from Masinagudi town and call the resort so that they can send their Gypsy jeeps to pick you up and take you to the resort. Route map can be seen here  Singara Check post .

Reaching the resort I was greeted by the manager Mr Shibu and Mr Sinu Prakash...guest relations executive and was shown the type of accommodations available with them. They have four types of accommodations One Tree house, Two Tree tops with common balcony, Tribal home and Jungle shacks. I liked the tree house the moment I saw it for it has a balcony face the grass plains, forest and the water body and i immediately booked for 3 nights without giving a second thought..and I must say that it has been a amazing 3 days stay in the forest and I am sure that I would keep coming when ever time permits to the same place over and over. The management and staff of the resort are courteous and well mannered and with the resort almost empty I was the pampered guest.

The highlight of my stay was the Jeep safari into the Mudumalai forest arranged by the resort in their Gypsy vehicles. I started for the safari accompanied by tribal spotter cum driver Michael, Subish Sabestain the naturalist at 5.30 pm and entered the forest through the rear end of the property travelling through extremely rugged pathway that had twists and turns, steep rise and drops. With continuous rains the whole day the track was slippery and in spite of driving in 4 wheel drive the vehicle was skidding on either side. After having travelled for about 25 minutes we came on to a straight stretch of track and suddenly we found ourselves looking at a mother elephant and its male off spring crossing the path. The mother elephant just stopped in the center of the path and was look at us and suddenly its ears went rigid …I immediately informed the driver to be careful as the elephant was displaying anger…suddenly the elephant charged at the jeep and Michael reversed the jeep about 50 feet and stopped…the elephant went on to the side of the track not taking its eyes off us. It again started its charge on to us thereby forcing us to reverse the jeep further back to avoid the confrontation with the elephant which would surely have a better advantage over us with no place to maneuver   in reverse the rugged forest pathway. During this excitement I forgot to even switch on the camera to take pictures or capture the video as I was standing behind along with the naturalist clinging on the hold bars in the event we had to beat a hasty retreat. After few moments the mother elephant lost interest in us since its offspring had crossed the path and entered the bushes.

Just one picture of this elephant after the excitement. We continued further into the jungle spotting only few spotted deer’s (cheetals) here and there till we reach an open space of grass land within the forest. It is said that most tiger sightings have taken place here for most of the spotted deer’s, gaur (Indian bison) come to graze here and a source of meal for the tiger.
We did see a huge herd of Gaurs numbering 20 towards the other end of the grass land and I was fortunate to take few pictures. By this time the darkness was creeping in and it was completely pitch black within the forest. We traveled along the path with spot light shining either side of the path and also on the tree tops hoping to see a leopard and other nocturnal animals… nothing was seen however we did see rabbits along the way to the highway. The highway that runs from Masinagudi to Singara is running through the forest and in all possibilities there is a chance of spotting Leopard or elephants. The safari was so good the first day that I opted for another one the next day and the second trip into the forest was with Albert the spotter cum driver and Pandian, the accounts manager of the property. During this trip what we saw a just a single bison within the forest and a herd of elephant on the highway. During the safari we were able to here the growl of tiger quite close to us and we spent over an hour trying to locate the tiger in the bushes but of no avail. Hope that in my next trip I will be able to spot the big cats. The jungle safari is chargeable and it is Rs 3500 per jeep and in the event you have more than one guest in the vehicle then the amount is shared accordingly.

 
Finally I need to say about the private machan (balcony of tree house) overlooking the water body and the grass plains …it is quite a treat to sit quietly there and observe the happenings around and you might get lucky to see the wild dogs chasing the spotted deers, or the elephants /bisons coming for a drink at the lake or sloth bear searching for termites and wild boars. I was relaxing on the bed at about 10 am and suddenly I heard the continuous distress call of the spotted deers just below the tree house and I rushed to the balcony to see the reason… and I saw the deers running for their lives which I captured a video but am unable to upload the same here. I could not see which animal made them to run but then was told by the resort people it could have been the wild dogs !!! but you never know it could have been leopard also !!!

In all I had a amazing time at Inn the Wild ….literally in the wild.