Monday, June 26, 2006

On the bison's trail

It’s unbelievable how dfficult it can get to write about an experience you totally loved all because you can’t get the first line right!!!! Yep am talking about my trip to Topslip….. The 48 hours I spent there keep running through my head… first of all, after a long time , I took the initiative and didn’t get stopped for the lack of “enough people’ and trivial things like that…second of all , the place was simply beautiful!!!!!

We left for coimbatore friday night.... and from there to the Forest office in Pollachi which opens only by 9 in the morning… got the approval from the forest officer…. Booked a cab ( who btw way fleeced us) and off we were…. Even the road to Topslip was beautiful…One can feel the change in landscape as you moved closer to the anamalai’s….the trees looking greener….gulmohars in full bloom painting the sky red…

Our trek guide for the day was Mr. baby …. He was on the ‘Animal sightings’ notice board that day for spotting a tiger on his way to work early in the morning…. I was happy that we had got the man who saw the beast…maybe we too would…. He suggested the trail to Ambuli watch tower and we set off… I kept asking him about the wild animals and if we would be able to spot one , quite like the desparate traveler … and in response he pointed out langurs, hornbills and the lion tailed macaque…. While that wasn't the wild life i had in mind, I found it surprising that even the monkeys were not to be spotted easily…One had to be extremely quiet and learn to discern their presence amidst the dense green intermingled with the brown of the barks… He pointed out holes dug out by bears, elephant dung and the foot prints of deer's bears, and bisons….. Still unable to shake off the DT in me, I was praying atleast for a bison sighting!

The ambuli watch tower itself was just a single room and looked more like the water tank on apartment terraces…. We were greeted by extremely strong but pleasurable wind and an absolutely fantastic view of the entire ranges. Our guide later informed us that, had we been interested we could have packed our dinners and camped out at this spot…… On our way back, we got lucky as our man was able to pick up the trail of a bison… nimbly, he kept walking… he was sensing the animal more than following the hooves…. While we were to follow his wake and keep looking for tracks – there they were… a pair of bisons grazing… One had its back to us while the other was facing us…. The bison seemed to have sensed our presence and lifted its head – and looked us in the eye (or so it seemed!) .. we were transfixed…trying to drink in the animal and at the same time get a good pic…and suddenly with a click of their hooves they sped aways …..We (rather baby) managed to pick their scent twice again… but both times we couldn’t observe them for more than a few moments.

The other thing that made this trek eventful was the leech attack on my friends... My theory is that, the more you are concerned that they might get on to you, the more you will have one yourself!!!!

It rained heavily that night - I had made plans for an early morning trek with the guide, and was almost sure that we couldnt make it...but by morning the rains ceased ... And at about 6 o clock me and he set off... yes decided to go for a trek alone as my friends didnt feel upto it! This time, the trek was even more enjoyable...the route seemed a bit uncharted... and instead of just walking there were patches of pure rocky terrain..... and we reached a place that was close to magical!!!

We continued forward, but this time down the slopes to the valley below as against the usual upward trek to reach a peak.... and the place was beautiful...i wish i could have taken a 360 degree photo of being surrounded by tall teak trees and huge shrubs and and of being in the heart of the forest..... This time again we chanced upon bisons..... the guide was just telling me that bisons have come this way and we heard a click of hooves from the other side of the shrubs.... as we moved ahead he pointed out a spot where the bisons had slept and place where it looked like the bisons had fought..... and before long we came face to face with them again- This time around i didnt even attempt a shot with my 'only 3x' cam. Satisfied with my animal sighting, we headed back to civilization!

A quick lunch, a last look and our trip had come to an end.

All My Topslip pics on picasaweb

Some Information:
1. Getting there : From coimbatore, take a bus to pollachi. From pollachi one can either take a bus or a cab. Buses are there at 6.30 , around 11.30 and 3.30. If you are taking a cab, get one from near the bus stand.

2. To stay over night at Topslip, you need to write to the Forest officer, Indra gandhi wildlife sanctuary, meen karai road, pollachi asking for accomodation. Call them later and follow up. Ph: 04259225356

3. They have lodginfs for about 250 a day while fancier ones are being constructed... if you want some luxury , be specifi and ask for more expensive rooms.

4. There is a canteen, which is a hop , skip and a jump away from all the rest need to let them when you would like your food so they can ge it ready... and the food was simple yet one of the best i had tasted.

5. The rooms have wooden cots - but you need to cary your blankets.

6. Likewise, to return back, there are buses - one at 12.30 and one at 6.30 in the evening.

7. You can reach parambkulam through topslip itself. So if you have more time, check out that place

8. Be nice to your guide.. don't know the miracles he can perform for you. Plus dont ask for an Arumugam who seems to be widely quoted from one blog to the other - it seems to offend the other guides... its unbelievable, but yea competition exists even in wilderness!

9. To camp in the middle of the forest or at the watch tower, you might need further permissions.

10. The one blog which was almost like the bible for this trip : Naikutti's Two Days in topslip


Sriram said...

Nice one.. But I am skeptical of these wild life spotting treks.. We had been to a National forest in karnatake and we were promised some tigers. But the max we saw was elephants, annoying monkeys in all sizes and deers.. But seems like u had good fun. and nice pics too..

Anonymous said...

hey u sure discribed the trip really well.... uploaded my pics as well will send u the link... n yes i second u that Baby sure was a great guide!!!!