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Posts Tagged ‘Weekend Getaway from Bangalore’

Staying in Bangalore, Karnataka has many advantages.. one being, access to interesting destinations across south India.

When the corporate world starts to get on your nerves, we bangaloreans take our vehicles and head out either to a hill station in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu or towards the popular jungle camps and resorts around Bandipur and Nagarhole.

This time it was Yercaud, a cute little hill station about 35 kms away from Salem, Tamil Nadu. Salem is 200 Kms from Bangalore and has well paved double road all through with a few toll booth enroute. Bikes however have free passage which actually worked in our favor since we decided to bike it to Yercaud this time (this time being our 4th trip).

Typically for a biking tour, we start around 6.30am from a prominent location on the outskirts of the city and stop for breakfast after about an hour’s riding. During this trip, we stopped at Adiyar Anand Bhavan on Hosur – Salem highway (about 65kms from Bangalore) for a quick snack and continued to ride non stop till we hit Salem. After a round of tender coconuts, we began our hill climb which was the most exciting part of this ride.

Soon, you begin to feel the weather change and also get to catch a glimpse of the world below you. In less than an hour, you are on top of the hill covered by tall age old trees and a huge lake in the centre of town. A few hotels and resorts dot the landscape around the lake but the first to stand out is Sky Rocca, built on the edge of the last hair pin bend. Another popular property is Hotel Shevaroys which is one of the oldest in Yercaud and has cottages spread out amidst lush greenery.

Yercaud Lake; Pic from Wikipedia.org

Yercaud Lake; Pic from Wikipedia.org

Frankly, there isn’t much to do in Yercaud and is more of a location to relax and calm your nerves. However, an Indian tourist does demand his fair share of site seeing for whom there is boating at the lake, visit to the view point (Pagoda Point), Killiyur Falls and best of them all Shevaroyan Temple. This temple is situated about 7kms from town center and is at the highest point in Yercaud. An ideal location to view the entire mountain range and soak in the fresh air.

View of Shevaroyan Hills from Yercaud

View of Shevaroyan Hills from Yercaud

Yercaud is one of the least expensive hill stations and accommodation is available from as low as Rs 800 for a double room (in a hotel) which goes up to Rs 8,000 for a luxury cottage. Travelers also have the option of renting out an old furnished cottage with a cook cum caretaker for a fair sum.

If you are the sorts to end the day on high spirits, do note that Tamil Nadu has restriction on sale of liquor and is sold only across Tasmac outlets. However, premium hotels and resorts have license to sell liquor within their premises but may not stock exotic brands.

Greatescapes score for hill stations: 8/10

Your escapist,

Brian

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Well, this was probably the 30th time in two years that I was heading to Masinagudi, one of my favourite getaways from Bangalore. Being a wildlife enthusiast (who unfortunately had never seen a tiger in the wild), I was livid with the fact that quite a few first-timers to the forest had encountered a tiger while, I, with all my frequent trips had never seen the big cat.

A group of friends and I decided to spend two nights at my regular haunt, Wild Haven, which is located a good distance away from most other ‘commercial’ resorts. This place, located in a clearing, is a fantastic place to watch wildlife pass by from your porch.

The first day and night were pretty uneventful but what we guys were gearing up for, was the morning after the second night – a trip into the jungle at 5:00am. We worked overtime, used all our good offices with locals, and finally got permission from the forest department to drive into a restricted area.Tiger pug marks deep inside madhumalai forest

That morning, we were up early. It was dark and cold outside and as mentioned earlier, the driver (who was one of the few to be allowed into that part of the jungle) was ready with his old jeep. After a short drive, we entered an area that I have never been to earlier. The tar road was increasingly getting scarce and at one point, the driver pulled the jeep away from the main road and from here on, it was total off-road driving in the wild.

The entire group had gone silent and I am sure all of us were wondering what would happen if we had a flat tire now or encountered an elephant head on. Our thoughts we suddenly interrupted when the driver screeched to a halt. There was a python right ahead of us and the guy looked like he had just fed himself. I could see a big lump in his middle and I guessed it was a rat or something he had gotten hold of. We made sure we didn’t get too close to him as these pythons, though lazy-looking, can be lightning fast when required. We stood a good 2 meters away from this long guy, clicked snaps of him and got going.python-spotting

Next, we had to cross a river and it was absolutely thrilling to do so sitting in the jeep. We saw huge elephant foot marks and could also hear a heard trumpet nearby. All across our path, we could see huge, deep pug marks – they belonged to a tiger and were pretty fresh. I started getting desperate to see a tiger and was cursing my luck when we suddenly came face to face with an elephant. What happened thereafter is a little difficult to explain, but it would suffice to say that one of the males was not really thrilled on seeing us, and decided to make his displeasure known. We turned around and scooted while he chased us trumpeting and throwing sand on himself to appear fierce. I managed to get a good snap of this sequence and patted myself. This was supposed to be a mock charge. I wonder what the real one would be like.

We got down, walked to a cliff and spent some time there watching distant elephant herds but there was no sign of the elusive big cat. We got back into the jeep, got onto the tar toad and were heading back and that is when we saw him. A big fellow, sitting on a rock at the top of a hillock overlooking the road. The sun was behind the tiger, so we had a clear view of him. He sat there for 5 minutes, moved his neck around a couple of times and then got up, and majestically walked away. I was dazed and was totally mesmerized by this sight. I came back to our resort but I could not shake myself out of my daze. William Blake’s words kept coming back –

Did He smile his work to see,
Did He who make the lamb make thee.

Tiger Tiger burning bright,
In the forest of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry.

Wild cat spotted deep in the madhumalai forest range

Wild cat spotted deep in the madhumalai forest range

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