Forest cover

Tall beautiful pine trees at the pine forest in Kodaikanal (Tamil nadu, India).  It is refreshing to take a walk through this forest, as monkeys chatter from the tree branches and cold mist floats by.

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Bark of these trees is unique. It feels hard and rugged from the outside, but the inside is smooth and coloured in orange – red hues.

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It is a good spot to stop by while visiting kodaikonal.

Exploring Top Slip

Another trip to Top Slip.. bang in the middle of the rainy season. Top Slip is a forest reserve on the Anamalai Mountain Ranges of Tamil Nadu in South India. Here is the link to my previous post on Top Slip.

 

This is the Tamil Nadu Tourism office at Top Slip. They offer animal sighting tours, cottage accommodations, a small hotel and an eco-friendly shoppe for tourists.

 

 

There are guided safari tours in to the Forest in a mini bus. Animal sightings are frequently reported on these tours. We too signed up for it… And off we went into the forest.

First view of the forest are the sky high Bamboo clusters:

 

 

Out first sighting was a herd of wild Asian Buffaloes… They were huge and massive compared to the buffalos I had seen on the plains.

 

 

There were black monkeys, but I could not take a clear picture of them. They hardly sit in a place letting people observe them. So it was very difficult to identify what type of monkeys they were.

We also saw large flying squirrels perched high up on the tall trees:

 

This is a tribal settlement in the middle of the forest. The only way to this settlement is through a narrow winding path through mountains and the thick forest. People in this photo are not tribals 🙂 They are crowds of tourists enjoying the light drizzle and cold climate.

 

A view of the mountains and forests, as the light drizzle became a heavy downpour:

 

 

It started raining very heavily on our way back. The green beautiful winding mountain paths now looked dangerous and slippery in the heavy rains. My interest in taking photos kind of lulled as I was totally occupied in praying for safety 🙂

 

I saw this elephant back at the tourism office. She was thoroughly enjoying herself, munching away happily without bothering about the rain. She sure taught me a lesson on how to enjoy a heavy downpour 🙂

Green Feast

Amidst the sweltering summer heat, here comes green and refreshing scapes.  These are from the photos I took last year.

This is a view of the Kovai Coutrallam falls, taken on a serene and peaceful morning:

The gushing water brings back memories of a wet evening caught in a heavy downpour. This photo was taken near vettaikaranpudur, a village near Pollachi famous for coconuts.

A stone carved mandap near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. This is near a temple built by the Chola kings. Green plants, trees and grasses have taken over this tall mandap.

Lush green paddy fields, on way from Kumbakonam to Alangudi. This is part of the rice belt in Cauvery delta region of Tamil Nadu.

And this last photo is for all chai lovers. Freshly brewn tea sold outside a tea estate in Valparai, on the western ghat mountains.

Refreshing, relaxing and rejuvenating green… and it should be cherished, protected and enjoyed by all.

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Beyond Top Slip

A trip to Top Slip is what we planned initially. This is what Wikitravel has on Top Slip: Topslip is located near Pollachi in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, at an altitude of 800 feet from the sea level on the Anamalai mountain range. It stands majestically with Green Spread Mountains and forest all around. The unique teak forests, Bamboo Forest also located near Topslip.

We boarded the early morning local bus at Pollachi for a long journey. We knew the path was through forests and mountains. We were expecting lovely green sights and occasional sighting of wild animals. But the grandeur and beauty that unfolded is beyond description.  

The initial journey was through farms and coconut grooves. Then came a rugged path (in fact there was no path at all) that led to the foothills. After this, started the mountainous terrain with thick forests.

It was first normal forests, similar to the ones on way to Valparai. But as we ascended further up, instead of tea plantations that we saw on way to valparai, here we were greeted by dense forests. Bamboo plants rose to unimaginable heights. thick clusters of  flowering teaks, surrounded by huge bamboo bunches were a common sight. Every inch of land was covered by thick undergrowth and huge mighty trees. Devoid of all signs of human civilization except for a lone bus trudging along.

As we neared Top Slip, there were forest guards and pretty animal statues. This place was a tourist attraction and had the normal tourist crowd sporting sun-glasses and cameras. We decided not to get down at Top Slip and continue further in the same path.

After Top Slip, the topography changed to pleasant lawns and pretty greenery.

But not for long.. soon after started the same dense forests. We were trying to guess names of at least a few trees we saw on the way. But apart from the old flowering teak trees and massive bamboo clusters, we were able to identify only the occasional Neem, Peepul or Banyan.

This is one of the huge sprawling trees on the way. Most of the trees are covered by climbing plants that reach up to their tips and spread through their branches.

We finally reached the last stage in our journey which was the Parambikulam reservoir. It is a heavenly place with two tea-stalls, a statue and a small park around it. By the time we reached, visitor hours at the reservoir had long gone 🙂 So we spent time walking around the place and boarded the same bus to return back 🙂 Buses are very rare with only three buses in 24 hours.

On the way back, it started raining and a lone elephant passed. Missed taking a picture of it due to the moving bus and rains.  On the way back, we saw this tree… It was split in to two by lightning.

We loved every moment of the journey back… the moist wind, heavy downpour, sound of animals and birds… everything remains etched in my mind. This picture was taken on the way back where the mountainous path ends, leading to the plains.

All the grandeur and beauty of these dense forests are a remainder to the fact that Nature is far from being tamed, but can support and protect us if treated with respect and care.

The wild and untamed

It is journey time again….to the wild and untamed forests and mountains. Called “Kovai Courtallam”, this forest reserve is a part of the mountains of Western Ghats. It is famous for its waterfall, which also goes by the same name “Kovai Courtallam”.

The way to Kovai Courtallam is marked by small towns and villages. No hurry here, everything here is calm and slow. A typical village morning, with people greeting each other, discussing newspapers and chatting away under a huge tree at the center of the village.

Leaving behind the villages, rest of the way is dotted with farms and coconut grooves. Welcoming visitors to the forest is a small creak. When water flow is less, this creek can be crossed by cars. But on other days, it is too forceful to let vehicles pass by. 

Tourist crowds and noises keep away wild animals. During heavy tourist inflow, it is safe to walk into the forest by ourselves. Duirng other times, wild animals frequent the trekking paths. Having a tribal to guide the way is the safest bet when tourist flow is less.  

Signboards like this dot the entrance… This one is a poem written the regional language, on the importance of  forests and protecting them.

Path to the waterfall is a small trek along a narrow path on the mountaneous terrain. There are rows and rows of tall trees on either sides with dense under growth.

Tree barks here are pealed away here and there… reason being elephants 🙂 These tree barks are elephants’  favourite food.  They stripe away bits and pieces of the bark as they walk through the forest.

Variety of trees in these forests are amazing… They are all huge, growing on rocks or  soil, fusing with one another, racing to reach the sky. They grow wild without any restraint.

It takes a 30 minute walk to the get a glimpse of the waterfalls…  Gushing and flowing down, the falsl seems to be alive with a spirit of its own. She is as wild as the trees around, winding her path around big rocks and eroding small ones to pave her way.

Starting as a small canal of water on top, widening as she flows down…

and down…

This waterfall is the source for River Noyyal that flows through Coimbatore. This river merges with River Bhavani, which in turn merges into River Cauvery before reaching its ultimate destination, the Bay of Bengal.

This is a view of River Noyyal a little below the mountains. View of the samr river as it flows through the insustrial towns of  Coimbatore, Tiruppur and Erode is a contrast to this.  Pollutants and dyeing effluents pollute it beyond recognition.

Fortunate are those who get a glimpse of the river close to its source. Its pristine beauty sourrounded by coconut trees, with the trumpeting sound of elephants from forests afar… It is sheer bliss.