I have been craving a weekend getaway for a while now and when talks of a trip to Masinagudi was brewing, I knew that I had to go.
Deriving its name from the famous Masani Ammam temple located in the hilly terrains of the city, Masinagudi is a small hill station in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu and one of the five regions in Mudumalai National Park. Due to its proximity to Ooty (roughly 30 km), Masinagudi is widely visited by tourists of all kinds.
This trip is a little different than my other trips as firstly we have two groups traveling together – bikers and non-bikers (in a cab) and secondly, I brought along my husband on this trip with my old buddies from my last workplace. The plan was to start on Saturday and come back by Sunday.
Without getting much sleep at night, we started our journey in the wee hours of Saturday in the hopes to reach Masinagudi before the roads get blocked due to an impending Governor visit.
But as fate will have its way, stopping for tea and breakfast (we desperately needed a tea break because of waking up super early) delayed us and by the time we reached the check post, roads were already blocked by Police for maybe safety concerns for Governor. So, we had to either take a long detour to get our permits for entering Tamil Nadu with a Karnataka vehicle or wait till 1 pm for clearing of the roadblock. We already started to take the detour when we got to know about the latter option.
Anyways, when we reached the check post for taking the interstate permit, we were told that no Karnataka vehicles will be allowed to enter in this road and our best option is to go back all the way to wait out the roadblock.
Even though all the to-and-fro was super inconvenient for us, we were thoroughly enjoying our drive through forest areas of Bandipur and Mudumalai, where sighting monkeys, peacocks, and spotted deer roadside is very common.
Summer is a great time to visit Masinagudi as you can see animals on the road looking for water due to the dry forest and hot weather.
As soon as we reached Forest Hills farm and guest house, we were ecstatic to find it near the edge of the Masinagudi forest. It was like a burst of colors in the form of flowers and lush greenery around us, instantly calming my racing mind. It must have rained the previous night as all the plants looked so fresh.
As we were roaming around after lunch, we saw a herd of deer relaxing near the guest house carefully looking at us. They were ready to spring out of there any moment if they see us approaching them.
Our caretaker, Mr. Sebastian took us to a watchtower just outside the guest house and showed us all the locked tree houses which are now sealed due to Elephant activities at night/early morning. From the watchtower, we had an amazing view of the foothills of the Nilgiri mountains.
Walking with us was Sebastian’s cute dog Zara who accompanied us to the top of the watch-tower and parked herself by my husband. (Both of them just sat there watching the mountains in an eerie silence). Sebastian told us that this watch-tower is an ideal spot to watch Elephants walk by us to drink from a make-shift pond. Even though we didn’t see any wild Elephants that day, we came back to the guest house with a hope to view them the next day.
Next was our time to visit two nearby dams: Maravakandy and Moyar dams. As bikes were not allowed to go on that road, our biker friends hired Sebastian’s car for that evening.
Moyar hydro-electric powerhouse gets its water supply primary from the Maravakandy and is one of the primary Masinagudi tourist spots visited by many. There is a watch-tower here which is perfect to witness or capture some breath-taking views. Sebastian told us that animals residing in the region come to this dam to quench their thirst and can be easily spotted in the mornings. We had a lovely time admiring the natural beauty of this dam.
We reached Moyar dam right on time to see the sunset and bask in its light. We had to leave the place by 6 pm due to Elephant crossing time.
On our way back, we saw a herd of deer and a wild dog (Dingo) trying to cross the road only to be stopped by the passing vehicles. That was my first time watching animals’ cross the road at night.
After returning to our guest house, we snuggled around bonfire lit for us by the staff and began our mandatory trip game: Dumb charade. Cracking with laughter on the questionable acts depicting the movie titles, we were happy to be there, surrounded by friends. We felt alive and less burdened by our city life, inwardly admiring the peaceful life of the people of Masinagudi.
Post dinner, we moved our little party to one of the rooms so not to disturb other guests. I don’t know when I fall asleep amidst all the singing, only to wake up with a tune stuck in my mind.
Next morning, I wanted to go to the watch-tower in hopes to see any wild Elephants drinking water nearby, only to meet with fresh Elephant poops everywhere. With a little disappointment, I climbed the watchtower and settled myself in one of the arm-chairs. This time I was all alone with my thoughts in there, soaking in the early morning sun-rays. As we have been on the Bandipur jungle safari before, this time we skipped it.
Find out more about Mudumalai Tiger Reserve’s eco-tourism activities here.
Shortly after that, we joined Sebastian on a small bird-watching session. I am calling it a session because we watched the birds from a covered shed at a short distance from where he laid out the bird food (rice & few pieces of watermelon).
As we sit in complete silence, I was so awestruck by the little birds pecking at their food, shoeing away other who dare to intervene and finishing everything in a matter of seconds, that I didn’t want to leave the place and go back to my city life.
We were gathered around the breakfast table set for us at the courtyard (near the bonfire area), enjoying the meal prepared so lovingly for us when we saw two Malabar or Giant Indian dual-tone squirrels peeking at us.
Sebastian has a lot of friends in this place and he held out small pieces of bananas in a stick for them to munch on. They were fluffy and cute as hell. I would say seeing the spotted deer and Malabar squirrels were the highlights of my trip.
As all good things must come to an end, we packed our bags post breakfast and left the guest house to reach Bangalore via traffic-laden Mysore road. We stayed here only one night but I would recommend you to spend at least two nights here to fully enjoy the place.
If you have more time on hand unlike me, then you can check out these tourist attractions near Masinagudi:
1. Embark on trekking trails of Mudumalai
Mudumalai offers trekking trails suitable for both beginners and experienced offering a chance to explore the elegant hamlet and its enchanting beauty.
2. Visit Theppakadu Elephant Camp
Tourists are permitted to visit the famous Elephant Camp during their feeding times, located at Theppakadu (one of the five regions in Mudumalai), not far from the entrance of the Tiger reserve. This is a good opportunity to learn about the feeding habits of the camp elephants and their daily routine.
3. Admire the nearby lush green plantations
Driving a little ahead towards Ooty, the region is filled with different types of plantations. Ranging from tea and coffee to pepper and other spices, the region is full of a number of wonderful aromatic food ingredients.
4. Himavad Gopalaswamy temple
Located on Mysore road, a small detour leads to this historic temple of Krishna situated on top of a hill overlooking the Bandipur National Park. It is ideal for travelers to plan the trip in such a way that after a visit to the two national parks, Mudumalai and Bandipur, a visit to the Gopalaswamy hills is scheduled on the way back.
This short trip did wonders for me, firstly recharged my soul & mind, and secondly made me start dreaming about another one in a few weeks.
If you have been to Masinagudi or Mudumalai, share your stories with me by commenting below. If you like my blog post, share it with your friends & family.
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