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Wildlife


Paradise in the Wild


Shaili Chopra writes about the Madumalai Wildlife Sanctuary on the way to Ooty.

Madumalai is a paradise in the wild. The name itself suggests visions of bees and honey. However, it is much more than that. A virgin valley of fresh, crisp foliage and bindas loafing tigers, gaurs, deer and elephants over acres of jungle. Tiny brooks and streams along with the Kabini river form the nerve system of the sanctuary. 19 km adjoining the Bandipur National park, the Madumalai Wildlife Sanctuary lies on the way to Udhagamandalam (Ooty).

Surrounded by the three ghats with the Niligiris forming a sort of gulf below, bordering the Kannads above, one finds here a potpourri of deciduous trees and shrubs of several rare species. Madumalai is an invigorating experience for those tired of the bustle of cities. Regular buses ply and there is accommodation available in Forest Department lodges and other resorts. Nearby cities regularly arrange tours and elephant safaris for tourist pleasures.

An early riser is sure to capture the mist on the leaves, the logs and on window panes- an artist's delight. The lodge I stayed in was in a clearing at the edge of the forest- simple with slanting roofs and wild with their log-cabin effect.

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I opted for the most adventurous safari, the elephant safari beginning at 6.30 am to catch a glimpse of the wild life here. Our elephant started with a fresh early morning round of elephant dung to mark the start of a long journey. Rocking along on elephant back, I went brushing past branches.

I saw something and hoped it was a yellow carnivore. It was a blue bull. Our trip could not have had a better start. No sooner had we crossed the shallow Kabini River than a herd of spotted deer appeared as if just sprung from beneath the ground. Sunshine seeped through the gaps between leaves giving the jungle an antique yet unsullied and fresh feel. I had seen such scenic beauty earlier but only in the pages of National Geographic.

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Stepping into a puddle shook the entire gray mass on which we were seated and I made the mistake of clicking my camera. Little did I know that suddenly, 60 meters ahead of us, perhaps attracted by the flash of the camera, stood a giant member of the cat family. That was a brief treat indeed.

Madu malai is a heaven on earth, serene and exuding harmony. Nature has been lavish in providing this sanctuary with thickly wooden hills, plateaus, deep valleys, waterfalls, rivers, marshes and streams. The varied flora and topography meet the ecological needs of several species that inhabit the sanctuary and thus offer so much variety to visitor keen on a tryst with the wild. Elephants, deer, bison, tigers, leopards and mammals like civet cat, mouse, giant flying squirrels. A holiday to remember.

Best time to visit: February to May

Accommodation: Contact KSTDC Rest houses & Cottages in and around the sanctuary. Prices are very reasonable.

A traveler usually has the following options:
Local day and one-night tours from Bangalore, Chennai or Ooty. Package deals like Delhi/Bangalore/Madumalai coupled with some more nearby tourist places. Or Mysore/Madumalai/Bandipur. Or similar packages from Chennai. The cost in most South India tours includes:-Meeting and assistance on arrival & departure-Transfer from airport to hotel and vice versa by non air conditioned vehicle-Jungle excursions by jeep & elephants.-Entrance fees & taxes at the place of visit-Accommodation on B&B basis.

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The Cost Excludes - All airfares-Airport taxes-Personal expenses such as table drinks, laundry, telephone bills or any other expenses not specifed above.-Insurance of any kind-Meals not included...

Another possibility is the `I'll find out by myself' tour, taking local buses or tempos.

The last option of course is taking the Jungle Joy trip package- a complete tour spread over several days that takes you to all the important wildlife sanctuaries in the south of India.


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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.