Riding to the Nilgiris: Malkohas, Larks, White Eyes…

A distant view of Silent Valley and Nilgiri mountains from Mannarkad. 29 Sept 2012. I started from Kutipuram. Through Valanchery-Perinthalmanna reached Mannarkad and took the Agali-Attapadi-Anakkatty route.

Flowing along the green bamboos and woodbine:  A sylvan cascade by the Mannarkad-Agali road

Cool migrant: A Grey Wagtail at a roadside stream

The gift of river Bhavani: Agali-Attapady valley and Malliswaran Mudi in the backdrop. A sacred peak of the tribals. Ancient Jains also worship this peak as an icon of Mallinadha Thirthankara.

A Black Eagle spreading its wings above the Bhavani basin: Near Thavalam on the Agali-Anakkatti road

Blue waters of the Bhavani flowing east from the Ghats. Malliswaran Mudi in the horizon. A view from Thavalam/Agali. 29 Sept 2012

Landscape and climate change to dry: Bhavani near Mulli, largely a rain-shadow dale

Perfect camouflage: A Jerdon’s Bushlark near Mulli,  29 Sept 2012

Mulli valley between Thavalam and Mukurthi. For 3kms the Ooty road lacks tarring here. Quails, Larks, Doves… are plenty.

Blue-faced Malkoha on the Mulli-Manjur route near the Dam. Also chanced upon Sirkeer Malkoha just before this ecstatic sight, but could not click. Both beauties are lifers for me!

A Noisy Malabar Parakeet near Mulli

Avalanches in Mukurthi National Park. Mukurthi peak towards the right capped in mist. 29 Sept 2012

Entering the Nilgiri plateau above 2000 MSL through Mukurthi and Manjur by the eve of 29 Sept 2012. The land of Kota, Toda and Paniya. Also an ancient Jain centre called Ootakalmand now turned Udakamandalam.

A brilliant icon of the sun and the enlightened one: A golden-yellow rose in the Govt Rose Garden at Ooty on the morn of 30 Sept 2012

Misty morning in Ooty. One of the ancient mountains in the world, much older than the Himalayas. Ootakalmand town from Fern Hills.

Wild blossoms by the Ooty lake. 30 Sept 2012

Fresh organic vegetables for the whole south India: Carrot, cabbage, cauliflower cultivation in the Nilgiris

Awaiting travelers: Autos and horsemen in Ooty

A Sambhar Deer by the lake in Ooty

Endemic pansies in Ooty Govt Botanical Garden

A lonely visitor in the Ooty Botanical Garden. 30 Sept 2012

Burial urns in Ooty Govt Museum. More than 2000 years old, recovered from the Nilgiris. They show that The tribal peoples reached Ootakalmund in the Sangham age itself before the beginning of the common era.

A White-eye seeking honey at Ooty

Cottages in the Zen garden at Narayana Gurukulam, Fern Hill, Ooty

An enlightening presence: A Buddha head in the zen garden at Narayana Gurukulam, Fern Hill, Ooty. 30 Sept 2012

Film activist Nisar Asoka near the pagoda in Narayana Gurukulam, Ooty

Brother Viju Varghese the current in-charge of Narayana Gurukulam, Ooty

Statue of Narayana Guru in the zen garden at Narayana Gurukulam, Ooty. 30 Sept 2012.  Photo: Nisar Asoka

A fading music: A chirping sparrow in the buddha garden at Narayana Gurukulam, Ooty

On the return ride I took the Masinagudi-Gudalur-Nilambur route.  It was butterflies raining in Masinagudi and Mudumalai Tiger reserve.  Blue Tigers and Common Crows were having some local migration.  I saw Gaurs and elephants grazing all along the road.  My battery was empty and could not take any snaps.  Reached Kutipuram by 10pm on 30th Sept 2012.  Thanks to my Kawasaki-bajaj Avenger the 400 km ride was a great educating and illuminating voyage to the Blue Mountains, the queen among hill stations in South India.  Lack of rain is crucially affecting all these ecologically fragile biodiversity hotspots, especially the rain shadow regions towards the eastern slopes of the Ghats the Malakudam or Malayaparvatam.


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