Weekend trip to Wayanad – Soochipara

A trip for me has seldom been so diverse in terms of the friends accompanying. Among our small group of 4 members, one was my childhood friend, one a friend from college days and one my colleague from my previous organization where we worked. The trip was not off in a flash unlike most of my previous trips. This trip came about after weeks and weeks of postponement and we set forth towards our destination after 2 months of first planning for it.

The trip in itself was planned to experiment on my new DSLR purchased recently. We had decided our destination as Wayanad but were undecided about the places to visit there. Nevertheless, we set out at about midnight from my home with a plan to stop over for 3-4 hours at the Café coffee day near Maddur on the Bangalore – Mysore Highway. We reached at the Café at about 2.00 AM thanks to the wonderful NICE corridor and the empty highway. After a bout of coffee and few clicks here and there, we were thinking of getting some rest before continuing on the rest of journey. However, we all were super charged with enthusiasm and decided not to waste much time around and rather make the best use of traffic free highway. So we thus continued on and managed to reach the forest gate at around 5.45 AM. There was quite pile up of vehicles already at the gate. For the first timers – the forest remains closed for vehicular movement between 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM for the safety of the animals.

My beloved accompanist for many memorable journeys

Having to wait for about 30 mins for the gates to open and traffic to clear, the forest drive started off with the expectation to catch few glimpses of animals. However we were quite unlucky on this front as we failed to see a single animal on the entire stretch of highway covered with stunning canopy of trees. We reached the Wayanad wildlife Sanctuary at about 7 AM and decided to go for a safari with the hope of seeing some animals. We had to wait for about 45 mins for our turn to get to the safari as there was already quite a large crowd waiting for their turn before us. This gave us a good opportunity to capture some clicks and test out the camera on the forest roads.

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With the safari set to start, we were anticipating to have a good experience here. We had been to quite a few safaris before at Bandipur, Madumalai, Nagerhole and few other places and on each of these occasions we had seen quite many mammals in the wild. However, we were in for some excitement as well as some disappointment on the safari. Speaking of the disappointment first, we were able to see herd of stags along the pathway. However, in our excitement to get the snaps from camera we undid some settings on the camera and ended up getting all blur pictures of the stags L. However, for the excitement part, we were hardly few furlongs ahead from the herd when we saw a wild elephant chase the safari car which was in front of us. It was apparent that the elephant wanted to cross the road and on seeing the vehicles might have thought it was in some danger and decided to charge out. Fortunately though, there was no damage done as the vehicle managed to maintain a safe distance and after a sharp run of few feet, the elephant barged into the thick forest to disappear from the sight. There was no further sighting of wild animals on the safari and we thus returned rather disappointed.

Brilliant forest roads, a pleasure to drive View within the Muthunga Wildlife Sanctuary On return from Safari Sharing a joke while waiting for Safari

After some sumptuous breakfast at Hotel Solar in the border town of Sultan Battery, up next on our journey were the famous Edakkal caves. Edakkal Caves are two natural caves located about 25 km from Kalpetta in the Wayanad district. Inside the caves are pictorial writings believed to date to at least 6,000 BC, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilization or settlement in this region. The Stone Age carvings of Edakkal are rare and are the only known examples from South India.

Some craftwork at the Edakkal caves Having a sip of Bamboo rice juice Posing inside the Edakkal caves View from Edakkal Caves

After spending quite a bit of time at the caves, we headed to our homestay – Soochipara Residency and reached there by about 1 PM right in time for the lunch. A note about Soochipara Residency – The homestay is situated amidst vast tea estates and is completely cut off from the life of normal cities and towns. You are left with absolutely nothing but the wonderful natural sounds of birds and insects singing with all their might. Also bringing instant peace to your eyes are the beautiful lush green nature all around. About 15 minutes’ walk from here you are at the Soochipara water falls. The falls were unfortunately closed for some maintenance work before the onset of monsoons. At the homestay, we were given a warm welcome by Mr. Mohan one of the most hospitable hosts I have ever met. The facilities provided, the food, the services were truly top class. Mr Mohan never stopped having a smile on his face throughout our stay and was willing to put forth the best service to ensure we had a pleasant stay at the place. I surely recommend folks to try out this place for their stay while visiting the Soochipara falls and nearby spots. We had booked the homestay in advance through Trailroot. Please follow this link for more details on the homestay www.trailroot.in/soochipara.asp .

View from Soochipara Residency Amidst the beautiful tea plantations IMG_1015

We relaxed at the homestay for the evening and night chatting and playing few games we had brought along with us. While hitting the beds for a good night’s sleep we just casually decided to depart from the place at around 9.00 AM after our breakfast and surprisingly we were able to leave at 9.00 AM sharp from the place. Departing from the homestay, we explored some of the other surrounding places of interest such as Pookode Lake, Banasura Sagar Dam and decided to take the route via Nagerhole to return to Mysore. Driving on this route was an awesome experience. There were rains along the way as we reached the Nagerhole forest range. In the forest, just as we were passing by, we were able to see a herd of elephant which included a bull elephant and couple of cubs. After posing for about 10 – 15 mins, the elephants decided to continue on their journey but not without giving a short chase of couple of sprints to warn us from following them. We managed to see few more herds along the way and were quite thrilled to see them following our disappointment from the safari the previous day. After any further incident free journey, we reached Mysore city at around 5.30 and decided to have a break to have some tea and snacks. Not finding the right parking place near any hotel, we decided to halt at the famous Maddur Tiffany’s instead. Thanks to a traffic filled road, we reached Maddur by 7.30 and after savoring the awesome Maddur wada’s and dosas at Maddur Tiffany’s, we continued our journey back home to Bangalore. We reached Bangalore by around 10.30 PM again due to heavy traffic along the Mysore – Bangalore highway and thus brought to end a wonderful two – day outing filled with lots of wonderful memories and new experiences. Below are some more snaps from the trip –

A tusker posing for us in Nagerhole Inspection time for a vehicle at forest checkup gates Beautiful Nagarhole forest road Warning!! Elephant Crossing part 1!! Warning!! Elephant Crossing part 2!! Its attack time!! Posing at Pookode Lake Pookode Lake