After taking the toy train from Coonoor to Ooty, we spent the rest of the day in Upper Bhavani Biosphere and Lake. It’s about an hour’s drive or so from Ooty via Emerald Lake Village.
To say that the drive is scenic is an understatement. Farmlands dot along the way as you weave in and out of rolling hills. Dense sholas or forests along edges of small farming towns, and acres upon acres of cabbage, carrots and beets farms. We even stopped to pick carrots from a from en-route. There isn’t much in terms of facilities along the way, so stock upon snacks and water in Ooty or in Emerald lake village. The road is in good condition. Private vehicles are not allowed in the sanctuary and you have to switch to government jeeps or eco-tour buses.
We took a private jeep for us and headed inside the sanctuary. The initial part of the sanctuary was ho-hum. Fallen tree branches and muddy roads due to the heavy rain from previous day made everything slick. Red and brown mushrooms were the only interesting things we observed.
First stop inside was to view the cauliflower ( or broccoli) shaped trees. Dense forests with green florets. Clouds weaved in and out over the trees. To see such pristine dense forest in India with no littler is a rare scene. Not to mention very few tourists. A lovely waterfall reminded us of Lonavla in monsoon.
Next up was a Bhavani Temple located next to a waterfall. It was perched on a cliff side and was straight out of movies. The wind was very strong here and we had to make sure that we held on to the kids tight. The river meandered in the valley below again densely covered with those broccoli florets trees.
We drove further and saw a majestic wild bison en-route. It was tall, young and could have easily trampled us with its strength if we encroached its private space. Luckily it crossed the road and disappeared into the forest and we continued on – excited about its sighting.
The last stop of the trip was at Upper Bhavani lake -an artificial lake created by the dam which helped the farmlands flourish in the area. The lake was hidden behind clouds when we arrived but when they parted – we were mesmerized. It looked like an infinity lake snaking across valley below. The sparkling water now a muddy brown due to rain and the silt that flowed into it’s from surrounding brown red mountains.
We parked and took in the views despite the cold. The kids were bundled up and in the car as we didn’t want them to fall sick. Vipul with our friend S,with whom we were travelling, headed to the Upper Bhavani Falls which was another picturesque setting. The falls were classic and the guys hiked to the bottom to enjoy them more while we waited in the car with the kids.
Vipul insisted that we go see the falls too, so we left the kids in the car with S and headed down the rocky path to the falls. When we turned the corned, clouds had rolled in and we couldn’t see a thing. We saw some tall trees and nothing much beyond. But the sight of the falls right ahead of us when the clouds parted was simply marvelous.
We were cold and didn’t want to hike down on muddy path so we headed back.
It was drizzling a bit all this while and once we started driving back it began to pour. We were soaked in the 15 seconds it took to switch from the govt vehicle to our car.
We dried off the kids and started our drive back to Ooty. Suddenly, we all realized we had skipped lunch and everyone was very hungry. With all the excitement of bison, new vistas and lakes behind us, our stomach’s grumbled but we had about an hours drive back to Ooty. The carrots we had in the car were freshly pulled and were not in ready to eat condition. They had to be scrubbed clean. We ate some bananas that we had stocked on hand for the kids. We survived somehow till Ooty where we had a late lunch of dosa and utthapam. The weather cleared up by the time we had lunch and filter coffee and so we did some shopping – chocolate, seeds and more fresh vegetables to bring back home.
I bought this bunch below for just over a dollar.
By then the kids were tired from being in the car and wanted their play time. We headed back to Coonor where they could have free reign on the lawn and run to their heart’s content.
It was another lovely day in the mountains. We were so inspired that we are now planning another trip there when the weather is brighter and sunnier.