I make sure I go on at least one nature tour every week to keep my brain and body vitalized. I suggest you try my mantra of happiness as well. I visited Pollachi and Valparai for my monthly dose of rejuvenation. I was astonished by the beauty of this forest. In this holiday season I urge you to go and visit at least one of the green and beautiful hill-stations in India. In fact, if I were a Santa Claus, I would make sure I gift you a trip to Anamalai hills.
But till then I will let you enjoy these remarkable hills virtually through my photo-story:
1. Experience the rich forest closely by trekking in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve
I have been a trekker and a hiker by body, mind and soul. I am thrilled by the idea of exploring new places on foot. All I need is a pair of good shoes. My Quechua waterproof hiking boots help me to be ready for an adventure at all times. I explored the hills with a group of six nature enthusiasts along with one local guide.
2. Sighting of Nilgiri tahr when we drove up-hill to Valparai
The Nilgiri tahr is a large mammal. It is a close relative of sheep and shares common ancestors with cattle and horses. The animal is protected under section I of the Wildlife Protection Act in India. It was indeed a breath-taking experience to watch the tahr take a stroll where no humans could dare to climb!
3. Spending time within the lush green tea plantations at a local home-stay
A walk within the green tea plantations reminded me of the romantic songs in the 1990s. These mountain farms have been a famous tourist attraction for years. Even today the beauty of these gardens remains and gives a unique picturesque serenity- attracting tourists from all over India.
4. Climbing up an old broken shaky watchtower in search of tigers and leopards
These days with the decreasing population and increased poaching, tigers and leopards are no easy animals to watch in the wild. Although in an attempt to try our luck we took the risk of climbing a shaky, rickety watch-tower. Unfortunately, no cats showed up. As the stars took to the sky, we all had to rush back to our tents. But I must admit that the thrill of climbing the tower was an unforgettable experience!
5. Face to face with a family of Elephants
Watching an animal as huge as an elephant, in the wild, was an awestricking experience. While we were driving up to our home-stay, our local expert pointed out to a family of three elephants feeding and bathing. The bond between the mother Elephant and the baby is possibly the most magnificent wonder of mother nature. To see it right in front of you is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I got, owing to my eco-travels.
6. Spending time pondering with Nilgiri Langoors and thoughts on human evolution
I love langoors for the strange fact that they communicate within their groups by various vocalization skills that most primates exhibit, though the langoor communication skills are not as advanced as that of Chimpanzees. By simple observation one can easily point out the similarities between man and langoors. Langoors show similar habits to that of a group of homo sapiens
7. Listening to the loud, haunting calls of the huge Great Hornbill
These majestic giant birds with a yellow bill and black and white body are simply astonishing to witness within the forests. They usually live in pairs. Their population has now been decreasing and this has put them in a ‘near-threatened’ category by International Union for Conservation of Nature. We were lucky to get a glimpse of this flying giant.
8. When we all sat down with our freshly prepared tea to enjoy a long tete-a-tete with the Malabar Whistling Thrush
When chotu served us tea with the freshness I cannot possibly explain in words, this little beautiful bluebird came in whistling at us. The Malabar thrush are known to live in dense canopies in evergreen forests but here in the Anamalai tea gardens the scenario is a little bit different. Possibly the cutest animal on this list!
9. The last click where we all stood together ‘for nature within nature’- nurturing bonds that would last forever
Traveling not only connects you with Nature but gives you a chance to meet like minded people of all ages. This is when one can truly reflect on the true meaning of friendship- giving it a new sense and new boundaries every single time 🙂
PS: This article was first published in January 2016 in Pollachi Papyrus, a magazine aiming to promote responsible tourism.