When my birder friend Kalpalata offered the prospects of a weekend getaway to Chinnar and a stay deep in the jungle, I didn’t have to think twice before nodding a yes. Forever drawn to spending time amidst wilderness, such decisions come easy to me after a long, hard week at work. We started off from Coimbatore at 5 a.m., picked up our friend and naturalist Ranjith Ram from Pollachi and proceeded towards our destination.
The morning broke gradually and the trees lined up on either side of the road, forming a green tunnel as we approached Amaravathi from Udumalpet. It was a stunning spectacle and a soothing sight to behold, a perfect cue to what kind of day lay ahead. We stopped for breakfast enroute, at a small hotel by the roadside at the outskirts of the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary. The lady who doubles up as the cook and her daughter Kausalya generously served us piping hot idlis and vadas as we sat on the outdoor swing that was hanging from the nearby tree. The backdrop of mountains looming behind the mango orchard made a spectacular scene jolting up our moods to a great start to the day. We reached Chinnar checkpost and from there started our trek into the wild accompanied by a couple of guides from the Forest department, native to the tribal settlement that dwells in these forests.
The creaking vines, the chirping birds and the gurgling streams – the sounds of the jungle made the experience pure bliss. For me, it has always been about losing and finding myself in the wilderness and on those moments when we were surrounded with peacocks, kingfishers woodpeckers, minivets, deers, grizzled squirrels and langurs, I felt complete there!
Butterflies flitted around as we trudged our way across streams ,rocks and giant gnarled roots.
The sunshine filtering through the tall trees lent a surreal magical feel to the whole place. After resting for a while near the river side, we trekked back and had lunch. And then we resumed our trek to the cabin tucked away deep in the jungle where we were put up for stay over the night at the Pambaar log house.
Though we could hear claps of thunder as we walked and was hoping for some cool showers that would have been a respite from the summer heat, the rain clouds soon blew away. After all, Chinnar falls in the rainshadow region of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. We reached our log house about an hour later. The accommodation was basic and minimal but outside the cabin, the sky was a palette of myriad hues as the sun set. The jungle hummed with the din of cicadas. Time stood still there with just us, mountains, trees, wildlife and streams around.
Our log house was lit up with solar lights as it turned dark. After having explored the nearby rocky terrain with the Pambaar river snaking around the boulders , we returned to sit back in the verandah and munched on some juicy mangoes that tasted heavenly after all that trek and climb. The forest guides who had accompanied us offered us black tea. It was a much needed therapy to the wearied city soul. We retired for the night after having an early dinner. As the dawn broke we were up and ready for a birding trek. The morning was fresh and the air was filled with the cacophony of birds calls. It was amazing how the jungle wore a different look each time!
>Having explored and taken a couple of pictures of the various sightings we trekked back to the log house amidst tiny water falls and thickets. It was time to return and we braced ourselves for the 3.5 km return trek after having a fill of instant cup noodles. In about an hour’s time, we were out of the jungle and back to civilization, all rejuvenated and healed.
Until next time , it was adieu to the raw, wild and untamed Chinnar!
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