Madumalai is a paradise in the wild. Certainly, the name itself suggests visions of bees and honey. However, it is much more than that. A virgin valley of fresh, crisp foliage is home for tigers, gaurs, deer and elephants over acres of jungle. Tiny brooks and streams. While the Kabini river forms the nerve system of the sanctuary. 19 km from the Bandipur National Park, the Madumalai Wildlife Sanctuary lies on the way to Udhagamandalam (Ooty).
It is in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, where three states intersect – Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There are deciduous trees and shrubs of several rare species. Madumalai is invigorating for those tired of the bustle of cities. Regular buses ply and there is accommodation available in Forest Department lodges and a variety of resorts. Nearby cities also regularly arrange tours and elephant safaris for tourist pleasures.
Madumalai on an Elephant Safari
Being an early riser I was delighted with the dew on the leaves. And also moisture drops on window panes. It somehow made me realise an artist’s delight with nature. The lodge I stayed at was in a clearing at the edge of the forest. It was simple with slanting roofs. There was a log-cabin effect which it had. I opted for the most adventurous safari, the elephant safari. It began at 6.30 am so that it could show us a glimpse of the wild life here. Our elephant started with a fresh early morning round of elephant dung to mark the start of a long journey. Rocking along on elephant back, I went brushing past branches.
I saw something and hoped it was a yellow carnivore. But it was a blue bull. Our trip could not have had a better start. No sooner had we crossed the shallow Kabini River than a herd of spotted deer appeared as if just sprung from beneath the ground. Sunshine seeped through the gaps between leaves giving the jungle an antique yet unsullied and fresh feel. I was aware of such scenic beauty. But only in the pages of National Geographic.
Brief Encounter at Madumalai
Stepping into a puddle shook the entire gray mass on which we were seated. Additionally, I made the mistake of clicking my camera. But then I did not know that 60 meters ahead of us, stood a giant member of the cat family. However, that was a brief treat. Are encounters with the tiger ever more than that?
Nature has been lavish in providing this sanctuary with thickly wooded hills, plateaus, deep valleys, waterfalls, rivers, marshes and streams. Therefore, Madumalai is heaven on earth, serene and exuding harmony. Moreover, the varied flora and topography meet the ecological needs of several species that inhabit the sanctuary. Thus offering so much variety to a visitor keen on a tryst with the wild. Elephants, deer, bison, tigers, leopards and mammals like civet cat, mouse, giant flying squirrels. It was a holiday to remember.
Best time to visit: February to May
Accommodation: Contact KSTDC Rest houses & Cottages in and around the sanctuary. Prices are very reasonable.
A traveler usually has the following options:
− Local tours from Bangalore, Chennai or Ooty.
− Package deals from distant cities like Delhi to Bangalore/Madumalai coupled with some more nearby tourist places. Or Mysore/Madumalai/Bandipur. Or similar packages from Chennai. The cost generally includes:
• Meeting and assistance on arrival & departure
• Transfer from airport to hotel and vice versa
• Jungle excursions by jeep & elephants.
• Entrance fees & taxes at the place of visit
• Accommodation on B&B basis