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13 June 2005 @ 01:35 pm
The Anamalais (means "Elephant Mountains" in Tamil) is a fascinating place. You won't find too much of mammal life there, but if it's birds and butterflies you're after - there are few other places in South India which are this good. The forest vegetation is mostly Bamboo and Teak, but the scene changes dramatically once you hit the Sholas which have remained undisturbed for centuries. Once you enter the range headquarters at "Topslip" you find a board which says "Anamalais is scientifically managed since 1859" which actually means - "The Anamalais has been slaughtered since 1859 and trees have been chopped to make way for coffee, tea and teak"

We stayed in a rest house on top of Mt. Stuart which was built in 1885 - that's 120 years ago! It was used by an Englishman named Hugo Wood who was responsible for converting much of the forest into teak plantations. Hugo, apparently loved this forest so much that he wanted to he buried here. His grave is not far away from the resthouse and the epitaph reads "If you want to look at me, then look around." It's a beautiful quote but some questions will always remain without an answer. God knows how many species of birds and animals rest there along with Hugo Wood in that mysterious grave.

We trekked in two of the three Sholas in the range. The Karian Shola is just behind the main reception of Topslip and here we found the extremely rare Oriental Bay Owl and the strange-looking beautiful bird called Frogmouth! However, I loved the trek in the Anagundi Shola in search of the highly endangered Lion-tailed Macaque. We did'nt get to see them, but the trek was just exciting through the leech infested forest, with strange mushrooms and large trees which seem to touch the skies. The smell of wet mud and dense jungle is extremely intoxicating for anyone who loves nature. The heavy clouds and low light added to the effect, for one of the best trekking experiences I've ever had.

I still need to look at all the images I have from this place and I'll write more with each picture.
Dilip Sankarreddydilip on June 13th, 2005 08:49 am (UTC)
Thanks for giving this interpretation of Hugo Wood. I trust your words and so I am changing my opinion on him without verifying. I had read about him many many years ago in an article in newspaper (maybe Hindu) which praised his work and since then I held him in high esteem for his work. It is said he planted teak trees as he went for his walks.

Mysteriously, today morning, I remembered him and wrote these few lines just few hrs ago inspired by his work that I had read about in that article:

I drop a seed
In each of the little corners
Along the path of myriad quaint strolls
That I enjoy every morn.

Who knows which one grows into the next tree!

Thanks to you, I am changing my opinion abt him. Now, he is not a respectable man but a evil demon to me.
Yathinyathin on June 13th, 2005 09:42 am (UTC)
You'll never be able to tell about Hugo Wood, since not much is known about him. Maybe he was a good man who tried to re-generate the forest which was annihilated by his British predecessors or maybe he was that typical British guys who wanted to grow teak so that it can be used in British homes and ships - you'll never know. That's why the place is so full of mystery to me.
shruthi_dipalishruthi_dipali on June 13th, 2005 09:02 am (UTC)
Wow.. Makes me wanna go on a holiday.. Can't wait for the pictures..
Deepakdeepix on June 13th, 2005 09:07 am (UTC)
Very nice! Made me picturise as I read the entry. :-)
zimbabaozimbabao on June 13th, 2005 09:14 am (UTC)
So did u get the rains ?
Yathinyathin on June 13th, 2005 09:37 am (UTC)
It rained for some half an hour when we were in a thick Shola, but was cloudy all through the trip.
ashbirderashbirder on June 13th, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC)
wow, thanks for that piece of info about Hugo Wood. I have been to Top Slip for a bird ringing programme in '01, and loved the place. Bay Owl is excellent!!! there is a guide there called Narayan (i think??) who knows the exact location of a particular frogmouth at Top Slip. Did you run into him? We'd gone with him to look for it, but on that day it was nowhere to be seen. Too bad. But I was fated to see the bird, bec last yr in Anshi i had a good sighting.

Yathinyathin on June 13th, 2005 04:30 pm (UTC)
Re: frogmouth
We went with two guides called Armugam and Murugan. They were excellent and found 3 different frogmouth roosting places for us! :)
Bayartsbayarts on June 13th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)
I wish i could go to this place.....
Yathinyathin on June 13th, 2005 04:40 pm (UTC)
You really should if you visit this part of the world! :)
Bayartsbayarts on June 13th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
I was in India once, many years ago, but have never returned. It is on my list of "things to do"! Thank you for sharing your experiences.
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Yathinyathin on June 13th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC)
You've had a rare oppotunity and are extremely lucky with that sighting. They are just in their hundreds now in scatterred populations and apparently Anamalais is the best place to spot them.