It's been quite a while since I went on a good road trip. A sudden unplanned trip to Nilambur came as a pleasant surprise, especially not having planned it helped take the decision to drive down. Had we taken an overnight bus or train, would have missed out the beautiful route. On the flipside, the unplanned nature of the trip also meant that we traveled without taking the camera with us.
Nilambur is a small town in Malappuram district of Kerala, and the shortest route from Bangalore is just 300 km via Mysore-Gundulpet-Gudalur. Though Bangalore-Mysore road is 4 lane, there is quite a lot of traffic. Between Chennapatna and Maddur, there are some good restaurants on the highway. We had breakfast at Kamat's - food was very good, and tasty.
Though Mysore has a ring road nearing completion, it is better to take the route through the city (which we did on the onward journey, and took the ring road on the return journey - adds 22km without saving much time. Also, if you are used to Bangalore/Chennai traffic, Mysore is a breeze).
The route gets interesting from a little beyond Gundulpet, when you enter the Bandipur National Park. There was thorough checking for plastic items (but surprisingly none on the return journey. Inside the park, you can spot a few animals including deer, peacock, wild boar, etc - there are signboards warning against wild elephants, and that you should not take any of the interior roads without permission. The place is spotlessly clean.
Though the park is one single continuous entity, the interstate border comes in between, so it is officially Mudumalai National Park on the Tamil Nadu side.
The drive through both National Parks is a very refreshing experience - clean air, no noise, very less traffic. Soon after leaving the parks, we reached Gudalur town in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu, a crowded town, from where we take the detour for Nilambur from the Ooty road. The portion of the ghat roads closer to the border between Tamil Nadu and Kerala was the best part of the ride - at 12:30 noon we encountered thick fog, so much that visibility was reduced to a few feet, and we drove with headlights & hazard lights on, not because we could see better, but in the hope that vehicles on the opposite side could at least see the lights and avoid collision. This fog, called as Koda Manju
in Malayalam, was the first time for me not just for any roads in Kerala/TN but also not encountered during my trip to the Himalayas.
The roads then enters the Kerala plains very soon, but the scenery is still beautiful.
The next day we went on a short outing to a lesser known waterfalls, called Adyanpara. It is not very popular, and hence not at all crowded except for some 10 local tourists. The beauty of the place was more than worth the trouble of climbing up the narrow hilly roads.
I knew photographs could not capture the full feel of the place, so I shot a video on the mobile phone as well.
The key places we missed during this trip was going to the Teak Museum, Nilambur Kovilakam, and taking the train journey from Nilambur to Shoranur. That's for the next time.