Post trip mail - Nature camp at Top Slip, Pollachi

Monday, May 28, 2012

[Written by Muthu]

My long wait to venture in to the trails of topslip is finally over. May 18th it was , we started our journey to the top-slip , one of the few places rich in wildlife. Anand , a veteran snake handler and a dedicated forest conservationist accompanied us , infact we owe him quite a bit for planning this trip. 

As usual a group of like minded souls packed their bags and set off for a 'jungle walk' in topslip. we got into the bus which was late to arrive and  likely so.

Most of us were so miniamlly refreshed as we came straight form work , hence grabbing a seat to 'push back'  quitely. Only a few of us bothered to take a cup of tea at places where the bus stopped at night , ofcourse the rest were tired.

Bus reached pollachi around 6 30 Am the next day  morning  where we quickly got down and refreshed ourselves. We waited almost an hour for those couple of late comers , much better words 'lazy buggers' who were supposed to join us from coimbatore. 

It was almost an hour , after a few confusions we got in to a bus which was meant to take us to 'the topslip'. On the way we stopped by aliyar river and payed the nature's debts. We reached topslip around 10 , quickly filled our tummies , put our bags in the dorm and got ready for our first day walk. 

With a few instructions from our guide rajamani and the mammal man karthikeyan a forest conservationist himself , we started to scroll up in to the jungle. Karthikeyan has dedicated almost his entire life for the indian forest conservation. It was also heartening to know that he has compiled a lot of books for the forest department. He along with anand and Rajamani lead the walk.

As instructed we were silently walking through the jungle , and we happened to see a malabar giant squirrel.It had its back painted red and a long dark tail. Oh boy!!.. that was really long , atleast for a squirrel.

As we went on, the girls and some of the guys started bending down and getting up  in quick succcession. It was then i realised it was to 'nail' out the leeches stuck on their legs. It was quite surprising to see leeches in summer, but given the dampness on the surface their presence was reasonable.

A few steps away , Anand raised his hand  to indicate us to be silent. And so did we.
He walked slowly on to his left , and whispered it was a ghar.
There was a stone wall just in front of us and by standing on top of it we all took a view of the Ghar.Just as i expected one of our friends jumped from it and not only us , the Ghar also heard a 'THUD!!" . We should consider ourselves really lucky because the Ghar din't run towards us , it actually ran opposite to the direction we stood. But that's the beauty of  a 'group' isn't it?? Theres is always something happening.

It was almost half the day done and naturally we were  hungry.Our guide Rajamani lead us to a 'in-construction' building , and allowed us to have our lunch on the terrace.We quickly latched on to our rice packets and started gazing. We then collected the trash and started from that beautiful woody , greenish place.Always refreshing to see it 'green' especially  in summer.

We reached the topslip- parambikulam road around 5 and waited for our bus which was supposed to take us to the elephant camp.After munching some snacks and tasting a cup of tea, we left to the elephant camp.The momment we got down we heard the elephants honking.

I was quitely observing the elephants and tried to relate with the facts given by mr.karthik and anand. It was surprising , at the same time amazing to see the largest living animal on the land actually submits itself for a small stick. An 'awe of  its majesty' , yes that's the phrase i can use here to describe how i felt when i saw the mammal so close.  Though there were multiple reminders from the gaurds to stay a few yards away from the animal , there were some 'tourists' who took photographs standing so close. With some  reaching an extent of holding its tusk. when are we 'selfish' 'idiotic' 'senseless' human-beings gonna learn to follow the rules . Speaking of Indians, first thing we infer seeing a rule or a protocol  is a loop-hole.

Well , considering the genere of the essay , Lets go back to what happened on the eve of may19th.
We took our bus back to the dorm . It was almost like night safari , and each one of us clinged on to the windows expecting a sight. As we were eagerly browsing through the windows , there was a sudden flash which came out under the tree. Someone quickly shouted ' no flash guys' . Rajamani  calmed us down saying it was the camera , to track the movements of animals in the night.

We reached our dorm , took a shower and geared up to hunt the canteen. It was quite a dinner - courtesy the forest dept. cooks. It was pleasure-some sitting out and letting the cool breeze brush our face.Mr. karthik then shared his experiences as avid trekker and an effective forest conservationist.He also explained us the importance of forest consercation So, that was the end of our first day.

'GUYS..GET UP!!' shouted vadivel the next day morning. I heard someone saying that they saw a ghar right next to our door very early in the morning. The previous night I was really disappinted  that ,we are not allowed to stay 'outdoor' .Which certainly is not 'CTC's' way. It was only then i realised why we were not allowed to sleep outside.

The day's plan was to reach parambikulam forest check post early and take the first safari bus. As per the plan , we reached the checkpost much earlier than its respective officials and waited for them to arrive.Mean while , we had a good timepass at the gate . Pulling each others' legs, chatting , photosessions etc,.The forest officials arrived and let us through the gate . We then got into a bus and started our safari.

A few meteres away we happened to see a peacock just swiveling around with its wings unleashed . How many times in your life can you see that??

On the way, We spotted the  'spotted deers' . yes lots of them . But  mighty sight of them all was the elephant which came out of the bush to quench its thirst.

We reached the parambikulam settlement area to break our fast. Around 12 We  moved on to our dorm and got our rest. It was now time for a luch . Most of us were very reluctant to have lunch as the break fast was reasonalbly late. Because there was no way of packing our lunch , we had to pack it in our tummy.

After our lunch we took a walk through the kariyanshola , which is breeding ground for various kinds of animals.We were actually looking for  Horn-bill , a mighty bird and a rare customer. But we couldn't spot her in the wild though some of us claimed to have seen . A rare customer she remained till the end.

We were about to exit and then we spotted a malabar white frog. It was said that it can clear  a greater distance in single jump. I liked that tiny creature . Particularly it's eyes.

That was the end of the day as well as the trip. I've done moderate to tough treks but this was a different experience. An experience i liked.  May be because I'm a photo-freak.Thanks to Durai, Vadi, Rakesh, Anand and karthik for organising this Jungle safari. Two days went in a giffy. Yet I met some wonderful people managed to get some new friends. Therefore, I would call it 'A Walk To Remember'....

[Written by Durai Murugan]

Top slip – a rendezvous with wildlife

 “The shade of each leaf,
The moisture on each grain of sand;
Every little hill fold that you see;
Gives to the river that flows to the landmasses;
Gives life to all our lands”
Conserve Nature

A touching phrase found on the roadside wall at Parambikulam reserved forest.

This trip to Top slip, Pollachi was utterly different from serious treks we do since it was formulated to implant the seeds of “conservation” in the minds of participating nature loving souls. This trip gave us few insights about animal behaviour, trekker’s conduct in wild life sensitive areas, inspiring true stories from a wildlife conservationist, observing the beautiful peacock’s dance, watching the spotted deer’s graze, understanding the pug marks of wild animals. It had so many varieties and different flavours that a nature enthusiast would have sought for.

Watching the deer’s graze on a peaceful morning:
A peaceful morning with the mountain birds breaking the silence in the air, the chill breeze kissing the early raisers, trees dancing to the tunes of the wind, the Anamalai peaks covered with thick fog and the sky becoming chilli reddish. We saw that spectacular herd of spotted deer’s along with their kith and kin grazing the grasses. A very rare sight for a city dweller like me, I enjoyed clicking pictures and watching them graze for almost 30 minutes before some noise came inside the bushes, which chased the deer’s into the woods.

The protector of deer’s:

This black little ancestor of human beings is considered as the protector of deer’s from predators. Nilgiri langur sitting on the top of trees alerts deer’s that unmindfully stands below grazing, unaware of the predators. It emits a unique sound and alerts the deer’s about the presence of strangers and predators in the vicinity. See the below photo carefully and check how the Nilgri Langur alerted the Sambar deer. 

The Great Kannimara Teak:

The great Kannimara teak tree honoured by the central government with ‘Mahavrisksha Ouraskar” award and around 450 years old stands tall in the Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary. Certainly the largest, tallest and most revered teak tree I have seen or heard so far. Hugging its trunk I realised how insignificant is mankind in front of nature, quite a unique feeling.

I had goose bumps watching the Peacocks dance:

It was 2nd day early morning we entered the Parambikulam reserved forest in the forest department’s vehicle. We were the early ones into the forest welcomed by herds and herds of deer’s on both the side of the road. Unable to believe my eyes and digest the happiness what I saw was absolute exquisiteness. Yes, I saw with my jaw opened the beautiful national bird opening its wings and dancing. It was a glee watching them dance to the tunes of nature. Wish I had all the time in this world to watch this magnificence unfolding before me.

Jumbo quenching its thirst:

Unable to come out of the beautiful sight of the peacock’s dancing we proceeded ahead just to watch a lonely elephant entering into the water, quenching its thirst and disappearing into the woods. With the bamboo trees at the background, huge mass of water body in the front, the jumbo seen drinking water was elegance personified.

Wild boars – the cleaner of forest:
Wild boars seen in great numbers act as a cleaner of the forest. I remember one incident that Mr. Anand recollected from his experience about how 10 wild boars cleaned the remains of a dead elephant within a week. Indeed, the forest and the other wild life should be indebted to wild boars for their assistance in keeping the forest clean.

Mr. Parambikulam of the wildlife Sanctuary:

The Indian Gaur or popularly called as Indian Bison seems to be one the most regular member of the Sanctuary gymnasium. With muscles projecting from every possible part of its body Mr. Bison is a pure vegetarian.

Since it is the human being who wants to venture inside wildlife territory and wish to watch them and take pictures. Whomsoever it may be, keep in mind we are basically trespassing into their territory and it is our duty to follow certain basic Do’s and Don’ts.

Do’s and Don’ts when you venture inside a wildlife territory:
  1. Wear only green or brown coloured dress and avoid wearing any flashy colours. Elephants are colour blind and they may approach towards white colours.
  2. Wear full-length dry-fit trousers and t-shirts as the same could minimise the effect of insect and reptiles.
  3. Avoid using perfume or body or pain killer sprays since, they spread fast in the air and reaches the wildlife before you can spot them.
  4. When you are in a wild life territories never leave the group and venture alone. Always obey the instructions of the guide.
  5. Avoid shouting or screaming if you spot an animal and you can take as many photos one wants maintaining silence.
  6. It is advisable to keep your eyes and ears alert and look out for animal movements while you venture inside animal territory.
  7. Don’t litter or throw plastic anywhere, it may have serious consequence on the life of wildlife eating plastics.

For the love of Nature,

Durai Murugan



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