28 October, 2020

In Wild Heaven

Where animals and the wind run free, and comfort is not on tap

Dinesh Parab
In Wild Heaven
Just as we are preparing to visit Mukurthi National Park, the wildlife warden of the Nilgiris, Rakesh Dogra, warns us on the phone that the place is not your typical tourist destination and the visitor should come with a different set of expectations. Soon after we’ve taken permission from the Ooty forest department and have set out for Mukurthi, I begin to understand what he means. The forest ranger advises us to take along a good supply of groceries. The forest guide, Saravanan, also has a word of caution for us, when we reach a small town off Avalanchi, about 28 km from Ooty: "This is the last township, pick up the supplies now, after this it’s just jungle all the way."

And yes, it is. After driving for close to three hours on treacherous roads, through tricky bends that make your head swim, we end up at a desolate, 1930s forest rest house, 2,231 metres above sea level. Musty, dank, well-stocked with candles, but boasting only one bulb powered with rationed solar energy. I begin wondering if this is a destination to be recommended to...



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