A peek into my handmade travel journal of sketches, doodles, thoughts, quotes, and other memorabilia.
The Wilds at Northern Hay – a 150 years old colonial coffee warehouse converted into a jungle lodge. I wanted to visit this place ever since I read about it. And finally I got to see it in the summer of 2012. Situated on the fringes of the famous Masinagudi Tiger reserve, the lodge lives up to its name. It is one of the many Serendipity chain of lodges. Another personal favorite, among their properties, is Lymond House in Ooty.
A charming, old British era cottage, the Wilds is seeped in lore and history. Vintage furniture and lamps, hunting artifacts, coffee table books, and quirky retro posters, lend it a haunted character. One is transported back in time to the days of the British Raj. The gora sahibs jungle lodge atmosphere perfectly recreated! The meals too, we were told, were family recipes handed down through generations. We had nothing to complaint about. Delicious chicken and mutton dishes, and fresh aromatic coffee superbly suited our palates.
The lodge is set in an un-fenced area of 98 acres. Animals can walk right up to the house – with leopards and tigers among the exciting visitors. During our two-day stay, we went on long treks and were barely able to explore a fraction of the estate! It was like seeing the tip of an iceberg. Clearly, two days weren’t enough. Masinagudi has over 200 species of birds, and I spotted my first Paradise Fly Catcher – on a morning walk down one of many trails in the plantation. Woodpeckers, Racket-tailed Drongo, Bee eaters, Bulbuls, Parakeets, Emerald Doves, and Orioles were some of the other birds I was fortunate to see. Wildlife and bird spotting walks are one of the highlights of a weekend sojourn here. I spent the evenings lounging in the veranda, watching the sun set and pouring over bird watching books, with the chirping of crickets as a muted, soothing background music.
The lodge offers guided safaris tours through their wildernesses. We spotted Elephants, Bison, Wild Boar, Sloth Bear, Malabar Flying Squirrel, Asian palm civet, and were lucky enough to see some fresh Tiger pugmarks. Hopefully, there will be a next time when we will come face to face with the King of the Jungles himself. However, while the safari was good, I felt the prices were on the steep side. Just a rider for the novice traveler, though this place is a heaven, it comes with a lot of additional charges, over and above the room rent. The room rent includes a complementary breakfast. Over an evening bonfire, the manager, Deepak, an excellent story teller, regaled us with some amazing stories of his trysts with elephants.
How to get there:
We took an early morning KSRTC bus from Bangalore to Mudumalai bus stop, from where we had a jeep pick-up scheduled. It’s a six hour drive from Bangalore (about 225 kms). If you are driving, you will need to park your vehicles at Singara check post and use the resort pick up.
• Carry a good pair of binoculars, torch, and mosquito repellents.
• Check the prices for meals, safaris, bird tours, and pick up and drop from the parking spot (which is 1 ½ kms from the lodge).
• Carry some books, if you just want to laze around the lodge.
Photographs, courtesy Lens Dynamic.