Memes, videos and reels inspired by the viral 'Masinagudi vazhi Ooty' dialogue have been going around on social media for quite a while now. If you travel 30 km from Masinagudy, braving 36 hairpin curves, you can reach the queen of hill stations, Ooty, via Kallatti churam. Ooty, the mesmerizing hill station in the Nilgiris, has always topped the list of the most visited tourist destinations in Southern India. From Kottayam, you could reach Ooty in just under eight and a half hours, covering 321 kilometres. The Palakkad – Coimbatore – Mettupalayam route is the one that is frequently taken by travellers. But the longer route via Masinagudi, according to travel buffs, is worth a try. Here's why:
The serene forest path
The Kottayam – Ooty route via Masinagudi takes around thirty kilometres longer than the regular route. This route would be perfect if you are someone who enjoys the experience of travelling and seeing the wonderful sights on the way. However, this route might not be for the ones who are keen to visit the destination and cannot enjoy the travel for its sheer experience.
Unlike the usual route where you take the highway from Angamaly to Coimbatore, the Masinagudi route welcomes you to the vibrant Thrissur town and Sharannur, Manjeri and Nilambur before ascending the Naadukani mountain pass. In case you intend to take the highway after reaching Ernakulam, then take the Kodungallur – Guruvayur route to reach the Naadukani mountain pass via Malappuram – Manjeri – Nilambur. From here begins the unique experience of travelling to Ooty via Masinagudi.
Theppakadu elephant camp
You would reach the picturesque Masinagudi by travelling just seven and a half kilometres right from Theppakadu. The jungle safari organised by the Tamil Nadu forest department is the highlight here. The visitors can enjoy the amazing safari experience from 6 am – 9 am and 3 pm – 6 pm. The tickets for the safari could be booked online via www.mudumalaitigerreserve.com or purchased directly from the counter at Theppakadu Forest. The ticket fare to travel through the dense forest for an hour is Rs 340 per head. You could also enjoy a private safari in the camper van or gypsy owned by the forest department. However, this package is a bit costlier. The rent for the vehicle is Rs 4200; besides Rs 132 per head should be paid as ticket fares.
The Thekkapadu elephant camp is close to the safari area. The camp grabbed attention after it was revealed that Mahout Bomman and his wife Belli, who became famous after they were featured in the Oscar-winning short film ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, had worked here. The travellers could visit the elephant camp during the morning and evening. The ticket fare is Rs 30 per head. Visitors could enter from 8.30 am to 9 am and 5.30 pm to 6 pm to watch the elephants being fed. They could also watch how the elephants are trained and managed by the experienced mahouts and professionals at the camp. Currently, there are twenty-eight elephants including two calves here.
In case you wish to stay the night, accommodation facilities could be availed at the guest house managed by the forest department. Rooms could be booked online via the official website of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The fares start from Rs 2220 onwards. You would begin to feel the chill once you cross the first turn after Anamari. The nature here fascinates you with its pristine beauty. From the Naadukani viewpoint, you could grab the panoramic view of the verdant valleys and the regal Western Ghats. Meanwhile, the Naadukani junction is just after Thenpara, Kallala and Thanuppanchola. These are some of the areas where you could spot herds of wild elephants.
Gudalur is just twelve kilometres from Naadukani. It is a fairly big town where you can find restaurants that serve authentic food and accommodation facilities too. From here the regular route to Ooty is via Naduvattam by turning right to enter the fifty-kilometre-long mountain pass. However, if you take the road on the left, then you can reach Ooty by enjoying the mesmerizing charm of the forest path.
The enchanting forest
Thorappalli which is the entrance to the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is just six kilometres away from Gudalur. It is easy to spot animals like deer, peacocks, wild bison and wild elephants grazing on the sides of the road. There are certain rules that travellers need to follow while crossing this forest path. The travellers shouldn’t get out of the vehicle; they should cross the forest path within the stipulated time and travel at a prescribed speed too. If you are lucky, you will spot a bear, wild bison or even a tiger. Meanwhile, herds of wild elephants and deer are a regular sight here. The eleven-kilometre-long forest journey is so mesmerising that you would surely wish to revisit it. This road leads to Thekkepadu where you turn to Masinagudi.
The Mysuru route, without turning to Masinagudi, too wouldn’t disappoint you as it offers an array of mind-blowing sights of nature. The Bandipur National Park is close by, where you drive seventeen kilometres through the magnificent forest road. You exit this forest area through the Melukamanahalli check post.
The twenty-minute-long journey from Theppakadu to Masinagudi is truly mesmerizing. Here, the forest loses its rustic charm to don a softer and verdant look. The areas close to roads are vast swathes of lush green meadows. So, it is easy to spot the wild animals here. Meanwhile, the tarred road runs along the forest like a fabulous scene captured in an impressionist painting.
Even though Masinagudi is a quaint town, there are many hotels, shops and ATM kiosks. Interestingly, private jeep safaris to enjoy the scintillating charm of the hamlets in Masinagudi are a main attraction here. It would cost Rs 1500 to enjoy an off-road trip in the jeep for an hour. Up to six passengers can travel in the jeep in a single trip. Once you cross Masinagudi, the forest path is mostly bare. You would, however, find a singular outlet of Café Coffee Day on this route.
From here begins the real journey to Ooty by crossing around thirty-six hairpin curves in thirty kilometres. As the road is a bit precarious with deep ditches and slopes, tourists travelling from Ooty to Masinagudi aren’t allowed to take this route. However, vehicles of natives often pass through this region. So, one needs to be extremely careful while driving through this route. This journey via the Kallatti mountain pass would be a satisfying experience for those who enjoy road trips.
The Pulamanthole Bridge at the border of Palakkad and Thrissur districts is closed for maintenance. Those who come via Thrissur – Pattambi must turn here.
Vehicle movement is banned from 9 pm to 6 am at the Mudumalai and Bandipur forest regions. So, you should keep this in mind while planning to cross the stretch to Thorappalli.
Always carry cash with you as you would be mostly travelling through forest roads. Making online payments may not always be possible due to network issues. Moreover, do not forget to fill fuel in the vehicle when you start from Gudalur.
As only ‘one–way’ traffic is allowed in Masinagudi – Ooty road, you should plan the return journey via Naduvattam – Gudalur or Mettupalayam – Coimbatore.