Monday, March 20, 2006

Sighting Nilgiri Tahr

Two Days in Munnar

Munnar, the tea county of Kerala is an exotic summer getaway – not only for foreign tourists but also for near ones from Kerala and India.

Read this post with the prejudice that this is only the personal experience…

I had the opportunity to visit Munnar – some three years ago, special thanks to Sekhar local boy of Munnar and my classmate at University College Thiruvananthapuram (Zoology Dept 1998-200).

I need to tell about Amjath, Akbar Shah and Suma Kumar who jointly planned a trip to this jewel of Kerala Tourism.

Sekhar promised a free stay for all of us, at his place. We reached the misty tea county of Kerala, Munnar in the evening of May 11, 2002. It was the thick cloudy mist that welcomed us, the journey of over 8 hours has made some of us tired and we headed to Sekhar’s palace, atop a hillock, among tea plantations. On the evening we went to see the proceedings of All India Table Tennis tournament, held under the auspices of Tata Tea, Munnar.

There was only mist everywhere, even in mid-day. We see local people wearing sweaters to shut the cold out. Akbar Shah, Bineesh and I felt a bit adventurous to go without sweaters, and did it successfully (till we started a bit of shivery).

The main goal of reaching Munnar was to have a glimpse at an exotic mammal species found 15 Km away from here in Rajamalai, the Nilgiri Tahr at Eravikulam National Park. These antelopes resemble goats and their population is mainly confined to Western Ghats, especially to Rajamalai.

Sure we were lucky enough to see them very close (after about an hour’s jeep journey from Munnar town). I believed these antelopes were quite un-tamable, they were quite so too. We spotted two tahrs at a distance, atop a rock. It may be an adaptation of these antelopes to save themselves from the leopards that they can move swiftly over the rolling rocks. One can look at the antelopes moving over the rocks only with wide eyes, dropped jaws. Don’t worry if you forget to at least breathe.

A fairly large group of Tahrs were grazing at a distant valley among the savanna-shola mixed vegetation. Moving closer to them without making a sound, we got some snap shots. It was not enough since we had no zoom lens. Among the group one, probably the leader is very careful about the surroundings, raising and turning its ears as if to catch the minute sound that comes from the distant valley or from among the shoal forests.

The unfortunate thing happened, the leader got an alert – raised its head for a look at the intruders, then it took a step back, and before we could notice it started sprinting away at a lightening speed and followed the whole group… leaving us only the snow, forests and some rocks.

Special thanks to Sekhar who took us to this jewel of Kerala tourism, serving homely food and preparing our bed at Leela Ammachi’s house. Also special thanks to his father, mother and little sister who treated us as warmly and treated us as their family members.

1 comment :

  1. Anonymous7:20 PM

    Hello! I am a western Krishna bhakta, white bodied, devotee of Krishna, member of ISKCON. I was going to be coming to Trivandrum in about 2 months, on a long tour of India. I'll be living at Salem, T.N. Would you like to show me around Trivandrum? Please email me at corey @ pamho . net