Valparai is an unexplored wonder of Western Ghats. After a nice drive from Coimbatore – which was captured in first part Valparai – Unexplored Wonder – we arrive in Sinnadorai Bungalow and get floored by the beautiful bungalow.
Let me now take you around the Sinna Dorai bungalow….
We freshen up and get ready for lunch. The table is nicely laid out and the cutlery is all bone china. The food served is simple and excellent. Murugan, the man Friday of the bungalow is a third generation worker in the estate and is proud to be part of the estate. He along with few ladies and excellent cook – Ashirvatham – support Sujatha who is the manager of the place.Sujatha meets us and after a typical planter’s welcome drink of Ice tea, we are given options to choose the room as a group who had booked four rooms had cancelled their booking!! We go around and zero in on the room with best views in the bungalow. We are the only ones in the bungalow for the next two days!! We ask her what does ” Sinnadorai’s bungalow” means. She says Managers in British days were called “Periya Dorai” or “Bada Saheb” and Assistant Managers were called “Sinna Dorai” or “Chota Saheb”!! So this bungalow belonged to a Assistant Manager of the estate and hence the name “Sinna Dorai’s Bungalow”!
Poorna start chatting with Murugan and question him on different places to explore from the list i have already made. Unfortunately, safaris and trekking inside the forest is banned due to forest fire – we had confirmed this before our departure as we wanted to try elephant safari etc – which left us in going for walks in the estate, see some places around. Murugan ask us whether we are game for night safari in our Scorpio – a drive through the remote parts of estates – which will give us opportunity to see elephants, leopards and Indian Guar. We naturally jump at the idea and confirm that we can do it after dinner.
We rest for some time and get ready for evening tea and hike in the estate. Murugan ask our preference – coffee or tea. It has to be tea, naturally. The tea comes in a typical planter style in a kettle and bone china cups and saucers. It is a premixed tea and possibly one of the best tea we have ever had – Poorna is a bit of connoisseur of tea and coffee. After a cuppa, we ask Murugan to get another and after getting satiated, we follow Murugan.
It is an easy hike of three KMs which takes us to the edge of the state. At the edge of the estate starts the shola forest extending for miles. Murugan says that if we are lucky we can sight Elephants, Guar and leopard. We are all excited as we follow him. We spot many birds and suddenly Murugan stops and ask us to look at a distance. Lo and behold!! A herd of Indian Gaur in the middle of the garden!! Brinda gets busy to click and I focus my binos on them. There must at least be 20 of them. Within minutes all of them vanish into the jungle….not before we capture them in the camera.
We come to a Y junction of two dirt tracks and Murugan again gestures us to look left. A lone Guar is walking up and away from us!! He does not turn back and we are desperate to capture the face. For a few seconds he turns back and possibly looks at us and he is captured in the camera!!.
The sky is overcast and it is getting darker and we also experience few drops of rain. The scenes of clouds hugging the mountains are a memorable sight. In between the sun is playing hide and seek. We walk back hoping that we don’t get drenched in the rain. We are more worried about camera. As we reach the bungalow, we experience the first rain of the season. It is not heavy but enough to drench the parched lands. The smell of soaked earth by first rains is something to cherish for. That too in a place which is devoid of pollution.
We ask Murugan if we can get a cup of tea and he obliges with the best cuppa. Reaching our room, we enjoy the valley freshly drenched by mango showers and wait for the sun play hide and seek again before vanishing behind clouds and set in the horizon. Everything looks fresh and everything looks green here!!
Rains make the evening very pleasant. It is a perfect setting for a lovely evening – Cool breeze from the mountain, fresh earthy smell, quietude all around but for odd sound of Cicada and flickering lights at a distance in the valley.
As the night sets in, we notice the fireflies near the trees. Trees almost look like a decorated Christmas tree. I had seen lovely pictures of these fireflies taken by Lalu. I ask Murugan about this phenomenon. He says that the numbers are small now and will increase after couple of rains. Brinda tries to capture in the camera but is not successful as numbers are small.
We ask Murugan to lay dinner by 9.30 PM and be ready for night safari drive at 10.30. As usual, the dinner is excellent and the desert of Coffee souffle is the clincher! I take out the Scorpio and Murugan sits next to me with his powerful torch as i start driving. We drive around quite a bit but are not so lucky. We don’t spot any elephants or leopards. As we turn and start driving back, Brinda ask me to stop and ask me to go back a little. She has spotted something. I stop and we all get down and Murugan flashes his powerful torch. We see glowing eyes in the darkness at a distance but fail to capture in the camera. It is a herd of Indian Gaur again!! We return to bungalow around midnight and Murugan takes us to a tree near bungalow and opens his torch to show the birds!!
A nice drive, great sights and beautiful bungalow………we go to bed cherishing these memories only to wake up to explore more the next day!
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