Masinagudi: A place where nature stands still
Masinagudi is one of the most beautiful wildlife sanctuaries in Nilgiri District. It is a part of the Mudumalai National Park and is a wonderful tourist spot. In fact, when people talk about Mudumalai, they are referring to Masinagudi. With so much of vegetation and wildlife to see here, the place offers incredible natural beauty. It is located at a distance of about 120 km from Coimbatore, 20 km from Mudumalai National Park and only 29 km from Ooty. One can easily go till Coimbatore by flight or train, and then take a bus or taxi to Masinagudi or drive down from Mysore.
Flora and Fauna:
Masinagudi is green throughout the year and has a wide range of flora. You can find a lot of bamboo trees and their varieties include Bambusa and Dendrocalamus. Other than these trees, there are also the Indian Rosewood, wild ginger, wild rice, turmeric, Guava, Cinnamon, Pepper and Mango trees. The deciduous trees around the place, shed the green leaves in the summer season and take a floral attire during the monsoons.
As for the Fauna, one can find a wide range of birds, fishes, reptiles and animals over here. There are more than 50 fish species, 21 amphibian species, 34 reptile species, 227 bird species and 55 mammal species. So, one would be able to find the leopards, hyenas, Jackal, Sloth Bear, elephants, langur, Macaque, Sambar Deer, Gaur deer, Chital Deer, Wild boar, squirrels, pythons, cobras, flying lizards etc. Other than the animals, one would also be able to spot birds such as Grey headed Bulbul, Woodpeckers of different species, Hornbills, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Thrush, Owl, Swallows and many more birds.
Depending upon the tastes of tourists, there are various kinds of accommodations available in Masinagudi. One can choose to stay in the Villa resorts, home stays, hotels or the cottage resorts. Most of the resorts are built around the forests, and will give excellent feel of staying closer to the nature.
- Jungle Hut, Bokkapuram
- Jungle Retreat, Bokkapuram
- Inn The Wild, Singara
- Bamboo Banks farm, Masinagudi
- Club Mahindra Resorts
- Deep Jungle Home, Mudumalai
- Glenview Resorts
- Bear Mountain, Masinagudi
- Jain Resorts, Vazhai Thottam,
- Gem Holiday Resorts Ltd, Bokkapuram
- Monarch Safari Park , Bokkapuram
- TTDC Youth Hostel, Theppakadu
Guest Houses and Home Stays
- Green Park Jungle Resorts
- Wild Haven
- Secret Ivory Farm and Guest House
- Forest Guest House, Theppakadu
- Belmont Retreat, Bokkapuram
- Blue Valley Holiday’s P Ltd, Bokkapuram
- Oasis Mavanallah, Masinagudi
- River Valley Resort – Masinagudi
- Safaris: One can go on morning safaris or evening safaris at Mudumalai. The safari rides are for about an hour and one would be able to spot deer, bear, boar, elephants etc. One could also go on an elephant safari. Safari is organised by forest department
- Elephant Camp: One could visit these camps to see how the elephants go through their daily routines. People can witness their cleaning up process and feeding process. Elephant camp is organised by forest department
- Moyar Water Falls: If permitted by the forest department, one can visit the Moyar Water falls.
- Tea Plantations: The tea plantations are quite famous and can provide a refreshing break from the daily routines. One could also visit the nearby tea factory and see how the tea leaf goes through the various processes.
- Ooty: If one has had enough with Masinagudi, they could check out Ooty, which is only a day trip from there. It is one of the most famous hill-stations in India.
- Kalhatty Water Falls: 15 km from Masinagudi on the way Ooty on the ghat section is Kalhatty waterfalls and view point
Gopalaswami Betta: This a hill, which has the historic temple, on the top.
- Holiday resorts: Due to the building of resorts and hotels, the space for wildlife, has got truncated. A lot of holiday resorts have come up in around Masinagudi, to cater to the tourist demands. And, these resorts create a space crunch as they use up the area, which was allocated to the forests. The wildlife gets affected because of that.
- Farming: Another ecological concern is the farming. With the cattle population around, they require grass for grazing. The farmers have tried to break down the forest area, and have started grazing grass for their cattle, to feed on.
- Masinagudi offers great night safaris in the open jeeps, which are arranged by the resorts. These safaris are not legal and create a lot of disturbance for the wild animals in the region. In fact, the animals are out during the night, and their privacy is invaded, because of the night tourists. There have also been many incidents of wild elephants killing the tourists who illegally went on safaris in protected .
- Due to the growing human population, there has been a significant impact on the vegetation. Animals are not able to find food and it is causing a man-animal conflict.
- A lot of poaching has been happening in this area, because of which the elephant population has been dwindling. The elephants require larger space and they are finding a space crunch, because of increasing population, cutting down of trees and building of resorts.
There have been various legal issues in Masinagudi.
- As per the Forest Rights Act, 2006, adequate measures had to be taken for creating elephant corridors and tiger reserves. But, these have not been followed properly.
- As per the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the forest department and the Govt. could evict the Adivasis, who were living in these areas. But, there was an organised resistance from the people, who resisted this move.
- There has been one day strikes in Masinagudi for protesting against the illegal notifications of critical tiger habitats in the reserve. The forest department has tried to use various excuses such as as elephant corridor and preservation of Private Forests Act for taking over the lands of the people. But, due to the directive by Madras High Court, the Adivasis and the forest dwellers were not to be evicted till the time the implementation was completed.
- Illegal trekking and safari in protected areas. Local guides have been organising treks and jeep safaris into reserve forests adjoining Masinagudi resulting in undesirable incidents with wildlife.
Well, this is the state of affairs in Masinagudi. With the natural habitat for the animals on the decrease, the animals will slowly die a natural death. And, the wildlife sanctuary will lose its charm. It would be good for people to become more environmentally aware and eco-friendly, so that man and animals can co-exist, happily. After all, these wildlife sanctuaries provide the much-needed break for us. Where will we go, if they are no longer present?