My 2019 resolutions’ list is short and includes what I believe every second person’s list has – more me-time, more health, more memories, and more travel. But it’s one thing to put things down on paper, quite another to tick off said items from the list. Of course, I was a bit frustrated at not having travelled even six months into the year, and after a bit of a dillydally, I decided to start checking off destinations from my ‘places to visit in 2019’ sub-list. The result? A friend and I found ourselves in the quaint and unhindered hill station of Masinagudi, Tamil Nadu.
Resting snugly at the foothills of the Nilgiris, Masinagudi is an idyllic haven for nature-lovers, adventure-philes, and peace-seeking travellers alike. Lucky for us, it’s still an offbeat destination, making it the perfect alternative to the crowded hill station of Ooty (since it’s just a stone’s throw-away; actually, it is 30 kilometers away. Isn’t that the same thing?).
Getting acquainted with Masinagudi’s history
This little collection of villages has a fascinating history – some fact, some fantasy, all captivating.
The very name Masinagudi is rooted in handle of the goddess Masani Amman, to whom the communities fleeing from the armies of Tipu Sultan prayed, begging her to spare their lives. It is said that once these devotees crossed the Moyar river, the banks flooded, preventing the army from crossing over. In honour of the goddess who saved them, the overjoyed communities erected a temple for Masani Amman, and the area eventually earned the sobriquet Masinagudi.
That’s fascinating! So, how do we get there?
Since it’s 240 kilometers from Bangalore, 580 kilometers from Chennai, and 113 kilometers from Coimbatore, travel to-and-from Masinagudi isn’t devoid of options.
In all honesty, the best way to get to Masinagudi is by driving. The drive is breathtaking – you will pass either the Bandipur Forest (KA) or the Mudumalai National Park (TN), depending on which side you come from.
We chose to travel by bus because neither of us is capable of driving safely on highways (sigh). KSRTC operates Airavat buses between Bangalore and Ooty; to get to Masinagudi, one needs to get off at the Theppakadu junction. You can have your accomodation pick you up from the junction.
Um, the weather deets, please!
What’s the weather like, you ask? In one word, pleasant.
Moderately-hot summers run from March to June, while the cool winter months begin in November and go on till February. Expect moderate rainfall between July and September. But don’t fret – the rains simply add to the lushness of the area. The best part, there is always a cool breeze blowing in the evenings – it does not disappoint.
The best time to visit? We had heard and read that October-to-May is the ideal time to visit Masinagudi. We chose mid-July and were treated to light showers, ample sunshine, a deliciously fresh breeze, and crystal-clear night skies. So I’m ready to debate in favour of the monsoon months!
What can we see/do in Masinagudi?
On our second day at Masinagudi, we heard a pair of guests at our resort talk about how “there’s nothing to do here”, and that you “need only a day” to explore.
In my mind, I instantly went “hah, noob!”
Actually, I think they just didn’t know better, or hadn’t asked around. There is SO MUCH to see and do in this small town, it blew me away! Before you say “hey, I thought you said a mellow weekend at Masinagudi”, let me tell you – yes, a mellow weekend indeed, but with enough exploration and adventures to keep you sufficiently engaged whilst granting you the much-needed R&R that you seek.
Take a leisurely stroll in the forest-yard
Granted, this depends on where you stay. But most accommodation options come with their own foresty backyard. Take peaceful morning strolls with the Nilgiris as your backdrop, and breathe in the crisp, fresh air which you crave when in the city. Bonus sightings include Chital (Spotted Deer) herds grazing and wild pig families playing, while you have an outdoor tea!
Watch elephants feed at the Theppakadu Camp
What a delight it is to watch these majestic creatures eat their evening meal! I do not condone unethical animal camps, so the Theppakadu Elephant Rehab/Camp was right up my alley because they do not chain the animals (the chains around their legs are mostly to hold them in place during medication administration), and no outsiders are allowed to get too close to them, touch them, or feed them. It is a tourist attraction for all the right reasons, and while it may not interest everyone to gaze at over twenty elephants leisurely eat huge balls of raagi-rice-and-grain, I recommend the camp for families with growing children to watch elephants from a respectful distance and learn about them.
Spot a tiger, or a leopard, or both!
Confession – we didn’t see a single big cat. But that’s alright; knowing we were in their presence was enough.
Masinagudi lies at the edge of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and the Mudumalai National Park, which means that a jungle safari is a no-brainer! If you, like us, do not see the elusive tiger, there are plenty of other animals and birds that you will definitely spot – Chital, Gaur, elephants, wild dogs, Black Buck, wild pigs, Sambar deer, and so many more!
Fun fact – Bandipur and Mudumalai, along with Wyanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarhole National Park, Mukurthi National Park and Silent Valley are part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
Satiate your bird-watching desires
Although an off-beat destination, Masinagudi is quite popular among bird-watchers. During migratory season, this little town is abuzz with people from across the globe, eager to spot some uncommon feathered-beings.
Whether you’re a first-timer, an amateur, or a seasoned bird-watcher, you will find yourself amazed at the multitude of indigenous and migratory species that frequent the area. We were happy with our spotting – a White-throated Kingfisher, a Spotted Owlet, a pair of Woodpecker, a flock of Yellow-billed Babbler, a few Peacock, some Red-whiskered Bulbul, and even some adorable Sparrow (they’re not as common in the city as you think, sadly).
Take a hike, literally!
A hike? On a holiday? Why not!
A long walk up a gentle slope is exactly what we needed to infuse some energy and movement after a day of lazing around. Our resort arranged a 7 a.m. walk through the village of Bokkapuram, all the way up to the hill temple, from where we saw panoramic views of the entire lush landscape, and even spotted some Black Buck, wild dogs, and an elephant (using a spotting scope, of course!)
Get up close and personal with nature
As if the above weren’t enough to get you nestling your head in Nature’s lap, here are a bunch of images to make you realize that Masinagudi is all-nature, all the time. And no, I’m not complaining.
Tip – look out for butterflies. The area is home to some beautiful species.
A dip in the waters, perhaps?
Personally, no vacation feels complete without time spent in a water body. The resort where we stayed has a beautiful pool flanked by the Nilgiris on one side, and the forest-backyard on the other three. Water-babies – need we ask for more?
Where do we stay?
There are budget, moderate, and luxury options to consider. We stayed at Jungle Hut, and opted for the Premium suite because I wanted to treat myself to a pampered weekend (I took this trip to celebrate my birthday away from the city) surrounded by nature. The staff were kind enough to organize all our experiences. The cost for these activities is over and above the room (includes complementary breakfast) tariff.
Comfortable and affordable options are available on Booking.com. I suggest taking some time to figure out how far away from your preferred activity spots (and from Theppakadu junction, in case you are travelling by bus) the accommodation options are, and then take a decision.
♥ Use my Booking.com code to get INR 700/- off your first booking ♥
What do I pack for a weekend trip to Masinagudi?
You will mostly be staying at one location, unless you plan to squeeze in a quick trip to Ooty. In case of the former, opt for a light carry-on bag, and remember to pack the following essentials.
- Two-to-three cotton shirts
- A pair of cotton trousers
- A pair of comfortable hiking bottom-wear
- Three pairs of inner wear
- One set of night wear
- A pair of sandals
- A pair of walking/running shoes
- A pair of socks
- A swimsuit
- A cap/hat
- Toothbrush and toothpaste (I’ve been loving the Bare Necessities Dental Starter Kit)
- Soap, shampoo, conditioner, loofah
- Facial tissues (you don’t need wet wipes)
- Sunscreen (I recommend the Lotus Herbals Safe Sun 3-In-1 Matte Look Daily Sunblock SPF-40)
- Natural insect repellent (I recommend Mamaearth Natural Insect Repellent for babies)
- A pair of sunglasses
- An umbrella, in case you’re travelling during monsoon months
- Cash, credit/debit cards, ID proof, tickets
Please remember to minimize your impact on the environment by carrying reusable/refillable water bottles, avoiding plastic packaging, and not littering. Masinagudi has been able to preserve its near-pristine natural beauty because of timely government intervention, local support, and green tourists. It’s our duty to maintain (and improve, if we can) what is already so wonderful to behold.
If you’ve been to Masinagudi, let me know your experience! I’d love to hear from you. If you’re thinking of a mellow getaway from the loud cityscapes, take my word for it – visit Masinagudi. Rejuvenation guaranteed.