The next day on our trip to Ooty, we drove to Avalanche Forest Reserve via Good Shepherd Knowledge Village. The forest reserve is around 25 kms from Ooty and is primarily visited by those looking for something more than regular touristy sightseeing. It is not for ones looking for a quick and comfortable drive. The last stretch to reach the check post of the reserve is through rough roads.
At least 4-5 hours is required for the trip – two hours for travelling to and from the Avalanche forest reserve check post and another two for the safari inside the reserve. Additionally, there can be waiting time before the safari actually begins.
Private vehicles are not allowed inside and visitors have to opt for a seat in a bus or a jeep. So, upon reaching the check post, we left our car and booked a jeep for a safari into the forest. We were lucky as this was the last jeep that was going inside for the day.
Jeeps can accommodate 8 people, but if you wish and are willing to spend some extra bucks, you can hire it all for yourself. Ofcourse, availability of jeeps is also a requirement. We were the first one to book so we waited for some time before a couple of other tourists joined us in the vehicle.
The jeep took us inside the forest through beautiful landscape. In between, it stopped at a couple of places so as to allow us to get down and enjoy the scenery around.
Attractions of Avalanche Forest Reserve
The first one was at a place which provided beautiful view of dense cauliflower shola, one of the largest in the Nilgiris. The sholas here grow up to 20 meters and form a canopy resembling a cauliflower, hence cauliflower shola. A mini waterfall is also present here.
The second is the Bhavani Amman Temple, which is highly revered by the people. A small stream flows at the spot.
The ultimate point of the safari is Lakkidi View Point. The place is formed by the backwater of Upper Bhavani Dam and is surrounded by grasslands and sholas. It was breathtakingly beautiful and tranquil. Being there with just four or five people was a blessing; the serenity of the place stayed intact.
The Return Journey
From Lakkidi, the return journey begins. While coming back, the driver stopped the vehicle and pointed out towards 2-3 foxes at a distance. A glimpse of these wild creatures was a real surprise as we were not expecting to see any wild animal.
Back at the Avalanche forest check post, we walked up to the lake nearby. Soon, we heard someone yelling and realized that it was not allowed to go so close there. We were called back.
Tea, Carrot & Beetroot Plantations
The route from Ooty to Avalanche is full of tea, carrot and beetroot plantations. The shade of green help identify tea from carrot and beetroot. While returning to Ooty, we stopped at a place to observe farm workers pulling out beetroot. Ahead we stopped at a point where carrots were in process of getting cleaned of the muds after being pulled out of ground.
The Beauty of Emerald Lake
There were a number of places where we simply wanted to stop and enjoy the scenery around but we could do so in only a couple of places – one where tea gardens spread through the rolling hills around and another where a stunning view of Emerald Lake forced us to stop almost abruptly.
Emerald was very much on our wish list but after visiting Avalanche, it had slipped out of our mind. Though here it was, right before us, in all its heavenly beauty. It was one of the most beautiful views that we saw in Ooty, or perhaps even the most beautiful one. We relished the beauty that spread before us and tried to capture it in our camera, though none came close to what we actually saw.