After a night train journey south from Hampi we arrived in Mysore where we found a nice hotel located in the centre of town, the elderly room attendant literally jumped up and down with glee when we gave him a Rs. 10 (13 pence) tip for carrying our bags. We were very impressed with the brand new city bus station and its gleaming Volvo buses, one of which we took up to the top of nearby Chamundi hill to visit the temples and a massive 5m high Nandi bull. The food in Mysore was excellent. We made a mess of eating south Indian thalis served on banana leaves and enjoyed a pucker tandoori meal at the best hotel in town, where we indulged in some meat and a couple of bottles of beer, our first in a week!
When we arrived at the bus station to head off to the hill station of Ooty we got talked into taking a private minibus which we were assured would save us a couple of hours. As it turned out the tout was a little economical with the truth, we found ourselves on a sightseeing tour which stopped at silk shops, restaurants and a boating lake before eventually dropping us in Ooty no earlier than the government bus!
Ooty was nice but didn’t ooze the colonial charm of other hill stations. We had a fantastic day of trekking where we were told the fascinating life story of our tribal guide Rajiv (not his tribal name but the Indian name he goes by day today). He took us through some little walked trails into a tribal village where we enjoyed some bean curry, watched the local boys playing cricket, and had great fun walking back through the tea plantations taking photos of all the eager tea picking ladies along the way.
After getting the fantastic mountain railway train part way down the hill we transferred to a local bus, a massive scrum ensued to board and Pam managed to barge her way to the front to the admiration of the locals, even wagging her finger and shouting at a very pushy lady on the way! After numerous other bus connections we arrived in the non-descript town of Pollachi where we overnighted before our early morning bus to the Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary in western Kerela.
Parambikulam was a joy as we left the mayhem, traffic and noise behind to arrive in a beautiful and tranquil place. Most of our time was spent trekking through the jungle trails with our excellent guide Selvan. In addition to the more common wildlife such as spotted & sambar dear, various monkeys, snakes, giant squirrels and numerous birds the highlight was some fantastic elephant sightings.
Our journey south continues with a few days in Cochin then on to the southernmost tip of India.