Birds of Thattekad - Birds of Munnar - Drive from Hyderabad to Munnar
How do you split your heart in two and love two different things equally? That’s the beauty of human heart, it will let you keep your first love intact and still can make space for more love to accommodate. Indeed, that’s what has happened to me. Driving has always been my passion; however since last 1 year birding has taken that sweet spot in my heart and created a place of its own.
This long drive was not just any long drive; it was a dream to satiate my latest passion of birding and obviously complimenting my biggest passion of driving.
Total kms driven: 2450 km from door to door
Total Bird Spotted: 90 different types
Route: Hyderabad – Bangalore (1 Night Halt) – Salem – Erode – Thrissur – Kothamangalam – Thattekad (4 Night Halt) – Munnar (2 Night Halt) – Udumalaipettai – Dharapuram – Erode – Salem – Bangalore (1 Night Halt) – Hyderabad
Click Here for Map
Car: Ford Fiesta Petrol (2006)
Passengers: 2 (My wife Supriya and myself)
Conditions: Warm weather with car AC on for 95% length of the trip
Average Mileage: 11+ km/lit
Total Cost of Fuel: Approx Rs. 17500
Total Toll: Approx Rs. 1500 (Round Trip)
Driving Objective: Fast Driving (motive to reach as soon as possible) with pit stops for Breakfast, Lunch and Re-fuelling
Maximum Driving Speed: 170 km/hr (occasionally on highways when the roads were too inviting)
1st February (Saturday): Hyderabad to Bangalore
Distance: 550 KM Time: 7.5 hours Toll: Rs. 450
I’m now losing count of the number of times I have done this lap. Still, as always this road is a beauty to drive. Started from Hyderabad around 11 AM with full tank and reached Bangalore (Jayamahal Palace Hotel) at 6-30 PM. 100 km before Bangalore got my tank full again at BP-Ghar, so that tomorrow morning I don’t have to bother about refuelling. The reason why I booked Jayamahal Palace Hotel was because it was on the northern side of Bangalore where I can easily reach even in traffic. Besides, next morning when I leave from there and go past the entire city of Bangalore, I will not encounter the city traffic because of the morning hours. A few quick words about Jayamahal Palace Hotel – it is just average although makemytrip rates it as 4 star. There are a lot of events that happen in their lawns so don’t expect a quiet and serene environment. Service is just average, cleanliness is average, food is pathetic. Just ok to spend one night and move on. Honestly not worth 2500 per night.
2nd Feb (Sunday): Bangalore to Thattekad (via Salem, Erode, Thrissur, Kothamangalam)
Distance: 555 KM Time: 11 hours Toll: Rs. 440
We had breakfast in our hotel in Bangalore and left at 8 AM. Exiting Bangalore was smooth as expected, with proper double lane roads till Erode. After that it’s 2-way traffic till Thrissur. Later again you will get double lane roads till Kothamangalam. Most of the people use this road from Kochi airport to Munnar. Thattekad is a lesser known destination. From Bangalore people usually drive to Munnar. Only a few lesser known birding enthusiasts drive to Thattekad. For reaching Munnar, the route will be entirely different - the one which I took on the way back. Roads till thattekad are smooth and without any potholes. We had our usual pit stops for breakfast and lunch. Finding eateries is not a big problem on this road, there are quite a few decent ones. Toilet breaks can be taken at any major petrol pump or any of these eateries as well. Reached Thattekad at 7 PM where our Bird guide Mr. Vinod Narayan was waiting for us in front of Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. We booked Homestay Birds Song and Vinod was too good in his bird watching experience. No surprise that by the end of the trip we tracked 90+ different types of birds and could capture 82 in my camera.
3rd Feb (Monday): Driving around Kuttampuzha for Bird Watching
4th Feb (Tuesday): Driving around Inchathotty for Bird Watching
5th Feb (Wednesday): Driving around Idamalayar for Bird Watching
6th Feb (Thursday): Drive from Thattekad to Munnar
Distance: 85 KM Time: 2 hours
We had our breakfast and left Thattekad around 8-30 AM and reached Munnar around 10-30 AM. The road from Thattekad to Munnar is beautiful. The ghat driving was really one of its kinds. I noticed local people usually drive very fast, so it’s good to take caution. If co-passengers have motion sickness the they should concentrate on the road (refer my ghat driving post). After reaching Munnar, the Nature Zone resort vehicle took us to the top of the hills of tea plantation where they have their private property inside the jungle. (A delight for bird watchers) I parked my car in Munnar City where the resort people asked me to.
Reached the resort around 11-30 AM and took their bird guide at 4-30 PM. He charged Rs. 1000 for 1.5 hours and he knew nothing. Instead he was asking me about the bird types. Finding a good bird guide in Munnar is extremely difficult. However if you stay in Nature Zone you don't need any guide, just roam around the property and you can easily track 20 different species very easily.
7th Feb (Friday): Whole day bird watching
8th Feb (Saturday): Drive from Munnar to Bangalore (via Udumalaipettai – Dharapuram – Erode – Salem)
Distance: 470 KM Time: 8.5 hours Toll: Rs. 300
After an early morning bird watching session had breakfast and checked out of the resort. Enroute Bangalore did some photography of the Tea Plantation, also bought some authentic Munnar Tea from a tea factory. The road from Munnar to Bangalore was breath-taking. After crossing the tea-plantations one enters into the forest ghat area of Eravikulam National Park, followed by the Marayoor Sandalwood Forests. The landscape changes so smoothly that you wouldn’t even notice that you actually entered into the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary Area. Before Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary ends, the Anamalai Forest Reserve starts. From the tea plantation ghat roads which are brightly green, the landscape soon changes to dark green, of Marayoor, green and dry mix shrubs of Chinnar and stony dry deciduous landscape of anamalai reserve. But the road through these forests and ghat areas is a life-time experience and as a driving enthusiast I can say it was one of the most dangerous curves I have seen in all my hill driving experience. Before entering into the Annamalai Forest Reserve there are a lot of checkposts where one has to enter the personal details. It is advisable to keep your car windows rolled-up in these check posts because of the monkey menace. In one checkpost I even encountered a corrupt police officer who took Rs. 20 from me to pass through although nobody else was paying. To avoid any confrontation i just paid and went through. Sometimes you do encounter these kind of people, can't help. After that the beautiful dusky stretch through the Anamalai Forest is worth every moment you spend there.
The entire road through these forests has very low traffic and we could easily reach Bangalore Hotel before 7 PM with relaxed driving and pit stops. Booked at IBIS Hotel hence didn't have to cross the city limits of Bangalore to reach there.
9th Feb (Sunday): Bangalore to Hyderabad
Distance: 600 KM Time: 7 hours Toll: Rs. 450
Once again the journey ended through this beautiful road with no major hiccups and my 8 year old car completed the journey without much trouble except that the AC stopped working in the last 150 KM journey and a slight nagging noise from the front wheel.
In retrospect I feel, this was more of a birding experience than a driving one. I think my passions are taking a tectonic shift here with the love of birds overpowering the love of driving.
|Heart spotted Woodpecker|
|Orange Minivet Female|
|Orange headed Thrush|
|Oriental White Eye|
|Malabar Grey Hornbill|
|Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher|
|Ceylon Frogmouth Female|
|Ceylon Frogmouth Male|
|Malabar Trogon Male|
|Malabar Trogon Female|
|Greater Racket Tailed Drongo|
|Red Whiskered Bulbul|
|Mottled Wood Owl|
|Brown capped Pygmy Woodpecker|
|Brown Breasted Flycatcher|
|Black Hooded Oriole|
|Common Rosefinch Male|
|Black and Orange Flycatcher|
|Orange Minivet Male|
|Common Rosefinch Female|
|White Throated Kingfisher|
|Streak-throated Woodpecker Male|
|Plum-headed Parakeet Female|
|Indian Golden Oriole|
|Plum-headed Parakeet Male|
|Yellow Browed Bulbul|
|Fork Tailed Drongo Cuckoo|
|Large Hawk Cuckoo|
|Paradise Flycatcher Female|
|Blue Throated Blue Flycatcher Female|
|Blue Throated Blue Flycatcher Male|
|White-bellied Blue Flycatcher|
|Asian Koel Female|
|Lesser Hill Myna|
|Vernal Hanging Parrot|
|Malabar Parakeet Male|
|Green Imperial Pigeon|
|Nilgiri Wood Pigeon|
|Black-headed Cuckoo Shrike Female|
|Black-headed Cuckoo Shrike Male|
|Purple-rumped Sunbird Female|
|Malabar Whistling Thrush|