Avalanche was our destination , we had planned to be there by lunch time . Kannan had been driving since morning , sensing that he needed rest I volunteered to drive . As I was driving we suddenly noticed fumes coming from the bonnet of the car. We stopped the car immediately and found that the radiator had a leak . Our service center person from Bangalore instructed us to pour water in the radiator and let it cool down . Driving slowly we reached a garage in Gundlupet , the mechanic examined the car and proposed that he could fix the leak. He fixed the radiator leak with m-seal, it happens only in India . One has to appreciate the ingenuity of Indians.
It started drizzling when we drove across the Bandipur forest . Many trees had shed their leaves but to break the melancholy of the dry forest , cassia fistula showers put up a splendid show . A peacock perched on a tree soaking itself in the drizzle reminded me of the quote ” The journey is more important than the destination itself ” . We reached Avalanchi late in the afternoon to be spell bound by its stunning picture postcard scenery , set in the pristine Western ghats with stunning views of the shola forests and the lake makes Avalanchi a picture perfect destination for a weary traveler .I realized that destination is important too .
After a heavy lunch as I made myself comfortable on a wooden bench a pretty bird landed about a foot away from me .I was baffled by its beauty and after it flew away I realized that I had a camera in my hand , I could have clicked it . Yes sometimes it is better to appreciate the beauty with your eyes rather than clicking it . Much later I realized that it was the Niligiri flycatcher an endemic species of the Western ghats .
Butterflies are always on my agenda on all my outings , but they appear before you when you least expect . When I was having my breakfast a Helen appeared at the window sill . This active butterfly kept moving from flower to flower and flew away . The flight of the helen is a spectacular sight .When it stops to rest, the forewings cover the most of the white patches on the hindwings, appearing totally black. When disturbed, it takes flight and there is a flash of white as the patches on the hindwings are revealed. It is believed that the momentary distraction of the white patches would surprise a predator for a split second, while the butterfly makes a hasty escape. As I was gradually coming out the spell of helen when the Malabar banded peacock made its appearance . One has to see to see it to appreciate this stunning butterfly .
Spellbound by these two butterflies I set out to the garden in the resort . A Painted lady butterfly sat on a wild flower displaying its alluring beauty . In one of the largest citizen science projects ever conducted, scientists from Butterfly Conservation in U.K have discovered that these species undertakes a phenomenal 9,000-mile round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle — almost double the length of the famous migrations undertaken by Monarch butterflies in North America. The whole journey is not undertaken by individual butterflies, but is a series of steps by up to six successive generations; so Painted Ladies returning to Africa in the autumn are several generations removed from their ancestors who left Africa earlier in the year.
Niligiris and its surrounding environments covering a tract of over 5000 Square kilometers was declared as Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in September 1986 . Orchids are sensitive to even slightest disturbances to their habitats and with the tremendous pressure on natural resources, particularly forest resources, orchids and their habitat are continuously under threat. The major threats for orchid population in nature are habitat destruction and over collection. It was heartening to see a cluster of wild orchids thrive on a tree in the Dodabetta peak.
At the end of the trip I promised to myself that I will come back again and explore more . Vivid memories and clicks of this trip transport me back to Niligiris . Hope to get there soon with avid butterfly watchers .
This blog post was published in my friend Santosh’s blog celebrating his blog’s 5 anniversary .