A visit to a Tiger reserve is always made with the entire focus on spotting a Tiger. The success of the trip depends on sighting and if that doesn’t happen one comes back disappointed. People don’t see that there’s more to these reserves than just Tigers. For once, one should go to wild life sanctuaries for the experience to be in the natural habitat of our wild, mysterious mates who are rather happy if they are left alone. Top Slip comes closest to the experience I seek. When you spend a night at one of their ‘Tree Houses’ you become a part of the jungle. You forget that their could be civilization nearby. The fresh, cool smell of nature tickles your nostrils. You feel happy in a strange way with the fear lurking somewhere in your head that this is not the place that belongs to you and you are at the mercy of some estranged neighbors who may not be pleased with your presence in their habitat.
Top Slip is about 100 Kms from Coimbatore and about 20 odd kms from Pollachi. I have always admired the southern city of Coimbatore and the reasons are countless. The city is neat, beautiful in a metropolitan way, green and the location can be anyone’s envy. The most sought after destinations are within the vicinity of 200 Kms and that includes some of the best tourist locales of Kerala.
The drive from Coimbatore to Top Slip is a gastronomical delight for those who have the taste for Southern flavors. The most humble eatery in the area will not disappoint and one can just walk in without much thought.
The drive from Pollachi to Top Slip is delectable, specially in winters, when the rain is over and you become a witness to the nature’s amazing canvass. A light mist covers the dark and green wood like a protective shield. The road is curiously winding and narrow in some parts.
This rain forest in western Ghat is a protected area so you need special, prior permission from forest department for a night stay with strict orders of not venturing out after 2000h and to stay quiet so as not to disturb the wild neighbors.
The best place to stay is Forest Department’s limited number of Tree Houses and you need to book them much in advance to ensure availability. During our stay I heard a little commotion at night and when I peeped down, from where I was perched, I saw a whole herd of mighty Bisons looking quizzically at me. My heart stopped as even God could not have saved us if they collectively decided to uproot us.
We woke up to a delightful morning and looked forward to a trip to jungle. We did not get good reports about their guided safaris so decided to venture out in our own Tata Safari. We only spotted the usual herds of Deers, Antiplopes, Bisons and Langoors and the unusual sighting was the majestic presence of wild elephants. They stand tall amongst their shorter cousins and appear as innocuous as their urban counterparts. Top Slip also hosts an elephant camp where animals are trained and made to follow orders. There is a time for their feed which is a tourist attraction maybe because it’s interesting to witness the massive appetite being satisfied.
As for our appetite, we got our usual share of southern flavors which was nothing to complain about or praise. We spent about twenty four hours there and for a nature lover like me it was just not enough. But for the restrictions and the confinement you need to bear during the stay it also gives you a sense of freedom when you leave.
Our memories were fond, heart full of happiness and lungs rejuvenated with shots of ozone. This is one place which makes a special place in your heart for as long as you remember. Tamilnadu may otherwise be famous for Education and Temples but what Top Slip offers is unique to even its parent state.
Rini Nigam is a free spirited traveler and explorer who feels that essence of life is in the hunger to know, to seek and to find. The word ‘Offroader’ appeals to her in every sense of the word. Not the one to follow the trodden path she also loves to share her travel experiences through this blog. Other than that, her areas of interest are driving, reading, music and photography. Communication and skill development are her forte and she is currently working on a research project on communication as a tool to resolve disputes.