Top Slip & Parambikulam

This month is turning out to be the traveling month and pretty happy to be on the move.

The family trip to Top Slip and Parambikulam is under discussion for the past month or so. This post is not so much about the trip itself but some of my observations in these two places.

We could get accommodation for only one day in Top Slip and so were forced to book the other night in Parambikulam (which is in Kerala). Since the distance is only 24 Kms, we decided to go ahead with it.

The road to Top Slip from Sethumadai is one of the worst around. There are little traces of road in the numerous pot holes that dot around. We booked a dormitory (as we were about 14 people, including kids) and were allocated one.

The dormitory was an old shack with about 10 bunk bends and 3 bathrooms and the same number of toilets. The entire room and the building was kept clean and tidy. The dormitory keeper handed over the keys and disappeared. One side of the dormitory opens up to the forest through a small lawn full of grass.
Someone came and told us not to get into the forest (which we did anyway). The grass lawn is visited by some spotted deer in the evenings and mornings. The forest department arranged for a short 'safari' to the nearby elephant camp where we got to see, what else, elephants. We could spot no other animals and apparently, the rangers were not too interested in that as well.

The next day, we checked out and proceeded to Parambikulam. The Kerala check post is about 2 Kms from Top Slip and the KFS officer promptly made us open all the 20 bags we were having in the van and then let us pass. The roads suddenly became smooth.

The bookings were for the tented niche in the Parambikulam area which is a bunch of tents inside a faux forest (if there is such a thing). The tents are well laid out, with spacious verandah, bed room and a huge bathroom. We booked 3 of these. The ranger assigned (Babu) was courteous, helpful and was full of knowledge and ready to assist.

The safari which started by 3.30PM ended by 8PM (with the last hour drive through the forest). We were able to locate Indian Gaur, Crocs, elephants (though at a distance), Spotted deers, Sambhar and varieties of birds. The only jarring thing was the tribal dance they've arranged. They ended up dancing in the dark as the power went out.

Tent in Parambikulam
The next day started with an early morning trek through the forest with Babu. Apart from the above mentioned animals, a tiger pug mark was seen and fresh territorial markings by the tiger was noted. Malabar squirrels were running around and a variety of birds (Malabar Dragon, Indian dollar, Woodpeckers, peacocks) were also seen.

The day ended and we returned back. Now the glaring difference between the TN and Kerala governments to promote tourism and provide the tourists with an experience which they would want to come back to can be noted.

While the TN side has potholed roads, old shacks converted to dormitories, no actual value from the rangers around, the Kerala side has smooth roads, modern amenities in stay, professional attitude of the rangers and staff in the property, well planned itenary and willingness to go that extra step to accommodate.

The only thing the TN side scores is on the cost which is about 1/17th of what we paid for the three tents in Parambikulam (though there are cheaper alternatives available). That really does not really change anything. So if you are planning a visit to the area, Parambikulam is a better option to stay than Top Slip.

1 comment: said...

"Top slip" gets its name from the way teak was transported to England from there. It is said that the teak wood would be thrown into the rivulets at the top and collected at the sea (whatever reached)! This easy way of transporting the teak almost destroyed the forest in Parampikkulam-aaziyaar area.To restore a forest officer of English origin was transferred from Bengal to this forest.He walked around the forest in raincoat and a walking stick with a steel tip and pocket full of teak seeds, during monsoon. Wherever he thought that there was a possibility for teak to take seeling, he would poke a hole with the walking stick and bury the seed with his boot. Soon the forest was revived (teaks need few decades to grow to a size, and more than 100 years to appear majestic). When he died he was made to rest at a tomb there. He wrote his Tomb stone in Latin as it was the practice then : "Monumentum requiris circumspice"...meaning "If you are looking for a monument ,look around"

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown I remember the day 20 years ago, when I was standing ...