Discover the beauty of Upper Bhavani in TN: A scenic drive adventure

Perched high up in the Nilgiris, aptly named the Blue Mountains, Upper Bhavani is an unspoilt location

By Beyniaz Edulji  Published on  26 Jun 2024 2:50 AM GMT
Discover the beauty of Upper Bhavani in TN: A scenic drive adventure

Hyderabad: One can undertake road trips to many destinations but there is nothing quite as picturesque as the drive from Ooty to Upper Bhavani in Tamil Nadu.

It is a 60-kilometre drive and takes at least two hours not only because of innumerable steep hairpin bends but also because one is compelled to stop and take in as much of the pristine surroundings as possible.

Peaceful sanctuary

Perched high up in the Nilgiris, aptly named the Blue Mountains, Upper Bhavani is an unspoilt location.

No raucous tourists, no strewn wrappers, only breathtaking views and bird-songs and if one is lucky as we were, one can spot a few animals.

The Upper Bhavani Sanctuary is spread over an area of 70 square kilometres and is a safe haven for the few remaining Nilgiri Tahr (wild goat). The resident wildlife of the Upper Bhavani sanctuary includes tigers, jackals, jungle cats, wild dogs, sambar deer, giant squirrels, Nilgiri langurs, and leopards.

Lovedale railway station

The road passed the very quaint Lovedale railway station and we stopped to marvel at the dozens of sparrows that had made their homes in the roof of this tiny station.

Picnic Spot

Visitors to Upper Bhavani need to take prior permission and photography is not allowed in the area of the dam. For overnight stays, there is a guest house in Upper Bhavani with a serene reservoir in the backdrop. It is an excellent picnic spot. But no food is available at Upper Bhavani.

Pack a picnic hamper from Ooty or stock up on goodies from Manjur's well-known bakeries. One has to pass Manjur to go to Upper Bhavani from Ooty. If you forget to take water along, you can help yourself to pristine natural mountain stream water!

Reservoir and streams

Upper Bhavani looks best when the reservoir is veiled by the early morning mists. The guest house is set amidst a mushy forest land and is perfect for the trippers from Ooty to Upper Bhavani.

The sholas and wattle plantations dominate the region that gets around 5,000 mm of rainfall annually. The Thai Shola is the largest in the Nilgiri range and is just a few kilometres from Upper Bhavani.

The landscape, a part of the Western Ghat ecosystem, has an abundance of perennial streams and small reservoirs. It is perfect for hiking, trekking, walking holidays or just unwinding in the lap of nature.

Lake and dam

The Upper Bhavani Lake has plenty of water throughout the year. There has been a dam constructed here named the Upper Bhavani Dam which provides water for irrigation and to nearby settlements.

This dam has been responsible for most of the successful agriculture in this area. The Upper Bhavani reservoir is a part of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board’s Kundah Power generation project.

Water from here goes through an underground tunnel into the Avalanche-Emerald lakes, and thereafter to Kundah and Geddai. This was originally called the Canada Power Project when it was set up sometime in the 1950s. The lake at 2,270 metres is on the edge of the Nilgiri plateau, almost directly above Kerala’s Silent Valley. Like most high-altitude lakes, the waters here are an intense cobalt blue.

Wild beauty

Surrounded by dense forest, the reservoir enjoys a boundary with the Mukurthi National Park. This is a wild and stunningly beautiful area. One can be assured to spot wildlife in the evenings and early mornings.

Vehicles are not permitted across the dam without a permit though you may walk on the road above the dam and enjoy the view.

Tea estates

The drive to Upper Bhavani is through thousands of acres of the gorgeous Korakundah Organic Tea Estate.

It is the highest tea estate in the world at a height of 8,000 feet. Dedicated to organic production in a pristine environment, cool nighttime mists and sunny days produce a distinctive full-bodied green tea. The Korakundah Estate supports social projects for its tea workers and local villagers.

We were delighted to soak in the wondrous view at Chamraj Tea Centre and sip the aromatic, invigorating black tea with its hints of lemon and orange flavours.

Spotting families of the elusive Black Nilgiri Langurs in the wattle plantations was the icing on the cake.

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