Bandipur and Mudumalai | Wilderness and Greens
Bandipur and Madumalai: Overview
A little over two hundred kilometers away from Bangalore is a forest named Bandipur. Once a private hunting reserve for the Maharaja of Mysore is now a place for those who seek nature, serenity and mind blowing tarmac strips which leads two beautiful destinations Ooty and Wayanad.
The route is through one of the most common cities, Mysore which is 140 kilometers. Riding on this state highway is probably the most comfortable one, in the sense of amenities available. SH17 boasts of a number of eateries and cafés where you could just chill a bit.
Once you cross Mysore, its 60 kilometers of arrow straight tarmac with frequent elevations to Gundlupet. Watch it when you’re riding on this bit, because truck and bus drivers drive like they pretty much own the road. Two cafés, one 25 kilometers away from Mysore and another at the entrance of Gundlupet are the only decent hangouts you can find, other than these you can depend on coconut water and small tea stalls. At the exit of Gundlupet you’ll find a traffic junction, straight takes you towards Tamilnadu side of Bandipur and the right leads to the Kerala side. From here on, all you need to do is buckle up for one of the most beautiful piece of road you can find around South India.
Distance, Route Options and Directions
Route 1 (Ooty) – MAP LINK
Distance – 440 Kilometers round-trip (calculated till the entrance of the forest)
Ride via NH-275, you’ll have the privilege of visiting the Historical town of Srirangapattana and the Royal city of Mysore. Upon reaching Mysore head on to NH-212 till Gundlupet and take NH – 67 from there.
Route 2 (Wayanad) – MAP LINK
Distance – 430 Kilometers round-trip (calculated till the entrance of the forest)
Same route as Ooty till Gundlupet, once you cross the town, take a right and continue on NH- 212.
Road conditions (Reported as of mid-2015) – Both routes offer good roads upto Mysore. 10 kilometers of construction before you reach Gundlepet due to road widening and perfect seamless roads thereafter. The forest roads have frequent speed breakers, please watch out!!
The Ooty Strip
Its 17 kilometers to the entrance of Bandipur and to cover this you need to get into IOM TT mode.
Seamless surface, perfectly placed median lines, wind all around, no more infrastructure other than the bit you’re riding on and the access to all the joy you need at the twist of your wrist is the sensation tingling at every nerve end of yours.
But wait, you still haven’t entered Bandipur yet. You will recognize Bandipur with a small arch over the road with a check post underneath and a humongous forest behind it which is home to a variety of wildlife species.
From here on, your smile will only widen 10 times more than it already was. Dried up woods, lush green trees, small trails here and there, moister in the air, breeze which is only getting cooler and cooler, tigers if you’re really lucky, a few elephants if you’re lucky, monkeys if you’re not, mesmerizing deer and peacocks hither and thither is the typical ambiance of this forest.
Now, coming to the race track, wait. Sorry, I mean public roads. It has enough twists and turns to make sure the enthusiasts, well let’s say feel the tarmac with their patella.
The Karnataka part of the forest is known as Bandipur which ends about 15 kilometers from the entrance. Until here, there not much of elevations, simple flat landscape with sweeping corners will keep the excitement level to the limit.
Once you cross the state border, the Tamil Nadu side of the forest is called Mudumalai and is filled with frequent elevation changes.
The roads here are much better than the Bandipur side, you’ll enjoy this bit a lot more in the night light as it is filled with reflectors on either side of the road and star reflectors on the trees shouldering it.
A café right in the middle of the forest is something you must stop for. Once you’ve had your break, make sure you are ready for the biggest rush, from here on the tarmac has a mind of its own.
Twists, turns, sweeping corners, killer hairpin bends, scary woods and pretty much the most minimal traffic you can find is what you will be riding through. You can enjoy riding so much here that you feel like you’ve time traveled.
Distance is something you wouldn’t bother about, time is something you don’t care about, all you want to do is just throttle, red line, upshift and repeat the process all over again till you reach Ooty.
The Kerala Strip
After the right at the junction it is 16 Kilometers to the entrance of Bandipur. This route is very similar to the IOM TT part of the Ooty strip. Once you hit the entrance, it is a little less than 30 kilometers to cross the forest.
This part has a complete flat landscape offering wide open corners with unlimited visibility. So make sure you have proper knee guards on as it might come in contact with the tarmac.
Both the sides of the forest i.e. Bandipur and Kerala have similar roads and sceneries. Once you cross the forest, its just a few kilometers to Sulthan Bathery, Wayanad.
Best Time to Visit
Just after Rainy season probably December to February.
Weekdays, as it would be flocked with tourists on weekends and public holidays.
Day time should be appropriate as the forest stretch from Karnataka side is closed for public post 6 p.m.
- Stay – 2/3 days.
Food, Lodging, Help and Assistance.
- Safety en‐route – Yes, safe till reaching Bandipur! But upon reaching Bandipur there will be wildlife interference on the national highway
- Parking Availability – Open and unsecured
- Entry Fees – N/A
- Fuel – Practically everywhere on Mysore road, A few here and there after Mysore till Gundlepet, one at the entrance and the exit of Gundlepet. Make sure you fill up here as there are none after this town.
- Puncture Repair shops – Only till Gundlupet
- Breakdown Assistance – From Mysore City only
- Nearest Service centers – Mysore City
- Police Coverage – Gundlupet
- Interceptor Alert – From Bangalore until Ramnagara, Entrance of Mysore
- Hospitals Available – Every town you cross has a Govt Hospital, Major one’s can be found in Mysore
- Restaurants /Food Joints Available – Countless number of Cafes such as Coffee Days, Adigas, Empire, many more till Mysore. After Mysore one Coffee Day at Nanjangudu, another one at the entrance of Gundlepet and the last one at Masinagudi (Tamil Nadu), absolutely nothing after Gundlepet towards Kerala.
- Lodging Availability – Bandipur and Masinagudi
To sum it up, for those of you who prefer riding 200 odd kilometers on the same day, this should be the perfect strip. You don’t have to ride to Ooty or Wayanad. Just ride, belt around these amazing roads, probably you could do the forest bit twice and head back the same day.
For those of you who want to stay back, make sure you ride to Ooty or Wayanad, both these places are immensely beautiful.