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Vellimalai

 
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Shovelnose
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:36 pm Post subject: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 A  bit  of  a  late  post  this  one.  Did  a  trip  tom  this  place  in  July.  
 
 Vellimalai  is  the  core  area  of  the  Meghamalai  mountain  range  in  the  Southern  Western  Ghats.  Vellimalai  translated  into  Tamil  means  'Silver  Hill'  (Velli=silver;malai=hill,mountain)  probably  in  reference  to  the  low  hanging  clouds  making  the  mountain  look  silver  from  a  distance.  I  had  made  a  trip  to  Meghamalai  earlier  this  year   and  found  the  place  blissfully  isolated.
 
 A  contact  from  this  region  kept  going  on  and  on  'bout  this  mountain.  Doesnt  take  long  to  convince  me  once  you  mention  a  hill  stream.  So  a  trip  was  planed.  This  time,  with  childhood  friends  (non  hobbyists)  as  they  were  looking  for  a  break  and  I  had'nt  done  a  big  trip  in  a  few  months.  They  could  relax  and  I  could  collect.  Sounded  perfect  to  me.
 
 We  reached  the  town  of  Bodi  on  Friday  morning.  Entering  Vellimalai  requires  permission  from  the  District  Forest  Officer.  He  turned  out  to  be  a  very  helpful  guy.  Spent  almost  the  entire  day  there  while  he  was  lamenting  on  the  aversion  of  the  staff  towards  field  trips.
 
 It  was  5pm  by  the  time  we  reached  the  first  spot,  Suruli  Falls.  We  had  to  walk  around  2  kms  to  reach  the  falls.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 The  view  en  route.
 
 
 
 The  falls.  Quite  a  wimpy  one  considering  the  distance  we  had  to  walk.
 
 
 I  tried  to  collect  downstream  and  landed  a  small  Puntius  Sp.  P.bimaculatus  maybe.  It  started  pouring  at  the  moment.   Had  to  abandon  collecting  here  and  headed  back  to  the  room.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 I  love  the  way  the  clouds  roll  over  the  hills  sorta  reminding  you  of  a  Roland  Emmerich  film.
 
 The  night  was  spent  in  the  usual  manner.  Meat  and  alcohol.  Green  Label  was  the  choice  of  the  night.  To  hell  with  the  Green  Hornet.  
 
 
 
 Gives  you  no  time  to  realise  you  are  gonna  stumble  and  fall.  It  usually  is  morning  by  the  time  realistion  and  the  sun,  both  dawn  upon  you.
 
 
 We  left  at  around  7  the  next  morning  towards  Vellimalai.Its  a  three  and  a  half  hour  drive  to  cover  the  80  kms.  The  roads  towards  the  end  resembled  tracks  from  the  X  Games.  Luckily,  we  had  hired  a  jeep.  Managed  to  get  through  quite  comfortably.
 
 We  managed  to  sight  a  good  number  of  lion  tailed  macaque,  peacocks  and  a  Malabar  giant  squirrel.
 
 The  First  Spot
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 The  first  spot  yielded  Schistura  denisoni,  Schistura  semiarmatus,  Barilius  gatensis  (???),  Rasbora  Sp.  We  sighted  a  beautiful  orange  Channa  gachua  but  had  formalities  to  complete  with  the  check  post.  By  the  time  we  came  back,  twas  gone.
 
 Water  was  around  23-24  C.  Rocks  and  pebbles  made  up  most  of  the  river  bed.Vegetation  was  conifned  to  the  banks  but  there  was  leaf  litter  found  in  the  stream.
 
 This  entire  region  had  been  experiencing  deficit  rainfall  recently  and  hence,  the  water  levels  were  very  low.  Very  slow  flowing  at  points  too.  
 
 The  Second  Spot.
 
 
 
 
 
 The  route  to  the  spot.
 
 
 
 Wild  mangoes  and  guavas  were  everywhere.
 
 
 
 
 
 Caught  this  on  the  way.  Clinotarsus  curtipes.
 
 
 
 The  spot.
 
 The  fauna  here  was  the  same.  It  was  too  difficult  to  go  further  upstream  and  the  locals  had  warned  us  of  the  elephant  and  bear  menace  here.  So  we  decided  to  stick  to  this  spot.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 The  Garra'  s  had  a  lovely  red  caudal.  The  colour  has  gone  because  of  stress.  Was  as  red  as  the  caudal  of  the  Epalzeorhynchos  bicolor.  
 
 After  a  few  hours  of  collecting  and  free  pedicures  for  my  friends  courtesy  of  the  Garra's,  we  decided  to  head  back  as  we  were  starving.
 
 There  are  around  40  people  living  around  the  peak  of  this  mountain.  No  villages,  no  settlements  nothing.  No  power,no  water,  NO  ALCOHOL  but  plenty  of  meat  courtesy  the  jungle.
 
 Lunch  was  simple.  Hot  and  steaming  rasam,  rice  and  fried  potatoes.  It  was  heavenly  given  the  weather  and  the  conditions.
 
 
 
 The  kitchen.
 
 Come  night  and  we  realised  there  was  no  water  around  to  drink  or  for  other  uses.  So  we  decied  to  drive  out  in  search  of  the  same  at  around  8:00  Pm.
 
             
Link

 
 A  short  video  of  the  drive.  We  ran  into  a  herd  of  Wild  Buffaloes  on  the  way.  Gigantic,  gargantuan,  call  'em  what  you  want  but  they  ran  like  lily  livered  bandicoots  when  they  saw  the  jeep.
 
 
 
 Collecting  water.
 
 
 
 Packing  water.
 
 
 Loaded  with  water,  we  decided  to  sit  outside  and  chat  for  a  while.  A  few  minutes  later,  there  was  a  low  growl  from  somewhere  nearby.  This  kept  repeating  and  we  couldn  see  anything  but  the  growls  kept  getting  closer.  I  swear,  our  jumps  would  ve  put  Carl  Lewis  to  shame.  
 
 The  distance  to  the  rooms  ('bout  8  feet)  was  covered  by  leaping.  Once  inside,  the  locals  told  us  that  was  likely  a  'Sennai'  (meaning  Red  Dog),  probably  referring  to  the  South  Indian  Jackal  (Canis  aureus  naria).  A  few  minutes  later,  we  heard  an  entire  pack  with  pups  and  all  outside.  We  were  unable  to  sight  'em  though.
 
 
 
 No  jackal  could  ve  taken  this  way  from  us.  I  have  been  warned  the  finest  connoisseurs  of  the  world  are  after  my  head  for  keeping  both  Chivas  and  Green  Label  side  by  side.
 
 The  room  where  we  stayed  in  had  a  damaged  window.  Part  of  it  was  carved  out.  A  recent  bear  attack  we  were  informed.
 The  fact  that  most  of  my  friends  snored  HEAVILY  didnt  help  the  situation.
 
 Woke  up  early  to  go  for  a  walk  outside.  
 
             
Link

 
 Outside  our  room.
 
 
 
 The  'house'.
 
 Went  collecting  again  before  breakfast  to  build  up  an  appetite.  The  same  catch.  But  a  few  more  fruits  thrown  in  this  time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 The  mangoes  were  awesome.  I  like  'em  sour  though.  A  few  bites  and  your  facial  expressions  start  to  resemble  that  of  Gobioids.
 
 
 
 The  spot.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Has  been  tentatively  ID'ed  as  Garra  hughi.
 
 
 
 
 
 Schistura  denisoni.  A  huge  complex  by  itself.I  have  collected  this  species  in  almost  all  my  trips.  Yet  to  collect  a  loach  with  a  nastier  disposition.
 
 
 
 
 
 Schistura  semiarmatus
 
 
 
 
 Our  vehicle.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 The  alleged  road.
 
 
 A  few  arachnids  from  the  spot.  Anyone  good  with  spiders???
 
 
 
 First  species.
 
 
 
 
 
 Second  species.
 
 
 
 
 
 Third  species.
 
 All  of  'em  were  found  around  the  stream  and  were  quite  comfortable  in  water  too.
 
 We  badly  missed  out  on  sighting  the  Nilgiri  Tahr  (Nilgiritragus  hylocrius).  They  are  apparently  sighted  quite  commonly  around  where  we  stayed  but  we  were  not  that  lucky.
 
 First  time  I  covered  an  entire  trip  with  my  bourgeois  photo  taking  skills  and  I  realised  I  am  quite  a  biased  photographer.I  did  not  take  any  pics  of  the  Barilius  or  the  Rasbora's.
 
 We  left  the  place  around  lunch  time.  I  guess  this  place  is  worth  a  visit  after  the  rains  just  to  check  if  there  are  any  Glyptothorax  out  here.  Planning  to  do  a  trip  alone  end  of  this  year.  Wanna  make  sure  it  rains  heavily  before  though  as  I  have  been  told  that  the  stream  rages  through  the  forests  after  the  monsoons.
 
 Hope  luck  comes  with  the  rains.  To  part  with,
 
 
 
 Sunset  on  the  way.
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KungFuPanda
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:41 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 Nice  trip  you  must  have  had!  
 Why  did  you  post  alcohol  pics?  why  dont  you  realise  that  someone  is  trying  to  leave  it!   Chuckle
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Mohammed Mudassir
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:14 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 awesome  write  up  balaji,
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ASSASSIN
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:17 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 nice  trip  BALAJI  ..!!
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Marc
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:57 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 Nice  report.   Thumb Up  better  late  than  never   Very Happy
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rkkaran
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:28 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 You  rock  pal  Wink  Keep  'em  coming.
 
 BTW  already  a  fan  :-)
 
 Cheers,
 Karan
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:49 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 Great  spot  and  a  greater  narration...waiting  for  your  report  on  Valparai  Smile
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iqss
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:04 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 Thumb Up   nice  natives
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:01 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 Enjoyable  read,  as  usual  Very Happy
 Does  look  like  a  nice  location  to  spend  the  weekend.
 
 the  first  spider  looks  like  a  Fishing  spider
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saikumar
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:35 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 Awesome  Trip.
 
 Balaji,  when  you  write  and  click,  I  dont  need  to  go  to  collection  trips.
 But,  even  I  would  have  liked  some  pics  of  Barilius  and  Rasboras.
 
 
 Thanks  for  sharing.  Thumb Up
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rocky2
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:19 am Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 nice  trip  and  great  writeup..
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:58 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 Thanks  all.
 
 
                                                 
hayath_dyno  wrote  (View  Post):                

 
 the  first  spider  looks  like  a  Fishing  spider                

 
 All  of  'em  have  been  ID'ed  as  Pisaurids  (Fishing  Spiders)  but  further  identification  has  not  been  possible.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:58 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 Nice  trip..  and  good  snaps..  lot  of  the  words  and  names  u  used  here,  made  me  to  google  frequently   Chuckle   Chuckle
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Anandarajkumar
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:31 pm Post subject: Re: Vellimalai Reply with quote

 Nicely  narrated  trip!
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