Friday, 29 January 2010

A Hike to the Toda Village

India; October 26th; Day 35; Ooty

We order eggs for breakfast at our lodgings but something goes wrong in the translation and we end up with a double order of eggs each. No worries. The boss here has a friend who does guided walks in the hills around Ooty and he will turn up at 11am this morning.

Before that Keith and I stroll into town. It’s warm and sunny today after the cloud and mist of yesterday. We try and find an internet cafe and eventually we find out tucked away at the back. I only need five minutes and I’m quickly back out on the street, As usual we try and find out more information about things to do but to no avail. We return to our bungalow and wait for this guide to turn up. He’s only an hour or so late.

When he does arrive we are told what he has to off and the price and we all agree that we may as well do it. That’s me and Keith, the English couple and the French girl. We stroll down the hill to the bus station but it turns out that we’ve just missed a bus so we opt to cram into a taxi. It’s a crowded 40 minute drive out of town.


We are dropped off at a trail that climbs gently through a Eucalyptus forest. I can’t remember now why the Eucalyptus trees where imported from Australia and planted here. When we broke out of the woods we had good views over the undulating countryside with a lake in the distance below us. Shortly we arrive at a small Toda village. Apparently the Toda are an indigenous tribe which still live in the hills and eschew the villages and towns. The temple and house have a particular architecture and is woven from bent saplings. This village has recently acquired electricity so it’s probable that this way of life will not last for much longer as the younger generation leave for the brighter lights.


At the village we examine the temple building and the corrals they’ve built for the livestock. Our guide then gets us invited into one of the homes. I’m reluctant to do this so I wait outside in the sun as they spend a long time inside having a cup of tea in the smoky environment. Outside I get to chat with a small boy and his sister and an old fella who kindly allows me to take a photograph. In the fields the villages seem to be growing only carrots. Our guide seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time here and even when we get going again he seems to be just ambling along. I want to get going and have a proper walk and I think he can sense my frustration. The others don’t seem that bothered and just think I’m being rude.


Just after the Toda village we reach a Fire Tower which we climb to enjoy the views. Our guide claims to have seen a tiger around here once. It seems unlikely but he does say he’s only ever seen a tiger three times in his life; After this we walk down the hill to the lake’s edge and then scrabble around the side of the lake through a wood. On the far side we sit down and have some snap. We’d bought some cakes from the bus station and we shared these out. Out in the lake we watched a lonely fisherman.


We left the lakeside then and walked up through the woods back towards the road. We were lucky enough to see the Nilgiri Langur which is a monkey only found in this area. We also saw some Sambar Deer.


At the roadside we waited for a bus back into Ooty and thanked our guide and said goodbyse at the bus station.

Back at the bungalow we ordered a take-away from the restaurant we used last night. Everyone was amused by this and the manager of the place even turned up with the order to make sure everything was correct. It was and we watched another movie to while away the evening.