Words are now jostling over each other in my head and I'm not sure where to start. I have therefore decided that I'll record my trip in chronological sequence.
First things first. Before any trip I like to "get prepared" and so I went trundling around the net with search strings that read like this "nagarahole national park", "nagarahole map", "nagarahole forest rest house" and the like. Imagine my surprise when I found out that except for the Google map showing a road passing through Nagarahole from Kutta to Hunsur there was nothing to tell me what lay in between!
The first thing I've done is to mark the locations on Google Earth so people interested in a wild vacation in Nagarahole will know exactly where they have to stop. We were booked into the Kallahalla FRH, right in the middle of the forest. If you exclude the road that passes in front of the rest house it will be "deep-in-the-jungle"!
The Route from Palakkad
The road to Nagarahole from Palakkad goes through some really winding terrain. I've recorded myself driving through the shortest route. Point Zero is my house. (All distances in brackets are from Point Zero).
The first major town is Mannarkad (40kms). Just after Mannarkad, NH 213 takes a left turn at Kumaranputhur junction (43kms). Keep going straight on the Nilambur road. After Alanallur, Melattur, Pandikad (72kms) you will reach Manjeri (85kms). It can be a little confusing here so don't hesitate to ask for help.
Manjeri town has a bypass that appears on your right immediately after the Korambayil Hospital. This bypass curves gently and reaches a junction. You have to turn right here onto the Nilambur-Areekode road. A little further, the road turns right to Nilambur. Keep going straight for Areekode.
Areekode in exactly 100 km from Palakkad. Keep going straight through the town and you will hit Mukkom (115kms), followed by Omaserry (120kms) and Thamaraserry (130kms). At Thamaraserry this road joins the Kozhikode - Mysore highway where you have to turn right for Kalpetta.
After climbing the ghat road which is picturesque by itself you will reach Vythiri ((160kms). You can take an alternate route from here which is a trifle winding so what you make up on distance you lose in time. (I returned through that route so I'll give the details later). Kalpetta (172kms) has a bypass but is best avoided. The road is in pathetic condition and it rejoins the highway in the heart of town! Just out side the town is the Kainatty junction (174kms) where you have to take a left for Manathavady.
The road passes through Kaniyambetta (182 kms) and Panamaram (188kms) to reach Mananthavady (204 kms). In Manathavady get onto the Kattikulam- Tholpetty road. At Kattikulam (215kms) take a left turn immediately after an IndianOil Petrol station onto the Thirunelliy - Tholpetty road. This is the last petrol station before Nagarahole. (You will see the Pancahyat office on your right at the Junction).
|Thirunelly - Tholpetty fork|
The road divides about 10 kms later the left fork going to Thirunelly and the right to Tholpetty. It is well marked there so you cant lose your way. The Tholpetty WLS entrance (229kms) is only three kilometers from Kutta (232 kms). If you are driving by road better fuel up at Kattikulam because the petrol station at Kutta is defunct and they were drying arecanuts in the yard!!
As you enter Kutta, just past the Forest Check post the bus stand appears on your right. You have to make a sharp U-turn to get onto the Nagarahole road. (Between the two posts in the photo. The road on the right is the one that comes from Tholpetty to Kutta)
From here on it is a straight road. After signing in at the National park boundary (236 kms) you drive through dense forests before you reach the Reception center (242kms) where all the activities are coordinated.
Two forest department guest houses are available here, the Kaveri & Gangothri.
Kallahalla (250kms) forest rest house is another eight kilometers away. Located on top of a rise the rest house overlooks a waterhole.
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