Experiencing the Wild Without a Plan

“Why would you want to spend an entire night in a tree, with the possibility of a leopard or two climbing in unexpectedly?” Masood had asked, without looking up from his computer screen, immediately after my suggestion to book a tree house in one of India’s forests. “It’s highly unsafe,” he continued. “We simply can not take the risk.”

Less than a month later, with absolutely no plans whatsoever, we found ourselves riding a jeep into Tamil Nadu’s forests. Back home, I had browsed a lot of websites that rented out tree houses, but they were fully-booked, ridiculously expensive, or silly looking (they have built a house next to a tree, not on it). Plus Masood was reluctant. His response was, “Let’s see.” So off we went—to see for ourselves.

So with our driver, Abbas, a really nice guy whom we met at the Mettupalayam train station (our stop after we left Chennai), we bid Ooty goodbye and headed down for the forest. He expertly manoeuvred the dangerous and challenging 36 hairpin bends that led us all the way down, while I busied myself with Nikon. And on several occasions, he was kind enough to park the vehicle on the side of the road so I could take photographs. I’ve posted some of them here.

As we drove down the mountains of Nilgiris, although the scenery surrounding us remained the same, I felt the air getting warmer. I wished there was a way I could bring the cool, fresh breeze of Ooty down with me.  It was a long three or four-hour drive. At one point, the constant motion of the vehicle and the lazy afternoon sun with its accompanying warm breeze and quiet roads made me drowsy with sleep.

A middle-aged man and a young boy—his son, perhaps—were walking these cows back home after a morning of grazing grass. The cows knew their way home, walking ahead with that confidence that only cows (and sometimes, sheep) have. A couple of young ones strayed, but a few authoritative barks from the family’s dog brought them back on track.

So the ride continued into the woods. And while Masood worried about our safety (specially during the night), my main concern was the bathroom. I read in a couple of  blogs that they have open type bathrooms, where monkeys jump in to join you in your shower! I’ve also read another post where the writer had to carry a rechargeable lamp and walk towards the bathroom at night, which was located a few feet from the tree house that he had rented (no neighbours nearby), and heard some wild animal howling!

So yeah, I was worried about the bathroom.


  1. This sounds so interesting! Did you end up staying in the tree? What a cool idea, I hope this post will be continued, I want to see some tree house pics 😀

    I think I’m going to Google this now hehe.

    1. Oh yes, ‘liya! We stayed in the tree house, and I’ll post pictures in the next post. You can then compare them with the ones you Googled 😀

  2. The plan DOES sound dangerous! I’m on the edge of my seat here!!

    36 bends… *goes green*

    The last picture is -oh-so-beautiful, Nadia!!

    1. Specs, it sounds more dangerous because we didn’t have a plan. Oh, and those 36 bends, I suggest traveling with an empty stomach.

  3. omg! a tree house!? that sounds…ummm…dangerous but very very fascinating!! I still cant believe there is just so much about India that people would normally never talk about. I am simply loving this whole series!

    1. Thank you, Leena! You’ll discover in the next couple of posts whether the tree house is more dangerous or fascinating.

      There is so much beauty in India and I am excited to explore all of them. But the Pakistani side of me wishes that I could tour all those breathtaking places of Pakistan as well and talk about them on my blog. Perhaps someday, inshaAllah.

  4. That’s amazing nadia sis.. I am glad you guys had some time off 🙂 Such lovely pics btw.. getting better n better. Any plans of putting them up for sale or something? 🙂

    1. Hi, Wakas! Haven’t seen you around in ages! How are you doing?

      Thank you so much – I am trying to improve slowly, one baby step at a time towards better photographs, inshaAllah. Putting up for sale? These amateur, incorrectly-exposed pictures? No, Wakas bhai – I need to shoot 10,000 more photographs to get to that level.

  5. … that’s exciting … i too would love to spend my stay in a forest at a tree house – but little uncertain right now – lets see what happen to ur trip 🙂

    so what happened next … eagerly waiting to know !!

    p.s. with lots of pics …

  6. You left this post like a ZeeTV serial that leaves the viewer/reader puzzled as to what might have happened next?

    Racing through my mind were a few narrative dialogues:

    “Kya hua hoga phir?”
    “Tree house mila ya nahi?”
    “Khullam Khulla bathroom tha ya nahi?”

    Milte hain break ke baad…..

    1. Wow, I meant for the readers to have at least one of those questions in mind after reading this post, and you asked all three of them! Congratulations!!! As a reward, I shall go eat another chilled phaank of mango.

    1. uneekmuslimah, yes, monkey in the shower! I do NOT want to experience that at all!

      PS: Thank you for showering (no pun intended) all those wonderful comments! I have this huge smile on my face right now *hugs*

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