I am sitting on the edge of a cliff in a gazebo attached to a Tamil Nadu Forest Department Bungalow at a place called Penstock, near Manjoor in the Nilgiri Hills, part of the Western Ghats. The sun is setting behind the hills to my right and I am looking south across a deep valley to a range of hills covered with shola forest and grassland – some of the unique environment of Nilgiri Hills. The Toda tribespeople say that the outline of these hilltops in the sunset resembles a sleeping lady with her arms folded over her stomach. And they do.
Just behind me and under the ridge is the Penstock (or pipeline system for the hydro-electric scheme) from which the area takes its name. 700 metres below me in the valley is the settlement of Geddai where a nature camp is taking place in which we are participating this weekend. More on that in a future blog.
There is an eagle soaring overhead and the monkeys are playing below me and keeping an eye out for scraps. The Police Officer whose duty is to guard access to the hydro-electric pipeline told us last night that during his posting here he has seen leopard and panther as well as sloth bear.
Gradually the lights are coming on across the valley. Spangled across the sleeping lady opposite there are three tiny villages with about 6 lights between them.
So lovely is this place that there seem to be more blogs about it than any other spot I have searched on in Tamil Nadu.
And yes – the bungalow is 1610 metres above sea-level, which is one mile high.