India & Around, Living, Nature & Wildlife, Photography, Sports & Adventure, Travel
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Jungle tales

Day 1: It took us about 10 hours to reach Top Slip, but it was well worth the long journey.

A beautiful and verdant place, Top Slip is basically the place you need to head to if you want to explore the Annamalai forest range and Indira Gandhi wildlife sanctuary. It is about 40 kms from the town of Pollachi (which is another 40 kms from Coimbatore).

Old jungle saying: Take good binoculars. You can’t trust only your eyes in the forest.

The name Top Slip was given by the British Raj, when in those times, harvested timber used to be slipped down a narrow canal to the plains. The sanctuary is a birder’s paradise. And we missed having an experienced birder with us as there were so many we could not identify or even see for that matter. The thick foliage made it all the more harder. Sometimes, we would just stand at a spot and listen to more than half a dozen bird calls from different parts of the forest.


The journey is relatively pleasant and except for one stretch, the roads are not too bad either. Besides, Tamil Nadu definitely seems to have better roads than our very own Karnataka. The route we took was Bangalore : Salem : Coimbatore : Pollachi : Top Slip. It’s a relatively low key destination and thankfully so. Except for some buses with visitors who would appear and then promptly disappear again, it wasn’t too crowded.

Old jungle saying: Take a good guide, preferably one called Baby!

For forest treks, you need to be accompanied by a guide. We got hold of a good guide thanks to Shankar who had been there before. He went by the name Baby. When I asked him his full name he replied, ‘D Baby’. And he was really ‘the’ Baby who knew the forest like the back of his hand! He took us on three forest treks (all off the beaten track) – one in the evening, one in the afternoon and one in the early morning.

Old jungle saying: Don’t snore at night if you don’t want to scare away all the animals

On the first night Baby led us to the Ambuli watchtower which affored a beautiful 360 degree view of the forest. He stayed with us for the night and said all of us snored so much that it was no wonder that even the wild bisons, which he had spotted that evening, were scared off!


Besides walking around, we also landed up eating a lot! The canteen in Top Slip is not worth mentioning but thankfully Baby helped us find another cook at a nearby guest house called Ambuli, who prepared a few meals for us.

The first night we stayed in the watchtower in the forest, Baby picked up our dinner from the Ambuli guest house and got it back for us. All of us made ourselves comfortable on the top of the watchtower. After watching a glorious sunset, we had a delicious meal of chapattis, omlettes and veg korma. It’s amazing what fresh air does to one’s appetite (and not that I’ve ever needed any encouragement when it comes to food!).

Day 2: The night passed rather uneventfully. The highlight was Baby’s complaint that he was kicked twice in the night and we found the culprit was none other than our six footer : Sathish VJ.

Old jungle saying: exercise daily if you don’t want to be out of breath when escaping a bear chasing you!

The next morning we were up early to watch the sunrise (partially covered by a hill) and sight wildlife. We managed to catch sight of a few birds including the Malabar hornbill and the Indian Treepie and Baby spotted a Malabar squirrel for us. I spent some time walking around the area and looking at birds and spotted the minivet, bee eaters, swallows, parakeets and barbets do their early morning dance.

During all the walks I also realised why it’s important to exercise daily! Especially, going up sloped, which left me pretty breathless… Baby, for some reason would keep coming up to me and telling me, “7 more kilometres, 3 uphill!” in a rather threatening tone. I am not sure what thrill he got out of the whole exercise.

Somewhere along the way we spotted fresh excrement of a pack of wild dogs and Baby surmised that they had killed a sambar in the morning. It’s good we just missed them. After about 2 hours, we made our way back to Top Slip again to get some rest and more importantly – breakfast!

Lush forest

After another afternoon trek, we headed off to the elephant camp at Kozhikamuthi around half an hour away by vehicle. Private vehicles are not allowed so we had to go by the rather noisy official van. Unfortunately, it had become dark by then. There was a cute baby elephant prancing around. He would advance mischievously towards visitors and then coyly walk back when his master shouted a reprimand, just like a kid!

Day 3: On the third day, we headed for an early morning trek at around 6.30 am : Shankar playing big daddy and making sure everyone was up on time and Baby reaching on the dot.

He led us into the forest again and about an hour later we reached a beautiful valley. Lovely wild flowers and thick shrubs dotted our path as we made our way down. Another hour later, we were back at Ambuli guest house where we had a filling breakfast, thanks again to the cook there.

Wild flower

After breakfast, we bundled back into our vehicle and began our 10 hour journey back home to Bangalore.

Useful Information:
Journey: Bangalore – Top Slip is 10 hours one way with a few breaks. You can also take the bus to Coimbatore and another one to Pollachi.
Acco: Minimum fuss accommodation including dormitories. Has to be booked well in advance through the office of the Wildlife Warden, Pollachi, Tamil Nadu. You can stay at the Ambuli guest house, but it might need some special request.
Treks: You can take a safari or trek inside the forest. You need permissions and also a guide along with you.
Sights around: The Elephant Farm and Parambikulam Dam.
Tips: Do take a pair of binoculars. It will be of great help!

Top Slip Photo Album


  1. Wow what a beautiful account of the trip. Looking fwd to the photographs Anita.

  2. Quite a wonderful journey..I love to hear of such trekking experirences..Wish one day I will be taking such a root as well 🙂

  3. mehak: 🙂

    thanks uma. the link to the album is below the post.

    it was yes!

    venky, no you didn’t! now i know 🙂

  4. Shailesh says

    Hi Anita,

    How are you doing. Great to see you are still going strong on blogging. A lot of things have happened in my life over last 2 years.. I changed jobs… am into elearning now..and also got married..and about to move out of Mumbai.

    take care,

  5. Hi There,

    I was planning to go on a trek to topslip via pollachi, and came across your (interesting) blog and photo album. So I’m interested in talking to you and finding out more detailed info about the place, getting there, trekking etc.

    Care to drop me a line at and if you can give me your number, I’ll call you sometime. Would be great if we could talk within the next 2 days! 🙂

    Keep on wandering.

  6. Mahendra says

    Hey hi
    i just happened to see the blog, Interesting. besides, did you shoot those pictures? they are really nice. i am a photograper from Bangalore. i do advertising and fashion stuff. which camera do you use. the close up shot is really nice and the lighting is just right. any way thats my site. let me know what you feel.

  7. Prabhu says

    Great note on the trip! I will be travelling to Top Slip this weekend (July 21) with a couple of my friends. How was the accomodation at Ambuli Guest house? And would you by any chance have the contact number of “Baby”? We’re looking forward to do a couple of treks and see places that are not often visited.

  8. prabu: basic accomodation but decent. i don’t have the number but once you get there you can ask around for him around the office.

  9. coolermaster says

    It is a good thing for you to want to own a pair of binoculars to use for all the things you does. You may buy a set of binoculars for a special event or going for your safari holiday.You realize at the moment when you look
    safari binoculars

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  11. Sam Selwin says

    The Top slip trip is the worst experience in my life time. All the staffs working in Top Slip are very rude and a complete menace, completely irresponsible. The canteen provides the worst food / service in the world. No facilities are available for safari.

    So dont expect much out of a trip to Top Slip. You will be very lucky to see a wild pig or a spotted deer. We heard most of the wild animals were moved the much undisturbed parambikulam forest area in kerela

    I suggest any one to visit Paramikulam ( in the Kerela side of the forest) where you are guaranteed to see almost all the animals during the night/ early morning/ late evening safari and the service provided by the staffs are the best to the possible way.

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