Before we get to Puli Tales - Day One, some administrivia out of the way. A great many of you have been googling some combination of Mukurthi, accommodation and permission to get here, so just want to be useful for a change:
For trekking up Mukurthi, you need three permits (as of Dec 31, 2007):
1. DFO (Nilgiris North Division). I am pretty certain that it is North though the actual peak falls under South division DFO. The entrance is under the control of North division. Either way the offices are right next to each other, so you should be alright)
2. Ranger, Mukurthi Forest
3. Nilgiris Wildlife and Environment Association, Ooty for acco inside Mukurthi
Note that you do NOT need permission from the Wildlife Warden Office (and the people there are rude anyway) to enter the park though people might tell you otheriwse.
The DFO & Ranger offices as well as the Nilgiris Wildlife and Environment Association office are all right next to each other in Ooty, so if you are there in person, it shouldn't be a problem hopping from one to the other.
Address: Mount Stewart Hill, Udhagamandalam – 643 001
DFO (North) Phone: 0423- 2441950
Nilgiris Wildlife and Environment Association Phone: 0423- 2447167
Now, while its possible that you can go upto Ooty and run around for half a day getting all these permits, its not advisable to do so. This is because there is only place where you can stay inside the National Park, the Mukurthi fishing hut and the DFO will not give you permission unless you have acco reserved in this hut. So this is what I suggest you do.
1. Ring the Wildlife and Environment Association and speak to the patient man who will answer the phone. He is a wildlife enthusiast who gave up his job to work this wildlife NGO thingy so please to be nice to him. Ask him for available dates at the fishing hut and once you have figured out dates, ask him to fax you a letter saying so.
2. Write a letter to the DFO, attach this acco letter and fax over to the DFO office.
3. Land up at the DFO office, pick up the permit, pay the Wildlife people, go talk to the Ranger and get his signature and you are all set.
Well, not really. James, the caretaker at the hut might or might not be there at the fishing hut. Try to speak to him and explain to him when you will be there. You also have to get provisions so that he can cook for you, so ask him whether he needs anything.
Now, for the guide. When we were there, the officers were quite clear that they will not allow people to trek to Mukurthi without a guide. One of the reasons is because of the maulings that are common nowadays (Remember there are tigers and wild elephants roaming all over) If you talk to James ask him whether he can accompany you and that should be sufficient. However, if you plan to do more than just Mukurthi (and you absolutely should, go up to Pandiar Hills and if you have another day, Mudumalai should be on your list), get a guide. I suggest you call the HI Youth Hostel in Ooty (Phone: 0423 2444704) and ask for Babu's number. Babu is highly recommended and is great at spotting animals. Please do disregard though when he claims that every piece of dry shit that you see on your way is tiger shit. I don't think there are that many tigers in Mukurthi.
Any more questions, shoot me an email.
I know, I know, I need to get to Day One sometime. Cousin Kali got so fed up that she sent her own version. It will be up soon with a few edits.
 Unless you are a combination of two very charming young women, and one very charming not-so-young woman (Stu aunty, you around?), and you are also graced by the presence of the Don who can open doors like no one else.