Pine Forest (near Ooty)
The Pine Forest spans between the locales of Ooty and Thalakunda adding a scenic canvas to the valleys and the vast landscapes of the Nilgiris. A weekend excursion from Ooty to Thalakunda is one of the leisure activities to indulge in as the en route experience is sure to leave you spell bounded with jaw dropping sights.
The Pine Forest spans over a small downhill region and are arranged in a natural orderly fashion that is indeed spectacular to look at. Buses are available from the Ooty bus Stand to Thalakunda or alternatively you can get into a bus that travels to Mysore but do let the Bus Conductor know that you need to get down next to the Pine Forest area that falls en route to Mysore.
The Pine Forest features an evergreen and resinous collection of trees that grows between 3 to 80 meters tall while a majority of them tower between 15 and 45 meters tall. Of the many species of Pine Trees, the smallest ones are the Siberian Dwarf Pine and Potosi Pinyon whereas the tallest one is an 81.79-meter towering Pine trees species named Ponderosa Pine mostly found around the Rogue River in Southern Oregon amidst the Siskiyou National Forest.
As you enter the Pine Forest near Ooty, you will notice these towering poles of Pine Trees dressed with thick and scaly features while a few are thin and feature flaking barks. The branches imitate a fake swirl that produces a very tight spiral twist with a tapered effect that looks like a ring of branches arising from one point. This spiral twist of growing branches, cone scales and needles shaped leaves are arranged in typical ratios of the Fibonacci number system, strange but true whereas the infant spring shoots, referred to as ‘candles’ are seen covered in off white and brownish bud scales. Initially these bud scales point upward but later transform into green leaves and spreads outward from the bark of the Pine Trees. These Candle-like spring shoots assist foresters to evaluate the soil fertility and well-being of the Pine Forest trees.
The Pine Forest is long-lived with almost all trees arriving at hundred to even a thousand years old while a few even cross the thousand mark reaching the age of 4,000 as well.
The Pine Forest requires good acid soils and some also grow well on calcareous soils. To accelerate growth of the Pine Trees, a good soil drainage system is also required with the reference given to sandy soils.
These Pine Forest Trees are unique from every aspect as a few of them even adapt to extreme conditions mainly imposed by high altitudes and latitude as in Ooty and the Nilgiris region. The Mountain Pines, Bristlecone Pines, Siberian Dwarf Pines and Whitebark Pines are a few of the species that easily adapt to high altitudes like this region near Ooty while species like the Gray Pines, Pinyon Pines and Turkish Pine easily adapt to hot, dry semi-desert climates.
The Pine needles of the Pine Forest trees are eaten by butterflies and moths including the Pine sawfly and even goats while most Birds and Squirrels thrive on the seeds of the Pine Trees as their source of food. Birds like the Clark's Nutcracker, Spotted Nutcracker and Pinyon Jay assist in distributing the pine seeds to several new areas, hence accentuating the process of growth of a new fertile land dressed with the stunning towering Pine Trees.
The Pine Forest is an ideal place for nature lovers to stroll around and if lucky, get to catch a glimpse of the varied wildlife species that throng around this forest region including varied species of birds who thrive on the Pine Tree seeds.
During your excursion trip around the Pine Forest, you are sure to encounter the Bison and a unique black coloured with brown outlined face monkeys, who are not as enthusiastic and tourist-friendly as the other city monkeys. These animals are quite shy and on noticing you will definitely rush and vanish into the dense bushes of the Forest.
As you close in towards the valley around the Pine Forest, the forest will seem to look even denser with the sun rays barely reaching ground and henceforth, the moisture levels in the air will begin to increase by many folds. This is the exact reason why there is a widespread of mushrooms and creepers around and also a valid reason for the Pine Forest to always look even taller as you proceed further into its sanctuary.
The Pine Forest is one of the popular tourist destinations around Ooty that shot to fame after a number of Bollywood and South Indian movies were filmed. A song sequence of a Tamil movie named Dheena showcases the stunning and scenic locales around this Forest and several Bollywood movies such as Sadma, QSQT, Saajan, Dil, Deewana, & Khuda Gawah, just to mention a few, were also filmed in the location of this Pine Forest near Ooty.
The Pine Forest is indeed extremely woody that drifts with the fresh scent of the Pine Trees wherein its oils are even used for medicinal purposes and in aromatic therapies. The Cool breeze and the tall Pine trees are indeed a sight to behold.
After you cover more distance of the Pine Forest area, you would also notice several Deer species prancing around with a friendly demure. And further downhill, is a stunning green lake that spreads out to the open space, a truly amazing sight and a must-see, if you have never been here before.
Towards the end of this tour around the Pine Forest, you can choose to take a detour to the scenic Parson’s Valley and then to Mukurthi or be driven directly to Mukurthi that offers a lot of sights just waiting to be seen.