The Swami Of Valaithothu-A guide for walkback.



I have travelled a few places in search of Kenneth Anderson's places to retrace his footsteps. Surprisingly I missed this particular place called Masinagudi and Segur Area. I visited Gudalur and Ooty for several times, but not through Masinagudi road. Infact this is a place which lies very near to my home land but I couldn't venture for that places. So let our next target be Swami of Valaithothu.

The swami of Valaithothu’ is a story by Kenneth Anderson’s in his book ‘This is the jungle’ (1964) which narrates a thrilling tale of a wandering Sadhu in a superstition-ridden farming community on the forest edge and the equally sudden appearance of a tiger in the area. The Sadhu brings a terror among the innocent villagers by mimicking his transformation into a man eater at will. KA arrived the scene and subsequent killing of the tiger. All theses results in an entertaining story with unexpected thrilling twists and turns. Kindly read the book. It's not included in Omnibus.
te place.
This area including Masinagudi was Andersons favourite place . IT also featured in the stories MAn eater of Segur,  and Queer side of things. We will discuss that in a seperate post.

The Name

The place called "Valaithothu" cannot be found in any map. Because it nonexist. KA has misspelt here too. I have heard Valai- thoppu may be the correct word for that hamlet which means Banana Plantation in Tamil. But Instead a place called Valaithottam -Vazhaithottam is present in exact place where Anderson described as Valaithothu. Vazhaithottam ...It seems a mixture of Malayalam and Tamil word for banana Plantation is derived, probably due to proximity of Kerala border.





Ooty road. Turn left to Vazhaithottam, and Anaikatty.Photo courtesy : TBHP & Lalu KS


The place is well in Nilgiri District in TamilNadu, 

the tiny hamlet of Banana plantation, But now a little village


Map from the book



Ootacamund is  just another name for Ooty.Another name Udagai is used only in Tamil, I don't know why 


If you coming from Bangalore towards Ooty, you should turn   left from NH  at Theppakaadu to Masinagudi -Ooty road in order  reach this place.


Mudumalai,Bandipur and Moyar gorge  make this area a wonderful biodiversity sphere.  Its a meeting point of 3 south indian states,Karnataka,Tamilnadu and Kerala.


A reverse view of Moyar gorge in relation to the Road to Ooty , as you travelling from Bangalore. Bifurcation at  Theppakadu in blue and Masinagudi in Black is marked.



A sudden dip in land,the Moyar river running deep down in a narrow gorge has made the location famous as Moyar Gorge. Also called the ‘Mysore Ditch’, this gorge affords a breathtaking view. 


3D view of the area in our story  Nilgiri  hills in profile



As a  depicted 3D view from the upper hills of Nilgiris. Steep Ghat road and Swami's hut is marked.


Same view including Moyar gorge in a distance
Close up  view of the valley of Vazhaithottam. Important places mentioned in the story 



Comparison with of Google  map with Anderson's Map. Masinagudi, Moyar, Segur river, Nulla  etc   are marked and they matching accurately. Swami's hut also in correct position.
A sadhu  with banana  leaf plates. Source: wikipedia


A reverse view of the area, If we heading to Ooty, sadhu's hut must have be in right hand side, connected by a small clearing or footpath,before the bridge, as per the book.  It seems accurate. But  the area  which mentioned as banana plantation  is now  thick forest, at least as of now.
An all male elephant group runs into a banana plantation. Photo courtesy of Nishant Srinivasaiah


The area of man eater's operation. Ghat road coming from Ooty,Segur river  and clearing around banana  grove in  a rough rectangle. A reverse view


Valaithottam hamlet and Anaikutty road to deep forest. A reverse view. Normally Bananas planted in flat fields where water is abundant. So Kantha's plantation may be situated  besides the river as shown in the pic. 
A file photo  of a tiger walking on stream bed.

Another satellite view in a different season. Firelines are clearly visible.


A sample footpath of the locality, zoomed.Just imagine a Tiger started his career as  a man eater  here.The poor Irula was searching egg of  a peahen which flapped behind a tuft of grass, and hastened  towards the spot, only to met an astonished Tiger. It cost Irula's life.


A 3D  reverse view of the Ghat road and Nilgiri hills, where plenty of Badaga settlements, where human prey  is abundant!


Anderson treked  12 miles down from Ooty and made his camp somewhere near the Banana grove.  Glanton's Resort is marked in circle. Just instinct told that this clearing may have some association with the story. But I cant relate to a specific one. Need more research!
On the road towards Ooty, this bridge marks the beginning of ghat section. This is the same spot where the story associated. Photo courtesy to  TBHP & Lalu KS

There are number of wild mango trees on the bank of the river. KA never says exact location, and is misleading some extent.
If we  consider all details, its easy to arrive in a conclusion that , Anderson's Wild mango tree is besides   the river,and  opposite  to banana grove. Swami was laughing at  direction of road  means audible distance only from road. He pelted to Banana grove and KA ran for Sadhu to catch red handed,but  reached second only  at his hut. All  of this this indicate a,  a place at the red circle  must be his campsite. I am not sure of  any mango trees there.  The tiger roared and walked in a half circle.
Later tiger circled the camsite , hoping a meal. but fire around the camp prevented to come closer. later he killed a sambar somewhere  at riverbed. 
All the places marked as per descriptions in the book.where it nearly matches.. KA and Boora spend a fearsome and  tiresome night.
Nearest Patty must be this village. which lies at at small distance from the Bridge.and road.KA could not buy a  buffalo from there.
So he walked  5 miles to Masinagudi to get live baits,but  he was too late to tie them.
The spot on road(pink circle) where  a loud and harsh  sound came from to frighten KA and Boora(red dot). 


Probable place from where tiger was roaring, and Fakir's position on the road. Anderson ran along the footpath to road.He nd then turned left, to reach the hut.  The course of the dash is depicted with relative positions.


KA giving again a detailed topography of the valley.  Nilgiri hills  and its  spur on west. The road is marked, and Valaithothu plantation  lies at the base of main Nilgiri ranges. Segur river is adjacent to Valiathothu. Without any map  available at  that  time, it is an amazing ,accurate description.



But he tied only one bait and  a machan because of lack of time.It was  at a nullah which ran downthe hillside and turned eastwards to join segur river.
Proposed positions of Baits no1,2 and 3


Probable Position of machan and bait. It will give a wild berth of views.
View of the hill with nulla, in a dry season of  2013. Photo courtesy to  TBHP & Lalu KS
Man eater roared somewhere  near the road to the east. Anderson  ran towards the  hut  along this footpath.

Now, KA reached Fakir's hut,and Man eater was walking along the roadway,less than a furlong to the east. The sadhu was  in between KA and  the maneater. Hearing Anderson's calls, Sadhu  ran back to the hut in confusion,followed by the tiger. Eventually he  was killed by the tiger before Anderson could act.

The road and bridge where the Tiger Swami of Valaithothu last walked, and then attacked the Sadhu,  before shot dead by Kenneth Anderson.Photo courtesy to  TBHP & Lalu KS