Last weekend, I traveled to the Blue Hills or Nilgiri. Yes, Ooty the queen of all hill stations in south India. I will give an account in three parts:
The Journey to Ooty:
Researched little bit and a bit of fact finding. I booked my tickets from a travel agent of KSRTC, who charged me around Rs 100 more from the actual price for bank charges and service charge. All this because I opted to use my card. I was told if I pay cash no service charge – no bank charge. Sad enough, my bank ATM was not around and I was not carrying enough cash. Traveling by KSRTC is a good option in Ooty route as it has good frequency. You can either opt for non Ac Rajhamsha (Rs 244 one way) or Mayura AC buses (Rs 316 one way). You can get 10% discount if you buy return ticket at the same time.
On the morning 0f 28th(friday) reached hurriedly Majestic anticipating by bus at 9.15. Ooty buses leave from platform 6 and 7. But there was no bus, lol! the bus did not arrived then. Around 10-15 minutes latter a pink Rajhamsha arrived which had scratches all over its body. The look from outside did not gave a comfortable feeling. But the seats inside lighted my mood little. Yes, the seats were true semi sleeper with leg support. By no means the ride was good and I througly enjoyed. The bus went via Mysore, Gundlapet, Bandipur National park, Madhumalai forest, Gudlur to Ooty. The bus stopped at Muddur for breakfast. I suggest not to have the idlis there, they are cold and do not taste good. Lunch stoppage was at Gundlapet at Pathan’s International(family restaurant, lodging and bar attached). It was decent place. For there people we were done within Rs 100. We asked for chapati, chicken 65 and gravy. This chicken 65 was different what I used to having in Bangalore. They have fried the chicken along with groundnuts. Neverthless, it was tastly. They also have lodging facilty. people looking to visit Bandipur National Park, may check here.
Ooty-Mysore Road, Gundlapet
Karnataka – 571111
Phone: 08229 – 222102, 222103, 222888
To view more, click here.
The cool breeze which started to keep company after channapatna started to become colder as we enterted Bandipur National park. Little it became cold enough to make me wear a jacket. Most of Bandipur and Madumalai are not tall and thick forest rather topical dry forest. It was raining for most part of journey through the forest. We caught glimpses of deer, monkeys and elephants. Once you cross Karnataka, you will encounter almost no roads on some parts of journey. However, there is good news that Tamil Nadu government is relaying the roads. However, the view was awesome – green therapy, mist clad hills, sun sparkling on rain drops etc. It took more than 8 hours to reach there, more than 10 hours to be precise.
We booked Hotel Darshan near Ooty Lake overlooking the lake. The hotel is on the hills and give aweseome view of the surrounding. We were on the 6th, rooms from that floor gives direct view of the lake right from the window. Rooms are good but they serve only veg food and better avoidable along with the breakfast. Service is most the time is late. However, you can ask for non veg food from outside at an extra cost of Rs 20. If you can discount all these, hotel Darshan is a good place to stay at Rs 650 for a double room. Lasser rate rooms are also available.
To view more, click here.
Ooty and Coonoor Tour:
I booked a car for Ooty and Coonor tour at Rs 800. Booking is available at Hotel Darshan. We started around 10 am in the morning. The first spot was:
Ooty Lake or Boat House:
Ooty lake offers boating in natural setting, entertainment for children, little shopping and eatery. The lake was created by Johm Sullivan, the founder of Ooty, in 1823-25 by damming the mountain streams flowing down Ooty valley. The lake had breached thrice in the past, completely emptying itself, originally extended upto the present day market and ferries were used to get across one side to the other. The lake gradually shrunked in size giving way to the present racecourse, the bus stand, and mini garden. The lake remains open from 8 am in the morning to 6 pm in the evening. Entry fees is Rs 10/adult, Rs 5/children, Rs 30 for camera and Rs 500 for video camera.
The wax museum in Ooty is India’s own version of Madame Tussaud. I hope Madme Tussad is comming to India soon. This is a small museum featuring Indian leaders. They also sell items made of wax.
Website: www.waxworld.in —- phone: +91 – 9486632233
Valley View, Ketti: Valley view is a view point at Ketti on the Ooty – Coonoor High Road. One can get an awesome view of ooty valley below. One can also St. Micheal church where the last part of bollywood movie Saajan was shot and Nilgiri railway track among other. One telescope view is available but is rather avoidable, view with naked eye is much better. Camera fees Rs 5.
To view more, click here.
Madras Regimental Centre: The Madras Regimental Centre is a training centre of the Indian Army at Wellington. Several movies have been shot here both Bollywood and Tamil. Some parts of the movie Roja had been shot here. No photography zone.
Wellington Gymkhana Club: Wellington Gymkhana Club is a golf course and a club house of the Indian Army at Wellington. No photography zone and only outside view allowed.
Simp’s Park, Coonoor: The park is situated in a deep ravine on the Northern side of Coonoor Railway Station at an elevation of 1768 to 1798 mts. The park can be divided into eight major sections. The natural shola with winding footpaths all over the higher slopes of the park is the most distinctive and picturesque feature of this park. This apart a number of individual tree specimens planted in a scattered fashion all over the place, lend a special charm to the park, specially when they bloom in different seasons throughout the year. Children’s playground and boating is available. A great place to just sit and think or dream. Entry fees Rs 5/person and camera Rs 30.
Pasteur Institute: Located opposite to the Sim’s Park, this institute was established in 1907. It is a famous Institute doing research on Rabbies and giving effective treatment to persons bitten by a rabid animals. One of the most important projects of this Institute is the manufacture of Polio Vaccine.
Lamb’s Rock: It is 8 Kms from Coonoor on the way to Dolphin’s Nose. It commands a grand view of the Coimbatore Plains. It is a favourite place for tourists.
Laws Falls: The Place is a beautiful picnic spot, situated at Coonoor-Mettupalayam Road at the distance of 7 Kms from Coonoor. The height of the falls is about 180 feet. There are vast stretches of undisturbed sholas and it is a paradise for Naturalists.
Dolphin’s Nose: The view point is 10 Kms from the town. The Nose is a unique rock of tremendous proportions which looks like a Dolphin. Could not see that point road was being re-laid.
The Droog : This is also a picnic spot which is used by Tippu Sultan as an outpost. It is 15 Kms from Coonoor and stands 6000 feet high overlooking the plains. Three kilometers of trekking has to be done to reach the point.
Lady Caninng’s Seat : From Coonoor it is 9 Kms. It is marked by a small house and commands panoramic view of the tea estates and the plains.
Singara Tea Garden: Singara tea garden produces the best form of Nilgiri tea. One can get down there and take pictures in their tea estate besides the road.
Catherine Water Falls View from Dolphin’s nose: Dolphin’s Nose (12-km from Coonoor) gives a spectacular view on St. Catherine’s falls on one side and Coonoor and Kotagiri streams, tributaries of the Bhavani, on the other. Located at a distance of 8-km from Coonoor, St. Catherine waterfalls are breathtakingly beautiful and are an ideal spot for a picnic.
The height of the falls is about 250 feet. To reach the top of the hills tourists should take a diversion at Aravenu on Kotagiri – Mettupalayam road.
DoddaBetta: In Kannada, Dodda means big and Betta means hill which translates into big hill. Doddabetta is the highest point in Nilgiri hills and is the second highest peak in south India. On a clear day one can get a good view of Ooty on the right side and Coonor, Wellington and Coimbatore on the left side. Feels like you are above the cloud. There is telescope house atop the point but you may avoid that. Doddabetta is located 10 km from Ooty at 2638 m above the sea level. Entrance fee Rs 5/person and camera fees Rs 10. If you take your personal vehicle, you need to Rs 15 parking charge.
Government Botanical garden, Ooty: Spread over 22 hectares of prime land, the Botanical Gardens were established in 1847 by Marquis of Tweed-Dale, in keeping with the terraced gardens (such as Kew) back in England. The garden houses around a 1000 varieties of both rare and commonly found plants, shrubs, and trees, including those of orchids, ferns, alpines, coniferous trees, and ornamental, floral, rock, bulbous, and other medicinal plants.
Other attractions at the gardens include the Fern House and the annual events, such as the agro-horticultural shows, the spring flower shows, and the dog shows, held between April and May. Entrance fee of Rs 10/person and camera fees Rs 30.