It is extremely difficult to plan a journey or a tour to any place during the summer vacations, especially just after the HSC and the following CET examinations. However, we did plan at the last minute to go to Ooty and Kodai just after my daughter’s exams. We had to book a flight to Coimbatore and back. Here makemytrip.com was very helpful. The tickets were confirmed instantly.
We left for Coimbatore on May 10th, and reached at 9.00 pm and had to check in a Hotel. We left for Ooty the following morning at 6.30 immediately after breakfast. The distance between Coimbatore and Ooty is nearly 100 kms We hired a taxi as it is very convenient especially if there are more persons traveling with you and there is a lot of luggage as well. The moment we left the urban areas of Coimbatore, the greenery welcomed us. The air was fresh, and we enjoyed the drive immensely. The climb to Ooty is nearly 40 kms, and the scenery is splendid. There is a chill in the air, and there are waterfalls. There are a number of roadside eateries which serve hot tea and coffee along with bhajiyas of green chillies, plantains. Then there are a number of fruit stalls too. You will find all types of exotic fruits. Butter fruit, passion fruit, avocados, strawberry tomatoes, mango-star to name a few. We also saw the Malaysian jackfruit. There were a lot of monkeys feasting on the discarded peels of jackfruits. The road climbs steadily on the ghats to Coonoor and then to Ooty. We reached our hotel at 1.45 p.m.
We had booked the hotel through an agent Ms. Sheila Jacob at Kochi, her number is 09447151192. The best part is she does the bookings just the way you want it to be. According to the area, budget, number of persons, ambience, every thing. The Lake View Hotel in Ooty is about 6-7 kms from the Charring Cross or the main market area of Ooty. The place is calm and quiet with about 168 cottages. The rates we paid was Rs. 1400/- plus taxes for a double room of 2 persons. They do not have family rooms. Each cottage has a double room, with a bedroom and a hall. Telephone and TV is also in the room. There is a fireplace which can be lit at night to keep warm. The hotel authorities provide the materials at a cost. But it is a different experience. The bath has an independent geyser. We did not see any power shortage, the hotel has a generator too. The restaurant is expensive but the food is not bad. The room service is also quite good. The ambience is great. Good value for money.
There are autos plying to and from the hotel and the tariff is mentioned on the walls of the cottage. The auto charges are quite high, the minimum rate is Rs. 30/- and there is no meter system. You can also hire sight seeing tourist cabs or mini bus from the hotel itself. There is a pickup and drop to and from the hotel.
We hired a car from the hotel for our first day of sight seeing on the 12th of May. The reception and the travel desk at the hotel gives the itinerary of your tour. If you book a car, just make sure to ask the driver to let you know how much time to be given at each point so as to minimize the time lost. The time for the first tour is from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.
The tour begins with Coonoor, and includes – Valley View, Tea Gardens, Lamb’s Rock, Dolphin’s Nose, Sim’s Park. Sim’s Park takes a long time as it is a huge park with lots of terraces and flowers. Takes nearly 2 hours to see the whole park. At the Coonoor tea estates, one gets to pose for photographs wearing the costumes of the tea pickers. The costume complete with the basket and head wear, is available for rent for Rs. 10/-.
At Dolphin''s nose we saw the famous Catherine Falls at a distance. The cascading water falls from a great height.
The return trip is via Doddabetta Peak in Ooty, Botanical Garden and the Ooty lake and boathouse.
After seeing the Sim’s Park, Botanical Garden is no match. It is in a state of neglect. The upkeep and maintenance is bad. Botanical Garden also is a very large expanse and takes a long time to see.
The highest peak in the Nilgiri range is Doddabetta, 2.623 mts in height
and 10 km from the main town. From here one can have a fine view of Ooty city,
Gundalpet, Coonoor, Wellington and and Mysore on a clear day.
The next day we hired a private taxi to go to the next tour. The Wild Ways. It included – Pykara lake and boat house, Pykara Falls, Wenlock Downs. Pine Forest, Kamraj Sagar Dam, Paye Mund, 9th Mile, and back. You have to climb a lot to see the beauty of nature at Paye Mund and Pine Forest.
We did a separate tour to Mudumulai Wild life sanctuary the next day. It is a must. There is a large queue to get a seat in the forest department’s minibus. It is pure luck to see the animals. We chanced to see elephants, monitor lizard, deer, sambar, bisons, peacock, the langoors. The tour is about 30 mins. The distance from Ooty is about 3 hours one side. So you need to have one day for Mudumulai.
We visited the Rose Garden, Wax museum, Thread Garden, and the nearby locales independently the next day. There are about 2000 plus species of roses in 5 terraces. There are interesting names given to the different variety of roses.
Charring Cross, is a crowded area and is like any other market area in the cities. There are a number of good hotels here to eat. The rates are moderate.
Ooty and Coonoor boast of a number of local products. Coonoor produces the famous cheeses and home made chocolates and also Tea. The famous Nilgiri Tea is a produce of Coonoor. Ooty on the other hand boasts of home made chocolates, wax works, tea, and essential oils like the Eucalyptus oil, Citriodora Oil, Wintergreen, Clove and many other oils and spices.
The Ooty lake and boathouse is about 1.5 kms from the hotel, and we walked down to the lake. The place is usually full of tourists in season and the rates are exorbitant. The people at the lake try to cheat so be careful.
The boat charges are Rs. 360/- for a boat of 8 persons. The boatman tries to squeeze in more passengers if there are less persons of a family. The time per ride is 20 mins. So please see that you set the time as soon as you enter the boat to avoid unpleasant arguments. There is an amusement park for the kids next to the boathouse. Also there is a toy train along the lake - the charges are Rs. 10/- per person.
Most of the people in Ooty can speak English and Hindi, but the local language is Tamil and it dominates. We met a rickshaw driver who was very cooperative and helped us in hiring a car to travel around Ooty at very reasonable rates.
Avoid seasonal travel, not only the prices and rates are high, but you don’t get to enjoy the beauty of the place. Going off-season means you really get your money’s worth. The rates are less than half.
The atmospheric conditions are different throughout. Mostly it is around 10-12 deg. C in summer but it goes down if it rains.
IMPORTANT PLACES TO VISIT:
1. Botanical Garden
3. Rose Garden
4. Wax Museum
5. Ooty Lake and Boat House
6. Pykara Falls and Lake
7. Pine Forest
8. Paye Mund
9. Wenlock Downs
10.Thread Garden (opposite lake)
11.Coonoor - Sims Park
12.Coonoor - Lamb''s Rock
13.Coonoor - Lady Canning''s Sea
14.Coonoor - Dolphin''s Nose
15.Coonoor - Law''s Falls
Air: Nearest Airport is Coimbatore (100 kms).
Coimbatore is connected to Bombay, Bangalore and Chennai
Rail: Nearest broad gauge railway
head is Mettupalayam (46 kms).Major broad gauge railway junction is Coimbatore.
It is connected with all major cities. Mettupalayam to Ooty, is connected by a
Mountain Railway which is 4 hours journey.
Road: Ooty is connected by good roads.
To Madras 535 Kms. (Via Salem)
To Coimbatore 89 Kms
To Coonoor 18 Kms. (Via Gudalur)
To Mysore 160 Kms.
To Calicut 187 Kms.
To Bangalore 290 Kms.
To Cochin 281 Kms. (Via Coimbatore, Palakkad)
To Trichy 302 Kms. (Via Coimbatore, Karur)
To Kodaikanal 256 (Via Coimbatore, Palani)
The mini-train from Mrttupalayam to Ooty is a unique experience in its own. Offering some unique perspectives
of the region, the Ooty mountain train begins its journey at Mettupalayam, some
46 kilometres southeast of Ooty, winding its way leisurely across the scenic
landscape of the Nilgiris district. The unusual thing about the train is that
its engine is at the back, effectively meaning it is pushed as opposed to being
pulled. Ooty is a natural paradise, a lot to see and capture. For the avid trekker, there are a lot of places to trek on foot and for the aged, there are beautiful hotels where one can rest and absorb the beauty of nature at its best.