(The photographs used are all original)
We travelled to Ooty and Coonoor during the month of August. We (two of us) booked a taxi (Ola Outstation Cab- Etios Liva) and started at 03:00 AM on 12.08.2016 (Friday). We prefer travelling during the night hours because this not only saves a lot of time but also makes the journey comfortable (less traffic). We reached Bandipur by 9:00 AM and enjoyed the eerie silence of the forest. The desire to see a tiger or leopard kept me awake throughout the journey.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve is followed by Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The maintenance is better in latter compared to the former. Also, the number and variety of animals are more in Mudumalai. To reach Ooty, there are two routes- one through Bandipur-Madumalai- Gudalur (approximately 77km) and the other through Bandipur- Madumalai- Masinagudi (37km). The latter is through a curvy road on the mountain, with 36 hairpin bends. We took the first route to reach Ooty as several viewpoints are located on that way. To start with, we first stopped at:
A little ahead of Pykara boathouse: We stopped for tea a little ahead of the turning that led to Pykara Boat House. But call it luck or no-luck, we met a guide who somehow succeeded in playing with our minds and we agreed to be guided by him. He took us to a forest and showed us these four viewpoints: Shooting place of Raja Hindustani- Poocho Zara pooch song, British Lake view, Tea Estates (Glenmorgan) and Pine forests.
No doubt the viewpoints were good, but the guide sounded a little misleading. He asked for 450/- but we bargained and gave him 350/-. The important point to note here is that these people can be spotted on the road looking out for customers. They can be asked to guide but the price is negotiable. 350/- was also too much. But the stars didn’t seem in our favour.
Raja Hindustani Viewpoint: The viewpoint is amazing with the fabulous scenic beauty of the grasslands. There is peace and calm and one can sit and relax for a while. The view of the tea plantations is mesmerizing. The Pine forest is not really a forest; you can view vast spread pine trees and cows grazing under them. If the weather is nice, the scene would be amazing.
Glenmorgan Tea Estates: These are the tea plantations owned by Glenmorgan. It is a nice view, but you cannot stop there for more than 5 minutes and take pictures.
British View Lake: Your eyes are bound to be on stalks after seeing this majestic lake view. It is so quiet and calm and with that cold breeze brushing across your face, you can experience a chill run down your spine.
It took us about one and a half hour to explore these four places but the decision was worth the price. Luckily, we also got a chance to stop by a stall where we ate South Indian pakoras and had yum Tea.
Next, we headed to Pykara Boat House and believe me, the lake will definitely blow your mind off.
With serene and green surroundings, the green water of the lake is something you wish for. PS: Go for the speedboat and have the experience of the lifetime.
There are three types of boats and the prices (as in August 2016) are like this.
Heading to Ooty, we stopped at Ninth Mile and probably the photographs will be sufficient to describe how we felt there…
We had already booked OYO room and we went directly to our room. Tired but satisfied, we had delicious lunch and then napped for some time. In the evening, we decided to check out the Ooty streets (called the Upper Bazaar) and came back by 10:00 PM with lots of chocolates, fibre lantern and other things that we shopped.
The next day we visited Ooty Lake, Botanical Garden and Rose Garden in Ooty.
Ooty Lake: Commercialized and crowded are the two words that first come to my mind. Not that the experience was boring, but still this place was crowded. The price was nominal but the additional security was supposed to be refunded only if the customer (s) came back in half an hour.
PS: Just in case you get stuck in the middle of the lake (say if your peddle stops working) use your brain and call the number mentioned on the receipt. The rescue boat will rescue you. (Did I say this happened to us?)
Botanical Garden & Rose Garden: The tickets for both these places cost Rs. 30 per person but the former is not worth a visit. I felt the land used up to make Botanical Garden could have been used in a better way. The rose garden, however, is amazing and widely spread across. Parking is not a problem if you are willing to pay 60-80 bucks for four wheelers.
We started for Coonoor at 09:30 AM. On our way, we witnessed the scenic beauty of Wellington. Our target was to cover Lamb’s Rock, Dolphin Nose and Sim’s Park.
Sim’s Park: This was our first stop and it was truly spread out. Tiring out our muscles, we were left with little energy. But lo and behold, the clouds covered the vast blue and made our journey even merrier.
Dolphin nose: Traffic was a problem here. With big lorries and Tempo Travellers, the roads were jammed and we wasted four hours getting out of this area. The view was, however, such that it could make you disbelieve your eyes.
Lamb’s Rock: When we reached this rock, it was densely clouded and we could see anything beyond a certain distance. Since the viewpoint has nothing but a dead end and from there you are supposed to look ahead and see another mountain that has a weird cut, we did not find this interesting. Moreover, we had to walk 1 km just for nothing (owing to the fog).
Only when we came down and stopped to have tea, we realized that the same view could be enjoyed from the tea stall too. Just behind that small shop, one could see Lamb’s Rock. Psst! What a waste of time it was!
PS: Lamb’s Rock is famous for factory outlet of chocolates and different kinds of oils. One can buy these things at cheaper rates from here.
By 12:30 PM we started our journey homewards. We took the Masinagudi route that comprised of zig-zag hair-pin bends; not one or two but 36. But the journey was comfortable and quick. Since the gates of Bandipur close by 6:00 PM, we had to cross that region before the deadline. These were the animals we spotted on our way back.
Some important points to remember:
1. Whenever visiting mountains, carry track pants and umbrella. Carry woollens too.
2. Carry extra clothes because you cannot resist from getting wet in the rain
3. Wear shoes
I hope this information comes in handy.
One liner for the trip: Be footloose and fancy-free, for there is a lot to feast your eyes on!
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert