By- Shakti Singh Rathore
The Nilagiri or Blue mountains are home to a beautiful, lush green and attractive town Ooty which rests in its foothills. Ooty (also known as udhagai, udhagamandalam, ootacamud, Queen Of Hills) is a small town located 100kms north from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, attracts a huge number of tourists by its serene beauty, lush slopes and unspoiled landscapes. This town of 36 sq.kms and altitude of 2240M above sea level was used to be a summer resort of British Raj and now it’s one of the favorite honeymoon destinations for newlywed couples. Not only tourists but this place also have been attracting filmmakers since it has been discovered, some famous and hit Bollywood movies like Raja Hindustani, Golmaal 4, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and so many movies have been shot here. Originally occupied by the Toda people, the area came under the rule of the East India Company at the end of the 18th century. The economy is based on tourism and agriculture, along with the manufacture of medicines and photographic film.
Ooty, whenever I use to hear this name my mind automatically use to picture winding roads, green mountains, gushing cascades, The two things which excite bike riders the most are speed and curvy roads with a hairpin bend. Ooty is full of them and is one of the favorite places for born to ride a person of South India and I m one of those born to ride persons and my ride to Ooty was extremely exciting and full of surprises. I started my journey from Coimbatore on Monday morning so that I meet less traffic. It was winter season or say in December with a little drizzle of rain. Until Mettupalayam road was good visible but as soon as I reached Mettupalayam the clouds threw a little well and road became dark because of the shape of trees near the road, it was like a tunnel made by trees.
There are two ways to reach Ooty (1.cunoor, 2.kothagiri) I took junior to drive up and kothagiri to drive down. There started the hills, forest and bends. After two or the bends, you might start getting views of Mettupalayam town but unfortunately, midst was all I could see due to weather. Due to the midst, visibility reduced drastically and even road wasn’t visible.
With only that much visibility, my journey came to halt at the very first tea point, I waited for the midst to pass a little bit so that I can drive up. After 30 minutes I started my ride back. Slowly things started appearing and it was very joyful to see those long trees, dark road, dense green forest, monkeys on sidewalls. That chill breeze with the fragrance of wet trees along with the fragrance of flowers and fruits was something a city wearer person should go to a hill station for. The road was very clear then and also in perfect condition and after two hours it (Ooty) was closer and clearer. Three hours straight on the same seat might make one feel disquieting but all those feelings fly away when you see lush green slopes with tea plantation, small houses in those blue mountains with narrow streets, cliffs with long trees, still neat and undamaged ancient architecture, white clear clouds moving fast. In a moment I forgot all my tiredness and started enjoying the views. My accommodation was preplanned in Elk Hill Hotel (a three-star hotel with good views from the balcony). Since my hotel was on the other side of the town I moved to the main city of Ooty. This town was set on a steep hill so it was basically like one street up and the other down. Roads in the city are broad but due to lots of fancy shops, restaurants and hotels, it looks narrow. The one shop you can see throughout this town is the shop which sells chocolate and tea powder (handmade chocolates and fresh tea in this town are famous). Finally, I reached my hotel and my plan was to stay there for three days and explore each and every place and explaining my three days experience will be quite long for readers so I cut short tell places you must visit, do’s and donts and ways to reach
At a distance of 1 km from Ooty Bus Station & Railway Station, Ooty Lake is an artificial lake situated in the beautiful hill station of Ooty. The lake is surrounded by groves of Eucalyptus trees with a railway line running along one shore. Situated amidst beautiful valleys, Ooty Lake is a major landmark in the town and is the prime attraction in Ooty.
- BOTANICAL GARDEN
At a distance of 3 km from Ooty Bus Station & Railway Station and 4 km from Ooty Lake, Ooty Botanical Gardens is a beautiful garden situated on the foothills of Dodabetta Peak in Ooty. The garden spreads over an area of 22 hectares with more than 650 species of flowers and trees. It houses a thousand species of plants, shrubs, ferns, herbal, bonsai plants, and trees.
- DODDABETTA PEAK:
At a distance of 9 km from Ooty, Doddabetta is the highest point in the Nilgiri Mountains. One can have a magnificent panoramic view of the landscape, beautiful valley, plains of Coimbatore and the flat highlands of Mysore from the peak.
- ROSE GARDEN
At a distance of 2 km from Ooty Bus Station & Railway Station, the Government Rose garden is situated. This garden has been beautifully laid out in terraces with rose tunnels, pergolas and bowers with rose creepers.
- WENLOCK DOWNS:
At a distance of 16 km from Ooty, Wenlock Downs is a vast expanse of grassy meadow located on the way to Pykara in Ooty. The journey from Ooty to Wenlock Downs takes one to the most serene excursions from Ooty. The Wenlock Downs is perfect for walking and hiking amidst this elegant landscape. The peak offers breathtaking views of the Nilgiris and is one of the best places to watch the nature of Ooty.
- PYKARA FALLS:
At a distance of 2 km from Pykara Lake and 23 km from Ooty Bus Stand, Pykara Falls is a majestic waterfall. The waterfall amidst the dense forest is a treat to watch. It is one of the must-visit places for honeymoon couples and nature lovers during their Ooty trip. During the rainy season, the waterfall is in full bloom.
- TOY TRAIN:
You wouldn’t disagree with me if I tell that the Toy train is by far one of the biggest attractions in Ooty. And why not? It summarizes the essence of Nilgiris – lush green tea estates, towering Nilgiri/Eucalyptus trees, beautiful bridges on which the train chugs, countless tunnels where darkness consumes the space and leads to light at the end.
How to reach
Air: Approximately 85 km away, Coimbatore Airport is the aerodrome closest to Ooty that connects this hill station with the rest of the country via an extensive network of flights. Carriers like Air India, IndiGo and SpiceJet have regular flights from New Delhi, Mumbai, Kozhikode, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad. International travelers can book their tickets till Bangalore (around 310 km away) as Bangalore airport, popularly known as Kempegowda International Airport, is connected with major cities across the globe. Taxis and buses are easily available from both airports for Ooty.
Road: An amazing way of reaching Ooty is by the well-maintained state and national highways. Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporation (TNSTC) buses along with some private buses connect Ooty with major neighboring cities like Bangalore, Chennai, and Mysore. NH 209 and NH 275 connect Bangalore with Ooty, and a number of luxury buses operate from Bangalore, which takes around 7 to 8 hours.
Rail: Mettupalayam, 40 km from Ooty, is the nearest railhead serving this hill station. Several trains are available from nearby cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Mysore and Bangalore for Mettupalyam. Once you reach the railway station, you can hire private cabs or avail bus services to reach Ooty. Another exciting way of getting to Ooty is by boarding the heritage Nilgiri mountain toy train, which takes you uphill, moving through thick forests, down the valleys via dark tunnels. Though this journey is extremely slow and time-consuming, it is a once in a lifetime experience.