I had been to Coimbatore many times for official work but never had time and opportunity to visit Ooty. It was in my mind for quite some time and finally, I decided to visit in end of July.i.e. during the monsoon.
I had taken an early morning flight to Coimbatore from New Delhi and by the time I reached there it was still mid morning. It was a solo trip and I was free to decide everything on my own so, I decided that I will take a bus from Mettupalayam Road Terminus instead of taking taxi all the way to Ooty. Moreover, I had decided and booked the tickets for my return journey by Nilgiri mountain rain (It is one of the important reason to travel to Ooty). I have a fascination for traveling in toy trains.
During my research, I checked with a local person and he advised me to take a radio taxi from the airport to Mettupalayam Road Terminus in place of taking it from the airport as the price difference between two is 100%. It was fast and convenient booking and half an hour drive from the airport to bus stop.
The bus stop was big but very few people, I understood that there were buses from this depot for only a few destinations. I found my bus and boarded my bus, it was 3×2 seater. I parked myself and luggage on 2 seats. After discussing with ticket conductor, I bought myself 2 tickets so that I can comfortably sit and keep my stuff. This made my journey very comfortable till Ooty. The bus stopped once on the way for some refreshments and by then time I reached bus depot it was drizzling. I quickly found located my hotel taxi and reached my hotel. I had booked myself a small hotel after doing some internet research. It was a comfortable property with no frills. My room had big balcony and view from here was worth. You can see the city from here as it is in upper areas of a hill.
For visiting Coonoor and places near Ooty, I booked a taxi from the hotel.
I started for Coonoor and on the way stopped at a point, which is valley view point of Ooty and from here you can see the valley with the settlement. After reaching Coonoor, taxi driver instructed me that I should not click pictures in the restricted military area as photography is not allowed. As I crossed the military area, I found myself in middle of Wellington Golf course. It was properly maintained and moreover, it was July so rain god was also showering its blessing to make it look green. I spent some time admiring it beauty but moved forward. My first proper stop was Sim’s park. It is a park cum botanical garden cum boating area. The main attraction is Queensland Karry Pine, Rudraksha tree, and Handsome Ornamental tree. Some trees are very old and botanical Garden has the largest repository of temperate plants in India. Due to this park is very significant for botanists. It was an interesting experience visiting it. Afterward, I went to Lamb’s rock and to reach its viewpoint, I had to hike approx 1/2 Kms. Also went to Dolphins nose and seen Catherine falls. The highlight of the Coonoor visit was tea garden on both sides of the road. I enjoyed my journey more than the points and places I actually went to see.
Next day two days I spent exploring places around Ooty. It’s a small town and easier to move around in auto rickshaw or walking, the weather is also pleasant. I hired a taxi to visit The Doddabetta Peak and tea gardens. Both are outside Ooty cities limits but in the same direction.
The Doddabetta Peak seems to be a major attraction in the area as there were too many tourists (Place was full with people). Lots of buses and cars were parked at the parking area, where many stalls selling woolens for the people visiting peak. The climb is very very easy with nice stairs and on the way, you will find many food stalls selling different items from fruit, vegetables, snacks and dry munching products. It was very misty and windy at the top.
The first thing you see there is a big watch tower “Telescope tower”, which was closed when I went. Otherwise, there is a telescope to watch mountain ranges around it, mainly Chamundi Hills can be viewed from the peak.
There is a chocolate shop on the ground floor of the watchtower, other than chocolate they sell few other items for munching. There are few shops on peak selling snacks, ice cream, and tea. For kids, they have installed some swings and other things for playing. From telescope tower, walk approx 150 to reach the spot popular for viewing. When I went it was foggy and misty so I could not see much but there was a big crowd and they making noise as most of them were in groups.
On the was I stopped at tea factory and bought a ticket for visiting tea factory, they have made arrangement for people to see a production of CTC tea. By end of tour, we were given chai for tasting. I bought a couple of packets of tea as the one I tasted was nice but when I opened the packets after reaching home, the tea I found was very inferior in quality (It was very powdery).
The other half day I spent just roaming around in the market area to get the feel of the city and also visited rose garden. It was not the rose season but still there were many flowers and moreover, they have maintained the landscape of garden. Not a bad place to spend time in peace.
Next day I took the auto rickshaw and visited botanical garden and Ooty lake. The botanical garden is a nice place to spend some time in peace reading book or just enjoying nature though it very small & can’t be compared to Coonoor’s sims park. My next stop was Ooty lake, where boating is the main attraction and you can buy some interesting souvenir from stalls & shops outside lake at good bargain prices. On the main road across the lake, I visited Needle museum, where they have made flowers & leaves with different threads. Its one of its kind I had seen but unfortunately the lighting was very poor inside and they can improve the display of flowers. Wax museum is also in the vicinity but there is nothing to write about it.
Before going I noted names of some of the top restaurants/eating joints of Ooty from a travel review website but unfortunately, the 3 places I visited were only good in ambiance and decor, the quality of food was very average. Infect, I found the snacks, food and bakery items selling on different shops were fresh and tasty. If you see few local people standing in front of the shop, visit it and you will never get disappointed with the food. My this strategy saved my day.
One of the main reason for visiting Ooty was Nilgiri toy train. Somehow I am very fascinated with these type of trains. My returned journey was in toy train from Ooty to Mettupalayam Road. I thoroughly enjoyed it, will write about it in a separate post.