Ooty and Coonoor are far from North of India and there is no direct flight. The nearest airport of Coimbatore is approx 100 Km. Though I had traveled to Tirupur many times via Coimbatore for official work but never had time to these two places. Finally, I got an opportunity to visit Tirupur for some personal work and I extended my trip for 4 days to visit Ooty and Coonoor. I traveled around end July, which was middle of monsoon season. According to expert best time to travel to Ooty is from March to June. I ignored this popular suggestion and booked my flight for Coimbatore. It was a solo trip so I planned according to my liking and also kept some free time to do things, as I want while traveling.
I had booked an early morning flight so that I can reach Ooty by afternoon. I reached Coimbatore by mid-morning. One of my friends advised that I book a radio cab instead of the prepaid cab from the airport because the price difference was more than double between two services. I decided to travel by bus instead of a taxi to Ooty because I could not get a train ticket in Nilgiri mountain train for going to Ooty though I got reserved seat for the return journey from Ooty. I called a radio cab and reached Mettupalayam Road Terminus. There is a bus to Ooty every 30 minutes. The inquiry guy told me that I can board the bus and will would get a ticket on the bus. It was a 2×2 seat bus and I kept my mid-sized suitcase in front of the seat next to me. The ticket conductor advised me to buy 2 tickets so that I can occupy the seat next to me and keep my luggage there. It was good to offer and I bought 2 tickets for myself.
My journey to Ooty was uneventful and comfortable, the driver stopped the bus twice on the way for refreshments. The roads from Coimbatore to Ooty was full of twist and turn. The trees on both sides of the road were lush green due to monsoon season.
I had called my homestay before reaching Ooty and they confirmed to pick me up from Ooty bus stop. Drive was waiting for me at the bus stop. I reached my homestay, which was on a hill and I can see the Ooty town from my balcony. Due to in between rain weather was cloudy and cold.
The homestay people had 2 taxis and a fixed auto rickshaw. They gave me contact details for them if I wanted to use them for going around. I called the auto guy to take me to town. I decided to explore Ooty town because I wanted to get the feel of the town. There were so many chocolate shops in Ooty. Since I decided not to visit any particular attraction on this day so I walked around in cold weather to get the feel of the place. It was getting dark due to clouds, so I decided to have an early dinner before returning to homestay.
On my second day, I have planned to visit Coonoor and some places in Ooty if time permits. I booked a taxi from the hotel for the full day.
In my homestay, there was no dining hall or kitchen but they tied up with 2 restaurants. I have ordered south Indian breakfast and they delivered hot breakfast to my room within 20 minutes. After breakfast, I started for Coonoor.
On the way to Coonoor, the driver parked the car on the side of the road and informed me that this is the Valley viewpoint of Ooty. I crossed the road and came to the edge of the road. It was a beautiful landscape with houses painted in the same color on the hill slope. I clicked some pictures before moving to Coonoor. I noticed some youngsters standing near the edge and clicking selfies. I always feel sad when people try to put themselves in a dangerous position to click a selfie.
After reaching Coonoor, we took a left turn and entered the military area. My taxi driver informed that photography is not allowed in the military area. I reached Wellington Golf course after crossing the military area. This golf course was very well maintained and was lush green after the rain. My driver doubled as a guide and informed me that army people, as well as civilian people, use this golf course. He stopped the car and walked around to explore the area before moving forward.
Sim’s park was my first stop in Coonoor. It is a botanical garden cum park with boating facility in a small pond inside the park. The main attractions in this park are trees of Queensland Karry Pine, Rudraksha tree, and Handsome Ornamental tree because these plants are of the rare variety. Some of the trees in the park were very old i.e. few hundred years old. This Botanical Garden has the largest repository of temperate plants in India and due to this park is very significant for botanists. There were boards near each tree with brief description and information. I enjoyed the time spent in the lap of nature in the middle of tall trees.
From Sim’s Park, I went to Lamb’s rock viewpoint. The lamb’s rock looks like a lamb and that’s why it’s named this. Some local people had ganged up there and were charging money for entry. I had been to many viewpoints in hill stations but this is the first time I came across something like this. I questioned them for entry ticket but this refused to answer me and asked me to pay for entry. Since I came all the way so I decided to pay. The viewpoint is at 1/2 Km steep hike. The view at this point was nice but it was similar to any other viewpoint in hills all over India.
After sight seeing I went to La Belle Vie for lunch, the view of the restaurant was nice but service was poor. I had pizza, which was ok in taste.
My next stop Dolphins nose was 15 minutes driving distance from Lamb’s rock. The name was given due to its shape, which looks like Dolphin’s nose. From this viewpoint, I also saw Catherine falls. Ponies were available for rides and some people were hiring them for roaming around.
Later on, I went to a tea factory also but could not visit it from inside because it was closed.
For me, the highlight of the Coonoor was its tea garden on both sides of the road. I enjoyed my drive in the middle of tea gardens instead of visiting so-called popular points.
While returning to Ooty, I stopped on the way at one teashop and bought different varieties of tea. The place was nice and clean with a small kitchen, they were selling only tea & snacks. In cold weather of Coonoor, it was a welcome stop.
After returning to Ooty, I went to Rosegarden. There were entry and camera ticket for visitors. The rose garden is spread over a large area and view was nice. It was not the rose season but still, there were many flowers. The landscape of garden was very well designed and maintained. It is a good place to spend some time in peace.
It started drizzling and I decided to return to my homestay. Due to rain, it was getting cold and I was tired so I had order dinner from room service.
Next day I decided to eat breakfast at one of the popular place named Earl’s Secret. It was on a hill outside main Ooty town. Location was very nice but the food was average. After breakfast, I went to the Doddabetta Peak and tea gardens. I hired a taxi for half a day as these places are outside Ooty on a hill.
The Doddabetta Peak seems to be a major attraction in the area. There were so many vehicles parked in the parking area, groups of people came in buses and cars. Next, to the parking lot, there were many stalls selling woolens items like sweaters, shawls, gloves, caps and muffles to the people going up. It was a short and comfortable climb through the stairs. On the way, I saw many food stalls on sides of stairs selling different items like fruits, vegetables, snacks and dry munching products.
On the top of Doddabetta Peak, it was very misty and windy. The first thing I saw at the top was a big watchtower known as “Telescope tower”. It was closed when I was there. Otherwise, there is a telescope to watch mountain ranges around it, mainly the Chamundi Hills. There was a chocolate shop on the ground floor of the watchtower. Other then this there were few shops on Doddabetta peak selling snacks, ice cream, and tea. For kids, there was a play area with swings and other objects for playing.
I walked approx 150 meters from telescope tower to the viewpoint. It was foggy and misty when I reached there, so I could not see much but there was a big crowd and they were shouting & clicking selfies at dangerous angles from the edge of the hill.
After enjoying an ice cream in cold weather, I came down.
On the way back to Ooty, I stopped at tea factory. The tea factory had made arrangements for tourists and they were taking people in groups. I bought a ticket for the guided tour, they explained to us how they make CTC tea. By end of tour, we were offered chai for tasting. They were selling different varieties of teas at the factory and I bought some packets of tea because I liked the one they offered us. When I opened the packets at home, I found the very inferior quality of tea (It was very powdery).
I returned to Ooty and had lunch. After lunch, I hired an autorickshaw to visit the botanical garden. The botanical garden was a nice place to spend some time in peace reading a book or just enjoying the nature. It was very small and can’t compare with Coonoor sim’s park.
I returned to the main market for some souvenir shopping but could not find anything interesting. It’s a small town and easily covered walking. I returned to the hotel after an early dinner.
On my last day, I visited Ooty Lake. Boating is the main activity of Ooty Lake. There is a market in front of Ooty Lake and it is a good place for souvenir shopping at reasonable prices. For entering the Ooty lakeshore, I have to buy an entry ticket. Boating ticket is separate for different types of boats. I was alone so I didn’t feel like boating and after admiring the beauty of the place I came back to the road.
On the main road across the Ooty Lake is Thread Needle museum and the wax museum. I opted to visit Thread Needle museum. In this museum, they have showcased many designs of flowers and leaves made of different threads. The museum is one of its kinds and I had never seen anything like before. There were approx 120 varieties of flowers and leaves displayed in a big hall. According to the museum guide, 50 people constantly worked for 12 years to create this from 6 crores (60 Million) meters of thread. They were selling the replica of some flowers in a small shop outside the museum.
I returned to the hotel to pick up my luggage as I had an afternoon Nilgiri toy train from Ooty to Mettupalayam.
Before traveling to Ooty and Coonoor I noted names of some of the top restaurants/eating joints from the travel websites. Unfortunately, 3 places I visited were only good in ambiance and decor the food was very average. Infect, I liked the snacks and bakery items selling in small shops. After some disappointment at restaurants, I went to the shops where I saw some local people eating. As usual, this turned out a good decision.
I returned from Ooty by Nilgiri toy train. My returned journey by toy train from Ooty to Mettupalayam Road was through beautiful landscapes and tea gardens.
Few things to remember while visiting Ooty and Coonoor –
There are daily Nilgiri Mountain Railway trains from Ooty to Mettupalayam and return but book in advance on IRCTC website as tickets sell fast.
Bus service is decent and economical.
Taxi is a most convenient way for travel to Ooty.
There are direct buses from many south Indian cities.
Stay little outside the Ooty town because in town it may get noisy at times.
Don’t rush from one viewpoint to another because after a while all look same. Spend time at every place and enjoy the nature.
Coonoor is on the way to Ooty, so stay in some a tea garden estate in Coonoor while going or returning.
There were many options in the Ooty market but after eating for 3 days I realized that there was nothing unique about food in Ooty.