Thanks to all in the photo
When?– 28th April to 1st May, 2007
Who?– Me, Abanish, Ajit, Soumya, Rahul, Biranchi & Ashok….of course driver, Raj as well.
By? — Toyota Qualis.
Distance travelled: ~ 800 KMs. Ooty is ~250KMs from Bangalore.
Route:- Bangalore- Mysore-Bandipur N.P.- Ooty
What we did and see?
1) Through Bandipur National Park
2) Mudumalai View point
3) Pykara Falls
4) Trekking in Red Hills
5) Ooty Marathon walk
6) Dolphin point to Catherine falls— trekking of ~20 KMs
7) Metupallayam to Ooty– Toy Train
So as you see, our trip was more about trekking, than a usual tourist’s itenary to Ooty. Besides these trekking spots, following are some other places of interest in Ooty:-
Ooty lake, Couple of concept parks, Film shooting points, vast tea gardens, Thick jungles.
of course one can find more information in http://www.ooty.com/
Ooty or Ootacamund or Udagamandalam, is situated at a height of ~2200 Mts, in pristine Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu. Coimbatore is the nearest airport. Mettupalayam is well connected with Coimbatore and Chennai by train. And one can come from Mettupalayam to Ooty in the narrow gauge train (~40 KMs)
Tele Code: +0423
Ooty, undoubtedly is the most popular hill station of South India, thanks to it cold whether and thick green forest. Even in summer, temperature could be in single digits ( of course on +ve side of 0 deg C ).
I must say, Ooty has enough to cater the holiday mood of all age groups.
For trekkers, Ooty could be a good base camp.
For family, town of Ooty boasts of a lake (but has got smelly), few concept parks, film shooting points, tea gardens.
For children, theres a small amusement park.
For aged, walking the pristine villageside road would do best for their health.
For honeymooners, villas & cottages among tea gardens are the best private places. I recommend, the one in Red Hills (Rs 5000 per day… but its worth spending).
From Ooty, one can visit other popular hill stations like Cunnor & Kotagiri. More details can be best found in “LONELY PLANET” book.
Hotels and food should not be a problem in Ooty. But one should be aware of touts, promising to give a home like cottages and villas. Another important thing, the group must have a person, who can wake up early and make others as well, otherwise Ooty chilling whether is enough to make best planned itenary to run late like Indian railways, in short “SLEEPING” should be one’s biggest enemy..;-)
Ok enough, let me describe about my trip. In short, the trip was one of best in my life, till date and i must also admit, we were very very lucky through out the trip. We got the best of home stays at most affordable prices, we got the Ootys’ best guide..Senny..by luck, we got the last tickets in narrow the gauge train.
DAY 1: 28th April,2007:
6:00AM: Started from Bangalore
8:00 AM: Had a good south Indian breakfast in Bangalore-Mysore highway
9:30AM: Crossed Mysore
12:00Noon: Bandipur National Park
1:00PM: Bandipur checkpost..between Karnataka and Maduland(TN).
Madumulai view point. It gives a great view of Niligiri Hills and its
natural SAL forests. View from view point is like of a painting. I bet “it can take your breath away” (Enriques’ famous song).
View of Sal forests from Mudumulai view point
~3:30PM: Pykara falls. Its a very cool place, even under hottest summer sun. The water is so pure, was abale to see its chemical formula…:-)..thanks to government inititatives there. But still one can find some Assholes showing no respect towards beauty. Although water fall is not high, but is very long. One astonishing thing about this fall is that, it is in its full flow in summer only.
5:00PM:Reached Ooty, had our late lunch. Our luck starts from here. After not getting hotel after 1/2 an hour of search, we frustatingly asked the waiter in the restaurant (where we had lunch) and to our surprise, the restaurant owner had a 2-BHK house in heart of Ooty. He rented it to us for 2 days for just Rs 4000. The house was like an flat and had all materialistic comforts….fridge, Water heaters, kitchen, Woolen Blankets, Sandalwood beds. We knew, we are going to have a Rocking time as luck was with us.
6-10PM: had a nice walking trip around town of Ooty. Ooty is also known for its chocolates, Tea, and various types of oils and natural products. It was very cold and town gets deserted by 10 PM. So we also had to go under our blankets by 11PM and i had asked everyone to wake up by 6AM, so that we can start the day by 7:30AM tomorrow. As i bid others GOOD NIGHT, temperature was dropping, a thick fog was forming outside and sound of rule of jungle, near by was very much apparent …..grrrrrrrr.
DAY2: 29th April,2007
5:30AM: As usual, i was the first one to wake up, but i bet that was the most difficult thing, when you see your other friends getting warmed in blankets, in what is probably single digit temperature. Sun rays were out, but not sun and the thick-very thick fog outside was visible through the wet windows.
I did my all early morning activities and asked others to wake up…..again that was another dotting task…as no one apparently agreeing to be the first one to wake up (of course after me) in this chilling morning…asking others to wake up first. After continuous verbal and physical torture, everybody completed their Dincharyas and we were all set to roll out by 8AM. By then sun was in its full glory, condensing the cold weather, as dew on every exposed objects.
by 9:30AM: We had our hot south Indian breakfast of idlis and dosas and also packed our bags with fruits, biscuits, glucose, as we set for trekking packed day. As we set out for a good guide, who can take us to the best of Ooty trekking spots, we encountered many guides who were defining trekking as a trip around Ooty town, through tea gardens and near by patches of jungles. But finally we got Seni. Heres an interesting coincidence. I had read about Seni in Lonely Planet book and i had tried his number from Bangalore, so that we can book him in advance in this peak Ooty tourist season, but had failed to do so and so had forgotten about him while in Ooty. Local guide took us to Seni, but we were not knowing that he is the one in Lonely Planet books……till the end of the day, after having him with us over 9 hrs. We knew he is Seni,only when he mentioned that he is a recomended guide in Lonely Planet and i also felt that way, because the way he was communicating in very polished english and knowledge he had about the remotest Ooty spots. He agreed us to take Red hills and few other good places, whole day, for Rs 1200. We agreed and by 10:30AM, we had started for Red Hills. Seni also took one of his students with him. Now we were 10 cramped in the qualis.
From Ooty to Red hills, i guess distance is about 40 Kms, and road is very bad. Moreover it passes through hell of Ooty, its dumpyard, which had spread its rotten smell in some kilometer radius. Even after closing the windows of car, we were fainting because of smell. I was on verge of getting No.3.
Catchment areas behind us
The road is very remote and had almost zero traffic. As we were zipping through thick jungles, we could feel the presence of non-human creatures around us. We had our luck, when we were able to see endangered Nilgiri Langur.
As we approached Red hills, the beauty was getting better and better.The bottoms of Red hills is catchment area of three dams. The catchment area is covered with thick jungles and the smoky atmosphere was the icing on the cake.
Red Hills, houses one private tea firm, whose owners family had been there for around 100 years. The villa at their tea firm, is best for Honeymooners, as the view of catchment area and jungles is Unpeccable. And the place is as lonely as it can get.
We parked our car in this villa and started hiking for top of Red Hill, as Seni guided us. The hike was moderate, but its worth, because of the treat, ones’ eyes gets at top of the hill.
Atop Red hills
It took us about 1 hr to reach the top and at top a very strong breeze was blowing. Seni told us that Kerela border was very close and Silent Valley National Park was just around the corner. No words can explain better Red hills, than the side attached photo.
After having lunch in the villa (Rs 300 per person), we started for Ooty by 3:00PM. By 4:00PM, we reached outskirts in Ooty. Then Seni took us to Toda tribe community, the native Ootians, but after a 1 hour of walking through vegetable fields, flower beds, and tea gardens.
from 6:00PM to 9:00PM: Except me and Rahul, everybody walked a distance of 15 KMs to reach hotel. And walking in Ooty evening could be very tiring, but very soothing, but again dangerous because of occasional spotting of wild cats.
By 11:00PM, we called it a day, as we slipped into our blankets. Very soon everybody were grringg……because of the days heavy hiking. People had around 40 KMs of walking.
DAY3: 30th April,2007
5:30 AM: Again i was first one to wake up.
8:30AM: We left the place and paid our dues.
9:30AM: out of Ooty..heading towards Cunnor.
11:00AM: At Dolphin’s Nose. It got its name because of its very structure. Its view point for ~200 ft high Cathering falls. Catherine falls is in Kotagiri and is somewhat inaccessible. Theres a deep valley that cuts Dolhins nose (which is in Cunnor) and Catherine falls. The valley is outgrown with Tea gardens, with occasional patches of Woods. We suddenly decided to trek from Dolphins nose to Catherine falls. When we asked the locals about the possibility, they laughed at us. But thanks to our energised group, we decided to make our own roads. Sadly, Ashok left out, but he regretted later, when we talked about our adventure.
12:00Noon: We fuelled our bags with energy foods and drinks and started from Catherine falls. We straight away plunged into vast tea gardens. it was hot and humid day and it was taking toll on us. At regular intervals, we encountered tea garden workers, who is sign langauges guided us…we never knew, if they were understanding where we were heading to. The only tamil word, related to falls , we knew was “Tanni” which means water.
3:00PM: Looked like we were lost in tea gardens. By this time, i guess we had trekked some 12 Kms, but there was no sign of any falls. But that didn’t let down our spirit. I always wanted to lost somewhere in nowhere. And here i was, of course not in a jungle, but it was no less than it, when you donot have human dwellings around you.
4:00PM: Our luck struck again.We came across a house, we asked for help. We tried to convey our
Watchout the steep fall behind us
thought in some langauge and he was trying explain in his language. I felt that, we all here are no better than a dumb and deaf. I was wondering at that time how portuguese and kings were communicating in older times.There we come with a sign language, “nothing to tell and nothing to hear”,….just to understand human expressions. As we explained him in signs, he also reciprocated and what we understood, was that fall is still very far away, and one have to walk very fast to reach there before the sunset. There we are, after 3hrs of toiling, we are still no where near to our destination.He offered his help to guide us, and we were no stupid to not to accept it. Speaking no further he guided us, through tea gardens.
He was walking very fast and making us to do so. After 1-1/2 hours of jogging we reached top of Catherine falls. I must say, the view was dangerously awesome. Dangerous, because of 200 Mts of vertical fall, below one’s feet. Person with Acrophobia should be careful. I could feel the air of achievement around the group. When locals heard about our trek, they jaws were dropping with shock. I understood, may be we were the first to achive this feet…from Dolphins nose to Catherine falls…who knows???
We thanked our “out of blue” guide, who helped us. Although he was not accepting anything from us, we still gave him Rs 100, as our token of thanks to him. I asked him to take chocolates for his children….by continuously telling “Chocolate Sapda“. Sapda in tamil means “to eat”.I realise now, i had become kind of mad, after a sense of achievement.
We took a nice bath at top of Catherine falls. We were all alone at the falls, untill a foreign lady with some Tamil guys popped up. We were surprised, because the time was over 6:00PM, and last rays of sun was falling on the falls. We knew something fishy will be going and indeed something fishy had started also, by the time we left the falls.
Our driver was waiting for us at the entrance of falls. He also had warned us at the start of trek, not to go. But when stood firm on our Zidd, he gave peculiar smile. I intepreted myself. I think he was telling that, we were all some spoilt rich kids, doing anything stupid to seek adventure. Well be it so. End of the story, we did what we wanted, had tonnes of fun and occasional fear as well.
By 7PM, we started from Kotagiri towards Mettupalayam. Mettupalayam is a very busy town, situated in foot hills of mighty western ghats. This station connects Ooty well with rest of country. As we started descending, we could clearly see the tubelights of Mettupalayam.The scene was great, as the town was flooded with white lights. Traditionally, one would find yellow bulbs lighting Indian town, citites and villages, but Metuppalayam was different. Seeing the size of town from top, our first impression was that, it could be Coimbatore, but driver told us that it was indeed Metupalayam. The tourist influx and trade between Ooty and rest of country, had made this town very busy and polluted. As we descended, temperature was rising, and in Metupalayam, the weather was intolerable.It had Madras type conditions.
By 9:30 PM: We had dinner in Mayuri hotel and we also decided to stay up there. Hotel Mayuri International is one of the best in Metupalayam. Here also we had our share of luck. How?? I had booked some hotel in Metupalayam, from Bangalore itself, but had forgotten to take the numbers. After i reached Bangalore, to my surprise it was Mayuri International itself that i had booked.And i think, because of that booking only, the receptionist gave us the rooms, in this peak tourist season.
Well by 11:00 PM we all went to sleep, but this time not in blankets. The fan was in its full speed, but still some friends cursed, by not taking A/C rooms. I thought, what a difference just a height of 1500 Mts can make. With the achievment of todays feet (~25Kms of trekking), i went to sleep, and i think others also went to nap with the same thoughts.Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr,…..
Day4: 1st May,2007:
7:00AM: Today i gave myself and others some time to sleep, as the Nilgiri train to Ooty was only at 10:00AM. I woke up at 7:00 AM, did all my early morning stuff, but lazily, because of two days of tireness.
9:30AM: We were all at Metupalayam station to book a seat in the train to Ooty. There was a long
Nilgiri Narrow gauge train...Metupalayam to Cunnoor route
queue for the train and we were told that train is overbooked. We were sad and it looked like our whole will be wasted, as Metupalayam had nothing to offer. But then our luck, as now we are used to it…struck gold again. There was a last minute decision of railways to add another compartment to the train, seeing the demand. So we were accomodated, that too in the first compartment, the best one.
Actually, Nilgiri train is very unique, here the engine pushes, instead of pulling, because of the steep slopes.So the passengers in first compartment are like drivers and they enjoy the best views.
Route: Metupalayam – Cunnor- Ooty
Distance:~ 40 kms
Time: ~ 3 hrs
Metupalayan to Cunnor is about 25 Kms, and i guess is the best part of the journey.It passes through very thick jungles, with number of waterfalls, very old bridges & not to mention deep and dark tunnels. After a stop of 1/2 an hr in Cunnor, train starts its journey to Ooty. Cunnor to Ooty is very steep, but one thing here missing would be jungles. Through out this journey, one will find tea gardens all around the track, with occasional Eucalyptus farms.But still the journey is quite photogenic. We reached Ooty by 1:00 PM.
2:00PM: It was time to bid good bye to Ooty. Even Ooty bid us goodbye, with some drizzle. As we started our journey, everybody soon fell asleep again.
6:00PM:With occasional stops, we reached Mysore. Here we saw Mysore palace, took some rest there & had a photo session. Finally by 8:00PM, we were at outskirts of Mysore. We decided not to waste last part of journey in sleeping…and discussed about the trip. Everybody gave there opinion, about their favourite part of the trip. In my opinion, best part in terms of beauty was Red Hills and in terms of trekking was Dolphins nose to Catherine falls. Everybody had their opinion, with most of them ranking Red Hills as the best part.
But when it came to rating of trip in scale of ten…everybody had an unanimous opinion….9/10. I knew, same thing is going through everybody’s mind…..it was great trip, when are we going to have another such. There was an aroma of satisfaction, achievement, and happiness of having a great extended weekend.
After having dinner in a highway dhaba, we zipped through Mysore-Bangalore highway and reached home by 10 PM.
As we discussed our trip with roommates…..it was concluded with following words: “Tiring because of trekking and hiking”, “funny, because of fears we went through”, ” spirited, because the high energy levels..shown by everyone”, “photogenic..because of the beauty Ooty had offered”,”environmental friendly, as we adopted zero litter policy” ,”learning experience as it teached some who didn’t knew the importance of being eco-friendly”, last and most important “MEMORABLE“, which is quite evident from the fact that, i could write minute details of the trip in this blog, even after 1.5 years.
Finally, i would conclude with some word of advise to all who read this blog….please please for gods’ sake, for our future generation’s sake, respect the beauty of nature. Preserve, so that if you visit it again, u find the same Ooty you had once seen and admired. Try to be ZERO-FOOT PRINT TOURIST.
WISH YOU A HAPPY, FUNFILLED, ECO-FRIENDLY JOURNEY.
Act..before its too late