It was an extended weekend and I was looking for getting away from the Bangalore to somewhere quieter. My friend suggested a trip to Ooty. While we were worried about getting caught in the rainy weather, we took the risk none the less and believe me, it was worth it.
To travel to Ooty from Bangalore, you can take an AC volvo bus. KSRTC is the best service provider in this regard. The best time is to catch the 9:45 p.m bus that reaches Ooty at 6:00 a.m. Tickets cost around Rs.360 per head.
In Ooty for local sightseeing, the best mode would be to hire a day long cab from your hotel. Charges would be around Rs.1200 keeping in view the various places that you would want to see. The cab driver would also act as your tourist guide and take you to all places worth a visit.
Places to see in Ooty:
1.Botanical Gardens: this is the main tourist spot in Ooty. Spread over acres of greenery, the botanical gardens boast of some very beautiful flowers. You will really appreciate the efforts put in maintaining this garden. A nice picnic spot with loads of lush green grass to sit and spend your leisure hours. Tickets cost Rs. 15 per head.
2. Rose Garden : The rose garden has an ardent display of hundreds of varieties of roses. It of course is more fruitful to be there in the peak season when the roses are in full bloom. However even in the withering rains, we were charmed by the amazing nomenclature used for some of the varieties. A garden you could spend hours in just amidst the lovely flowers. Entry charges are again Rs. 15 per head.
3. Pykara lake and falls: If you are keen on boating, avoid the artificial lake in the Ooty city center and head for Pykara instead. Pykara is about 20 kms from the city but the boating experience is amazing with thick jungles on both sides. There are 6 seater and 8 seater motor boats available. You can share the boat if you are lesser in number. Boat charges are for Rs.300 to Rs.500 per ride. Once you are done with the boat ride, head for the Pykara falls nearby. The streaming water not only provides a pleasant respite to the city smoke ridden eyes but the lush greenery around is also mesmerising.
4. 9th mile: If you are still looking for more scenic beauty, do drop at the 9th mile on your way back from pykara. As the name suggests, this spot is 9 miles from the Ooty city. There are lush green meadows here surrounded by the beauty of the hills. Most of the bollywood movies in the 80s and 90s had song sequences shot here.
All the above destinations can be covered in a single day. You can plan for a ride to Coonoor the next day if you have more time.
Where to eat in Ooty: While most hotels and restaurants in Ooty provide average food, you can definitely try the Chicken Chettinaad at Hotel Blue Hills. Charing cross is a posh locality where you can find a number of hotels otherwise.
Evenings in Ooty : The sightseeing generally gets over by 5:00 p.m. In the evening you can stroll around the markets if you are keen on getting some Nilgiri tea and essential oils. Ooty is also known for home made chocolates.
Toy Train to Coonoor: If you have a day to spare, take a trip to Coonoor on the toy train. You can book the tickets for the train online through the IRCTC website. The first class ticket costs around Rs. 100. I was glad I had booked the ticket. We were treated like royalty at the Ooty railway station. Only passengers with first class tickets are allowed to wait at the platform before the train arrives. The rest have to wait outside. It was just 5-6 people on the entire platform :-).
The ride to Coonoor is a treasure for the eyes as the train takes you through the scenic Nilgiris. Don’t miss the advertisements by Mohans in the most unexpected places. The train ride is for an hour. You can ask your cab driver to come and pick you are the Coonoor railway station and come back to Ooty by cab. You could also visit Doddabeta peak on your way back.
While in Ooty and Coonoor, do stop at the tea plantations on the way for some beautiful shots to treasure memories forever…