|Source: Google Images|
I was reading my own blog some days back for a change, and realized I used to write on so many things 2 years back when I had started the blog. I had started it with the idea that I should be able to write whatever I want, to hell with a niche subject/topic. Now I can see I have made it a book oriented blog more than a personal blog. Don’t quite know why I stopped writing in my Travel Section. Funny eh.. When you just delay things and forget all about it. We went on so many trips after my last Travel blog post and I have not written anything on them.
I want this blog to remain the same – my place to write about anything that I want to. So now I am revisiting all the sections of the blogs and let’s see what all I can update. Oh yes, some more book reviews are coming up by the way.
I stay in Bangalore which is like a central point to Southern India. It’s very easy to visit any place from here. Road system is very impressive. (Though the road conditions in the city is far from being impressive). We took a Road trip to Coonoor-Wellington-Ooty in December. December is the month when you can afford to take leaves. People is the west are in Holiday mood and shuts down for a week and their counterparts (my husband) takes that opportunity to plan his leaves at this time. And for me, I take leaves when I am in a mood for leaves!!
We thought of driving down there our self but then thought it’s better to take a driver who knows the local language. Now it’s very important to know or have someone along who knows the language. Coonoor, Ooty & Wellington are all based in the Nilgiri District of Tamil Nadu at about 1850m above sea level. So it’s cool and pleasant all round the year and was delightful in December. Otacamund or Ooty as is popularly known is a very commercialized hill station with hundreds of hotels and thousands of visitors all around the year I guess. So we ditched the possibility of putting up in Ooty and instead chose to checking in, in a relatively quieter Coonoor.
Distance between Bangalore & Coonoor
Coonoor is about 285 Kms from Bangalore and you can reach via road or train. And in case you are flying in the nearest airport is in Coimbatore which is about 100 kms away. But if you want to Enjoy this travel and you are in Bangalore I recommend you should drive down. The drive is scenic as you pass through Madur, Mandya and Bandipur National Park. In fact from Bandipur National Park it’s very close. There are other routes as well through Hosur-Salem and others but this one is the shortest route.
Like all other times we stopped for our breakfast at Adigas at Maddur on the Bangalore-Mysore Road. You should definitely try their Masala Dosa and Maaddur Vada. Whenever I’m on this highway I make it a point to have our breakfast here than in a McDonald or Kamat or CCD.
As you close Bandipur National forest keep your eyes open and watch the sides in the forest. If you are lucky you can spot an occasional wild elephant apart from the shy deer and over smart monkeys.
The drive is about 6 to 6 and a half hours and if you don’t take too many breaks then you should be able to reach by afternoon if you start early in the morning.
Staying in Coonoor
Coonoor is a relatively quiter hill station and not as commercialized as Ooty. We planned our short trip in such a way that we stayed in Coonoor and drove to Wellington and Ooty from there. Now it’s in the Nilgiri District and known for its tea, so what better than living within a tea garden. I had researched for some time for a good homestay near a tea garden or within a tea garden, and zeroed in on this place called SunValley Homestay , It is I guess the most popular homestay there, and you have to visit it to see this picturesque place. The moment I stood in our room’s balcony I was in love with the place. It’s situated on top of a hillock and you can see the tea gardens flowing down like rich velvet carpets. I can definitely recommend this place. [Note I have not been asked to do a review or something, I am recomending it because it is beautiful.] The picture below says it all, it’s taken from the balcony of our room. It was even better when its all covered in fog in the morning. Looks like heaven.
|View from the room we stayed in. Lush green carpet of Tea Garden flowing down for
miles all together.
One evening we asked the manager we wanted to go for a walk, where could we go. We were expecting he will direct us to a park or something, instead he opened the gates of the tea garden and asked us to take a walk down the hill through the tea shrubs! That was quite something. Only problem was he told us the previous evening a leopard had come on that very path and hurt their dog!! Indro is quite enterprising and kept telling me Leopard will come in the night not at dusk but you can guess I think what I was feeling then. I in fact carried a thick wooden branch, my little attempt to scare a leopard if it thought I could be his dinner!
|Some one’s giving a cute smile in the tea garden, and I am praying a leopard doesn’t jump in. And you can see the homestay at the back|
Okay, coming back to the trip part, if you are a trek enthusiast, you can go for various treks down the hills, I am not quite a trekking person, but I did go down the tea garden and enjoyed watching and cliking the ladies plucking the correct lea leaves, and also joined them for my bit of tea plucking. It’s quite a task being these pluckers, they literally walk up and down the hills through the narrow paths for plucking and then climb up all the way in some other hillock to deposit the leaves in the warehouse from where the leaves are take to the factory. I Respect.
Some sightseeing places that I can remember were visiting Lamb’s Rock, Dolphin Nose and Lady Canning’s Seat. From Lamb’s Rock you can actually see stunning tea plantations. People go trekking in these places as well. But the best place that you can enjoy in Coonoor apart from the tea gardens is Sim’s Park which is their botanical garden. It’s a massive park with thousands of well maintained trees and flowers. Chilling out on the park lawns with a book and spotting lovely birds is a great experience.
|Some little fellows were caught in the lens taking a nap near Lamb’s Rock|
Coonoor to Wellington
We stayed in Coonoor for 3 Days so had a lot of time to visit different places. Indro’s grandfather was in the army and was posted in Wellington for some time. His mom was in Wellington in her childhood, and we have heard her stories. So we definitely wanted to check this place. This little town of Wellington houses the DSSC or the The Defence Services Staff College, and also is a cantonment town under Madras Regiment. It’s a quiet place and you have to actually drive down the place without wandering much because most of the places are restricted areas and only for army personnel. But like all other cantonment towns, it’s clean, methodical, and peaceful.
Coonoor to Ooty
I had been to Ooty as a child and really didn’t remember anything about it. So this time though I was revisiting it was all new to me. Ooty is really picturesque and has a long histry dated from the Hoysala times. You can Google more about it. I don’t want this post to be on history of the place. Ooty is like a day trip from Coonoor, its about 1 hour drive depending on the fog density of the day.
Though it has become commercialized thanks to all the Bollywood films it still has some beauty about it. People travel to far off distances to enjoy nature’s beauty but then we only destroy half of it. Now Ooty is extremely crowded, with people thronging any place of interest and guides trying to get the better of you.
When you are in Ooty you definitely have to visit the rose garden, botanical garden, the lake, tea factories and Doddabetta Peak.
The Government Rose garden is a massive garden where they have several species of roses. We were lucky to be there in a time when there was some flower festival going on. So we got to see lovely roses. If you love photography then you can spend an entire day there.
|I don’t know the species but this bird looks cute, we spotted this one at the Rose Garden|
|And of course some beautiful roses|
Ooty’s Botanical Garden is probably the most famous botanical garden in India. It’s a 22 acre botanical garden and I was surprised to see its maintained pretty well. It’s maintained by the Gov’t of Tamil Nadu (that’s why surprising). Walking through the well laid out flower arrangements was serene. I just wish it never allowed people to do picnics there. But somehow people end up enjoying there and litter the places, which I dislike like anything.
|The Botanical Garden, Ooty|
|some of my favourite clicks from the Botanical Garden, Ooty|
|Again I don’t remember the species but looks very interesting, Ooty Botanical Garden|
Ooty Lake is too crowded and you can go for a boating. We went there because that’s what everyone does that. It’s just about ok and the water is dirty and littered. You can give it a miss if you want to.
We had a great time at the Doddabetta Peak. It’s the highest peak there and you can see the entire town from there, which makes quite a beautiful scene. But the most amazing part was visiting the Tea Factory and going through the entire process of making tea – as in processing tea leaves. It’s quite a huge process. They serve you some special tea during this tour which is amazing. You can buy various kinds of tea from their store, some kind of tea is available which reduces blood pressure if you have high blood pressure. I don’t know about the authenticity but saw people thronging to get their hands on that. I obviously went for some cardamom tea, that special tea they were serving, and of course some green tea for myself. 🙂
|So here you have, Twinkling Tina twinkling atop Doddabeta Peak watch tower and that’s the valley behind|
|The Tea Factory tour is good|
|Can you see the processed green tea leaves on the conveyor belt?|
On our way back it was another experience all together for me. I hate driving through hills and hate the bends with equal gusto. And if you also have this hill sickness syndrome like me, please ask the driver to avoid the road with hair pin bends. The road we took brought us to Bangalore earlier but I had to survive 36 hair pin bends. And they were horrible. Every second I felt like throwing up but somehow managed to avoid the embarrassment. Having a lemon with you in these conditions always helps. 🙂
So that was one road trip to remember, actually I remember more because it was my anniversary trip!
Okay that was a long post, hope you guys will enjoy.
Disclaimer, all photos used here are my own clicks unless stated otherwise, and I have exclusive copyrights on them. I would appreciate if they are not copied, and if you want to use please give the credit.
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