Ooty is known as the Queen of hills. And for good reason. It cozily nests on the Blue Mountains of South India, the Nilgiris, at a height of about 2240 m, and is surrounded with bountiful greenery.
Ooty, also known as Udhagamandalam/Ootacamund, is one of the most visited hill stations in South India.
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Best time to visit: October-June is the most crowded time. But all through the year Ooty has visitors because of its year-round pleasant weather.
How to get there: Buses ply from all major cities in South India to Ooty. Mettupalayam is the closest railway station.
Mettupalayam to Ooty Toy Train is a fun way to ride if you have a lot of time. The toy train takes about 5 hours to travel the 52 kms and reach Ooty. But the beautiful scenery you get to see along the way is worth the time. It has 5 stops including a halt at Coonoor.
Things to do: Doddabetta Peak, Botanical Garden, Boat House/Lake, Tea Factory.
If you are on a long trip, do not miss visiting the awesome Mudumalai National Park (43 kms from Ooty) and, Mukurthi National Park (32 kms from Ooty). Coonoor and Kotagiri are also close to Ooty and have various attractions.
Though I like to enjoy places without too many people around, I could not visit Ooty when it is relatively empty.
I found that this charming hill station is always full of tourists, except for the months of July and August.
My Ooty experience
We had only a day to visit Ooty, so we hired a taxi and started very early in the day for the visit.
As we traveled up the ghat road to Ooty, we saw lovely little stucco houses lining the valley and were amazed to see cars and bikes parked on the rooftops of the houses. Our guide said that it was done to prevent the vehicles from sliding into the valley.
As we visited Ooty in the Christmas and New Year holiday season, the tourist crowd was enormous. There were cars constantly going up and down the ghat road.
The first place we planned to visit in Ooty was the famous Doddabetta Peak.
After getting stuck for about 20 minutes in traffic on the road towards the peak, we finally climbed towards the destination only to be stopped again by the traffic police.
They informed us that we will have to wait for half an hour and then drive towards the peak. This was done to avoid overcrowding at the peak.
We saw that there were about 30 cars in front us waiting, and joined the queue. Thankfully, within 15 minutes we were allowed to go.
We followed the other cars into the Doddabetta peak’s view-point’s parking lot. The view-point offered spectacular views of Ooty and its surroundings. The peak is the highest in Eastern Ghats.
We had an unremarkable lunch (I wonder why many popular tourist places do not offer tasty food) and then went to visit the boat house.
Though we waited for about 40 minutes to get the tickets and then get on a boat, it was worth the wait. We enjoyed going around the peaceful lake in a 8-seater boat and had our fill of the blissful scenery around.
Tea Factory Museum
I am a tea lover through and through. My favorite is this Organic Black Leaf Tea.
The next stop was at the Ooty Tea Factory and Museum. We learnt the history of tea in the museum. Then we saw a live demo of tea making. We saw the journey the tea leaves make till they become high-grade tea dust.
We enjoyed the sample cups of tasty tea given at the end of the factory tour. After buying tea powder packs there, we visited the chocolate-making store next to the tea factory and got homemade chocolate too.
The last stop was at the Botanical Gardens. It was very neatly maintained with lush green grass and well-kept trees. We had a great time in the park.
It got very chilly in the evening, and we started back our descent from Ooty at 6 P.M.
While coming back we took the Kotagiri route (the traffic was less in this route) and had the good fortune of spotting a herd of wild buffaloes and a few spotted deer.
We bought very tasty ‘Varki’ (A type of rusk) on the way. We wrapped up our Ooty trip by stopping at the Mettupalayam viewpoint. The night scene below was like looking at a sea of lights in the ink black night.
If you have at least 3 days on your hands, try to cover as many places as you can. I am planning to visit this Nilgiris hill again soon and enjoy the places we missed on this trip. Plan a trip when the schools are in session and have a great time!
For more wonderful getaways around Bangalore, check out my post, Top Weekend Getaways around Bangalore.
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