If Ooty is the queen of hills then monsoon is the time when she adorns the most exquisite fabric of nature. Never is she more romantic and more pulchritudinous than in the monsoons. The deluge may be a predicament for the tourists but it also brings with it billowing clouds which wreathes the peaks and the tea gardens. The mist and the breeze creates a miasma of happiness and romance. Truly said love is in the air of Ooty in the monsoon.
After a lot of apprehensions, we finally decided to try out Ooty in the monsoon. We were a group of four people. We started from Bangalore in an Indica car. After spending half day in Mysore, we reached Ooty around 10 PM. We checked in in our hotel, freshened up and went in search of a restaurant. After finding a decent restaurant in the pouring rain, we had a nice dinner and returned to the hotel.
Next morning we started with Dodabetta peak which is the highest peak in South India. Early morning, due to the torrential rain in the night and high altitude location of Ooty, the temperature had fallen and it was very cold. The entire hill station was wreathed with a blanket of brume. As we ascended the anfractuous roads to the peak, the landscape slowly changed from lush green tea gardens to pine forests, popular through the Bollywood movies shot here over the years. At the peak, there was nothing much to see. Due to a high density of fog, the visibility had fallen and we were not able to see much of the famed landscape this place is known to offer. There is a telescope and a small park on the top. We didn’t spend much time here and returned. However, don’t miss this place even if you come during the monsoon. The experience of a surreal cloud covered treat and drive up & down the peak will surely enchant you.
On the way back we stopped at a tea factory. This is a local tea factory which allows the visitors a tour where they can see the various processes involved in tea production from cutting of leaves to the final packing. There is a museum sort of place which explains the evolution of tea and how it made its way from China to become a household beverage in India. The entry ticket is Rs. 10. In the end, you are given a complimentary cup of tea prepared from the leaves of the nearby tea gardens. Here you can also buy various types of tea packets including green tea, chocolate tea, etc and a much cheaper price than the retail market. After that amidst the light drizzle and dense fog, we headed for the Ooty railway station.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The Nilgiri Mountain railway, established in 1908, is a toy train driven by a steam locomotive. A unique Swiss engineering technology was used in building the railway which consists of 250 bridges and 16 tunnels in the current Mettupalayam to Ooty track. In 2005, recognizing its heritage value, UNESCO added this railway route to its list of World Heritage sites. Running at an average speed of 13 kmph, it takes 3-4 hours to complete the 45 km journey from Ooty to Mettupalayam. Although 3-4 trains travel daily in this route, only 1 goes beyond Coonor which is 18 km from Ooty. The famous Bollywood song “Chaiyya Chaiyya” from the movie Dil Se featuring Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora was shot on top of a train in this track.
Due to shortage of time, we could only accommodate Ooty to Coonor in our itinerary. In about 18 KM journey, you can have breathtaking views of the mountain and valleys. The picturesque surrounding and lots of waterfalls can be seen from the train. Colourful villages, quaint stations, green mountains playing hide & seek in the clouds are all a treat to your visual senses. Try to get a seat on the right side of the train as most of the beautiful locations and valleys will come on this side. If you are visiting Ooty, the Nilgiri mountain railways is a must have experience.
Please book in advance through IRCTC website if you are travelling during vacations or long weekends. Following are the details of the stations and trains:
Station code for Ooty- UAM; Station code for Coonoor- ONR
There are limited seats, however, the 2nd class compartments often accommodate much more passengers.
You can also book tickets at the station but you need to wait in long queues for that or reach early in the morning.
On reaching Coonor, we had lunch and went to the Coonor Sims Park. Sims Park is park cum botanical garden developed by Mr. J.D. Sims and Major Murray in the year of 1874. It contains many species of plants that have been brought in from all around the world. There is a small lake with boating facilities. Personally, I don’t like parks and gardens so it was not very alluring to me. Dolphin Nose is another popular viewing point at Conoor but we avoided this place due to time constraints and the fatigue of continuously drenching in the rain. We returned to Ooty in our car which was waiting for us at Coonor. On the way back to the hotel, we halted near the Rose garden. In the winter season, the rose garden is filled with all varieties of beautiful roses and is a very romantic place to visit but in the monsoon, it was a deserted place. So basically going there was a waste. We returned to our hotel and had stopped for dinner on the way. After a long day of travel in drenched clothes, a nice hot meal and a cup of cappuccino provided us with much needed relief.
Next morning we started for Bangalore around 8 AM after breakfast. There are a couple of beautiful places on the way back- the Shooting point and the Pykara waterfall. The shooting point location is popular among the visitors. It is nothing special but it offers a splendid scenic view and few Bollywood movies have been shot here thereby giving it the name “Shooting Point”. It comes on the way to Pykara Lake so you can just halt here for some time. We clicked some nice photographs here. Its good in that regard provided the weather is suitable.
Moving on we reached the Pykara Falls. What you see here is not an exact waterfall but a silver cascade. But the scene is a feast to the eye. It is just next to the jungle so the view is awesome. Water flows at a very high rate and it really gives you a peaceful view. To reach the falls you will have to walk about 1 km on the right side from the parking area. There are two battery operated cars to transport elderly people and children with a fair of Rs.5/head. Here there are food stalls where you can buy snacks and beverages. When you travel in the monsoon, finding a cup of hot tea to quickly sip in with a couple of biscuits is always welcome.
This ends one of my most memorable trips in the monsoon. I liked it, be it the heritage angle, Coonor, Ooty, tea garden, Forest, cloud and put it all together with the sweet chilly weather making it a perfect recipe for the best hill station travel. The beauty of this place and the friends with whom I went shall last in my memory forever. Please share your experiences of Ooty in the comments section. Keep Travelling and Spread Love.