Sunday, June 23, 2013

Trip to Ooty, Connor from Bangalore


     A trip to Ooty from Bangalore was a much sought after vacation of mine, which was often put in the back burner for a very long time. We finally made it during the first week of May 2013.

      April, May are considered as peak seasons and there would usually be heavy flow of tourists to Ooty mainly due to the pleasant climatic conditions. Summer vacation too takes credit.

Route to Ooty from Bangalore 
      There are two main routes to Ooty from Bangalore.
Bangalore --> Ramnagara --> Mandya --> SriRangapattna --> Mysore --> Nanjangud --> Gundlupet --> Bandipur--> Masinagudi -- Ooty ( Approx 265 Kms)

Alternate Route
Bangalore --> Ramnagara --> Mandya --> SriRangapattna --> Mysore --> Nanjangud --> Gundlupet --> Bandipur --> Mudumalai --> Gudalur --> Ooty ( Approx 296 Kms)

          Route 1 is often chosen by private vehicles as the stretch from Masinagudi to Ooty involves 36 hairpin bends and is precariously steep. It requires extreme caution and good manoeuvring skills and driving sense to tread on this stretch. Newbies should definitely avoid this route and take the second one. Vehicles fully loaded too find it difficult to climb the steep. So even if you are skilled but you vehicle is fully packed, take route 2.
          Route 2 is less steep and is easily motorable. It also take you through the Tamil Nadu version of the Bandipur  forest (Mudumalai Forest). So your chances of encountering wild animals are more. Also, mudumalai elephant camp is on this route too.

           Both the route however, goes through Bandipur Forest, where elephants, bison, deer etc.. are common sight. We took a break in Mysore and headed to the Ooty next day. It took 4 hours for a relaxed drive from Mysore to Ooty via route 1.

Hotels en route Ooty:
             Gundlupet is the last best place after (Mysore) to have food. After Gundlupet, there is no good hotel till you reach Ooty. So better feed your appetite as well as your vehicle before crossing Gundlupet. I didn't notice any major petrol bunks after Gundlupet.

At the Bandipur Forest Highway:

             The road at Bandipur was "Ok" with few potholes. But it was too narrow for two vehicles to pass through, so watch out for local Jeeps that would set you off road.

On the Masinagudi hairpin bend stretch..

Accommodation at Ooty
          A wide range of accommodation is available in Ooty that suits anyone/any budget. People often choose hotels/resorts in Connoor rather than Ooty as it's less crowded. Be sure to book in advance, since Ooty being a major tourist attraction, popular resorts/hotels are usually booked out. We chose The Highland Hotel, located on the Ooty-Doddabetta Highway. More about my reviews on this hotel can be viewed here (look for review with title "Money will spent"). I'd love to visit this hotel once again.

The Hotel:

Tourist Places in and around Ooty and Connoor
      There are lots and lots of tourist places to see around Ooty and Connoor. It's best to list all the places that you'd like to visit before you start your travel in order to make the most out of your trip. Popular tourist destinations in Ooty are

1. Botanical Garden
2. The Ooty Lake
3. Doddabetta Peak
4. Rose Garden
5. Avalanche
6. Dolphin's Nose (Near connoor)
7. Sims Park (Connoor)
8. Toy Train

Attractions in Ooty:

Doddabetta Peak:
       This one was very close to our hotel. The road to the peak was in a very bad state. Full of potholes. Any hatchback/low slung vehicle would ram the ground very often. To add to the worries, there is no ample parking space atop the peak. You'd have to wait for someone else to park. This could go even worse in weekends/peak seasons. You gotta trek a bit from the parking lot to reach the peak. The path is brimmed with local vendors selling eatables/sweaters/mufflers/caps etc..

View of the valley from the peak:

Rose Garden:
           This will do just to the name. Nothing much, otherwise.

View of Ooty's landscape from the Rose Garden.

      Avalanche is a beautiful village located about 30 KMS from Ooty. The road en route to Avalanche is good and is very very scenic. This place is well know for the Avalanche lake and valley around. Tamil Nadu Forest department also conducts charted rides inside the forest. The route also has quite a few hairpin bends but not as tough as Masinagudi.

Avalanche lake and valley view:

Ooty to Connoor:
   Connoor is around 20 Kms from Ooty and take anywhere between 45 mins to 1 hour to reach. Dolphin's nose, lamb's rock and Sim's Park are major attractions here. 

Sims Park:
        Just a miniature version of the Botanical Garden in Ooty. It also has a man made mini lake inside the park with boating facilities. Good for kids, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. 

Inside Sims Park

Dolphin's Nose:
    If you ever gotta experience the real feel of Ooty/Connoor and it's charm, you gotta visit Dolphin's Nose. It's not just the place but also the roads that lead to Dolphins nose that gives you an awesome experience. Winding roads, tea estates on either sides, mist - the reason you came to Ooty. The road is too narrow that only one vehicle can pass at a time. Exercise extreme caution on this road.

Video clip from the route.

Video clip at Dolphin's nose.

Ooty Lake
     This is one of the most famous tourists spots in Ooty. TTDC offers boat rides on different types of boats on this lake. This lake is well maintained by TTDC though the flow of tourists to this place is very high. This is one of the easily crowded tourist destination in Ooty. We couldn't go for a boat ride as it was raining heavily.

A tea shop on the Ooty - Kothagiri highway. 

            There are of course, many other tourist places in Ooty and Connoor, which we didn't make it due to lack of time. Overall, it was a fascinating experience. Looking forward to visit Ooty once again in winter, to capture its real flavour.

More interesting travelogues to come, Watch Out !!!

Ram Kishore K

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- Ram Kishore K