Rajnish was planning for quite a time to have a summer trip to Nilgiri Hills and every time, he told me he was about to book tickets… something or the other popped up and he was dejected all the time.
And, then suddenly, after procrastinating for 3 weeks… I remember the late night impromptu decision to just book tickets and go with the flow. He noted down the steps in the notebook something like this
- Hotel booking
- Places to visit
But, before all this he very smartly put a “Budget” for this impromptu trip.
Things went crazy like this, Friday night we booked tickets… and opted out for bus journey from Hyderabad to Coimbatore (Damn it was 16 hours journey). And, then Redbus App came in picture where we booked our to and fro tickets. The successful ticket booking led to Hotel booking on OYO App where we were lucky enough to get good discounts and we booked Hotel Nilgiri Inn, opposite race- course, Ooty. We were really very blessed to get all things at right place as our hotel was in middle of every tourist destination and held close proximity to Ooty Bus Stand and Railway Station and a kilometer away from main shopping mall road.
This gave start to our wonderful summer destination Nilgiri Hills trip which was indeed breath taking (indeed in real sense…keep reading you would find out soon) and mesmerizing.
So, the Orange Tours and Travel Bus from Hyderabad to Coimbatore picked us around 3.15 pm from Gachibowli circle and we reached Coimbatore around 7 am in the morning. The bus took 4 pit stops in between the total trip and it was very obvious that these buses from private operators have some tie-ups with hotels and pit stop owners on goodwill basis.
The real fun started when we reached the Coimbatore Gandipuram Bus station and asked for a bus to Ooty. I was very happy to see locals able to understand Hindi easily and a Good Samaritan helped us getting a bus to new bus stand where you generally find local buses to Ooty. However, I was dead tired with good amount of journey….we opted for cab to reach Ooty in 2.5 hours instead of taking local bus which takes 5.1 hour to reach. We took shared cab for Rs 600 each and two military persons joined us in the journey till Wellington Military Camp. The cab journey was so quick and full of turns and twists that we felt like sitting in a high speed roller coaster ride. These gentlemen from Military helped us sharing his recommended places to visit.
Day 1 – We reached our hotel around 11 am, checked –in, freshen –up and just started our journey as a tourist around 1 pm in Ooty. Our first stop was for brunch at YWCA near our hotel which we found just by luck… we were looking for food and sighted a small board about YMCA owned restaurant. Another quick decision to try out food and Voila!! We were surprised to see heritage building with British Architecture and we met very friendly waiter, Mr. Anthony who was kind enough to answer all our questions about the building. We went back to meet him twice in 3 days and enjoyed our yummy meals.
- Rose Garden
- Dobbapetta Peak
- Tea/ Chocolate factory
- Wax museum
- Boat House
- Mall road
First stop was Rose Garden which had more than 9000+ varieties of flower and fauna. It is beautifully laid step garden which makes you go up and down five times and has a mesmerizing view. There was cool breeze with sun overhead but worth every step up and down. We hired an auto for whole day that covered all these places and paid him Rs 750 approximately. Next came, Dobbapetta peak- the highest peak with telescopic view which was so much crowded and by the time our turn came, the weather changed and no telescopic view for us. The route to Dobbapetta parking lot was full of dry land and pine trees on both sides which actually are known for the crossing lane for pythons. The next stop for us was tea/chocolate factory where we learnt about the process of making tea powder and chocolate. There was a free tasting counter too.
A surprising fact yet very informative we learnt at Tea factory was that India only gets dust powder out of all the process of tea powder making and the finer products always goes for import!!
Then came the turn to visit wax museum where we saw some really interesting wax statues which were no less like real. We reached our last destination Boat House around 5 pm when the tourist crowd was at frenzy. Though, we took self-peddled boat for 30 minutes ride and got a wonderful surprise as we were peddling the boat and tiredly we stopped at the edge of a lane… who greeted us at the edge was the pack of Sambhar and Spotted deer from nearby deer park. Overall, it was a very pleasant scene to see wildlife so closely. There were many shops and small kiosks selling fancy items. We did enjoy lip smacking French fries and watched 10 minutes movie in 9D. And, the day ended up with a long stroll for dinner and window shopping on Mall road commonly known as lower bazaar. With all these the day ended at 10.30pm.
- Sims Park
- Local Market
- Dolphin Nose
- Oldest Bakery Shop
This was really breathtaking adventurous journey which started early morning at 6 am with standing in a queue for 3 hours to get general tickets for Summer Special Toy Train from Ooty to Coonor which had most beautiful terrain filled with tea gardens and mushroom planting areas. We reached Coonor around 10.15 am, had breakfast like king and started our long strolls in the market. We wanted to try local sightseeing via Govt. run buses. The first was a visit to Sim’s Park which had trees older than 250 years from various continents. The park is maintained very well and has a man-made lake for boating. Next was the most highlight part of the journey which was literally breathtaking… We took another local bus to Doplhin Nose view point which is the beautiful tourist spot amongst many tea estates and the telescopic views for four points – Kotagiri Hills, Kotagiri Waterfalls, Dolphin Nose and a Small waterfall in a reserved forest area.
As, we took the local bus, and the driver asked us to be back at the same stop, where he dropped us to have the same bus back to the main bus station… And, we were back in an hour when it started raining and there was no bus in picture. We waited for 20 minutes and then Rajnish decided to trek till another tourist destination in between to find any local auto or a cab. I was crying and fuming over not taking local auto or cab earlier at the day and saying yes for local bus journey. Luckily, after sometime, we were joined by a local guy who took us for trek in tea garden and there, came a life experience walking in between tea estates, huffing and puffing, getting scared by monkey monkeying around the pine trees and sighting wild bison in next tea estates to trek…. I was dead with fear and my face was red with such a sight and all the documentaries I had seen about the wildlife started playing in my mind.
This trek was for 10kms ups and down, zig-zag between tea estates and open sanctuary. Don’t be worried too much, our guide helped us get bus which he too boarded and he shared many stories with us about the trek, sad plight of monkeys around Dolphin Nose, people loitering plastic all around despite the fact that Govt. of Nilgiri Hills is working hard to let Nilgiri plastic free.
This journey ended up with early dinner around 7 pm in Coonor with our guide/ newly made friend and we took another hour and 10 minutes bus journey from Coonor to Ooty. Voila, the bus dropped us right in front of our Hotel. Yippee!!
- Golf Link View
- Pine Forest
- Karmasagar Dam
- 6th Miles
- 9th Miles
- Pykara falls
- Pykara boathouse
- Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
This is the day where we finally took a cab for whole day and started our good 12 hours journey covering all above mentioned places. The first spot was Golf view link and nearby Pine Forest. It was bit slippery as it rained last night but the weather was super breezy and the roads were looking beautiful. 6th Miles and 9th Miles are known as famous shooting points for many Bollywood films. I did purchase few souvenirs like Eucalyptus, Lemon oil, Tea tree and Herbal Chandan powder all from Government of Nilgiri Tourism and Horticulture Depot only. We had an amazing experience of speed boating in Pykara Boathouse amongst the dense forest and beautiful man made Pykara Waterfalls. The highlight of this trip was journey from Ooty to Mudumalai Tiger Reserve which is 70kms from Ooty and the hair pin bend curvy roads which was fantabulously laid but were accident prone too. The moment we entered the area of reserved forest, we were asked to keep looking at the both sides of the road to get a chance to spot wildlife….and, indeed we did spot…. Before we entered the gate for Tiger Reserve, we had already spotted Tuskers, many groups of spotted deer, wild Hare family and lots and lots of Langurs. We were lucky enough to get seats for Govt. Safari Ride but very unfortunate in terms of sighting Tiger, Cheetah or any wild cat. Our ride started at 4.10 pm and ended at 5.40pm and we could see a large group of Bisons, small herds of elephants with baby calves, 12 peacocks, many peahens and beautiful butterflies near small waterholes.
But, the Safari before us was very lucky in sighting wildlife, they had encountered two cheetahs making kill, a Black Panther crossing path in front of their bus, Black Sloth with her cub apart from what all we saw. The only difference in two rides was half an hour. Though, I was immensely nervous in the Safari but very happy at sighting wildlife so closely. The journey back to Ooty was sun setting dusk with many spotting of Wild Bisons on the roads. We ended our journey around 8.30pm and went back to have food at YWCA and specially to meet Mr. Anthony.
- Botanical Garden
- Camera Museum
- Tibetan Market
- Bus Journey back to Home
This was our last day in Ooty where I was not much interested in taking long walks to market but Rajnish was much determined to have good walk till Botanical Garden. It was a good decision to take a walk as we explored rythu bazaar, some homemade chocolates and tribal hand woven sale. The highlight of the day was a visit to Camera Museum, which had collection of more than 200 years various cameras, various film making equipment’s and old lenses. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are a camera lover. We left Ooty via Govt. bus around 2.30pm which I felt took many unnecessary stops for tea and we reached Coimbatore at 6.00pm. We had another bus waiting to be boarded at 9pm for Hyderabad. So, in total, I had good number of hours of road tripping which did give me some memorable moments as well as uncomfortable seats and jump…. I believe this trip was much needed as this was our first trip as partners in crime for life… And, last but not least, it became the most wonderful road trip ever with lots of lessons which I am gladly sharing below:
- Always be very cautious about not spending more than the stipulated budget… You can always keep extra cash but try not getting chance to use it.
- If you end up making impromptu plans like us to any Hills, please do search about YWCA/YMCA accommodation availability. It’s super reasonable and every YWCA/YMCA has its own kitchen. You can always go for Govt. owned Hotels. They do have beautiful property with them.
- Do try out options for tourist sightseeing served by your hotel. It’s a deal if you can find good local taxi driver for your trip. Every hotel has their tie-ups with tours and travel agencies and they do give you reasonable trip opportunities.
- Always keep loose change with you especially at a tourist spot. The shopkeepers start playing no loose cash/coins with you the moment they figure out you with no change.
- Always go and buy the tickets yourself…don’t rely too much on guides and taxi drivers. Do check parking lot fee. We noticed many taxi drivers charging extra for parking lot fee. Be cautious.
- Don’t forget to take down the taxi driver’s cab number in your phone’s note section. In hills, the taxi drivers simply deny giving their phone number stating the fact that there wouldn’t be signal or network issue. Ask for it again and check the number duly.
- Explore local market always around 7pm or late evening… sometimes, these locals are smart enough with their games and make you buy products on the side of higher price.
- Always carry good amount of sunscreen for you and other family members. Remember precaution is better than cure. For womens, please carry Face – mask sheets with you which are easily available at Health and Glow outlets or on the online portals. I suffered a severe sun burn and imagine my plight when I have a combination acne-prone skin.
- In case you get tanned/sun burn, apply generous amount of lacto calamine lotion with some drops of cold milk and do not forget to use chilled coconut water on your face daily to get rid of tanned skin.
- Last but not the least, please enjoy scenic beauty with bare eyes, and get it immersed in you… I understand the sense of capturing moments and endless selfies but always enjoy the viewpoint and later do take some clips to cherish your memories.
And, I realized something which is so funny yet practical….. Impromptu plans do work wonders .