3. Ooty, Tamil Nadu
The place they call the “Queen of all hill-stations”. If you are craving for the mountains and not able to plan a trip north, head down south to the Nilgiri Hills, which is where Ooty is situated. Contrary to popular assumptions, there was absolutely no language issue here - both English and Hindi were understood and reciprocated well, considering we were on public transport for most part of the journey.
The main town of Ooty is pretty crowded, which is true for all popular hill-stations these days. However, there are some hidden jewels in terms of stay options - look out for those on top of the hills surrounding the town. These will help you escape the hustle-bustle of the city but you’ll still not be too inaccessible.
The countryside in Ooty is beyond beautiful. The ghats preceding the town are covered with innumerable pine trees, all standing in row – reminded me of the morning assembly at school! It looks so divine, that you can’t help but go for walk right there. 9th mile is a place about 9 miles away from the town (duh!) where you can see layers of mountains right in front of you. And since there are innumerable mountains around, you can choose your own sunset / sunrise viewing point, giving the touristy ones a miss!
But the cherry on top of the beautiful cake that is Ooty, is the toy train ride. The full train ride is a 3-4 hour journey that takes you to the foot of the Nilgiri Hills. However, for those who don’t have a lot of time, you can go for a day-trip from Ooty to Coonoor and back. You get to enjoy the train ride, the gorgeous tea plantations and explore the country side.
Most vintage hotels here have a fireplace installed in each room and the common area, which is a blessing, especially if you’re visiting during winter. With your favorite drink in your hand, feel free to take over the common room and convert it into your game war-zone. And who knows, the staff may also join in – the more the merrier!