Udagamandalam, popularly as Ooty is among the highest hill stations in India. With an elevation of about 2,200 meters above sea level, the weather here is always pleasant. It is very common to find NO FANS here as they are not needed at all! Summer in Tamil Nadu, specially in Chennai is known to be amongst the worst in the country. In such a season, just 500 kilometers away, Ooty weather makes you want to get bundled up in a blanket! Such was the weather, when we visited Ooty in May.
The most affordable way to travel to Ooty from Chennai is by TNSTC buses which can be booked online. The cost of ticket is roughly INR.400/- for each journey and the journey time is 12 hours.
We reached Ooty early in the morning. We had found this place called "TeeStay Villa" online where we had booked our accommodation for the first two days. The third day was booked at a hotel facing Ooty Lake. We highly recommend Teestay Villa for everyone who wants a peaceful time among nature.
The town has expanded well thanks to being a tourist hotspot but at the same time has lost it's essence of being a hill station unlike Kodaikanal which is still relatively unaffected by tourism. Nevertheless, the outskirts of Ooty are still the same. Trotting around here is fun.
On the first day, we went to Pykara Lake which is about 40km from the town. There are state transport buses by which you can commute to the lake.
Pykara Lake: It's a well developed tourist spot where one can see the Pykara Lake as well as the Pykara Falls. The falls are not plunge waterfalls but the water flow rate is high and makes it a pleasant sight to watch. There is a hill next the falls where one can just lie and enjoy the scene.
From Pykara Falls, we proceeded to Needle Rock View Point which is about 40kms. from there. State Transport buses are available from Pykara falls to Needle Rock View points for about INR.50/- .
Needle Rock View Point: This view point gives some stunning panoramic views of the valley surrounding it. The complete area is lush green and one can only see trees till their eyes can take them.
The mornings in Ooty are foggy and cold. The air is fresh and a stroll among fields is something one should definitely try.
On this day we went to Avalanche Lake, which is located 28 kilometers away from Ooty Town. The most preferable way to reach here would be by hiring a vehicle as this is a forest reserve and one is not allowed to step out of the car once inside the forest.
Avalanche Lake: This is a huge forest area and the tours here are only available via the Forest Department which has buses and jeeps. The waiting time for the transports shall be long, in the meanwhile don't miss out on exploring the surrounding areas. Take a long stroll to the lake, one can find lot of birds and butterflies here. There is a small stream flowing which leads which leads to the lake.
The Forest Department bus or jeep will take you into the forest and will stop at four points where you can alight and click photos. If you're lucky, the first stop will have a small waterfall of chilled and clean water. Do have a sip or two of the nature's goodness.
From the second stop, one can see waterfalls. For better view, walk ahead on the path and look through the bushes.
After returning from the long day at Avalanche, the owner of TeeStay villa was kind enough to set up a nice bonfire for us at night!
After checking out from TeeStay Villa, we went to Ooty Botanical Garden which is located in the town itself.
Ooty Botanical Gardens: The botanical gardens have a wide variety of flowers and shrubs which are made into different intriguing designs and shapes. The garden is enormous can take atleast an hour if one hurries up through it.
After the Botanical Garden, we went to Ooty Forest Walk, one of the only places where you won't find a lot of tourists. And oh boy it was all worth it!
Ooty Forest Walk: The forest walk has an entry fee of INR.5/- and is a quiet walk through the forest. When we went there, there was absolutely NO ONE. The trek is an extremely long one and the last stretch is a long and steep ascent of about 40 degrees. To give you an idea, there were 11 of us but only 4 went till the top.
The forest had sinister quotes such as the one below to give you the chills. Specially when you're the only ones in the forest.
At the top of the hill, there is a viewing post which takes you above the level of all the trees at the hilltop and offers you some stunning views of the location. The view is totally worth the steep and tiring climb.
On our way back, we saw a warning sign "BEWARE OF BISONS". Well, we had not encountered a single animal in the forest so we just joked about it and walked out onto the street. And behold! A bison is charging towards us on the road! Luckily it changed it's path and even posed for a photo!
Post this, we were to visit Dodabetta Peak but weather of Ooty had other plans for us. Within minutes, it started drizzling. The drizzle soon changed into heavy rain and finally into HAILSTORM! Yes! Hailstorm in May! The road to Dodabetta was closed off and we had to cancel the plan.
We then proceeded to check in to our second hotel "Reflections Guest House" which is located right in front of Ooty Lake.
Ooty Lake: The Ooty lake is a lot similar to the Kodai Lake in Kodaikanal but is a lot more crowded. Thanks to the rain, there was mist flowing over the lake and made the boating experience a lot more fun!
The next morning we checked out from the hotel and left for the Nilgiri Train ride to Coonoor. For details on the train journey to Coonoor( which by the way is one of the most scenic train journeys in India)
For more details, feel free to comment. Keep Trotting! :D