My Ooty trip turned out to be a very refreshing rejuvenating trip. It was a long awaited vacation and I enjoyed every moment of it. We started for Ooty on 8th August, 2013 , thursday night. The overnight bus trip was uneventful. On reaching Ooty bus stand in the morning we got the first glimpse of the mystic Nilgiri hills shrouded in a blanket of mist and fog. The chilly wind brushed our cheeks making us shiver a bit, yet it seemed so refreshing. A ride in an autorickshaw on the hilly winding roads took us to our abode for 3 days- The Lake View Hotel. We stayed in cottage number 47.
It was sunny as well as chilly. The sun was playing a hide and seek game with the clouds. We left the hotel for sight seeing after a quick bath and a brief breakfast. The first destination we started out for was the Botanical garden. The botanical garden is situated on the lower slopes of the Dodabetta peak. The botanical garden houses several exotic plant species and it is divided into six sections-the lower garden, new garden, Italian garden, conservatory, fountain terrace and nurseries. On the way to the botanical garden we observed many home made chocolate shops. These home made chocolates are very popular amongst the tourists and locals alike. Ooty is famous for these home made chocolates. Our autorickshaw driver told us Ooty is self sufficient in growing vegetables. It is only dependent for its rice supply. The town's economy is dependent on agriculture and tourism. Street side vendors were selling fresh carrots, it seemed carrots grow really well in Ooty. We were told that in Ooty 'gajar ka halwa' is a delicacy served by every body on all occasions. A lot many vendors were selling roasted corn or 'bhutta'. We were elated when we spotted a Nepali momo seller on the road side. The pleasure of having hot steaming momos on a cold foggy day is awesome. We came to know that he was a native of Darjeeling and had set up this momo shop in Ooty a few years back.
I was curious to know where our favourite star Mithun Chakraborty's 'Monarch Hotel' is situated. Our auto driver told us it is a 3 star hotel situated off Havelock road on Church hill. Unfortunately I could not get a glimpse of 'The Monarch' hotel. The next location we started out for was the Dodabetta peak. The terrain was bad and the jerks made us rock from one side to the other. The dodabetta peak is the highest point in the Nilgiri plateau. The telescope house in the dodabetta peak offered a panoramic view of the entire district. I peaked through the telescope but could not see anything beyond the mist and fog. It was chilly and drizzling. We stopped at various points to have a quick cup of hot tea coupled with hot mirchi bhajjis, bread pakoras etc. Our next destination was the tea factory. We witnessed and got to learn how exactly tea leaves are processed to produce the end product and the lengthy procedures involved before the tea reaches our cup. Ooty being a small place we bumped into the same tourists time and again while moving from one destination to the next. We purchased several natural oils, home made chocolates, various tea packets of different flavours and many other such natural products. The next and the final destination for us on the first day of our Ooty visit was the Ooty lake situated very close to our hotel. A chilling boat ride on the Ooty lake accompanied by the constant drizzle and the cool wind left us shivering. We had not anticipated that it would be so cold at this time of the year in Ooty. Gradually darkness enshrouded Ooty and we started on foot back to our hotel. We were tired at the end of a fulfilling day but it seemed other people had yet not had their fill, people were enjoying horse riding on the winding hilly road. We saw several school buses filled with students on the road and I was wondering why they were returning home so late but then I got to know that those were boarding schools. Ooty is well known for several boarding schools. The Wax world which houses wax statues of several well known historical personalities was located very close to our hotel but we could not manage to visit it due to dearth of time. On returning to the hotel we thought the best option for us would be to eat a quick dinner and cuddle under the blanket and go to sleep to escape the cold.
The next morning, 10th August, 2013 was bright and sunny. We had to board the toy train to Coonor. We had arranged for a taxi driver to pick us up from the Conoor station, he was booked for the day to take us to all the tourist spots in Conoor. The toy train ride was an absolute joy. The scenic beauty was awesome, we gradually passed through Lovedale, Ketti, Aravenkadu, Wellington and finally Conoor.
Our taxi driver took us to the Singara Tea garden, owned by the yesteryear bollywood actress Mumtaz. Our driver was knowledgeable and he was providing us with information regarding the place. He was a driver cum city guide for us. It was foggy so we missed the panoromic view from the Dolphin's nose viewpoint. The Catherine falls is visible from this point. The foggy weather had dampened our spirit, we missed a very clear valley view. But as the fog cleared our spirits got lifted and we carried on with renewed fervour. The next destination was the Sim's park named after J.D Sim who was the secretary of the Madras club. This park was built in Japanese style and houses about 1000 exotic plant species. This was followed by visit to the pine forest. Our driver told us that it is in this forest that various movies had been shot including the famed movie 'Roja'. People were selling fresh honey from the forest on the road sides. We also had a glance on our way, of the once very well known Hindustan Photo Films, known as HPF in short. This was followed by a very exciting and literally shivering boat ride in the Pykara Lake. Our final destination for the day was a view of the Pykara falls known as the Niagara of the Nilgiris. We thought it to be the best destination of the day. The view was wonderful. It had already started raining heavily and reaching the place where the falls is located involved climbing numerous steps down to the place of the falls. But the effort was worth it, by the time we returned to the place where our car was parked we were exhausted but happy with the experiences of the day. We knew we would cherish this visit dearly for years to come.
The next day we had to board a bus for Bangalore. Our bus would start at 1 p.m from Ooty. We had a filling breakfast and then we went for a walk on the hilly terrain. A park was located very close to our hotel, we went for another boat ride, it was fun. Thus a joyful vacation ended on a very good note. We treasured the wonderful experience in our hearts and I made up my mind that once I return home I would make it a point to write a blog about my Ooty vacation. Our memory gets blurred with time and so I felt jotting down my experience would somehow help me to reminiscence my long needed vacation which had turned out to be a very enriching experience.