Ooty.. The Queen of the hills

Day 1

My primary reason for going to Ooty was to ride the toy train. The toy train is a part of the Mountain Railways of India that were built by the British and more or less function in its original state even today. They are of great historical importance and heritage and it's something I had to experience.
3 days are enough to experience Ooty. It's a typical Indian hill station where you can admire the beautiful valley views, walk around the market, enjoy the weather, visit a few points of interest around and most importantly, relax. Ooty makes for a great choice to beat the heat throughout the year since the highest highs in this town are in the mid 20s.. So when your cities are sweltering in the 30s and 40s at the peak of summer, Ooty can offer you some respite.

Ooty is well connected to Bangalore by road (around 5 hours) but I visited Ooty from Mumbai and had to fly in to Coimbatore which is the closest airport.

How to reach Ooty from Coimbatore:
Bus: ‎
From Coimbatore, you can take the state transport bus from the bus stand or a private mini bus from the Omni Bus stand (around Rs 500) - tickets for the mini buses are available on Redbus.
You could hire a cab (around Rs 1600 one way). For my return to Coimbatore I booked a cab through the Makemytrip app which was super convenient. The drive takes around 2.5 - 3 hours through really winding roads that could make you feel queasy. Tip- don't eat right before the drive and keep your meds handy.
If you have motion sickness and find taking the road uncomfortable you can reach Mettupallayam station and ride the toy train from there to Ooty. Of course, this will take much longer.

What to see:
The Toy train in Ooty is a part of the UNESCO World heritage sites which preserves places of importance. This is the same route where the iconic "Chaiyya Chaiyya" song was shot. It's ideal to book tickets (approximately Rs 85 for second class and Rs 250 for first class) beforehand for this train journey or you would need to wait in a long queue for the tickets at the station, especially if you are there over the weekend. Tickets can be booked through www.irctc.co.in, however, there are only 2 coupes available for reservations so you would need to book well in advance . Do remember to book window seats to be able to admire the scenic view. I would recommend the first class coupe though it's a bit more expensive, because of its space. The first class coupe seats 8 whereas the same sized second class coupe seats 10 pax and gets really cramped. It takes an hour for the train to go from Ooty to Coonnoor.

Dodabetta peak is the highest peak of Tamilnadu and is just a 30min autorickshaw ride (Rs 500 return trip) away. This place offers some beautiful views.

The Botanical gardens are not exceptionally beautiful but can be visited especially if you are going with kids.

There are shops selling chocolates all over Ooty but Moddys chocolates are the best best best. These chocolates are sold at the Modern store near the botanical gardens. You will be spoilt for choices at this store. I obviously couldn't try them all, but my favorite were butterscotch and rum n raisin.

Dinner at the Fernhill Palace is another experience I would recommend. This summer palace of the Wodeyars of Mysore is now a hotel run by the Welcome Group. Tastefully decorated and well maintained and not exceptionally expensive, it's worth a visit for a nice meal (Rs2500 for a meal for 2). When I went there, their bar licence wasn't active so they weren't serving alcohol, you might want to get that checked before you go.

There are various lakes in and around Ooty that are frequented by tourists. I don't really like touristy and crowded places much, so I gave these a slip.
One can also visit one of the many Tea Gardens and factories around Ooty to see how tea is made and to taste the variety of teas. Since I had already experienced this before in other places I skipped this as well.

All in all, if you have 3 to 4 days in hand, love the hills, just want to chill and don't know where to go, Ooty is your place.

Photo of Ooty.. The Queen of the hills by Gauri Madiwale
Photo of Ooty.. The Queen of the hills by Gauri Madiwale