This Stunning Road Trip From Bangalore To The Misty Nilgiris Is Perfect For The Long Weekend

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The Nilgiris or Nilgiri Hills are the part of the Western Ghats that run through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The word Nilgiri literally translates to 'blue mountains'. A road trip through these hills is impossibly scenic and goes through wildlife parks, deciduous and evergreen forests and tea plantations. If you are getting on these roads during winter, expect to see a gentle mist floating above the mountains, and the mysterious neelakurinji (the flower the hills are named after) hidden somewhere, blooming in its purple-blue glory.

You can go on this journey with anyone – your family, friends or even solo, for the landscape will keep you company and the stops on the way will keep you interested. So pack your bags and set off on one of the best road trip routes in the country.

The route

Photo of This Stunning Road Trip From Bangalore To The Misty Nilgiris Is Perfect For The Long Weekend   2/2 by Himani Khatreja
Credit: Nadir Hashmi

The route starts from Bangalore. Traffic is crazy in the city, so leave by 6am to beat the crowds and make it to the city's outskirts. Take the Bengaluru-Mysore Expressway (SH17) and reach Mysore. From there your first stop, Bandipur National Park, is around an hour and a half away. Day two will take you to Gudalur and Ooty, where you can see one of the highest golf courses in the world, explore a beautifully-maintained Botanical Gardens and indulge in home-made chocolate fudge. On the final day, you drive from Ooty to Coonoor, a stunning journey, while making your way to the final destination, Kotagiri.

Here's the quick version of the suggested route for this road trip:

Bangalore – Mysuru – Bandipur – Gudalur – Ooty – Coonoor – Kotagiri – Bangalore

Itinerary: Bangalore to Kotagiri (3 days, 341 km)

Day 1

Bangalore – Mysore – Bandipur

Credit: Sarath Kuchi

Photo of Bandipur National Park, Karnataka, India by Himani Khatreja

From Bangalore, take the SH17 or the Bengaluru-Mysore Expressway to Mysuru, around 73km away. Once there, drive around to see the city of regal palaces and architecturally-superior temples. Make a stop at a local joint to sample melt-in-the-mouth idlis and set dosas. Then neutralise the spiciness with the delicious Mysore Pak, available across the many bakeries in the city. Set off again with a satiated appetite to Bandipur National Park, on NH67. This fascinating 874 sq km park offers one of the best sightings of elephants and other wildlife. Access the park through the Mysore-Ooty Road and get here before 3.30pm, because it closes down at 5.30pm. Entry ticket for Indians is ₹300 and foreigners is ₹1,100.

Time on the road: 5 hours 20 minutes

Distance: 217km

Top experiences: Make a quick stop at the breathtaking Mysore Palace, adorned with stained glass and almost 100,000 light bulbs; take a jungle safari inside Bandipur to spot deer, langur, elephants and all kinds of wildlife

Where to stay: The Serai Bandipur and Nijaguna Resort & Spa. For more options, check here.

Day 2

Bandipur – Gudalur – Ooty

Credit: Dibesh Thakuri

Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Himani Khatreja

Get up early if you want to do a morning safari in Bandipur National Park. If not, have a lazy breakfast at your lodge before heading out on NH67 to Gudalur. This beautiful town was set up by the British in the pre-independence era to cultivate tea. Today it is lined with tall trees along winding roads, sprinkled with tea plantations and has some interesting sites to spend an hour or two at. Gudalur is also your mid-morning stop for tea, so pick a stall and sip on a steaming cup with a bowl of hot maggi. Get on the road again and reach Ooty, your last destination for the day. Aim to reach by 1pm, so you can have lunch at Culinarium, a dreamy restaurant English, European and American food. Use the rest of the day to sightsee and enjoy the Nilgiris. Dinner can be crispy dosa and a filling thali at Nahar Nilgiris Hotel.

Time on the road: 2 hours 30 minutes

Distance: 80km

Top experiences: Driving through the tall eucalyptus trees in the Nilgiris; a 360 degree view of the hills from the Needle Rock View Point in Gudalur; enjoying a boat ride on Ooty Lake; taking the Nilgiri Toy Train for a scenic journey around town; seeing the stunning plains of the Mysore plateau and Coimbatore from Dodda Betta peak, at 8,696 ft

Where to stay: Taj Savoy Hotel and Accord Highland Hotel. For more options, check here.

Day 3

Ooty – Coonoor – Kotagiri

Credit: Prateek Rungta

Photo of This Stunning Road Trip From Bangalore To The Misty Nilgiris Is Perfect For The Long Weekend by Himani Khatreja

Credit: Thangaraj Kumaravel

Photo of This Stunning Road Trip From Bangalore To The Misty Nilgiris Is Perfect For The Long Weekend by Himani Khatreja

Get excited because today you are about to set out on the most beautiful stretch of this road trip. Hit NH67 and take the route towards Wellington, then Coonoor. The drive is spectacular with the green Nilgiri plains stretching out as far as the eyes can see and depending on the time of year, and the floating clouds make for a postcard wintery scene. Coonoor is a quieter alternative to bustling Ooty. There are several lovely roads to walk on where you can sample whiffs of the local tea, which is sold almost everywhere and also of the flowers that bloom alongside. Walk around for two to three hours, before getting in the car to drive to Kotagiri, the last destination on this trip. Located at 5,800ft, this panchayat town is relatively crowd-free. You can spend time here strolling through tea plantations and enjoying the perfect climate.

Time on the road: 1 hour 40 minutes

Distance: 42km

Top experiences: Stroll through Sim's Park and admire its fabulous collection of trees; take the scenic walk from Bandi Shola Bus Stop to Ralliah Dam in Coonoor; enjoy the baked goodies available at shops near Johnstone Circle in Kotagiri; drive to Catherine Falls, near Kotagiri

Where to stay: Nahar Retreat and Wellness Spa and Hanging Huts Resort. For more options, check here.

Best time to go

You can do this road trip all year round, for the weather is rarely too hot or too cold. The best time, however, is between the months of November to February, when there is a chill in the air, the hills are clean and super green, and the floating clouds add to the winter vibe of the place.

Credit: Prabhu B Doss

Photo of This Stunning Road Trip From Bangalore To The Misty Nilgiris Is Perfect For The Long Weekend by Himani Khatreja

Have you driven to the Nilgiris before? What route did you take? Share your journey with the juicy details in your own travelogue and inspire the travellers on Tripoto.