Visiting Ooty–the hill station of South India in Tamil Nadu
It was for my honeymoon that I planned to visit Ooty, which is short for Ootacamund. The push for choosing this spot came from my spouse and I decided that I should fulfil her wish. The tour was not ideal due to weather conditions in late November but we had our fair share of luck and enjoyed our stay.
Ooty is a town, a municipality and the district capital of the Nilgiris District in Tamil Nadu. The official Tamil name for the city is Udhagamandalam. Ooty stands at an approximate height of 7,500 feet (2, 286 m) above sea level. Without doubt, Ooty remains one of the most visited places in India and especially in South India, given that there are only a few hill stations in South India that can send chilling winds down your spine during the scorching hot summers.
During the British Raj, Ooty served as the summer capital of the Madras Presidency. It was frequently visited the British during the colonial days.
Visitors’ places in Ooty
We had a trip planned for 5 days-stay in Ooty. We had booked a ticket with SpiceJet Airlines from Delhi to Coimbtore. However, we did not have any inkling how to reach Ooty from there. We expected that frequent buses would be available but that was not the case. So, if you are planning the same route, you should be ready to spend around 1,500 INR for a taxi to Ooty.
The road to Ooty from Coonar was closed due to bad weather and we had to take a detour with another 30 miles or so. We reached Ooty at around 8:00 PM and checked-in the hotel. The hotel’s name is Vinayaga Inn, which lies pretty close to the Botanical Gardens. This helped us save transportation money while visiting the Botanical Gardens. The marketplace was also close and so was the access to the local transportation. The service was good and I would recommend Vinagaya Inn for an economical stay in Ooty.
Some visitors’ places that I visited in these 5 days are:
- Ooty Botanical Garden
This place was very near where I was staying and its name itself attracted me. I have a knack of picking up these spots instead of going to cinemas, marketplaces, etc. Moreover, such spots allow you to shoot pictures. Ooty Botanical Garden sprawl over 22-acre are the foundation was laid down in 1847. Unlike other botanical gardens, this is like a public part where you have to spend 20/- INR for the entry. Ooty Botanical Garden is lush, green, and well-maintained park and has plenty of species of flowers, plants and trees. The garden also houses a 20-million-year-old fossilized tree. I spent around 3-4 hours in the garden and clicked lots of photographs. The garden is a very nice place to hang-out and enjoy the nature. Bird watching could be another activity that ornithologists could pursue.
- Ooty Lake & Boat House
I visited this lake and enjoyed boating. There are variety of boats that one can enjoy including, peddle boats, shikra boats (rowed by a coxswain), and power boats. The lake is divided into two parts to allow free space for power boats. Presently, the lake is about 2.5Â km long and is surrounded by the road, market, and a small deer part. Next to the lake, there is a Mini Garden with an amusement park for children where visitors can enjoy leisurely.
The tickets for boating are according to the type of boats the tourists want to choose. The boats rowed by the coxswain are pretty interesting if you want to enjoy photography or are with your spouse. The charges for the coxswain are not determined and you can choose to give whatever pleases you.
- Wax World, Ooty
It is a nice museum and houses life-size look-alike wax statues of personalities of Indian history, culture and heritage including some social messages delivered through them. The museum is housed in a 142-year-old bungalow. It is like a short excursion, which tourists can take after they have visited another major tourist place. The museum takes like 10-15 minutes to visit. After seeing the museum, visitors can buy wax products including candles, toys, etc from the adjacent outlet.
- Pykara Falls and Mudumalai Forest, Ooty
I had a wish to visit the Mudumalai Forest area. Particularly because I used to read that Sri Sathya Sai Baba used to visit this place with his students on his way to Ooty. I have seen hi pictures enjoy the elephant-ride in the famous book Sathyam Shivam Sundaram. When I noticed that Mudumali Forest is easily accessible from Ooty, I enquired about the transport. With a taxi, it would have cost me around 1,300/- INR but there are pooled services that tourists can book. They charge 175/- INR per person, which is pretty cheap. It is a like a guided tour to various places, including pine forest, Pykara falls, and some other points that are nice to visit. Pykara Falls is a nice place to visit offering great view of falls through the rocks and mountains. It was raining when we reached this spot and my camera’s lens was already feeling some drops on it. There is a 2/- INR ticket per person to see the Pykara Falls.
Mudumalai National Park is around 40 Km from Ooty and 70 Km from Ooty if the route is taken through Pykara Falls and other scenic spots. Mudumalai National Park is a treat for fauna and wild-life enthusiasts and it is one of the biggest national parks in India. Incidentally, it was my first visit to any national park. There are van-safaris and elephant-safaris (booking is done in Ooty for elephant safaris). The tourists can enjoy these safaris, and if they are lucky they might be able to see many animals, mammals, birds, etc. I was able to see elephants, sloth bear, Gaur or bison, deer, peacocks, and some other birds.
- Tea Factory
The tea factory is a very nice place to visit. If you are a tea-enthusiast, and brewing smell moves your feet, you must not miss this. The factory is like a guided tour to the process of making tea right from the start. The visitors are taken in the factory through a narrow gate in the form of a line and are guided through the process with audio-visual support. At the end of the tour, visitors are offered to sip a cup of tea and buy various types of tea.
As the visitors move upstairs, they are able to view the Ooty city. The tea factory can be reached by 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, and buses, etc. There are small outlets where chocolate and garments are sold. Visitors can buy freshly made chocolate from these outlets.
- Doddabetta Peak
I visited this spot on the last day of my stay in Ooty. Somebody mentioned that it is sunny after 8 long months in Ooty. Obviously, I enjoyed photo-shooting that day standing on a very high altitude and eagle-eyeing the whole of Ooty. Doddabetta Peak is the highest peak at a height of 2,623 m in the Nilgiris. You have to pay around 100/- INR to hire a 3-wheeler. If the weather is sunny, without doubt, this place would is the best for tourists to spend their time. It offers panoramic vistas of Ooty and allows the visitors to enjoy a picnic-like atmosphere.