It has been a long time since I have blogged. It’s not that I had ran out of topics or I had nothing to blog about. It was the time constraint that played the villain in my blogging schedule. Well, well, I have lots of things to share about. Let me begin by rambling about my trip to Ooty-The Queen of Hill Stations.
Now if I start speaking about Ooty, I cannot stop. It has been my dream to settle down in that picturesque hill station. With its breezy weather, coniferous trees, small cascading waterfalls along the way, different species of flowers (including the exotic Kurinji) and various valley views, Ooty is a visual delight for the casual traveler. One cannot get enough of the place even if you have visited a number of times before. It has many sloping roads that lead to artistically built residential houses, eye-catchy tourist spots to elevate your senses, excellent hotels that assure you of your comfort and restaurants which provide delicious food to tingle your taste buds. Remember to carry a sweater with you or purchase one as you cannot predict the climate. It can be sunny in the morning and jittering cold in the night or it might be even cool during the day itself. So always have the needed accessories at hand.
On April 22nd night, we (my parents and myself) boarded the Nilgiris Express. We reached Mettupalayam at 6 AM the next day. It was a delight to watch the steam engine getting ready for its journey inside the hills. Though we did not opt for a travel in the steam engine, we hired a taxi and began our voyage. The climate was tepid and we enjoyed the racy travel on the Ooty-Mettupalayam road. Once we climbed the hill, a cool breeze welcomed us. There were many riverlets along the way, flowing towards eternity. We could not find either their origin or their destination. And also, there were many monkeys on the roads. I was happy to find the monkeys in their natural habitat instead of being employed for entertainment. We crossed Coonoor, Wellington, Aruvankadu, Yellanalli, Ketti and finally reached the city of Ooty. We had booked a room in Hotel Ponmari Residency, one of the finest hotels in Ooty as per my observation. After refreshments, we took off for sightseeing.
Our first stop was Pykara lake where we went boating. The lake is a serene one, the greenish hue provides a sense of calmness. We climbed down to reach the entrance of the lake and booked for a motor boat. Along with a group of other people, our boat kickstarted. As we progressed deeper, the rains came down. The raindrops were a welcoming change, coupled with the sound of water splashing from the lake. The boating lasted only for 20 minutes but the experience was one that cannot be forgotten for a lifetime
Our next destination was supposed to be Pykara falls. But we couldn’t visit it due to heavy rains. While returning to our hotel, we stopped at 9th Mile viewpoint. It is one of my favorite places as it provides an exquisite view of the tribal region in Ooty. We clicked a few amazing photographs in that background.
We reached our room and refreshed ourselves. Then we decided to go out for shopping. Though it was raining, we opened our umbrellas and walked on the slippery roads. But we couldn’t shop anything as the rain was getting heavier. We stopped in Hotel Nahar for a delicious dinner. Finally, we called it a day by retiring to our room, praying that the rain doesn’t play spoilsport the next day.
April 24, Friday: The next day began as usual with a refreshing tea and breakfast. To our relief, it was sunny. Our first stop of that day was Doddabetta Peak. This particular peak is considered to be the highest peak of South India. The way to the peak is filled with numerous shops-the famous karapori shop, a shop that sells fresh Ooty carrots, steaming corn, hats, sweaters, scarfs, toys and what not! You can almost find anything that you need. After acquiring the entrance ticket, we walked for a long distance till we reached the peak. Now I must say that Doddabetta Peak is one of the picturesque spots to click as many photos as you like, though you must be careful about the rocks over there. There is also a telescope which provides you a good view from the peak.
View from Doddabetta Peak
After spending quality time in Doddabetta Peak, we traveled to the Tea Factory which is the highest elevated tea factory in India. The aroma of freshly grounded tea leaves welcomed us. Inside the factory, we were introduced to the different equipment used in the process of making tea powder. We were shown the entire process step by step. In the end, we were given a cup of free tea to taste. There was also a shop within the factory which sold the tea powders. There are different kinds of tea like Strong tea, Green tea, Chocolate tea and White tea. We were also taken to the adjoined Chocolate Museum and brought some chocolates.
Our next stop was the Rose Garden. My God! The entire garden was filled with various kinds of beautiful roses. They were in different colors and shapes. I wonder how did they identify the 17,000 odd varieties and they have also patiently named them. Some of the names of the roses were also funny. We had a good long walk throughout the large garden and clicked pictures of all the roses.
Next we were taken to Wax World Museum where there were replicas of famous political leaders and also saints. The wax models looked like they were real and they were done with perfection. It houses statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath Tagore, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, Shirdi Sai Baba, Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa, Chatrapathi Sivaji, Veerappan and a man met with an accident.
Some of the statues in Wax World Museum
We had lunch at Hotel Durga and then climbed down to Coonoor, yet another hill station in Nilgiris. The most popular tourist spot of Coonoor is Sim’s Park. It is a large park which has sufficient pathways for the tourists to walk, age old trees, benches for the old to sit on and refresh, good spots for taking snaps and also a stream where we can go boating. We spent half an hour in the park and returned to our taxi.
Next on our agenda was Dolphin Nose which is a viewpoint for Catherine Falls. According to me, this was the most beautiful viewpoint. One can see the entire range of Nilgiris from this viewpoint and also spot the Catherine Falls. It is very difficult to find where the falls originate or reach.
Lamb’s Rock was our next stop. It is also a viewpoint which also has a scary suicide point. The way to this viewpoint provides the feeling of walking through a forest. Climbing on the rocks was one heaven of an experience.
Then we rode back to Ooty and called it a day with dinner from the hotel in which we were staying.
April 25, Saturday: The third day of our trip began with a visit to the famous Botanical Garden. Needless to say, this is one of the largest gardens of India. It is famous for the fern art which adorns the entire garden. Also, it has a glass house which consists of various types of ferns. It is also a spacious picnic spot where one can enjoy with their entire family. The flowers found in this garden are a visual delight and provide a psychedelic experience.
After Botanical Garden, we enjoyed a long walk to the Ooty Lake. Once again we opted for boating and admired the serene atmosphere. Opposite to the Ooty Boat House is the Thread Garden. It is a breathtaking display of flowers, plants and lawns fabricated entirely from thread, canvas and wire. The whole creation is made using self-invented technology of ‘Four Dimensional Hand-wound Embroidery’ without the use of needles or machinery.
Finally, we winded up our journey and bid a sad goodbye to my favorite place. We rode down to Mettupalayam and boarded the Nilgiris Express to Chennai. We returned back to our hometown with our mind full of beautiful memories!