Ooty – Pyar ki Booti
Remember this phrase from movie “Karz”, aka, “1 haseena thi, 1 deewana tha, kya umar thi, kya zamana tha”. I heard and saw Ooty first time in Karz and noticed 2nd time in movie Maine Pyar Kiya – “Dil deewana, bin sajna ke, maane na”
After visiting Muddumalai National Park, we planned to visit Ooty the next day. Earlier I had plans to stay in Ooty and that too in Mithun Chakroborty’s hotel “Howard Johnson-Monarch”, but I didn’t got the vacancy and ended up in Masinagudi. Anyway, Ooty was 28 KMS from the resort @ Masinagudi and this is a shortcut route to Ooty. Resort manager told us that it will take around 1 hour to reach Ooty and be careful while driving. We started about 10:00 AM in the morning, First 4-5 KMS were fine and then I saw the first sign board with “Careful – Hairpin bend # 1/32″, I was a little bit nervous as this was my first self-drive on mountains in India. There were 32 Hairpin bends, few were really very steep, my Fusion were good on performance. Few patches were bad along with some construction. Outside view was fine but not very spectacular, I am referring to the Himalayan range view while driving to Nainital, Mussorie, Shimla.There was a typical midway place, there was moderate traffic though it was a peek season to visit Ooty. Once all hairpin bends got over, this road merged to the main highway to Ooty. We reached Ooty @ about 11:00 AM and asked for the route to Ooty Lake-BoatHouse, as that was the first To-DO item for us. Ooty lake is the main attraction and you can enjoy pedal boat rides, motor boats or shikara kind of boats.
It was Saturday and peek season for Ooty, as expected, it was crowded. It took long to park the car and waiting at ticket window. Dimpi, Ujjwal, Navya and Aditi spent their time having “Sweet corns”, “Budhia ke baal-bole to Cotton Candy” and kiddie rides. I was looking for a motor boat to hire, so that I can sing song like Rishi Kapoor – Dard-e-dil, dard-e-jigar”, but ended up with a bigger boat. Boat tickets are not much expensive, Rs. 250 for a 8 person boat for 30 minutes, which is enough to circle the lake. Boatwala took us for the ride, it was raining and a little cold, thanks to resort manager who asked to us carry our jackets.
While boating, kids saw a toy train taking a ride around the lake and were excited to ride in that. After the boat ride, we went out and saw horses, and we all took a horse ride, it was a little expensive, but good for fun. Me and my wife took a ride together and I was feeling like “Prithvi Raj Chauhan riding with his wife” bas 1 Talwar (sword) ki kami thi. As soon as we were done by horse ride, it started raining heavily, everybody start looking at me and I knew that what they were asking for, GO-GET-THE-CARRRR!!!
From there, we went for food, restaurant was nice from outside, decor was nice, but vegetarian food was real junk even very dirty place. After lunch, we moved to next attraction on agenda – “Botanical Garden”agenda. Again, it was very crowded, so we dropped idea and plan to some other place, which place, hmmmm, it’s Coonoor, which is just 17 KMS from Ooty, and there suppose to be a 50th Anual Fruits festival in Coonoor Sim’s Park. Drive to Coonoor was nice, it is down the hill drive and on the way to Coimbatore from Ooty. Road was narrow but not too steep. We reached Coonoor in 25 minutes, headed straight to Sim’s park, the place of Fruit festival. It was quite a good festive environment, enough parking space, organized traffic. There were hundreds of variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers. I took few pictures and exhibitors were posing nice in front of their stalls. At one stall, my wife asked for “Litchi”, do you know what price he told, Rs. 1100/- for 1 KG hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. He said, madam, come tomorrow, we will sell it for half the price, silly fellow :)
We walked around the park, it was well maintained, children play area, a small lake, there was a Tamil dance competition was also going on. I saw few photographers with portable printers, idea was to take a digital picture and print it immediately and give it to customer immediately, gone are the days where you pay for picture and wait for picture to reach your home and some time you got cheated as well. We came out from the park, it was 4:30 in the evening, we dropped the idea to visit other places in Coonoor like Dolphin Nose etc. We drove back to Ooty, view was very nice while going back, there are many 5 star hotels/resorts on Ooty-Coonoor road like Taj etc. It took 1 hour to reach Ooty which included a horrible jam.
We then straight away moved to Masinagiudi, when we were about to take the road to Masinagudi from main highway, road was blocked by police barricades. Police man asked us not to go on this road as it is dangerous to drive in evening and night and no body is allowed after 8:00, take the main highway. I said, it’s still 6:00 PM and my resort is just 28 KMs, if I take main highway, it will be 130 KMs and will take 3 hours to reach my resort. Police men said, you are an outsider, go, and talk to “sahab”. Sahab ke paas pahucha, Sahab ko dekha, sahab ne mere ko dekha, license dekha, papers dekha, fir bola, Rs. 50, and please don’t go beyond 1st or 2nd gear till you reach bottom of the hill. I nodded my head, and started back, I knew the road, keeping policewala’s advice, I didn’t went beyond 2nd gear, there were few very steep down hills and roads head speed barkers on it, good for drivers. We reached our resort covering all 32 hairpin bends again in 45 minutes along with a mid way break.
At the end it was good driving experience. Ooty doesn’t have that charm which I was imagining since my childhood, Coonoor was nice and a place to visit again. Resort manager was waiting for us for a bon-fire, we enjoyed the Tamil Antakshari with some other resort residents.