AN ANNUAL DATE WITH OOTY

Every year when the summer heat in the plains become unbearable, me along with my wife escape to Ooty, at 105 kms temptingly close from our hometown, Tiruppur. This year the trip was done on April 1, on my beloved Apache 150. We stuck to our usual route of  Tiruppur-Mettupalayam-Kotagiri route for the onward journey to Ooty  and the Ooty-Coonoor-Mettupalayam-Tiruppur route for the return journey:


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The route to Ooty via Kotagiri is a biker’s delight. Even in this peak summer season, there was very little vehicular traffic. We started our climb in the ghats section, accompanied by the sight of river Bhavani meandering through the plains adjoining Mettupalayam. Just 10 kms into the climb, we could feel the cool breeze of the mountains, which made the drive all the more pleasant. The scenery on the way to Kotagiri never ceases to amaze and here are the pictures from several points on the route.

Bhavani River seen through the haze, at the beginning of the climb from Mettupalayam

Scenic spot on way to Kotagiri

A small temple near Gottakombai

Apache taking a breather

Driving from Kotagiri side, you first reach Doddabetta peak, which is about 7 kms above Ooty town. It took just an hour and 45 mins of mostly relaxed driving (and clicking pictures) to cover the 55 kms of ghat roads from Mettupalayam to Doddabetta peak. This is possible because of the very low levels of traffic and a route with a steady uphill gradient, unlike the Mettupalayam-Coonoor-Ooty route with its numerous hairpin bends and almost city-like traffic. On any day, driving to Ooty via Kotagiri is a much better, safer and scenic option than the Coonoor route. We take this route every year and have had no hassles so far. Just take care and watch out for any wildlife movement in the first 10 kms of the climb from Mettupalayam, if you are driving early in the morning.

Doddabetta Peak is the highest point in the Nilgiris mountain range at 8650 feet. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in Ooty . Vehicles can reach right upto the top of the peak and there is ample parking space, unless you visit in April or May. Thankfully our bike didn’t need too much parking space. At 10.30 am, the place was already teeming with all kinds of vehicles and people jostling for space. After a long drive, we both settled into the small cafe at the peak, to refresh ourselves with coffee and snacks. I heard from the locals at the place, that only the previous day the place was lashed with thunder showers and hailstorms for a full two hours in the afternoon.(On reaching home, I found the photos of the hailstorm all over the front pages). After the usual photo session, we headed straight towards Ooty town

Doddabetta Peak Entrance Arch

Doddabetta peak

That's me, enjoying a hot cup of coffee after a long climb

Tourists thronging the Telescope House at Doddabetta

A view of Ooty town from Doddabetta peak

Peak Season Commerce reaching new levels in Doddabetta this summer...

Wading through heavy traffic, we reached the Boat House at Ooty lake, one of the major attractions of the town. This is a spot I usually skip during my visits, because it is always overcrowded. But since it was too early for lunch(the delicious snacks at Doddabetta had taken care of that) we decided to visit the lake this time. Apart from the boating, in the last few years TTDC(Tamilnadu Tourism) had greatly expanded the facilities at the lake with many fun rides and an amusement park for children. Children were having a great time also with the pony rides available on the lake road. Since there were separate counters for every type of boat ride, we got our tickets to Pedal boating(30 minute ride costs 45 per head) pretty quickly and had a great time boating in the lake.

Ooty boat house

Wifey pedalling away joyfully

View of Boat house from our boat

Happily weary from our boat ride, we headed for lunch at Blue Hills Restaurant, right in the heart of Charring Cross and were treated to tasty Mutton Biriyani and Chicken fry.

Next in line, was the Botanical Gardens, our regular post-lunch resting spot. As I rested myself on the lawns of the gardens, flora loving wifey took a stroll into the interiors of the garden, shooting merrily with the digicam.

Ooty Botanical Garden Entrance

First views of the garden

The famed central lawns of the garden..

A famous tourist spot of old Tamil movies inside the Garden

A beautiful tree in the Botanical Garden

I think this plant with rose-shaped green flowers is called Succulent

We left the Botanical Garden and went to a bakery near Charring Cross(Impala Bakery) to purchase the famous “Ooty Varkey”, a semi-sweet snack which we like to have along with our evening tea or coffee. It costs around 120/kg and is one of the not-to-be-missed delicacies during a trip to Ooty.

Our last stop was the Government Rose Garden, the main reason my wife agreed to come with me on the drive. Although, she has visited this garden many times, she never gets tired of it. To be fair, that’s nothing unusual with women and flowers. This is said to be the largest rose garden in India, but apparently we had come at the wrong time of the year, and many plants were not in full bloom(probably the garden would have been in prime shape at the time of the Annual Flower show in mid-May). Though disappointed, we did a full round-up of all the three tiers of the garden, savouring whatever we could get of it.

Entrance to Rose Garden, Ooty

Beautiful Landscaping

Beautiful roses

Relaxing at the Rose Garden, after a fulfilling day

We started at around 5 pm from Ooty. Even in the height of summer, we could feel the biting cold as dusk approached. Our rain-coats, gloves and helmets came in handy as a steady drizzle started around Coonoor and accompanied us all the way down till Mettupalayam. Thankfully, the rain never became heavy and we reached Tiruppur at 8 pm.

36 Comments

  • Sundar says:

    Very well written post Venkat. Last been to Ooty in 98. Your article rekindled some old memories.

  • Dear Venkatt,

    Ooty is very beautiful , so is your post ………………………

    “Very well enjoyed” , is what is showing in your description along with amalgamation of very mind blowing and beautiful pictures makes your post pleasantly complete ………………………..

    Thanks for taking us to OOTY………………………….

  • Manish Kumar says:

    Beautiful pics with nice narrative.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    When I first read it today, I thought that I was getting the opportunity of commenting first, but ghumakkar had disabled comments at that moment (a glitch in the software?) and I lost out on that opportunity :-(

    As usual, Venkatt, it was a pleasure to read and the pictures were a treat to watch. I found it amazing that you were able to enjoy an outing in Ooty without checking in into a hotel. I also think that you two have set a good example for others by wearing helmets while riding on your Apache. Few pillion riders wear one.

    • venkatt says:

      Narayanji, thanks your appreciation. Ooty is best enjoyed by staying there at least for three to four nights, preferably outside the town. But we didn’t have the time for a longer stay.

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    • venkatt says:

      Manu, thanks for your whole hearted compliments. And my sincere apologies to every ghumakkar who has posted his stories for the past few months. I have to admit that I haven’t gone through most of them. That is the reason why you haven’t had my comments on them. For the last few months, we in Tamil Nadu are bearing the brunt of unprecedented powercuts of 8 to 9 hours during the daytime. I have used whatever time I’ve had with my laptop to check mails or to prepare my own posts on ghumakkar. But that is no excuse for not going through the entertaining travelogues written with such passion by fellow ghumakkars, especially when so many have followed my own posts and cared to comment on them. Once again apologies to everyone.

  • Vipin says:

    Wow Venkatt ji, thanks for sharing with us the beauty of Ooty. You are really lucky to be residing so near to this beautiful place. The scenery on the way to Ooty is very enticing. I am very fond of lakes, it really adds to the beauty of the place, though this one seems a bit commercialized.

    Look forward to explore these gems in southern part shortly……

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  • Nandan Jha says:

    Good one Venkat.

    There is a ‘Charing Cross’ tube station in London Subway. Do not know if there is any connection between the two.

    @ DL, Manu – ‘Comments’ were closed by mistake. Fixed it later. Sandeep alerted me as well on this. Sorry for the inconvenience. Please send me a short email if you notice it again for any future post.

  • Rao says:

    Venkatt,

    Nice and informative blog. Me and my wife are also planning to do a kinetic honda trip to ooty. As you said, the ride was safe it even motivates us more. I was wondering how was the ride downhill? Did you switch off the engine and rode downhill? Just need some tips as my wife can also ride kinetic and wondering if there are many female riders on the ooty-conoor route. Thanks.

    Rao

    • venkatt says:

      Rao sir, A ride on Kinetic Honda to Ooty sounds really interesting. It has been several years since I have driven a scooter on the plains, leave alone hills. So I can’t comment on how the vehicle will perform in the Hills. Looks a bit dicey to take a scooter to Ooty in my humble opinion(Honda Activa or Dio will be a risk-free option). But, If you are comfortable and confident then you should go ahead with the ride. By the way, which place are u from? Coimbatore.

  • Rao says:

    Yes, travelling from Coimbatore. So did you come across any female riders on the road at all? Just to be sure if my wife can ride for some time down the hill which might be easier if we switch off the engine. Did you switch your bike engine off downhill to have some fun ride. Let me know how long you had to switch it off for if you did turn off. Thanks

    • Nandan Jha says:

      Dear Rao,

      Please never never drive down with the engine off. It is NOT SAFE at all. Please keep the engine ON and ride down with the same gear as what you would have used on the way up. In general, always use the same gear to for driving up/down for any stretch.

      Wishing you a great year ahead.
      Nandan

  • venkatt says:

    I’m not sure I saw many female riders on a scooter on the Ghat roads to Ooty. I don’t think turning off the engine on a downhill slope is good for the engine of the vehicle(I am not sure, but heard this from many bike enthusiasts). I haven’t done it much.

  • Abhee K says:

    Hi,

    Beautiful post as well as pics.

    Really liked green colour rose shaped flower.

    Keep travelling, keep sharing

  • Praveen Wadhwa says:

    Beautiful post with beautiful pictures. Wish I do this route on a motorbike but I never drove a motorbike. So one day may be on bi-cycle.

    I have walked this whole segment but at various times in stages.

    Nice post. I only wonder why don’t you write more posts because there is so much around your area.

  • PANKAJ RAI JAIN says:

    Your pics appear so fresh and lively as if I have visited the place by sitting here in the office. One can feel the aroma of the place just by seeing your pictures.

    Thanx

  • venkatt says:

    Thanks Pankaj for your appreciation.

  • Manju says:

    venkatt , Im planning to drive to ooty from chennai by Indica car . This is the first time iam driving such a long distance. Every one is scaring me about the hair pin bends could you please suggest me the Best Routes. Will i be able to drive? It would be great if you can provide me all the possible routes and the pros and cons. And also the precaution to be taken care off . Appreciate your help..

  • Venkat says:

    Manju, driving in a Indica to Ooty shouldn’t be a problem at all. A lot of Indica Taxis ply this route regularly from the plains of Coimbatore and other cities. If you aren’t too experienced in driving on Ghat roads, take the Kotagiri route from Mettupalayam. Although longer by some 10 kms, this scenic route has very little traffic even during peak season unlike the Coonoor road which is a nightmare during the summer months. With very few hair pin bends, the Kotagiri road is a driver’s delight. Just go ahead and enjoy yourselves. Wish you a happy and safe Journey !

  • Manju says:

    Thanks Venkat for your quick response. Another clarification . I have plans to visit coonoor , dhodabetta peak. In this case i think i have to go via coonoor in one way. either up or down. Which is better ? climbing up the hill via coonoor and coming back to chennai via kotagiri or vice versa?

  • Venkat says:

    Climbing up via Kotagiri route is much better in my opinion, considering you are travelling in an Indica and you wish to visit Doddabetta. The Kotagiri-Ooty route passes through Doddabetta Junction, from which you have to take a left turn to reach the Doddabetta Peak, which is 3 kms away. These 3 kms, Indica will have its hands full, because it is a pretty steep climb from the Jucntion to the Peak. From here you can proceed to Ooty town and after your sightseeing there, you can return via Coonoor.

  • S Ramaswamy. says:

    Dear Venkat ,

    I am a senior citizen 67 years , since childhood days my dream was to visit Ooty.
    This succeeded only in 1977 , when i had been to RBI training at Salem & was fortunate to visit the place on a Independence day Holidays , & my dream fulfilled.

    For a job i was stationed at Coimbatore between 1978 / 1984 was staying at SAI BABA colony , & on reaching main road in 5 minutes any time we could board a bus to OOTY .

    Every time the i had visited & stayed it was a different satisfaction.

    Now i am stationed in Mumbai , & by chance i could see your blog & was very much happy to read & enjoy the same , as if i was all along travelling with you all.

    May God Bless You.

    Regards,

    Ramaswamy.S.

  • Venkat says:

    Thanks for your appreciative comments, Ramasamy Sir…

  • Elvis says:

    Hi Sir, can i get your contact number?

  • Elvis says:

    Hi Venkat Sir,

    Am also from Tiruppur.

    Myself and my friends used to go OOTY, but i would like to get in touch with you as you are well known about OOty.

  • lalitha says:

    your images were really ossem. After seeing this images i just want to visit this place once in my life time.

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