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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.