We are delighted to share this informative guest post by Ram Kishore, a software professional who blogs on www.ramkishoretravelogue.com. Over to him:
A trip to Ooty from Bangalore was a much sought-after vacation of mine, which had been put on the back burner for a very long time. We finally made it during the first week of May 2013. April, May are considered peak seasons and there would usually be a heavy flow of tourists to Ooty mainly due to the pleasant climatic conditions. Summer vacation takes credit.
Route to Ooty from Bangalore
There are two main routes to Ooty from Bangalore.
1) Bangalore –> Ramnagara –> Mandya –> SriRangapattna –> Mysore –> Nanjangud –> Gundlupet –> Bandipur–> Masinagudi — Ooty ( Approx 265 Kms)
2) Bangalore –> Ramnagara –> Mandya –> SriRangapattna –> Mysore –> Nanjangud –> Gundlupet –> Bandipur –> Mudumalai –> Gudalur –> Ooty ( Approx 296 Kms)
Route 1 is often chosen by private vehicles as the stretch from Masinagudi to Ooty involves 36 hairpin bends and is precariously steep. It requires extreme caution and good manoeuvering skills and driving sense to tread on this stretch. Newbies should definitely avoid this route and take the second one. Vehicles fully loaded to find it difficult to climb the steep incline. So even if you are skilled but your vehicle is fully packed, take route 2. Route 2 is less steep and easily motorable. It also takes you through the Tamil Nadu version of the Bandipur Forest (Mudumalai Forest). So your chances of encountering wild animals are more.
Also, the Mudumalai Elephant Camp is on this route. However, both the routes go through Bandipur Forest, where elephants, bison, deer, etc. are a common sight. We took a break in Mysore and headed to the Ooty the next day. It took us 4 hours for a relaxed drive from Mysore to Ooty via route 1.
Hotels en route Ooty:
Gundlupet is the last best place after (Mysore) to have food. After Gundlupet, there is no good hotel till you reach Ooty. So better feed your appetite as well as your vehicle before crossing Gundlupet. I didn’t notice any major petrol bunks after Gundlupet.
The road at Bandipur was “Ok” with few potholes. But it was too narrow for two vehicles to pass through, so watch out for local Jeeps that would set you off-road.
Accommodation at Ooty
A wide range of accommodation is available in Ooty that suits anyone/any budget. People often choose hotels/resorts in Coonoor rather than Ooty as it’s less crowded. Be sure to book in advance, since Ooty being a major tourist attraction, popular resorts/hotels are usually booked out. We chose The Highland Hotel, located on the Ooty-Doddabetta Highway. I’d love to visit this hotel once again.
Tourist Places in and around Ooty and Coonoor
There are lots and lots of tourist places to see around Ooty and Connor. It’s best to list all the places that you’d like to visit before you start your travel in order to make the most out of your trip. Popular tourist destinations in Ooty are as follows-
Attractions in Ooty
Doddabetta Peak: This one was very close to our hotel. The road to the peak was in a very bad state. Full of potholes. Any hatchback/low-slung vehicle would ram the ground very often. To add to the worries, there is no ample parking space atop the peak. You’d have to wait for someone else to park. This could go even worse in weekends/peak seasons. You gotta trek a bit from the parking lot to reach the peak. The path is brimmed with local vendors selling eatables/sweaters/mufflers/caps etc. (Team TS adds: Please check for road condition/closures before you go. The last we heard, it was still under repairs.)
Avalanche: Avalanche is a beautiful village located about 22 km from Ooty. The road en route to Avalanche is good and is very very scenic. This place is well known for the Avalanche Lake and valley around. Tamil Nadu Forest department also conducts chartered rides inside the forest. The route also has quite a few hairpin bends but not as tough as Masinagudi.
Ooty to Coonoor
Coonoor is around 20 Kms from Ooty and takes anywhere between 45 mins to 1 hour to reach. Dolphin’s nose, lamb’s rock, and Sim’s Park are major attractions here.
Sims Park: Just a miniature version of the Botanical Garden in Ooty. It also has an artificial mini-lake inside the park with boating facilities. Good for kids, bird watchers, and nature enthusiasts.
Dolphin’s Nose: If you ever gotta experience the real feel of Ooty/Coonoor and its charm, you gotta visit Dolphin’s Nose. It’s not just the place but also the roads that lead to Dolphins nose that gives you an awesome experience. Winding roads, tea estates on either side, mist – the reason you came to Ooty. The road is too narrow that only one vehicle can pass at a time. Exercise extreme caution on this road.
Ooty Lake: This is one of the most famous tourists spots in Ooty. TTDC offers boat rides on different types of boats on this lake. This lake is well maintained by TTDC though the flow of tourists to this place is very high. This is one of the easily crowded tourist destinations in Ooty. We couldn’t go for a boat ride as it was raining heavily.
There are, of course, many other tourist places in Ooty and Coonoor, which we didn’t make due to lack of time. Overall, it was a fascinating experience.
Ram Kishore’s trip to Ooty was taken in 2013, so some of the information might have changed. Please check for updates before you travel.