It was Christmas holidays when I and my husband made a plan for a bike trip from Bengaluru to Ooty. Distance is approximately 330 km and it takes around 7-8 hours to reach Ooty from here via Mysore and Bandipur. The road from Bengaluru to Ooty is simply beautiful with great view of mountains and forests on both the sides.
We started very early in the morning from Bengaluru hoping to avoid the peak hours traffic. But contrary to our expectation the road was full of bikes and cars with people with their backpack and exciting faces. It was like the whole of Bengaluru was going for a trip. It was the perfect weekend for bengalureans as Friday was a holiday and that too it was Christmas. We could see the festive mood of the new year had already begun.
On the way from Bengaluru to Ooty, there are many beautiful towns where you can take small breaks and enjoy beautiful surroundings. At around 55 km from Bengaluru lies Ramnagaram, which invites you to have a mesmerizing view of rock formations around it and it is also known for its silk. Moving ahead the town of Channapatna is best known for wooden toys made in ivory, rose and sandalwood.You can see many shops selling those toys all over the roadside.It can be a good souvenir to take back with you. Further ahead 100 km from Bengaluru lies vast stretch of Paddy and sugarcane fields of Mandya, a town known for its jaggery production. You can enjoy here a typical savory Maddur vada with tea from roadside stalls. Mysore is only 50 km from here. After reaching Mysore there are two roads, one leads to Coorg, which is another beautiful hill station of south India and other one goes for Ooty and Coonoor.
Mysore to Ooty road brings you more enchanting experiences on the way. You are left awestruck with the beauty of towering Western Ghat Mountains of Nilgiri on the Mysore-Ooty highway.The road further takes you through one of the most beautiful national parks of India-Bandipur National Park or popularly known as Bandipur Tiger Reserve. You are not allowed to stop in between the road as fears of encountering wild animals crossing through highway. But while riding you can get to see many animals roaming freely inside jungles nearby roads like chital, langurs, Indian giant squirrels, and elephants. To see these animals free and relaxing in their natural surroundings is a lifetime experience. Bandipur is also home to over 200 species of birds. Chirping of these birds with the murmuring of winds through the tall standing forest of teak, rosewood and giant bamboo and the fresh smell of sandalwood is so refreshing that all your tiredness of journey disappears in an instant. One thing to note that movement of vehicles are not allowed after 6:00 pm so if you are planning to go Ooty via this route cross the forest before dusk.
After passing through Bandipur sanctuary you leave the Karnataka border and enter to Tamil Nadu at Mudumalai National park. From here you can take either the steeper route through Masinagudi and Kalhatty ghats which is shorter by about 40 km.This route comprises of 36 hairpin bends and is thrilling to drive on. There is an alternate route the Highway route via Salem, Avinashi NH47 and Mettupalayam SH66. If you are adventure loving take the first one but be careful while driving on those sharp bends. Driving on those crazy curves, as you reach closer to Ooty, nature unfolds all its hidden beauty before you. Lofty mountains, dense Pine forest, sprawling grasslands and miles and miles of tea gardens greet you on the way and welcomes you to Ooty, the queen of hills.
After 8 hours of unforgettable ride from Bengaluru, we reached our hotel in Ooty at around 2 pm, which we had booked online from MakeMyTrip. But to our shock, there was no room booked in our name. At first, we thought we have come to some wrong hotel. We searched nearby areas for any other hotel with a similar name but we found none, it was the same hotel we booked but the hotel was not ready to accept the booking.Our mobiles were showing the low battery. Somehow we managed to charge our mobile little bit by requesting the caretaker of the hotel and called to MMT customer care. After an exhaustive session of call and callback, they finally told us that our booking was cancelled by the hotel and they tried to message us but it could not be delivered and they have blacklisted the hotel for future. They apologised and assured us to arrange a hotel very soon. 2 hours had already passed in all this dramatic scene and we were still without a room, puzzled and tired. Then came another shock when they called and expressed their inability to arrange a room as no room was available for online booking due to Christmas and New Year holidays.Now it came to us to find a room and they agreed to bear the cost. Now in all these unpleasant incident, something good came out for us 🙂 We could choose the most luxurious hotel, without worrying about its cost. After a hard search in the town, we finally booked a luxurious hotel in a beautiful location (costing three times of the original one we had booked and it all paid by MMT ).It is said that “All’s well that ends well”.
Finally, we settled in our room and got fresh.After relaxing for some time we went for a walk. There are many old churches in Ooty and it was Christmas so all were beautifully decorated. We visited St. Stephen’s Church a fascinating Gothic structure which still retains its Victorian feel, people were celebrating with bonfires and offering prayers.We also participated in their joyous moment. While returning to our hotel we bought some delicious homemade Ooty chocolates. You can find chocolates of numerous flavours like orange, banana, pan-pasand and much more (though for me pan-pasand with chocolate was not at all a delicious combination 🙂 ). This is some Ooty special thing which you would love to take back home for your dear ones.
Next morning we woke up early and went for a cup of tea from a small roadside shop. Having a cup of tea amid cool and refreshing morning breeze and watching the sun rising from the hill in front of you is a mesmerising experience.You just want to inhale it all with your breath and make it a part of your beautiful memories.
Ooty has a lot to offer for your soul to fill it with nature’s tranquillity and its charm.From the thrill of a horse race to a slow yet scenic ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, you’ll find it all here. After having breakfast we started for sightseeing in Ooty. On the way, there was turn leading to the beautiful road covered with Eucalyptus trees. It was very tempting so we thought to just drive on that road. In the end of that road, there was a beautiful palace with wide open lawn. Some horses were standing on the lawn. Some foreigners were doing horse riding and others just relaxing. Very few Indians were also there. We asked a horseman for a ride. While talking to him we came to know that it was actually a palace turned hotel and they thought us also as a guest staying in the hotel 🙂 we entered so casually that guard also didn’t think about us as visitors otherwise he would not let us enter the premises. So we pretended to be like hotel guests and enjoyed the horse riding on the beautiful mountain road. It was huge fun and exciting.This was a bonus in the trip 🙂
After fun filled horse ride we reached Botanical garden which is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the country and lies on the lower slopes of Doddabetta peak.The Gardens have around a thousand species, both exotic and indigenous, of plants, shrubs, ferns, trees, herbal and bonsai plants. In the center of the Gardens lie a fossilized tree trunk estimated to be 20 million years old.Do not forget to buy natural Nilgiri essential oil sold by forest department inside the garden on a very reasonable price.
At a distance of 2 km from the botanical garden, there is a beautiful rose garden situated on the slopes of the Elk Hill.Garden has more than 20,000 varieties of roses.It is one of the largest collection of roses in India.
Nearby Ooty lake is another prominent tourist spot. The lake is surrounded by groves of Eucalyptus trees with a railway line running along one shore.You can enjoy boating with an amazing view of water birds along with the beautiful Nilgiri mountain ranges in the backdrop.
In the evening we visited Dodabetta tea factory and museum.You can learn here about the origin of different kinds of tea leaves that are used across the globe along with the history of tea in India and its evolution in the Nilgiris. Inside the factory, you can see and appreciate the method of tea processing by CTC (Cut, Twist and Curl) machines. You will also get to taste a hot cup of fresh Nilgiri tea. You can also buy fresh Nilgiri tea of various flavours from here at a reasonable price. It was the quite fulfilling day to see so many beautiful places in close proximity to nature.
Next day while returning from Ooty we came to visit many beautiful spots on the way- Pykara lake and waterfalls, Shooting point, Needle rock view point.All those places are nature’s marvel and simply beautiful.
Due to time constraint we could not go to visit other beautiful sights of Ooty like Avalanche lake, a natural reservoir surrounded by hills and a thin forest line, which is a popular destination for trekking, camping and kayaking ; Upper Bhavani Lake;Emerald lake;Kalhatty waterfalls; travelling via Nilgiri Mountain Railway toy train, thread Garden and wax world museum . In our next trip, we are definitely going to visit all those places. This was really a memorable trip and we would love to come back again Ooty.
Few Travel Tips to Ooty:
- If you are not expert driver do not take the steeper route through Masinagudi and Kalhatty ghats which comprises of 36 hairpin bends
- If you have booked your hotel online, once confirm your booking with your hotel before starting.
- Do not forget to buy homemade delicious Ooty Chocolates and Nilgiri essential oil.
- As there are so many places to visit in Ooty, take help of some Route planner app which can give you the shortest route to cover all places easily. We used VisitIn App for this and it was really helpful.