Ooty or Udhagamandalam is one of the hot favorite hill stations in South India. People throng this place during weekends, especially during summer. I wondered why it is so, but I got the answer when I visited this place recently. It is definitely a place one should not miss, for many reasons. Summers are best here but crowded too, and the costs take a higher position due to too much demand. Winters are too cold, but those who enjoy cold can check it out.
Where is Ooty located?
Udhagamandalam is the official name of Ooty. It is located in Nilagiri District of Tamil Nadu. Ooty is at a distance of 130 km from Mysore, 270 Km from Bengaluru, and 560 km from Chennai.
A journey by road from Mysore is a pleasant experience. You will be passing through Bandipur Tiger reserve where you may get to see elephants, deers for sure. I saw peacocks also. The road also takes you through the Madhumalai forest. Just after Madhumalai forest, there is a ‘Y’ Junction, and both the roads lead to Ooty or Udhagamandalam. The one towards the left is the shorter distance one, the road is narrow comparatively, traffic is also less. But if you want to enjoy a drive amidst forest, take the other one.
Where to stay at Ooty?
There are many accommodations available in all budgets, and online booking is also available. But we stayed in YWCA Holiday home at Udhagamandalam, which is close to the Railway Station. It has beautiful independent cottages, which can accommodate 2, 3 and 4 persons. Hot water is available from morning 5 to 10 am. Evenings geyser will be switched on upon request. Charges are reasonable, like we paid 3000+ for four persons per day.
The food you get here is freshly cooked and we have to confirm our requirements in advance. Room service and dining hall both options are available. You can also sit in the outdoors and sip your hot coffee, watching the beautiful garden here and listening to songs of birds.
Better to book this cottage in advance if you are visiting during peak season.
Best time to visit Udhagamandalam
The best time to visit Udhagamandalam is March, April, May, October, and November. I visited during March and had a strange experience. Inside the cottage, it was pretty cold but outside it was hot. So even during this time you need warm clothes which are useful only indoors.OOTY WEATHER
Activities in Ooty
Ooty Lake and Boating
The Ooty lake is quite big and is a good pick during the evenings. It was not much crowded. There is an entrance fee of INR 30 per person. There are different types of boats available for boat ride like a pedal boat for four, motorboat for a big group, and rowing boats. The charges are per boat and not per person. Pedal boat charge for 30 minutes is INR 330. You have to pay a deposit which will be refunded if you come back within the stipulated 30 minutes.
There are many shopping centers where you can buy woolens, artificial jewelry, and toys. Street food stalls are also available along with juice corners.
Ooty Botanical Garden
The Botanical garden in Ooty is one of the main attractions and it is too big. There is an entrance fee of INR 40 per person. It is better to visit this part in the morning so that you can spend time to see the park. You should be ready to walk and walk and walk on plains and steps. We could not cover even 25% of the area before our legs started singing.
What I loved most in Udhagamandalam!
Heritage train! Yes, I loved that Ooty train. I had a dream of traveling on that heritage train for long and finally, it came true. The railway station at Udhagamandalam itself if something like the one from a fairy tale, small, neat and located amidst greenery. It looks something like this.
This Heritage train is a meter-gauge train that runs from Udhagamandalam to Mettupalyam, covering a distance of about 46 kms. in five hours. The entire journey is fantastic and soothing. You can enjoy nature in all its raw beauty. You will encounter tunnels, bridges, small stations, steep curves, and all this embedded in lush greenery.
Tickets are issues 45 minutes before the departure time. People are made to sit in the queue and a security person allows us to board the train in the same order. There is two class of seats available; ordinary class costs INR 80 per person whereas first-class costs INR 250 per person. The difference is not much, except the seats are covered with cushion in the first class. The train has limited seats.
The Heritage Train – Experience of Old Era!
The Ooty train is nice, chick and small, something like a fairy tale train! It has partitions that can accommodate 5 + 5 people facing each other. Not much space in the center. There is a luggage holder above. After filling 10 people in each partition, the doors are locked.
The heritage train passes through mountains, tea plantations, tunnels giving you an fantastic experience. I traveled from Udhagamandalam to Coonoor only and heard that the journey is more beautiful further till Mettupalyam. I want to try this on my next visit.
Coonoor – Clouds and mountains play hide and seek here!
Coonoor is a beautiful place with tea plantations, tall pine trees, and mountains. Clouds, which appear to be so much away from us, come down here and as you are traveling, you can see that clouds are below your level. It is a feast for your eyes. Ooty Coonoor are something like twin cities located just 20 kms. apart.
The view depends on the sunshine. It is good if it is neither too bright nor cloudy.
Coonoor also has a vast park named Sim’s Park and as I have said, you have to be fit to see the entire park. I could cover only 25% of it. Enjoy the greenery, lotus pond, roses, and lush green lawn.
I visited the tea factory and went to a nearby shop. I had no intention of buying anything, but I ended up buying Green Tea and some spices. The green tea that he gave us for tasting was too good and I could not stop myself from buying it. Then Chocolate tea powder, some spices, also got included. Here you can see how Eucalyptus oil is manufactured and can also buy freshly made Eucalyptus oil.
Dolphin’s Nose is a view Point. The view is good; you can rent binoculars and see the mountain range, falls and water streams. There are many monkeys here, so be careful and do not carry any eatables in your hands. The monkeys will scare you and snatch them. There are a few other viewpoints which you can visit depending on the time available.
I found the drive around Conoor more exciting than the destinations, so keep your eyes wide open, don’t even wink, you will miss one second, it is that beautiful. Coonoor tea gardens are really vast and you can see greenery as long as your vision reaches.
Coonoor to Ooty we traveled by bus to check the view we get during this Journey. It was also good, but the train journey I found more exciting!