Monday, 30 May 2016

Ooty, Coonoor and Avalanche ~ The triplet beauties

With the Bangalore weather reaching new heights this year, we began our frantic search for some nature gifted air conditioned place. Nowadays we have exhausted almost all places in South India, so whenever there is a plan to travel we either need to rummage for less known destinations or just repeat.

Now Ooty is one such place we visited some 5 years back and sadly never wrote a blog post on it. I know its not fair because Ooty is such a popular destination that it should get its own post, but very rarely the inevitable happens and because of some reason or no reason we end up, not writing.

So this time we planned a little different Ooty trip, we mostly excluded the common sightseeing places in Ooty such as the pine forests, Pykara dam etc since we have already seen those places and rather opted for Coonoor and Avalanchi.We had been to Coonoor before and had taken the UNESCO heritage Nilgiri Express to travel from Ooty to Coonoor.It was such an amazing experience to embark on the mountain railway.

In case you want to read about that post,the blogpost is here

Since our first stop was at Bandipur where we stayed for a day,we started for Ooty the next day after having morning snacks. I prefer to call it snacks and not breakfast because we ate a few biscuits, chocolates and chips that we had parcelled with us. Our plan was to hit the roads before the Sun gets too strong. Its a short journey of around 50 kms, most of which is through the Mudumalai and Masinagudi forest region.Once we crossed Masinagudi, we came across a small town where we had our breakfast of dosa and filter coffee at a small roadside shop.

Hoopoe at Bandipur

We reached Ooty in time after an enjoyable two hour ride, but then things turned ugly.Since May is peak season in Ooty so all hotels were booked to the brink.After some good hours wasted for search and hunt, we found a hotel near the Ooty bus terminus. We booked the hotel for two days. On the first day we will be revisiting Coonoor and on the next day we planned for Avalanche.

The evening we went to Ooty lake. We took an auto and for a fixed fare of 100 bucks, the driver agreed to drop us to Ooty lake. The lake premises has been much better organized than what we saw last time. There are now a whole lot of entertainment things such as joyrides,7-D shows,food stalls,gift shops apart from the usual boating. There is also a nice elevated platform where people can get up and stand and watch the lake as long as they want. The temperature was slowly dropping and the cold winds were gradually getting stronger as the sun was preparing to rest for the day. The warm colours of the Sun, set a perfect back drop against the blanket of the coniferous trees that surrounds the lake. Since it was getting cold, we took two coffee from the food stalls and made our way towards the exit gate. The coffee tasted horrible.There are several shops all the way to the gate. We went into one shop that was selling flower seeds and bulbs. I bough two packets of seeds, one pansy and the other way fuchsia.Later when I showed my friend who is a botanist by profession and a gardener by hobby, the seeds, I understood that I have been duped! They have packed some weed seeds and have labelled them as exotic flower seeds. So please be aware....there is only one shop in that premises that sells seeds and bulbs, do not buy anything from that shop.


Beautiful Ooty Lake

joy rides

Again we hopped into a auto and headed for the mall road. The mall road is the mecca of woollen clothes in Ooty and you can get very good and stylist stuff at a really bargain price. Last time when we came to Ooty, we bought two really good jackets at amazing price. We wore those jackets in Dooars,Uttarkhand and also in Bangalore winters and never felt the bitter cold anywhere.So this time, how can I miss adding some more winter clothes to my winter wear collection. We got some good sweaters and pull overs at a good bargain from one of the shops. 

shops on Mall Road

Checking out a shop

Market place

Next day, we started for Coonoor at 6 am. We drove leisurely and halted at all the possible places that offer good landscapes. Since last time we experienced the Nilgiri mountain railway from Ooty to Coonoor, so this time we wanted to enjoy the roads.We took more than an hour to cover the 20 km stretch, so you can well understand how much slowly we drove and how many times we stopped.

stopping for pictures
Coonoor Railway Station

We first stopped by a tea plantation, it was the same tea plantation we stopped when we came last time also. That time there was a man, who took my photo in a tea leaf puckers costume and gave us the photo within 3 minutes.That time he was the only one man, now there are 3-4 in that same vicinity. However when we reached there it was too early, not a single tourist has arrived except us. So we could take some beautiful early morning tea plantation pictures in absolute solitary. And yeah we got lucky too...we saw a big family of nilgais feasting on tea leaves.

Nilgai in the tea plantations
tea plantation
Next we went to a tea factory. It must our 5th or 6th visit to a tea factory. But how can the tour of a tea garden be complete if you do not smell the freshly withered leaves.Again it was the same tea factory we visited last time also. The superintend took us around the tea factory and explained to us briefly the entire tea making making process from choosing the best leaves for plucking,followed by withering them on a air-bed to get rid of the excess moisture,then rolling and oxidising them before finally roasting,grading and packaging. Some of the factory workers also showed us how it is actually done. After talking with them we got to know that so many of them are from Bengal who previously used to work in the world famous Darjeeling tea estates, but sadly because of no regular work and poor pay, they had to come and work so far from their homes.

Tea Trail

Inside the factory

The various steps of processing tea leaves

We enjoyed tea under this shade

Dried tea flowers, each priced 100 bucks

The superintendent next took us to their factory shop and started showing us the various tea and honey products that they market with superb enthusiasm. They also offered us morning cups of tea as complimentary and we obliged them by buying some of their products.

Every day

We next headed for Dolphin's Nose from where one can see the Catherine Falls. At one bend on the way to Dolphin's Nose, we spotted the Catherine Falls. We enjoyed the drive till Dolphin's Nose, the road was so beautiful that it was beyond any words. Vibrant jacaranda flowers on the road, a clear blue sky, greenery on either sides and bursts of dandelion sticks floating in the air at times made us feel we were in some fairy land. We paused, felt nature and moved on. By the time we reached Dolphin's nose, it was full with tourists and also very hot. Again we had to park the car and walk some 800 mts to go to the view point. It made absolutely no sense for us, we have already seen the Catherine Falls on the way, so took a U turn and headed back.

Nature in blooms

colour blanket

The Nilgiris

Plantations and the mountains at the back

In the evening we again went to the Mall Road to do some shopping. We walked, went to a bistro, had some hot chocolate coffee which tasted delicious,bought some Ooty chocolates had our dinner and went back to hotel.

Next day plan was to see the Avalanche lake which is around 25 kms from Ooty, spend some time there and then head back to Bangalore. So we started at around 6:00 am and reached Avalanche by 7:00 am. A good part of the road is bad, and without any proper markers so reaching there took some time. On reaching we came to know that private vehicles are not allowed beyond the check post and you have to get permissions and separate jeep tickets from the forest department. Their office opens only after 9 am. Waiting for another 2 hours seems futile, since we have to head back to Bangalore the same day. So we returned back. On the way back we stopped at certain places from where we could get some clear views of the Avalanche and the Emerald Lake. We could get some nice clicks and had to be happy with them this time.Anyway some places can always be saved for later visits.

Emerald Lake

Emerald Dam

Avalanche Lake

Emerald lake

Happy me

On the way to Avalanche

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake


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