Originally known as Udagamandalam, Ooty or Ootacamund is one of South India's most valued treasures. With The Nilgiris which is the Queen of Hills, as its beautiful backdrop, this hill station stands at the height of 2,240 m in the state of Tamil Nadu. Tourism being its main source of income; agriculture, manufacture of medicine and photographic films are some of the other sources.
It is the most popular sites of tourism in India, especially as a honeymoon destination. A ride in the Toy Train, which takes you through dazzling landscapes, is one of Ooty's finest experiences. The pleasantly cool weather during most months of the year, and the view of hills, lakes, gardens and tea estates, makes Ooty one of the most striking places to visit in South India for a vacation.
How To Reach Ooty From Bangalore
Route 1 : NICE Bangalore-Mysore Expressway - Kumbalgodu - Bidadi - Ramanagar - Channapatna - Mandya - Mysore - Nanjangud - Begur - Ooty (278 km - 6 h)
Route 2: NICE Bangalore-Mysore Expressway - Malavalli - Mysore - Nanjanagud - Mysore-Ooty Rd in Theppakadu - NH 181 - Ooty (280 km - 6h 30 min)
Route 3: CNR Rao Underpass Rd / CV Raman Rd - NH 75 - NH 150A - NH 766 - NH 181 - Mysore-Ooty Rd in Theppakadu (316 km - 7 h)
By Train- The nearest railway station to Ooty is Mettupalyam in Coimbatore which is 40 km away. From here, cabs are easily available that can be hired. There are 5 daily express trains from Bangalore to Coimbatore, apart from which a few weekly long-distance trains pass through Coimbatore. Therefore, travelling to Ooty is relatively hassle-free.
Here are some things to do and places to visit on the way.
Grape-Stomping At Ramanagar
Did you know that this town of seven hills, well-known for being the shooting location of the blockbuster film Sholay, also happens to have a grape-stomping winery? Be sure to wear comfortable clothes, because you will be stomping grapes barefoot.
You can go for a wine tour and try some those fine wine as well. Also, stop at this place to visit the beautiful hills, or trek if you want an exhilarating experience. Channapatna, the toy town of Ramanagar, is another tourist hotspot, you'd want to stop at.
Maddur Vada At Maddur!
You will find Maddur on your way to Ooty, so don't forget to stop for a lip-smacking Maddur Vada, a local specialty. The snack is named after the place because only the people at Maddur know how to get it right. They use onion juice and extracts to mix with rava instead of water, which gives it such a distinct flavour.
Srirangapatna is known for housing a number of historically significant structures. Gumbaz, which is the burial chamber of Tipu Sultan and his parents, is one of them.
The structure is completely made of ivory and has beautiful carvings over it. Dariya Daulat Baug, which is the summer palace of Tipu Sultan, temples, Balamuri waterfall, are some of the other places to visit in Srirangapatna.
Royal Heritage Of Mysore
Mysore is a popular tourist attraction primarily because of the royal history of the city. The Mysore Palace that belongs to the royal family, the Wodeyars, is the spot of focus here. Don't miss Mysore Pak, one of the most loved sweet dish in India, that originated in Mysore.
The city is also known for sandalwood and silk, so it is the perfect place to buy these products. There are a number of other palaces, museums and places of worship that can be visited. However, it might take over a day to comfortably visit all the locations.
Pilgrimage At Nanjanagud
This little village situated about 50 km from Mysore, is filled with temples and mutts. One of the oldest temples in India is found in Nanjanagud. It is the magnificent Nanjundeshwara Temple, located on the banks of river Kabini.
The Kabini Reservoir which is built on river Kabini, which is 190 ft in height and 2,284 feet in width, is another place of interest, located an hour from Nanjangud.
Sunflower Farms Of Gundlupet
Gundlupet is a small town in Chamarajanagar district and is around 40 km from Nanjangud. The town is best known for growing sunflowers around the month of July.
Since agriculture is one of the main occupations, earlier, almost all farmers grew sunflowers, which would be transported to Mysore for sunflower oil extraction.
Although it has reduced in number, you must stop to take in the dream-like view of these sunflower farms. Parvati Betta, Manchalli Cave Temple, and a few other temples can be visited, which are in the vicinity of Gundlupet within a radius of about 10 km.
Bandipur National Park
Located 25 km from Gundlupet on the same highway, is the Bandipur National Park, established in 1974. It was historically a hunting reserve to the Kings of Mysore, now has been converted to a National Park, under Project Tiger.
It houses many wildlife species such as Bonner Macaque Nilgiri Langur, Dhole, Smooth-coated Otter, Stripe-necked Mongoose, Jungle Cat, Tiger, Wild Boar, Chital, Leopard and so much more. The Safari timings are 6.30 AM to 8.30 AM , and 3.30 PM to 5.30 PM . October to May is the best time to visit this National Park.
Tree House Stay At Mudumalai
If you've ever been tempted to stay in a tree house, Mudumalai grants your wish! These tree houses made of bamboo and wood on elevated platforms offers you a closer look into the nature. With Mudumalai National Park in the vicinity, which is also a Tiger Reserve, there are many jungle safaris, bird-watching walks and trekking offered by local camp services.
Next up is the final destination - Ooty!
PC: Gautam Singh
Gardens Of Ooty
Ooty has a number of awe-inspiring gardens that cannot be missed. Ooty Botanical Garden located on the slopes of Doddabetta, is a huge garden with a lot of greens to see. It is a haven for nature lovers and nature photographers.
Thread Garden is a unique garden filled with artificial flowers and plants made by artisans, by using only threads. The Government Rose Gardens of Ooty, has the largest collection of roses in India, and is located in the heart of the city.
Hills, Falls and Peaks!
As already established, Ooty has it all! Some of the most popular tourist hotspots are Kolhatti Falls, Catherine Falls, Doddabetta Peak, Tiger Hills and Doddabetta Hills.
There are also beautiful natural spots like Dolphin's Nose (named after a protruding rock that looks like a nose of dolphin), Echo Rock or Lamb's Rock and Bison Valley, which offers a picturesque view of the entire scenic setting of Ooty.
Ooty's Incredible Lakes
Pykara Lake and waterfall is the most loved tourist spot. It offers a view of the beautiful Pykara river, and also has Todda settlements, wildlife and shola trees. Boating is available on this lake, with an option of a speedboat or a motorboat, both priced at around Rs 750-800.
The man-made Ooty Lake also offers boating and is famous for conducting boat races in the month of May. Emerald Lake and Avalanche Lakes are two other beautiful lakes, with a stunning landscape of trees and hills surrounding them.
PC: Raghavan G