The Nilgiris- Heaven in South India

In Nilgiris, Travel Guides
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On the way to Coonoor

On the way to Coonoor

Tea Gardens

Tea Gardens

Fed up with mechanical life. Need some break? Need some peace. Let’s celebrate the New Year in the lap of nature. Rather than spending nights in club and partying I preferred to begin my new year with nature and I decided to go to “The Nilgiris” in South India.

I planned for five days (From 30th December to 4th January) trip. I covered many places during my trip. Which I’ll illustrate in detail in this article.

 

Ready Steady Go:

I started my journey from Pune. I preferred mode of travel “Train” because it’s a cheaper option. In India if you don’t plan 30-45 days in advance then it’s not economical to travel by flight. To get the tickets in train is also a challenge you should book in advance. Reservation opens 120 days in advance from the date of travel. I booked my tickets a week ago and it was in waiting. I tried in “Tatkal” and I got the tickets for train. For booking in tatkal quota you are charged few extra bucks and you have to try a day before your journey. So I tried on 29th December and luckily got the tickets.

What is tatkal– It’s a scheme in India where you can book tickets a day in advance of your journey. A very few seats are reserved for that.

Tatkal timings- Booking starts at 10 AM for AC and 11 AM for sleeper. Generally within five minutes all tickets are sold out. So you should be quick enough to book the tickets and yeah lucky as well :)

I went to Bengaluru from Pune by Nagarcoil Express on 30th December.I reached Bengaluru around 11AM. Train was delayed by 30 mins. You should always take buffer while travelling by train because there are 99% chances that your train might get late by at least 30-40 mins.

I have to go to Mysore from Bengaluru. There is frequent bus services also. But as I have motion sickness, I always prefer to travel by train. So my ticket was confirmed in advance from Bengaluru to Mysore. But I missed my train because my previous train got delayed by 30 mins.

I bought the ticket in general for the next train (You don’t get any reserved seats, just go in general coach and people take the seats their on FCFS. Normally general coaches are too crowded)

I reached at Mysore around 3:30 PM. Its 3-4 hours journey by train/bus from Bengaluru.

From here I took a cab and booked it for 4 days. He charged us 12500 INR for ETIOS. It included 250 Kms free per day so 1000 kms for four days, driver allowance, parking charges and everything else. However it was a bit expensive. You can get the same vehicle in 10500-11500 INR range.

If you don’t have motion sickness you can opt for a bus from Bengaluru to Ooty and It takes 7 hours. There is frequent bus services from both states Karnataka and Tamilnadu.

I didn’t opt for that because before going to Ooty my stay was in Masinagudi (Tiger Reserve in Tamilnadu). Now let’s start one by one:

  1. Mysuru to Masinagudi: its 110 Kms distance. The road is very very nice. You can enjoy your driving. On the way you’ll see wildlife like Deer, Peacock, and Hyena. You’ll come to see the deer drinking water near a pond. It’s amazing view. Masinagudi is a tiger reserve in Tamilnadu. On the way you’ll come across another famous tiger reserve “Bandipur Tiger Reserve”. Here you can take safari which takes you inside Jungle. Whether you’ll see any tiger or not it completely depends on luck. So just enjoy the ride in jungle and don’t get disappointed if you don’t see any tiger. Believe me it will be a completely different experience.

You can book safari online also or at the booking center. There is bus safari (350-400 INR per person) which is cheaper and Jeep safari a bit costlier (3500 INR). There is a particular timing for safari. In the morning – 6:00-9:00 AM and in the evening 3:00-6:00 PM. Please check timings again whenever you go as it may change. There is closure period also during Monsoon when you can’t take safari. So, by the time we reached at Bandipur it was around 6 PM and we didn’t get any safari. So we planned for safari in Masingudi. Tiger reserve is divided into two parts. The part which lies in Karnataka is called as Bandipur and the one which lies in Tamilnadu is called as Masinagudi or Mudumalai.

It was 31st and my stay was in Glenview resort which was located deep inside the Jungle. It was 8 PM and we were about to reach at the resort. On the way we saw a Jeep and asked the way to resort and they told us that they are from the resort itself but our vehicle can’t go to resort due to very rough path ahead. We refused because we can’t trust someone who was standing on the road. It was very dark and we were in dense forest. So it was obvious to get scared. Then they asked us to call the resort manager and confirm with him. We did that and he told us that yeah, please get inside because your vehicle can’t come till resort. That’s why we provide our Jeep to escort the tourists.

When we get off. It was very cold and when we looked at the Sky, Stars were clearly visible. I felt very happy. In city due to pollution you won’t be able to see the stars and the moon clearly. It was amazing. We got into the Jeep and within 5 minutes we were at the resort. That 5 minute journey was unforgettable. It was bumpy ride. Then we realized that either Jeep or Range Rover can come till this point. The Hotel Manager came to escort us at the front door. He showed us our room. It was jungle resort, so no luxury was expected.  It was situated deep inside the forest. So we checked in around 31st December, 8:20 PM. Room was not luxurious. It just had basic amenities- Bed, Amirah, Washroom, Water Bottles, and Soap.

It was Okay but not that great as it could have been. Maintenance was not proper. If you want to stay in Jungle, you’ll have better options. Just make sure you do your research well. Visit the different sites for booking hotel. Read reviews always. Negative and positive both. You’ll come to know is this the one you are looking for. What you can compromise with and what you can’t. We took rest for some time and got fresh. Then we were called for dinner. I opted for EP Plan (Which includes Breakfast and Dinner). Food was simple and good. Then we went to campfire. We spent an hour over there and it was quite relaxing in that chilling weather. We went to bed because we were tired badly and we had to wake up early next morning for Safari. Still we woke up till 12 AM. We wished each other a very happy new year and then went to sleep. The weather in the night was very chilling. Make sure to carry enough woolen clothes to resist the cold.

We woke up at 5 AM on 1st January. Yeah, one of the rarest day when I woke up so early. We got ready and then Hotel Jeep dropped us where our car was parked. From there our driver dropped us from where we were going for Safari. In Mudumalai government Jeep Safaris were not available at that time. We arranged a Jeep safari from local people. It was deep inside the jungle but we could see elephant and deer only. Although there is no road in the jungle. So you can imagine the fun of riding in a jeep deep inside forest. It was completely different experience. You’ll see that you are surrounded by Nilgiri Mountains. When first ray of Sun penetrates the tree and enlightens your face. It amuses. It was 2 hours Safari. Although we couldn’t much of wild lives but it was amazing experience. While returning on the way we had a coffee on road side shop. We were standing in sunlight and it was relieving us. We headed for resort and there we had our breakfast. Just beside the resort there is a place where Elephants used to sit. We saw pugmarks and hotel manager took us to nearby water fall. We spent sometime over there and after that we headed for Ooty.

Ooty- Queen Of Hill Station

Masinagudi/Mudumulai to Ooty is 37 Kms away. We started around 12 PM from the resort but followed a different route which was 70 Kms away. So I would suggest to take a cab from Bengaluru or Mysore if you are planning to cover both Masinagudi and Ooty. The road to Ooty was quite beautiful, surrounded by Eucalypts trees and it was sweet smelling throughout the way.

Points to see on the way:

  1. Rock Needle Point – You have to take a ticket for 5 Rs per person and walk straight around 700-800 meters. You’ll get to see a beautiful valley.
  2. Waterfall near Pykara Lake- You have to walk around 1 KM to see that beautiful waterfall. I have seen many waterfalls but it was completely different from others. The stones through which water is falling has different color than normal waterfalls. The local people were saying that during monsoon it looks amazing.
  3. Pykara Lake- It’s 1.5 KM from waterfall. It’s a boat house and you can enjoy boating there.
  4. Shooting Point (Filmy Chakkar) It’s a beautiful green landscape surrounded by mountains. Fortunately we reached here during sunset. Sun was about to hide behind the mountains. It was throwing its dim sunlight on earth and was bidding a good bye. It looks like a place from dreams or fairy tales. You’ll see cloud, sun, mountain and grassland – the perfect combination here which makes it more scenic and charismatic it’s a shooting location. Shooting of many movies have been done hr.

Accommodation in Ooty- We stayed in Wyoming Heritage near Club Mahindra. It was completely worth for money. It was not very big and luxurious hotel. It was simple,clean and consists of basic amenities. Host was very nice. Food was delicious. There is a small lawn in hotel and from there you can see full Ooty. Especially in the night lights make it more beautiful.

Places to visit in Ooty-

  1. Ooty Lake- You can do boating here. You can have snacks. There are some gaming section also. We opted for paddle boat. It has 120 INR charges + 120 deposit for 30 mins. So if you return the boat after 30 mins, deposit is refunded.
  2. Botanical Garden- It’s a huge garden. Which has different species of trees. It’s very well situated. You can spend two-three hours here. You can rest and visit the garden. Flower lovers will love this place. Entry Fees- It has entry fees 30-40 INR per person. You will be charged extra for carrying Camera.
  3. Rose Garden- It is comparatively small garden than botanical garden. It contains variety of roses. It’s beautiful place to visit. You’ll find it more beautiful during monsoon.

Coonoor:

Its 15 -20Kms away from Ooty. You will find many tea gardens here. Must visit place for tea lovers. It’s beautiful location for photography.

You can go from toy train from Ooty which runs at 9:15 AM and 12 PM from Ooty to Coonoor. Ticket costs for 40-50 INR and 140-150 for first class and you can book for return journey from the same train at 4:30 PM from Coonoor.

Toy train takes almost an hour and this journey was the most beautiful part of my trip. You’ll see stepped tea gardens from train on hills. It’s a scenic view and will give you completely different experience. You may come across small hut type houses colored with florescent colors situated at hill in between greenery. It seems like a painting. Those who have never experienced Toy-Train. Go for it if you are going to Ooty. It will give you unforgettable memories. It will make you alive when you’ll think about it later.

 

Places to visit in Coonoor-

  1. Tea Factory – Here you’ll see the complete process how tea leaves are made from the tea plants. You can click pictures also in tea garden and that too in tradition dress. To dress up- You’ll tie up scarf and then you’ll take a basket on your waist. Anyone in the garden will be happy to help you. Just outside the factory there is shop where you’ll get variety of tea leaves and other herbs. They’ll give you the tea to taste and then accordingly you can buy it from there. I bought Ginger Tea and Eucalypts oil. Eucalypts oil help in cold.
  2. Sim’s Park– It’s also huge park like Botanical garden it Ooty. It’s in bowl shape. You can spend 3-4 hours here and relax. It has variety of trees and flowers.

Tips:

  1. By Air- Coimbatore or Bengaluru Airport is nearer.
  2. By Train- Mysore
  3. By Bus- Bengaluru, Mysore

Accommodation- You can experience Jungle Lodges once. For cheaper accommodation keep visiting different sites for different offers. If you are going as a group then it’s better to take a cab from Bengaluru or if you have one or two person it’s suggestible to take bus from Bengaluru to Ooty to save the money.

 

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