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2011 The Season Opener — Ride to OOTY

After a two month break from my last trek to Thadiyandmol and Nishani Motte I was ready to hit the road again. I had visited a couple of places when I was in mumbai, however when CAM announced the ride to ooty I immediately signed up.

With the usual formalities completed, we headed to ooty. We reached gundulpet in the wee hours of the morning, after refreshing , we got ready to head to bandipur. As usual, ,the support vehicles were ready with the cycles. The bus and the support vehicles reached bandipur-mudumalai border and the riders got ready to embark on an arduous climb after unloading the cycles and having breakfast.

Mudumalai Entrance

Day 1 – The Ascent

The initial part of the ride was through mudumalai forest and all the riders were enjoying zipping along the empty roads in the forest,  however the joy was shorlived, when we reached gudalur. The steep ascent to ooty was about to start, which also meant the fight against gravity was also about to start.

The ride begins

TFN 2010 was concluded recently and the route was marked with encouraging messages for the 100 cyclists who had particapted in that.

Never Give UP

The climb was slow, and the rising temperatures made the climb even more tough. Stopping after few kms we continued the climb. As we went up the climb became more steeper. A few of the riders decided to climb the support vechile and ride a short distance while the rest of them were slogging it out in the heat. Depleting water levels also meant the support vechile had to stop frequently to replenish the water for the tired riders.

Scenary enroute

Myself and a few others took a ride in the support vechile for a short distance . Frrquent stops to supply water for the other riders, also meant we could have our lunch also before we could start the climb again.

With 30kms to go to reach ooty, the riders in the support vehicle, including myself began the climb again. The climb was slow and we began to cover good distance. A short break for tea and we were off again. It was almost 4.30 and we were 6 kms away from reaching ooty. Time was running out and the support vechile was sweeping everyone and we had to reach ooty by 5. Another ride in the vechile and we reached ooty by 5.30. Accomodation was at YWCA. Rooms were allotted. A short rest and we headed out for dinner and it time to hit the sack and the thrilling downhill ride was waiting everyone the next day

Day 2The Descent

It was a delayed start as the many of us had opted to ride downhill though there was an optional ride to doddabetta which was done by a few expert riders. Since the ride was downhill we decided to take it easy. Stopping for photos we continued our ride. A short detour to pykara boat house and a short boat ride we were back cruising downhill again. We met a german couple who were cycling from mumbai to germany over a course of 1 year covering almost 25k kms. Pretty amazing stuff.

Lake enroute to mudumalai

A couple of hours of a thrilling downhill ride and we were at gudalur. A short stop for lunch and we were back riding to bandipur where the bus was waiting. Another couple of hours with short breaks and we were in bandipur-mudumalai border, thus concluding an amazing and wonderful ride.

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OOTY

After a three month workathon, I managed to get a 3 day break.  Dad had planned for a trip to ooty and coonoor and I was assigned the task of checking the places to visit.  I had visited ooty and coonoor in may, however due to the short time span I couldn’t cover all the places.

This time I wasn’t interested in visiting the usual places in ooty. I checked the net for places to visit ad I found this excellent travelogue in team-bhp by a lalu ks. He had visited ooty in Nov last year. Going through his travelogue, I made a list of places which could be covered in 3 days. Though I had visited many of the places in my earlier trip, I included those and a few others which I couldn’t visit.

Day 0

With my brother having to attend his XAT exams we left for mysore at 2 in the afternoon on sunday.  Me and my bro decided to share the driving on all 4 days. Navigating the traffic we moved to mysore.  With a brief stop in maddur coffee day, we proceeded to mysore. We reached mysore at 5 and drove to my cousin’s house where we would spend the night.

Day 1

We left for ooty early morning and I took over the driving.  We made good progress as the roads were empty. We reached gundulpet at 7.30. The weather was quite cold, and after breakfast, we took out the jackets and shawls to make ourselves warm and we proceeded further.

The condition of the roads deteriorates after gundulpet. The road to bandipur is being repaired and it has been converted to a single lane as the repair work is being done on either side.

On the road to bandipur

Driving slowly we reached bandipur and stopped there for a short while

Enroute to bandipur

With a small pit stop we headed to mudulamalai and then to ooty via kalhatti ghat

Roads in Mudumalai

We were on lookout for animals as we reached mudumalai early, but all we could find were a couple of elephants and being taken to work

Elephant and its mahout

With a steady ascent through the 36 hairpin bends, with a break in between to see the valley we reached ooty at 9.30.

Valley

Accomodation was booked at silver oak hotel at ettines road. The nearest landmark is alankar theather. Asking for the theater we reached the hotel at 10 in the morning.  Having checked in, we took some rest and had a bath, before heading for sightseeing

Since I was interested in visiting avalanche and upper bhavani, which come under the reserve forest area, we had to get permission from the forest dept.  We went to the forest dept office to get the permission so that we could visit both the places the next day. We were asked to submit a written application which my dad did. Since the superindentent was on leave we were aked to come in the day morning.

With the permission sorted out, we headed to pykara falls and lake which was around 25kms from the forest dept office.

Kamaraj sagar dam was enroute to pykara and we stopped there for a few min for a photoshoot. I had visited the dam in may and it was pretty clean.

Kamaraj Sagar Dam

With dirt being thrown in the water, the dam waters was looking quite dirty

Dirty Waters

After spending some time near the dam, we headed to pykara falls. The falls had water in it and there were plenty of tourists near the falls. The scenery is quite good, at this time of the year

Scenary @ pykara falls

Pykara Falls

The next stop after the falls was the pykara boat house which was a few kms from the falls. The view from top of the boat house was quite good with crystal clear water and boats in it

Pykara Lake

The boat house is located at the edge of the river and offers a decent view of the river and the boats present in it

Boat House and River

We had lunch at one of the hotels near and moved to shooting meadow.  The place is called shooting meadow as a lot of film shootings occur there.

Route to shooting meadow

The meadow is just a flat land with a small forest used for shooting.

View from top of the meadow

There are various mountains present at a distance which can be seen when we reach the top.

Distant mountains

With nothing much to do there, we headed for glenmorgan. There are two routes bifurcating, and during the last we took a power station worker to show us the way. I had forgotten the route we had taken, and I missed the turn and went further. After going a bit further I realized I was on the wrong route and had to turn back. The road was not good and my dad was not in favour of taking the other route, hence we had to abandon the plan of visiting glenmorgan

Here are a few snaps from my trip in may

Sunset at glenmorgan

Scenery near glenmorgan

By the time we left glenmorgan it was 4 and we still had enough time. Dodabetta was the closest place we could visit and i had missed it during my earlier visit. Since there was plenty of time left, i streered the car towards dodabetta

Repair work was going on as roads had caved in at some parts due to landslides. The road to dodabetta is good for most part, however the roads worsens when we take a right where the direction is given. There are huge potholes and care has to be taken when driving.

Dodabetta is the highest peak in south india and there is a telescope tower present which from where visitors can ooty town, bus stand and the highway.

Telescope Tower

From the telescope tower we can also see mukruthi and a few other peaks. With cloud cover at a distance, the view looks quite good

View from Dodabetta

With shopping being done, we left dodabetta by 5. With driving in highways banned after 6(for me), we headed to botanical garden which was located in ooty town. This would be the last place we would visit for the day.

Botanical garden is just like lalbagh in garden, which has a glass house and a huge lawn surrounded by trees. Evening was spent relaxing at the lawn

Inside the glass house

With the sun setting we headed back to the hotel. After having dinner at a local restaurant, we hit the bed

Day 2

The guy at the forest office had asked us to come by 11 to collect the permission letter. Since there was time left to go to the forest office, my parents and my brother went to the rose garden and the wax world in the morning, while i stayed back at the hotel. The wax world contains statues of some prominent Indian personalities. As per the guard, these statues are made in Bangalore, before they are shipped to ooty

Wax Statues

Apparently not many roses had bloomed in the garden and there was nothing much to do. Once my parents returned to the hotel, we went to the forest office dept to get the permission letter for avalanche and upper bhavani.

We reached the forest dept and as is the usual norm in any govt office, we had to wait for a while to get the permission as the sp in charge was a busy man. We had to give our names along with the vehicle no and we got the permission letter.

We left for avalanche the moment we got the letter. The place is called avalanche because of an avalanche in the late 1900’s .

The place comes under reserved forest area and scenery enroute to the place is fantastic.  Asking for directions, we proceeded. We caught a glimpse of Porthy lake , and the scenery from the road was simple fabulous

Porthy Lake and tea estates

Our journey continued towards avalanche and we soon spotted the deviation towards emrald dam, which we decided to cover when coming back. The scenery improved as we drove further.  Negotiating a few hair pin bends we continued, we soon found the direction to avalanche written in Tamil, which was confirmed by a passerby. The smooth tarmac changes to a mud road as we drive by

Scenery near avalanche

As we drove we got a look at avalanche lake. The road leading to avalanche checkpost, is not maintained and driving there is a very tedious process as the roads is full of potholes. There is a small path midway which leads to the base of the lake. After a small photo session we headed to the checkpost

A few shots of Avalanche Lake

The road condition, worsens further and we had to drive slowly, in order to avoid any damage to the car. Within a short time, we reached the checkpost. Once we showed the permission letter, the guard let us through, he also told us, there is a power station about 2 kms down the road. He also mentioned, that we can go to upper bhavani through the same route. We found the distance marker, a little ahead, which showed the distance to upper bhavani as 24 kms. Since the power station was only a km and half from the distance we went ahead to visit that.

The view of the lake improves as we drive further, the condition of the road, however remains the same(i.e  full of potholes).  One can stop the vehicle and go to the base of the lake. It was seen that people have made it as a tourist spot and we could see, a lot of paper plates being thrown there. The view of the lake from down is spectacular. One can also see distant mountain ranges from the base of the lake

Avalanche Lake

Distant Mountain Range

We went to the power station, however access was denied. Since photography was not allowed,  we had to go back. The road to upper bhavani was in the same condition. My dad told me to go back as the car would take a battering if we would go through the forest path. We reached the checkpost and upon inquiring of an alternate route, the gaurd told us, it would take us 70 kms to go through the other route, and he assured us the road is good. Since the distance was a little too much, we skipped upper bhavani and went to emerald dam.

The dam gates were closed, when we reached there, however we could get to the dam, through the side gate. We also met a teacher from a nearby school who gave us some gyan about the dam. The view from the dam is quite scenic with the river on one side and the valley on the other

Bhavani River

Way to Emerald Dam

As per him emerald dam is built on the bhavani river. It was built around 1950 and pandit nehru had come for the inaugaration of the dam. He also told that  the dam is 200 ft from the base of the river, and during monsoon, the river genrally overflows

The teacher also told us to visit avalanche dam, which is also called canada dam, as it was built with the help of the canadian govt. This is one the biggest dam’s in ooty.

Just like emerald dam, the view is stunning.

Way to canada dam

Avalanche River as seen from canada dam

Note: Photography is not allowed upon entering canada dam. If u r lucky, u will be able to take a few shots if the gaurd is not present 🙂

We had a short conversation with the gaurd and got to to know that the ooty-conoor route had been opened to public yesterday as the repair work had been completed, on the route as parts of the road had been damaged due to the landslides. Upon further inquiry we got to know that even the train route had been opened till coonoor. Repair work is going on the tracks till mettupalyam.  My dad insisted we go to coonoor by train as the scenary is quite good.  As there was still enough time for dusk, we headed back to ooty

Fernhil palace, which was once the summer residence of the maharaja’s of mysore was enroute, and, i stopped the car, at the entrance. The gaurd however refused to let us inside, as the palace has become private property and it has been converted into luxuary hotel. Apparently we book the room in advance.

With the entry to the palace denied , we headed to the railway station to inquire about the train to coonoor. As luck would have had it, the last train to coonoor was at 6 pm. Since we had more than an hour to spare, I told my dad to book the tickets for the train. The cost of the ticket is just Rs 3/-.  Once the tickets were booked, I enquired in the bus stand regarding the return journey to ooty, and we were assured that regualar buses are there for ooty and they would be taking to regular ooty-coonoor route which was opened.

With enough time left for the train to arrive,  we went to the ooty lake to spend some time.

Ooty Lake

After a boat ride, and a some refreshments, we went to the thread garden which was located opp to the lake

The thread garden contains, a variety of flowers all hand woevn using various threads. A few of the samples are also for sale and the cost ranges from Rs 250 to 1500

By the time we left the thread garden it was 5.30 and we headed to the railway station. The train arrived shortly and I saw that it was decorated for its maiden journey to coonoor

Decorated Train

The train started for coonor at exactly 6. The train would take an hour to reach coonoor, passing through various stations.  The train passes through hills and forests, and we get to see a glimpse of ooty town

The train reached coonoor at 7 and halted at the station. It would go back to ooty in the morning.  Getting out of the station, we headed to the bus stand to catch a bus to ooty.  Return journey also takes an hour. Reaching ooty at 8, we headed back to the hotel.

Day 3

This would be our last day in ooty. We had planned to cover coonoor and then return to mysore by evening, where we would be spending the night

We left to coonoor early in the morning. After a quick stop for breakfast we headed to dolphin nose after asking for directions from the hotel guy. We also took a guide with us to explain about the places.

The road to coonoor passes through ketty and one can see vast tea gardens and the vast nilgiri ranges from here. This place is also called ketty valley view

Ketty Valley

Dolphin Nose was the first view point we would visit. The place is called dolphin nose as the hilltop from the view point is in form of a dolphin’s nose. We can also see Cathrine falls (named after a british lady St Catherine who committed suicide by falling from top of the falls)

Catherine Falls

View from Dolphin Nose Viewpoint

The guide explained there are tribal’s living in these mounatains, and their main occupation is to collect herbs and spices.  It would take a day’s trek to reach the place where the tribals are living.

The next place we would visit would be  lamb’s rock which was located a few kms from dolphin nose. There is brooklands tea factory located near dolphin’s nose.

Brooklands Tea Factory


We went inside the factory to learn how the tea is being manufactured. The person inside the tea factory gave us a detailed explanation how the tea is made.  We bought some tea at the factory before proceeding.

The next stop was lamb’s rock,which is also another viewpoint. This place is named after charles lamb, the person who found this place. This place also has a suicide point 🙂

Lamb’s Rock Suicide Point

We bid adeiu to the guide and headed to sim’s park. This is one of the biggest parks in coonoor and is well maintained. Relaxing for some time in the park, we headed to ooty

Sim’s Park

After lunch we packed our luggage and bid farewell to ooty.  Return journey was again through kalhatti ghats. With a brief stopover at nanjangud to see the temple we reached mysore by 7

Dusk at Nanjangud

The following places could not be visited

  • Stone House
  • Jain Temple
  • Upper Bhavani
  • St Stephen Church
  • St Thomas Church
  • Arboretum

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Snaps can be found here

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