I haven't been everywhere, but its on list. – Susan Sontag
It was April and the temperatures in Pune were soaring over 40s, also the school had vacations and we needed a cool break. After an exhaustive search on the net about the best places to beat the heat I zeroed on Ooty-Coonoor and Kodaikanal. It took another round of searches for the resorts and places to visit and travelling options.
[Sometimes I doubt myself, if I enjoy the search more than the actual trip 😉 ]
Travel Date: 1st May 2014 to 6th May 2014
Places: Bandipur, Ooty, Coonoor and Kodaikanal
We took a flight from Pune to Bangalore and reached Bangalore around 8.45am. We had pre-booked a taxi to ferry us around the places we had selected. By 9.30 we were on the road to Bandipur via Mysore. It was a long and tedious journey and the only solace was the last lap between Mysore to Bandipur which passes through the forest patches. It was breezy and there were rain showers too. We reached Bandipur by 4.30 and were ready for our mini-bus safari to start by 5pm. I had pre-booked the safari online using the site:
We spotted few animals like the elephants, different deer, sambar, wild boar, peacocks, peahens and bison. The deer were in plenty and they even paid visits to the areas where the forest rangers lived. The fresh air and showers made the drive through the forest extremely blissful. We then checked in to our room at the “Windflower Tusker trails” and headed straight for tea followed by a great dinner.
The next day after breakfast we checked out and started the journey to Ooty via Gudalur. The forests of Bandipur and Mudumulai made for a picturesque drive and we even spotted elephants and peacocks on the way.
The advantage of this path was that it minimized the hair-pin curves one needs to take to reach Ooty otherwise (36 in number).
On the way to Ooty the air smelled of Nilgiri, reminding us that we were in the Nilgiri district. There are large stretches of Pine and Nilgiri forests on the way. We stopped to venture around some of the pine trees and standing besides them even my 6 feet husband felt minuscule 🙂
We then visited the Pykara falls and lake. Although the fall was almost dry, the lake made a serene view. It would be amazing to visit here post rains.
Then we landed up on the plain hills called shooting meadow, seen in many of the movies. It was very crowded and did not hold much interest to me, while my son amused himself by a horse ride down the plains.
By now there was a slight overcast and the air was that of a perfect hill station. We went to the rose garden with pretty views of the collection of roses as well as the view of the Ooty city from the top. This was a three storied rose garden with different varieties of roses. I also loved the sight of colorful houses in Ooty from here. There were a couple of showers by now giving us a sneak peek into the ooty-of-the-rainy-season.
We then headed to the Ooty lake. After we got the entry ticket and went inside to the boat house it started pouring heavily. The cold breeze and the cold downpour on the lake……..I loved it. 😉 We went ahead with the boat ride in the rain and then were back to our car fully drenched.
The narrow bylanes created a traffic trouble and it took us an hour to get out of the tiny Ooty onto the Coonoor road. In the dark we reached our hotel: Sunvalley Homestay- checkedin and had dinner.
The morning view of the tea estate adjoining our hotel made a great start for the day. There was a vast expanse of the tea garden wherever one sets his eyes.
It was a lazy day and after a breakfast of homemade south-indian delicacies we started our Coonoor tour.
We started with Sim’s Park which has a nice garden with a small lake. It was a bright and beautiful day. We enjoyed the peddle boat ride in the lake and a walk through the beautiful landscapes. My son enjoyed feeding the fishes which were seen in plenty here.
A visit to the tea-factory was on our wishlist and our next destination. We went to the “High Field Tea Factory” and witnessed the process of making tea from the tea leaves. We learnt that the type of tea (brown, green, white) depends on the number of leaves plucked. 3 leaves and the bud are used for the regular brown tea, the bud and a single leaf are used for green tea while the bud alone is used for the white tea. After watching the process we went for tea-tasting. There were different flavors and strength of the tea to taste. We bought some tea as well as homemade chocolates very famous here.
Next item on our wish list was the ride in the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. I had tried to pre-book this and had a huge waiting list. We then learnt that there are some tickets reserved for the spot booking and took chance by standing in the queue for over an hour. Luckily we got the tickets and we could ride this toy train. Built by the British it’s a cute little train with a steam engine blowing a whistle. The seats are a little cramped up but the ride is through beautiful hills and plains. We took the ride from Coonoor to Ooty(Also known as Udagamandalam) which takes around 1.5hrs and then we drove back to our hotel in Coonoor.
Day4: Coonoor to Kodaikanal.
After breakfast we started our journey to Kodaikanal via picturesque Kotagiri. It was a long drive of around 6 hours and consisted of 14 hair-pin curves along the way up. There were a lot of mango trees on the way near Palani. These mangoes were very big and tasty. A variety peculiar to the South of India. On reaching Kodai we decided to just rest and wander around the resort: MountPleasant Boutique Resort. It was a nice homestay with great homemade food. We sat out in the verandah in the cool breezy sipping hot tea. The weather here was really very cold.
We walked to a nearby point from where one can view the Kodai lake. It was a nice relaxing evening.
Day5: Kodaikanal tour.
We chucked the regular tourist spot for the forest reserve drive to Berijam Lake which our driver had arranged after seeking permission from the forest department for a fee of 1K. After a brief stop at a Pine forest for photo session we then drove to this forest reserve. It was a beautiful drive in the chilly weather with stops on the way to the magnificent view of the valley – clouds descending on them.
We reached the Berijam Lake and spent some time by the waters and the beautiful forest around. We did not spot any animal during the drive.
After lunch we went to the Kodaikanal lake for a boat ride. The paddle or row boats here maintain the serenity of water unlike other lakes where motorboats are used.
There were nice cycles available for ride around the lake but since it was crowded we did not opt for them. After a mandatory horse ride for my son we headed back to the resort.
This was the longest day of the trip after all the distance already covered there was still an unending journey to reach back home. It was a 4.5hrs drive from Kodai to Coimbatore. Then we took a plane from Coimbatore to Mumbai and a cab from Mumbai to Pune. After 13 hours since we left Kodai in the morning we were back to the saultering summer of Pune.
Details of the stay:
Windflower Tusker Trails
Tips for travel:
* Carry warm clothing as the climate in Ooty-Coonoor and Kodai is cold even in summers.
* I prefer homestays to customize the meals for the kids.
* Prepare a wishlist to explore instead of visiting all the tourist destinations, if possible extend the stay at one place over 2-3 days
* If the child has motion sickness carry something to treat it as the journey has a lot of curves up an down hill.
* Carry something to entertain the child during the travel as the journey between places is long and tiring.