May 28, 2012

A Trip to Ooty through the Picturesque Blue Mountain Ranges in Nilgiri - I

We had no concrete travel plans this year as re-modelling the house, painting, developing our farm house and many such long pending activities were on the wish list.
Sweltering heat in the city, monotonous summer holidays and the travel bug in us had different plans for us. Time was the big constraint in finalizing the destination, as we had few days of holidays left. Kanha National Park, Periyar sanctuary and a few other tourist places came to mind, but they all needed prior bookings for jungle cottages and the rides.
A friend suggested to visit off beat places in Ooty, strange but its true that we never visited Ooty though staying very close to this lovely place. This mountain city is overcrowded now and has lost its charm due to too many tourists travelling and making it more of a commercial place. But the weather is perfect to beat the heat and relax, away from the sweaty Chennai in May.

Due to the close proximity of Ooty to Chennai commuting in and around the city is not a problem. The on going yearly Flower show in the city did pose a problem of too many tourists, traffic jams and getting a decent staying place in the city. Almost all the star hotels were booked to their full capacity.
The same friend also suggested us to try YWCA cottages in Ooty with a reliable reference. Fortunately we got cottage accommodation in YWCA after many phone calls and an advance payment.  
Children were disappointed for not getting tickets in the famous Toy train in Nilgiri, which needs about three month advance booking. It starts from Metupalayam and ends at Ooty, we commuted by a cab.
But then after reaching Ooty in a cab and meeting another family staying in YWCA who took the toy train, I realized we made a  wise decision. Toy train travels at snails speed, has wooden seats and takes about five hours to reach Ooty while the cab took just about 2 hours and we had the whole day at our disposal without being tired. 
To reach Ooty you need to come to Mettupalayam from Coimbatore station, from where you can board the toy train or carry on the up hill journey in your personal vehicle.
There are many tours and travel companies in Mettupalayam and one can book them on line for a pick up and drop. Toy train has to be booked well in advance which is about 3 months. 

As we reached near the reception area of YWCA I could see the colonial influence everywhere. The tall buildings, church, restaurant and the common rooms all are done with heavy teak wood and decorated with old British cutelury from England.
I was skeptical as to how the YWCA cottages be, I had searched in the net but could not find much information about the same. All I could find was that the YWCA staying is economical and no frill options with less luxury.
This was the very first picture I took after we completed all the formalities and were heading to our cottage to check in. My children were pretty impressed to see a huge garden and a playground in the hotel. Both of them are sitting on the swing with their dad.


Fingers crossed we started moving down hill towards our cottage.
This is a small Church on the left side of the garden where all the employees gather for their morning prayers.

I was promised Upper cottages during our telephonic conversation but could not get it as there was an unexpected VIP visit on that day. And the Upper cottages are reserved for the most important guests. Walking down the hill to check into the lower cottage with some hope, we saw the Upper cottage right behind the Church...sour grapes..:(


"Hey mom look at out cottage, how pretty..see those flowers in front.." exclaimed my daughter.

"And there is a huge playground next to our cottage" son ran down to inspect the same.

Mom is smiling and children are giving thumbs up sign for YWCA.
A happy mom after finding out that the rooms and toilets are clean, huge and quite airy. This infact is an independent bungalow, there is a small sit out in the entrance with garden furniture at the right side for morning breakfast. There is a comfortable foyer as we enter into the cottage on the right side with TV and a small dining table on the left.
The main room is elevated from the foyer and is huge with two king size double beds and other essential furniture.


The morning walk uphill for breakfast..Huff..not used to steep walking...sitting for a few minutes to relax. Back side of our cottage seen here.
Lower cottages are placed at the entrance of YWCA and is at the bottom of the hill, you need to climb up if you need to go to the restaurant.

Walking down hill to exit.
The very famous yearly Flower show started the day we landed in Ooty. And all that we could see in the city was people, people and more people.
We decided not to venture in the city for the first two days of our trip and followed the off beat tourist spots in the city. 
The first day of our trip was almost half over and so we decided to just relax and see if we can make it to the Flower show. 
Flower show was too crowded as expected and we had a small round of the Botanical garden. The varieties of flower is mind boggling there. Each flower is about 3-4 times bigger and brighter than the flowers of the same variety we get at home.
We decided to visit Pykara fall and Mudumalai the next day and wanted to avoid all the meadows and shooting points on the way. But our driver was not one with us and stopped at each of these busy tourist places. Don't remember the names of all the shooting places and the meadows we visited, but we did enjoy spending some time playing and eating fresh steamed corns everywhere.

The plains and hills were picturesque and children enjoyed running and playing there.

Both of them calling mom to come down the hill and have fun...wish I came here 20 years back. Now at forty plus, this fun idea is not my cup of tea...ignore them :)

Pykara lake is a beautiful place serene and secluded, water is clean and the surroundings are natural. We booked a motor boat, waiting for our turn.

Not much crowded, Pykara lake is worth a visit if you have an extra day of stay in Ooty. There are many half day trips to Pykara and Mudumalai, but half day may not be enough to visit both the places if you wish to enjoy the natural beauty of the falls, lake and the sanctuary on the way.

Pykara falls is about two kilometer walk from the Pykara lake, we were lucky to see water overflowing during the hot month of May.

Heavy rains and thunderstorm just a week before we reached Nilgiri gifted us with scenic beauty everywhere we traveled in Nilgiri.
Mudumalai trip was good, could not spot many animals as we did in our Corbett national park trip.

Son clicked this picture when he noticed another family in front of us threw this empty chips packet. He wanted to show the same to the Boat house authority..but I doubt if they have eyes and ears?
Last day of our Ooty trip was kept open for local visits. We covered wax museum, tea garden and Boat house. Fortunately the lake was clean, thanks to the Flower show and the VIP ministers visit for the same.

Ended our Ooty trip with Rose garden from where we strolled in the Ooty market and got some wonderful homemade chocolates, tea and essential oils.
After a day's rest in Ooty we started our next phase of travel trail to Coonoor and Kodnadu of Nilgiri district.
The Granola Bars I made for the trip were quite handy and served as a healthy breakfast & yummy snack treats.
The recipe for Healthy Fruit & Nuts Granola Bars is at Lite Bite.



  1. Where is my bro in the pics :) ? Raji

  2. Wow Sanjeetha. This was like a near tour to Ooty for me. Ur narration cheers me to plan a trip to Blue Mountains... Thanks for the info. BTB where is my bro's pic?(Copying Raji) - Deepa

  3. nice..i always like ootty ..........

  4. i liked the way you have written everthying in detail. really of help to folks who would love to go to ooty.

  5. I didn't realize you had this site and Lite Bites! What a great post! Loved ALL of the pictures and the beautiful flowers and family! Thanks for sharing your vacation!

  6. What a beautiful place! And your family is just as beautiful!

  7. Wow what am amazing place to visit. I am always getting amazed when bloggers write about all the gems to visit in India.

  8. Dear Sanjeeta, thank you for this blog. I wanted to let you know that your blog has inspired me to jump in and head out to the beautiful Nilgiris and Western Ghats. Searching for offbeat properties to stay at, we ran into this beauty in a town called Masinagudi, 45mins before Ooty while driving from Mysore. The property is called InnTheWild and its located right inside the jungle. Wildlife comes and visits your door, which is such a beautiful experience. Thought I should share this with you, given that our trip was completely inspired by you.

  9. A very comprehensive article about Ooty indeed covering topics as diverse as sightseeing attractions and accessibility through rail. Informative post with nice pic.