The long weekends are always an excuse for me to plan out a trip to escape from the city hustle, and enjoy my “me” time. Last weekend was the same occasion, and we zeroed on Bangalore to Ooty road trip.
Ooty is a small town in the Nilgiri mountain range in the Tamilnadu state of India. It is a famous hill station in South India and because of its lush green and mesmerizing landscapes, it is also known as Queen of hills.
Our road trip started from Bangalore at 7:00 AM (count it as late, the ideal time to start a road trip of over 250 km is by or before 6:00 AM in order to avoid the city traffic and keep sometime for roaming around the place). We took the Nice road which is the shortest and most preferred route to go out of Bangalore city in case you are travelling towards Mysore (to reach Ooty, one has to cross Mysore city). As we started late, we faced a good amount of traffic on tolls, diversions and on roadside restaurants.
There are many other good restaurants in every half a kilometre meters distance after entering Ramanagara district, you may choose the one suits your time and comfort. We took our first halt at Kamath Hotel, Ramanagaram. This south Indian restaurant is famous among all commuters for its authentic South Indian food, nice ambience and reasonable rates. After having sumptuous south Indian breakfast with juicy jalebis we headed to cover our rest of the distance. There are many worth visiting and famous places from Ramanagaram ( (Evergreen Bollywood movie, Sholay was shooted in the hills of Ramanagarm ) onward till we reach Ooty. To name a few, Channapatna (famous for wooden toys), Bidadi ( famous for Tatte idly), Mandya ( famous for sugarcane fields and Kaveri river), Sri Rangapatanam (Tipu Sultan’s palace, battleground, martyr’s place, Sri Ranganathswamy Temple), Sangam, etc.
As our focus was Ooty, we decided to skip all and took a diversion from the outskirts of Mysore. The clock was ticking 12 and we were still good three hours away from the destination. Hence, with collective consensus, we decided to drive as much as possible without any halt ( bio breaks were exempted!). Another very famous place to cross on the way to Ooty is Bandipur Forest Reserve. On the way to Bandipur, one can see a lot of fields, coconut trees, watermelon, small shops and villages. Bandipur is a Tiger Reserve, which was established with the intention to control the falling tiger population in the year 1974. To see big cats, one has to go deep in the jungle with the help and permission of forest ranger. But if you are the one who is happy with deers, monkeys, and wild boar then you will see them enough though your vehicle while crossing the jungle. Bandipur is also an en route to enter Tamilnadu through Madhumalai forest range.
Madhumalai forest range is a habitat of the same kind of animals as in Bandipur. After 20 minutes drive in Madhumalai forest, there is a junction which forked in two roads to Ooty. The long route is less steep, one can enjoy more time with nature and has a couple of tourist spots as well (Needle point, Pykara lake), whereas the other route is short, steeper, right through the mid of the hill with 36 hairpin bends. It is a ghat route and approx. 30 km less than the longer one. I have heard that police does not allow the downward journey for all vehicles from the shorter route. Hence, we opted for the shorter route to experience the adventure of driving through ghats.
The short route is surrounded by beautiful mountains, valleys and waterfall. Another fascinating scene was to see cyclists on that steep route. Profusely sweating, thoroughly tired yet determined to make up to the top. One more scene which attracted our attention was that many hatchbacks and sedan cars were standing after every few 100 meters with their bonnet open! Because of steepness, the engine got too hot to push in the cool weather. Thankfully, we were in the SUV and I believe that saved us from being one of those hot engine victims. So it is advisable to go in a vehicle with a powerful engine which is meant for rough roads and uncertain rides.
After driving for approximately an hour, we stepped in Ooty. It was a beautiful weather with cool breeze and drizzle. At quarter-to-three we stepped in our hotel. Cool and fresh breeze crossing us, assuring us that it was worthwhile to travel Ooty. It’s a great place to relax, unwind and get soaked in the beauty of a hill station.