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Old 20th August 2013, 15:14   #1
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Arrow Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

285 kms from Bangalore; Just 100 kms from Coimbatore - Ooty must be a very Frequently visited destination for all who dwell in Bangalore / Tamilnadu (especially around Coimbatore) / Kerala.

Surprisingly, I hail from Salem (just 160+ kms from Coimbatore) and my wife's hometown is Coimbatore itself; it took a stunning 30 years of my life to reach this Queen-Hill destination! I am happy that I made it at least now, "something is better than nothing" Having said that, I don't mean that I travel less - my passion is travel and I have visited from my nearest Yercaud hills to the Top of Europe, the Jung-Frau or even the Eagle's eye. It just got delayed, Ooty is definitely something where I had a great toime.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-4.jpg

August 15, 16, 17 and 18 2013 was a long weekend (I called it an Independence WeenEnd) and wanted to do some travel and not just to sit idle at home. I wanted to do a whooping Bangalore - Andaman - Bangalore trip but thumped it down due to the huge costs. I got a couple of quotes between 75K and a Lakh Rupees - out of which, a major sum went only for travel. My analysis inferred that it would be a better bet with at least 6 to 7 days - which would marginally increase the total cost but give us a better and a longer holiday. Having ruled Andaman out, I was severly confused on Bangalore-Mangalore, Bangalore-Kodaikanal, Bangalore-Yelagiri, and Bangalore-Wayanad (most of them were already explored).

The search went on-and-on, on-and-on it was just another week left to finalise a trip; Out of the blues, we suddenly thought about Ooty - a place where Mister_M is yet to explore. My wife gracefully agreed on it (she has gone there a zillion times since childhood as they are from Coimbatore and her grandparents stayed there until a few years ago). Quickly we finalised that Ooty is what it is all about and started preparing for this round-trip.

Agenda:

Travelers: Me, Wifey and our 3.5 years old kiddo

Car: Liva GDSP

Duration: 2 Nights / 3 days

Onward Route: HSR Layout --> Bannerghetta Road --> Right at Mandovi Motors --> Hit Mysore Road --> Mysore --> Nanjangud --> Gundlupet --> Theppakadu --> Masinagudi (36 hairpin bend route) --> Ooty

Return Route: Ooty --> Shooting Spot --> Pykara --> Gudalur --> Theppakadu --> Nanjangud --> Mysore --> Bannerghetta Road --> HSR Layout

Stay: Kluney Manor, Ooty

Places covered (with my star-rating on a scale of 1 to 5) in the order of my visit:
1. Bandipur Tiger Reserve *****
2. Mudhumalai Reserve Forest **
3. Kalhaty Falls **
4. Dhodabetta Peak ***
5. Tea Factory / Museum (+ a so-called Chocolate Museum) **
6. Rose Gardens ***
7. Anamudi Village (Ooty country-side) ****
8. Botanical Gardens ***
9. Ooty Lake & Boathouse (just for a name-sake) ***
10. Avalanche Valley *****
11. Upper-Bhavani backwaters *****
12. Emrald Lake and dam *****
13. The Shooting Spot ****
14. Pykara Falls and Speed-Boating ***

Wanted to see, but missed: Coonoor area, Nahar's Wooden Fried Pizzas and the famous Toy-Train

Budget / Balance Sheet:
Accomodation (includes 2 complementary breakfast): 5516
Fuel (725 kms round-trip; 17.26 kmpl average mileage): 42 liters of Diesel * 55.5: 2331
Lunch / Dinner (non-alchoholic) + Tips at Kluney Manor: 2300
Home-made Chocolates: 600
Entry Fees / Safari Charges / Parking Fees / Boating: 150+400+150+550: 1250
Toys for Kiddo: 500
Eucalyptus and other Herbal Oils: 380
Instant Photo-Frame at Avalanche: 150
Snacks and Emergency Medicine kit (from Bangalore) / Watermelons en-route: 750
Dinner / Lunch (outside Kluney Manor): 1000
One-time Car Cleaning (Interior & Exterior) at Bangalore after return: 450
Famous Ooty Varkey (1 kg): 140
Horse Riding: 700
Miscellaneous: 133

Total damage to pocket: INR 16,200 (all inclusive). Worth every penny in my opinion!

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-7.jpg

I would like to make this travel blog in 3 more sections:

1. The route and roads (From my Analysis to Execution)
2. The Basics: Boarding, Food, Refreshing-up spots / tips and Recreation
3. Places, Attractions and "Must-Try" / "Don't-Try" / "Optional" points in the places visited

Some Teasers:

Liva proudly over-looking a Tea Estate (in and around Avalanche)Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-1.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-14.jpg

Did you know - what the roses mean??
Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-3.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-10.jpg

Our Cottage Inside & Outside shots (#230, Kluney Manor - formerly the Patna House):
Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-11.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-12.jpg

Did we do Off-Roading? On a Hatch!!?!
Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-9.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-13.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-2.jpg

Beautiful Forest-Circuits:
Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-5.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-6.jpg

Some Random shots:
Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-8.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-15.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-16.jpg

Disclaimer:
*** All views posted here are my humble opinion or experience only and is shared here for the benefit of readers; No marketing gimmicks / pun intended.

Cheers!
M

Last edited by Mister_M : 22nd August 2013 at 21:31.
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Old 23rd August 2013, 15:04   #2
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Default Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 24th August 2013, 12:35   #3
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Thumbs up Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister_M View Post
Places covered (with my star-rating on a scale of 1 to 5) in the order of my visit:
1. Bandipur Tiger Reserve *****
2. Mudhumalai Reserve Forest **
3. Kalhaty Falls **
4. Dhodabetta Peak ***
5. Tea Factory / Museum (+ a so-called Chocolate Museum) **
6. Rose Gardens ***
7. Anamudi Village (Ooty country-side) ****
8. Botanical Gardens ***
9. Ooty Lake & Boathouse (just for a name-sake) ***
10. Avalanche Valley *****
11. Upper-Bhavani backwaters *****
12. Emrald Lake and dam *****
13. The Shooting Spot ****
14. Pykara Falls and Speed-Boating ***
A good teaser to what is in store for us. Rarely did I come across outside of Team-BHP, such photographs capturing the vivid greenery of Ooty. Though I had undertaken so many trips to Ooty, I never visited Avalanche, Emerald and upper Bhawani though I always had itching to do so. Eagerly awaiting details of your visit so that I can plan one in the near future.

By the way, the damage to your pocket is clearly visible in your sporting a wry smile while sitting on the horse back.
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Old 24th August 2013, 16:04   #4
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Default Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Thanks for the good write up and pics mister m, Hope there are more pics to follow. How was the safari, any good sighting and any sightings on the roads?

-Sajan
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Old 26th August 2013, 11:09   #5
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Default Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Thanks for all the info and fantastic pictures.
Keep them coming. Waiting for the rest of the TL.
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Old 27th August 2013, 18:02   #6
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Arrow 1. The route and roads (From my Analysis to Execution) - Part A

Contd...

1. The route and roads (From my Analysis to Execution):

I wanted to pen down my Boarding / Food related experiences first; but it would be more beneficial for readers to get the route and road analysis first and hence I am changing the order.

"Well, Ooty is such a famous and frequented destination; is it that difficult to plan the routes??!?" This is exactly what was on my mind when the plan to Ooty got coined. Anything less than a thousand kilometers is all what I wanted and Ooty very well fitted to the lot (285 kms one-way). Check.

Quickly after finalizing the accommodation within the city limits (hardly a kilometer from Ooty Bus Stand), I started scouting for best possible routes. T-BHP as usual was an encyclopedia of information. Problem is, when one has too much information - obviously gets confused. So was I. Never mind, most of our (at least mine) best-steps in life come from challenging-roads and not on clear road; As usual, I was happy to be confused before-hand. #I recollect my reading of the book "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish".

To stay safe, I planned 2 routes. Both can be used in either directions of travel (Bangalore to Ooty or Ooty to Bangalore). Downloaded both the detailed Google-map routes and saved them to my Android.

Name:  1_Map_Alternatives.jpg
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Route A: Bangalore - Mysore (via SH17) - Nanjangud - Gundulpet - Theppekadu.

Route B: Bangalore - NH209 via Kanakapura through NICE Road -Malavalli-Kollegal-Chamarajanagar-Gundlupet (totally bypasses Mysore & Nanjangud) - Theppakadu.

Route A is something that I have driven several times (until Mysore) in the past. Problem with this option is the heavy traffic (especially when driven in peak-hours / weekends / holidays). I called this as the "Known Devil".

Route B is an unknown horizon. Trip advises suggest it is a good one too, but might not support refreshments (food / nature calls / re-fueling / en route SOS, etc..). I called this as the "Unknown Angel".

Once we arrive Theppakadu, I could visualize that it is just a junction with a road deviating on its left (Masinagudi - Kalhatty route) or proceed straight (Gudalur-Pykara route). I froze the decision that at this point, I will take the upward drive through the 36 hairpin bends route (via Masinagudi) and return back through Pykara - Gudalur and reach back Theppakadu.

Tried explaining these possibilities to Wifey on 14th night a just before bed-time:

Me: "Dear, I have sketched a couple of plans for our trip"
Prettier Half: "2 plans for 1 destination? Just tell me how are we going, that's it"
Me: "In one of those 2 routes"
P.H.: "So, you still haven't finalised the route yet..!"; STARE.
Me: "Well, not exactly; we will drive whichever is better in the morning; If we start early as planned at 5:00 AM sharp, it will be plan A else, it would be plan B"
P.H.: "What-so-ever; time for sleep now". Amen.


Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-independence_day.jpg

Next morning she woke me up at 4:00 AM sharp after getting everything (luggage, snack packs, emergency kits, jackets, umbrella, I lack knowledge on the complete list; she is my better half and I always leave the luggage planning episode to her and trust me, she is excessively good at it) ready. Kiddo's both legs were on my face and I felt "Where am I? / Who am I?" and realized that I had to hurry up. Took some 30% lesser time than usual to get ready; hurriedly stuffed all packed baggages in easy-reachable order in the car's boot, rear bench, rear-leg room (I usually take an additional 5 minute to plan this arrangement to avoid un-packing and re-packing things on the way) and some "FAQ" items on to the dash. Wife was getting our Son off from his bed and setting his mood for travel. The entire process took a little more than a hour and it was 5:30 AM when we all hopped into the car.

Me: getting the ignition ON and uttering a short prayer (on mind) for our safe trip...
P.H.: "So, what have you decided"
Me: ...Sorry gods; "What decision madam ji?"
P.H.: "Plan A or Plan B?"
Me: "We'll stick to Plan A"
P.H.: "Aren't we delayed by 30 minutes?"
Me: "Yeah, but don't worry. We shall take a plunge"
P.H.: "Are you sure? you said something about a Plan-B last night if we are late"
Me: "I did; What I haven't told yet was a +/- 30 mins tolerance to it"
P.H.: The usual wifey STARE... I continue my prayers to the gods; now even more silently uttering: "Oh God, please give us a lesser crowded Route-A; please...". The Gods understood this poor husband and approved my prayers in favor. Alas, the "Car-pouring" at Mysore Route had not started yet by then.

60+ kms later, P.H.: "This is the usual route that we take isn't it? What is so great in your hours spent on this route planning??"
Me: blush; blush; blush. Oh dear Gods, how come the wives are always right? Give us a chance too!!


I took just 3 hours (including a 45 mins break at Kamath Upahar: Idly, Poori, Rava Dosas + ATM cash withdrawal + Nature Brakes) to hit the Mysore-Nanjangud bye-pass road (Odo Trip meter had clocked 160 kms by now). This route is a breeze. 4-lane road with divider throughout, most of the road-users between Bangalore and Mysore have praised enough about this road and I agree to all their praising. Even the speed-barkers on the whole stretch was well-marked with sign boards; I All the way, cruised nothing more than 110 kmph (Average: 90 to 100 kmph) on the entire stretch and the engine squeeze not more than 2500 rpm. Though the Liva had much more power left, I wanted to enjoy the drive and I thoroughly did. Leaving way for faster-cruising vehicles also gives a sense of satisfaction (especially during such relaxed holiday drives)!

There is a kind-of "Ring Road" bye pass stretch that deviates on the left-side much before entering into Mysore city. Well marked boards directing towards "Ooty" will easily guide us to this road. Thanks to this bye-pass, we reached the Nanjangud highway in no time after crossing the Lalitha Mahal Palace road + Chamundi hill route stretch. From this point, the 4-lane scenario is done and the regular 2-lane roads pitch in (until Ooty). Nothing much to complain about these roads too. Decent enough that we could continue with our same cruising speed and none of our luggage fell down from the rear-bench.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-mysore_ringroad_2.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-mysore_ringroad_1.jpg

I did realise what level of comfort and safety the 4-lane roads have started offering these days! I still can remember most of our cities were connected ONLY by 2 lane highways and we all had to drive more challenging (read: Overtaking, on-looking high beam headlights, etc..) stretches - just some 5 / 6 years back. Indian roads have really improved (and improving even more day-by-day) in these recent years. There was a little dip on the mood for a few kilometers as soon as we started with the 2-Lane road; since it is not new for us to do such stretches, we got okay-ed with it in a kilometer or two.

On the other hand, I could visualize - may be in another 5 / 10 years, all (at least most) our Indian highway-road circuits would be 4 / 6 / 8 - Laned; Would our kids (broadly, the generation-next) be able to handle crooked, conjusted, narrow and challenging roads like how we did (and still do sometimes)? Not many International travelers manage driving in our roads. I even was quite surprised when one of my customers thanked his driver from the bottom of his heart for "getting him back - single piece" after a sight-seeing trip to Mysore! Many can't even imagine the way we handle traffic - I still can't say if it is a "skill" or "got-used-to-a-rubbish". Whatever it might be - will it really get passed on to our next generation (includes my Son) Indian drivers??

Whenever we crossed a small town / village, the respective Government offices / schools were located on the highway and we did see quite a lot of flag-hoistings and Independance day March-pasts. Definitely, it gave a good energy; We did try to teach our son what Independence meant. He patiently listened to out theories and towards the end, "Pappa, can I have some chocolates? So many of them!" - Wifey starts her stare again (luckily, this time on our kiddo; me blinking - if it was an Independance gained / lost while the whole nation was celebrating).

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-independence_day_1.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-independence_day_2.jpg

Soon after Nanjangud and Gudlupet (all decent, not-much-to-complain sort of roads), we crossed the Bandipur Jungle Lodges resort (we love this chain of resorts - operated by the Karnataka Tourism development agency) and touched the entrance of "Bandipur Tiger Reserve". Immediately after this Welcome-Arch, the Bandipur Forest stretch starts. 30 to 40 kmph is the speed-limit as per the sign-boards throughout the stretch and I started cruising in 40 kmph (50 max) with loads of hopes to spot wilderness somewhere. Very few vehicles did follow the speed-limits (most of the regular users of this road were plying 70 to 80 kmph) and those who did were all tourists like me longing for sightings. The Road was amazingly good (2 Lane, but very well maintained).

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-bandipur_start.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-bandipur_1.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-bandipur_3.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-bandipur_6.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-bandipur_7.jpg

We did find some animal sightings, but to our bad luck - all of them were only on boards; don't curse me, we were equivalently frustrated on not spotting any. Only elixir (other than a lot of Monkeys) was a bunch of deers and a few stags that were grazing on the road. No big cats or elephants (except a few tamed ones) on our onward trip.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-bandipur_5.jpg

I did keep myself on "40" and was a silent passer-by...

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-elephant_sighting.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-deer_1.jpg

to be Continued...

Last edited by Mister_M : 27th August 2013 at 18:05.
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Old 27th August 2013, 18:19   #7
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Arrow 1. The route and roads (From my Analysis to Execution) - Part B

...Continued

As we neared the end of Bandipur stretch, an Arch "Mudhumalai Tiger Reserve" from Tamilnadu Forest department stood welcoming us. Here was a small Police check-post. Few cops were on duty and almost each vehicle was stopped. One of them stopped my Liva too and I rolled down the windows. He gazed inside the car and found us to be harmless. He just asked where are we from and if we carried any liquor bottles. With no fuzz, he let us go in less than 30 seconds; though, we were given a caution not to throw plastic bags / bottles anywhere and support wild-life. I saw another car (with 4 Bachelors) which was stopped. Cops had made them un-pack all their luggages and checking thoroughly. There is still a difference in a person's view when one travels with family along-with.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-mudhumalai_1.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-mudhumalai_2.jpg

I would rate the Karnataka forest routes much better than the Tamilnadu forest stretched (which is not my general opinion on other routes in Tamilnadu). Excellent Flora, Fauna and nature patches all along the route though. I read somewhere that these Reserve forests cover over 3,300 square kilometres of forest supporting a population of 18002300 elephant. Moist Bamboo thickets (tall shrubs) are found amidst dry and semi-evergreen forests; Elephants and Gaur eat the available species of bamboo.

We had a short and a humerous adventure too on the way:
When we were just doing the forest stretch, kiddo started getting his "Poo" and "choo choo" calls - driving me absolutely crazy! In the middle of the jungle, with quite a lot of boards alarming vehicles not to stop and to be beware of wilderness nearby, my son wanted to poo - quite urgently! Adults can control such calls to a certain extent; expecting the same from the kid is not practical. At one point, we had to stop the car where I found some spot without disturbing traffic flow. Clearly instructed them both not to step out of the car and kiddo had to almost hang from the wide-opened car door with his mother's helping hand. Kiddo was in his own world - relaxing and we both (me and wife) were terrified to the core. To add fuel to the fire, I spotted another board warning about Big-cats in that vicinity just 10 meters away from the car and I was dumb-struck! I wore a hat of a semi-commando having a keen eye on the road, the bushes around, tree branches (another commando in me cautioned that Leopards can climb trees) and what not?? I never had been so much alert with all my senses open in my entire life. Increased heart beat, sudden adrenalin rush - it was a quite different feeling. Having said all these, I am still not sure if we were 100% safe inside the car; at least there was a wild possibility to escape / honk heavily / blink head-lights if we encountered any danger. Whatever it was, we had quite an adventure in that 5 minutes time, we had hearty laugh on it once the adventure was done.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-bandipur_kiddo_terror_moment.jpg

Son took out his Soccer whistle from his pocket and blew it loud then giving us a green signal to proceed further; I shall wait for another 20 years (roughly) to share this terrific moment he had just created with his partner (to-be).

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-bandipur_kiddo_whistle.jpg

We finally reached Theppakadu, which was only a triangular junction. Clear board markings of the two available options are displayed. As already planned, we took the left diversion and headed towards the Masinagudi / Sigur Ghat Road. This is a slightly narrow up-hill road with un-even or deep side-mud-pits. As long as there are no vehicle encounters from opposite direction, these roads are quite a breeze. Difficult part comes when there are 2-way traffic; the roads don't fit 2 full vehicles. One of the vehicles have to off-road on the road-skirts, one has to pay attention here. Private and local tourist vehicles were slow and considerate; Out-Station Taxis / tour operators were rash on such stretches and hardly care for fellow cars and drivers. There were a couple of places where the opposite vehicle was a SUV with decent place gaps to off-road (and hardly any place for our hatch / sedans to get off the road from our direction); still they try to get you off the road by driving straight almost to a head-ON without even braking. I wonder why such idiots don't read the boards "Give way to vehicles climbing up-hills".

But these were only some negligible road-rash episodes; One can easily manage such situations with some prior hill drive experience. I even saw a few in-experienced drivers struggling hard to push their Sedans / Hatches (of course, modern and powerful ones). An extreme case was an Ertiga with a 4 adults and 2 children; the driver literally was not able to push forward and dangerously backing-up on the tilt-side! He then made all his occupants get down from the car and squeezed the engine really really hard to get to a safe plain-road (easily half a kilometer from his point-of-struggle); His Poor family had to climb that uphill and drive onward. I only thanked gods that the crazy chap luckily did not get an idea to off-load all his baggages too, else his families must have carried them on their heads / shoulders too for that half-a-kilometer! If one is an really newbie driver, the Gudalur route must be the pick as such guys risk not only to themselves, but also to the other traffic flowing around (especially on some steep hairpin bends).

Our resort was very much in the city-center; very close to the Ooty Bus Stand. I had switched on "Map my India" through 3G for some route assistance and it was a breeze to reach our destination sharp at 12:30 noon. So, it took us 7 hours for us (6 hours drive + a total of 1 hour break) from door-to-door. Nothing much to complain on the road / route. Tip: Start really early from Bangalore to skip the mad-rush situation; if possible, stick to your planned start time even without my comic +/- 30 mins tolerance!

Roads from Ooty to Doddabetta peak entrance are OK. From the down-peak, we have to drive for about 2 kilometers up-hill to reach the peak. This is a horrible, terrific, pathetic, it seemed like the road hasn't been tarred since it was built! A car-lover would not push more than 5 kmph (for a sedan / hatch) on this stretch; I did see a swiftly driven SWIFT - man - the car would cry loud if it had emotions! I get annoyed when I see such ruthless drivers; nevertheless, it is his car and I can only pity it. On reaching the hill top, please try to get an easily returnable and a safe park place. The whole parking lot was too small and narrow with no one to manage. This place is really a mess; take some time to judge the best fit here - Our cars do deserve some extra attention here.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-doddabetta_1.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-doddabetta_2.jpg

I luckily found a safe parking very close to the Government Herbal and oil shop.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-doddabetta_parking.jpg

The return was again on the same shabby roads; we headed straight to the Tea Factory / Museum. I could find a comparatively better parking place here and this was very close to the highway. Road condition is OK here, one can easily manage. Road between this Tea factory to Rose gardens were okay too. In general, Ooty is a small town and one can expect a mediocre town / Panchayat roads here. Most visited destinations (Gardens, Museums, Churches, Lake, etc..) are within the city limits and it is quite easy to cover them unless you would want to try something "more" in Ooty. I don't want to dig further deep regarding this topic, left to the reader's discretion as there is nothing worth a mention / caution.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-doddabetta_tea_factory2.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-doddabetta_tea_factory3.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-doddabetta_tea_factory4.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-doddabetta_tea_factory5.jpg

to be continued...
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Old 27th August 2013, 18:29   #8
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Arrow 1. The route and roads (From my Analysis to Execution) - Part C

...contd

When you want to try real good destinations in Ooty, try out some country-sides / valley-views (for instance, the upcoming destination: the Avalanche Valley). Avalanche is a village around 30 kms from Ooty city; One can get excellent valley views, picturesque lake views here. Few kilometers before reaching Avalanche, there is a diversion to reach Emerald Lake and dam. We chose to visit the Avalanche first and then proceed to the Emerald area on return. Entire stretch until we reach the Avalanche entrance is blessed with very nice scenic beauty, good roads, excellent fresh air. From the Avalanche village to the Avalanche Safari point, roads are poor but quite manageable. There are good number of carrot / cabbage / potato farms on the way - do stop at one of such farms or the carrot-cleaning machines to get farm-fresh carrots.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_1.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_2.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_3.jpg

The road itself will end near the Avalanche Forest guest house where the forest department has leased vehicles for safari round trips, open for public use. Currently, there are 8 SUV s and 2 mini-buses. As per the information from our Safari guide, the minibus services started very recently and this has taken a huge toll on the roads. Until before their introduction, the roads were multiple times better and it is only getting bad day by day.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_5.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_6.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_10.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_11.jpg

One can approach the Forest Department Office in Ooty to get their permission if you want to drive on your own. Looks like this is not encouraged off-late after introduction of their safari services. I still was able to see a very few (2 I guess) private vehicles, one a Bolero with "POLICE" badges. I somehow felt that it was better to take their own Safari than to spoil my Liva in such bad roads; of-course, I would have thought otherwise if I had owned a SUV. Do visit this place and Do take this Safari, it is all un-touched beauty hidden deep inside the Blue Mountains! The complete area was covered with lush-green flora with no plastic / paper wastes thrown around. Not so many visitors as of now, I only keep my fingers crossed that this beauty is maintained the same without destroying its charm. The last point of this safari is the back-waters of this Upper Bhavani Lake where one can go for a short trek. No swimming / fishing / picnicking on this. The entire area was so pristine that I felt it was similar to a Europe destination.

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_12.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_13.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_14.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_15.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-avalanche_16.jpg

This place is definitely a hidden treasure of Ooty!

to be continued...
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Old 27th August 2013, 18:40   #9
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Default Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Hi Mister M!

The warning notice on evils of smoking has actually rekindled my memory of visit to Parambikulam during May 2013. I happened to see a similar warning at Parambikulam near tribal village.
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Old 27th August 2013, 19:16   #10
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Arrow 1. The route and roads (From my Analysis to Execution) - Part D

... Contd

After the safari, headed towards the Emerald dam and lake. This is the area around which many shots of the recent Tamil movie "Deiva Thirumagan", a Vikram starer was shot. This is again a picturesque place. Do drive further past the dam (roads are really in bad shape, but really worth a drive) for a couple of kilometers; we reached a village bridge on the other side of the Emerald lake backwaters - this is something that a nature-lover must not miss. To have an idea on what we found and where we reached, please check the pictures below:

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_1.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_2.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_3.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_4.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_5.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_6.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_7.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_8.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_9.jpg

Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-emerald_10.jpg

The return journey was through Ooty - Pykara Falls - Pykara Lake (speed Boating) - Shooting Spot - Gudalur - Theppakadu. Much longer route than the Masinagudi route (easily 30+ additional kilometers). Since Pykara dam and the Shooting spot (both - must on any Ooty schedule), one has to drive until Shooting Spot for sure. It is a 30 kilometer stretch from the Shooting spot to Gudalur and this has really notorious potholes at least in 35 spots. Even SUV s found it difficult on these potholes. We drove in the noon-time and at least visibility was there; I could imagine how dangerous it could be when this stretch is driven in the night; Had I known this terrific road condition, I would have driven back to Ooty town (which is again around 30 kilometers) to take the Masinagudi route back to Theppakadu. Even the further part (Gudalur to Theppakad through Mudhumalai reserve forest) was bad with really big pot-holes. Other than these pot-holes, the roads were wide and neat; Beautiful views around but one would lose interest in sight-seeing in such dangerous road conditions! No expert driving skills are needed to cross this stretch though; suitable for beginners than the 36 hairpin bend stretch.

A random shot in traffic:
Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive-shooting_spot_1.jpg

A short note on Pykara area: Firstly, we would cross the Pykara dam (visible from the highway) and reach the Pykara Falls parking area. We must park our car on the road-side - wherever you feel it is safe and trek for around a kilometer for the Pykara Falls. From the Pykara Falls, the Pykara lake (where the so-called speed-boating is possible) is around 2.5 kilometers away. We have to take a short marked left-deviation from the highway and drive for around 1.5 kilometers inside a forest-hill. Very similar to the Doddabetta Peak, roads and Parking to reach this spot is very bad. God knows why such so-called "top-Destinations" of Ooty are so badly maintained in terms of roads and parking. Fatal failure in this aspect from the Tamilnadu Tourism development departments!

Theppakadu to Bangalore was on the same route (except for a long ring-road deviation a little before Mysore) but the traffic was a little more this time. The cumulative time taken from Ooty to Bangalore (Door to Door, considering only the driving and refreshment stops) was around 11 hours and thanks to the Bad roads + Longer distance + traffic (after Mysore).

Hope I have covered all the route and road experiences in this post. As said before, I shall get into the below topics in my next 2 posts
2. The Basics: Boarding, Food, Refreshing-up spots / tips and Recreation
3. Places, Attractions and "Must-Try" / "Don't-Try" / "Optional" points in the places visited

Sorry for little delays in writing as I am just coping up between work, family and leisure. I'll attempt to make the rest of the posts as early as possible; Thanks for following my blog to this point, hope it were of some use to you.

Cheers!
M
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Old 27th August 2013, 19:24   #11
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Default Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Great travelogue. I have some very good memories of trip to Ooty in 2011 and your photos made me go nostalgic. The best time to visit Ooty is during monsoons and sail through the clouds.

How did your car behave at the hair pin bends in the mountains?
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Old 27th August 2013, 19:27   #12
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Arrow Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gokrish View Post
Though I had undertaken so many trips to Ooty, I never visited Avalanche, Emerald and upper Bhawani though I always had itching to do so. Eagerly awaiting details of your visit so that I can plan one in the near future.

By the way, the damage to your pocket is clearly visible in your sporting a wry smile while sitting on the horse back.
...
I happened to see a similar warning at Parambikulam near tribal village.
Thanks Gokrish! Happy that you found the review useful. And yeah, the wierd smile on the horse back was not due to the pocket-damage; it is due to the fear of more physical damage if I fall off from the stead And thanks for sharing your similar picture, great resemblence!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sajands View Post
Thanks for the good write up and pics mister m, Hope there are more pics to follow. How was the safari, any good sighting and any sightings on the roads?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sommos View Post
Thanks for all the info and fantastic pictures.
Keep them coming. Waiting for the rest of the TL.
Hi Sajan, Hello Sommos, thanks for your positive comments! I am in the process of clustering the most relevent pictures (especially according to my sub-thread titles) for the benefit of readers. Without bumping the thread with excessively large number of photos, I shall limitedly post applicable and interesting pictures along with brief write-ups. Hope you enjoy them too

Quote:
Originally Posted by pahwa View Post
Great travelogue. I have some very good memories of trip to Ooty in 2011 and your photos made me go nostalgic. The best time to visit Ooty is during monsoons and sail through the clouds.

How did your car behave at the hair pin bends in the mountains?
Nice to learn your nostalgia Pahwa! As I mentioned, this is such a beautiful destination which was just on my easy reach but I missed for so many years! You are absolutely right, monsoons bring a fresh mood all around such green destinations and we did enjoy to the core. The Liva was a real gladiator throughout our trip; from the hairpin bends to our considerable amount of off-roading, it stood like a tank and my love for it really steeped up. It is definitely a reliable darling!


Cheers!
M

Last edited by Mister_M : 27th August 2013 at 19:53.
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Old 27th August 2013, 20:08   #13
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Default Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Very good write up and pics Mister_M! Some of the places you have mentioned were missed by us though we went twice to Ooty in the same year.

Waiting for the basics post on the stay and how good/bad it was. Also about the post on the must visit places. Good going and waiting for the rest now!
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Old 4th September 2013, 15:21   #14
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Default Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Very good write up and amply supplemented with pics of taste.
The shots of Emerald lake and Avalanche are very spell binding indeed. Especially, Avalanche.
I has also recently visited Ooty (mid July).
It was raining then and there was only fog and fog around.
I couldnt see any of the long range view points, but I saw Ooty covered in mist; a beauty in its own special measures.
I have jotted down my experiences in my own travel report in this forum. The snaps in those will show you a different Ooty than the ones as seen from your pics.

Have you been to Glenmorgan?? The drive is totally totally worth!!
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Old 8th September 2013, 19:54   #15
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Default Re: Beautiful Ooty Photologue: Live to Drive

Nice detailed writeup..Thanks a lot . waiting for next instalment
meanwhile a query- what was the duration of the tour inside avalanche checkpost by dept vehicle?what are the timings?what time did you reach and depart? I am asking because I need to plan the time between breakfast and lunch so the we can reach ooty town before restaurants close after lunchtime for the afternoon
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