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Old 28th February 2014, 14:18   #1
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Default From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!

Hello Team-BHPians!

Great to be part of this wonderful forum. This is my first post and travelogue. Your inputs/comments/criticisms are greatly appreciated.

If you read the first part of the title, it was exactly my reaction when I reached Ooty on 30th Dec. It was so cold even at 3:00 in the afternoon that it reminded me of my trip to Manali.

Let me give quick background on this trip. I have been driving car(s) for over 18 years now and have done more than 500 highway drives in these years. However majority of my drives have been limited to around 350-400 km round-trip. I have never driven for more than 200 kms at a stretch.

You may wonder - Why Ooty of all places? One word – Masinagudi! I have read so many blogs on the forum and people describing the 36-hairpin bends as challenging and equally fun to drive. My Amaze was just about settling into rhythm after the run-in period and it was right time for me to take her out on some adventure trip. Moreover, we wanted to celebrate New Year in a place away from Bangalore.

Trip Details:
Start date: 30-Dec-2013 @ 7:30 AM
Returned: 01-Jan-2014 @ 8:00 PM
Total distance: 683kms
Trip Mileage: 20.7 km/l

Day 1: Bangalore -> Mysore -> Gundlupet -> Bandipur -> Masinagudi -> Ooty
From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-route1.jpg

Road condition:
Bangalore-Mysore: SH17 – Silky smooth, with lots of speed-breakers
Mysore-Gundlupet: Excellent (no divider – just two lanes)
Gundlupet-Mudumalai: Excellent
Mudumalai-Masinagudi-Ooty: Average in the beginning and very good once the 36-hairpin bends start

Besides 36-hairpin bends, the best part of this trip was the sikly-smooth roads inside Bandipur and Mudumalai forest area – till the fork where we need to deviate towards Masinagudi. They have maintained the road in excellent condition and it was pleasure to drive on these roads.

Enough of write-up, let me get the pictures do more talking!

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-amaze.jpg
My Blue Amaze on the Mysore road somewhere near Ramanagaram.

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Somewhere after Gundlupet town – the road condition is extremely good all the way upto Bandipur.

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Entrance to the Bandipur Tiger reserve forest area

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Sikly-smooth roads inside the Bandipur Tiger reserve. Please note that there are a lot of speed-breakers on this road and you need to maintain a speed not greater than 30kmph. There is no need to drive fast on these road as you would enjoy the scenic beauty and also if you are lucky, you can spot few animals.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-036.jpg
Mother-kid elephants walking on the road. This idiot Innova cab driver drove his cab so close to the animals that they god scared and swiftly disappeared inside the forest area. Don’t know when these cabbies learn to follow driving rules.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-048.jpg
Bye-bye Karnataka!

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-049.jpg
Here we come – Tamil Nadu

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-052.jpg
Entrance to Mudumalai forest area. There is a forest range checkpost, but our vehicle was not stopped. However, it is suggested to keep all your vehicle documentation ready (DL, Insurance, RC book/card etc.,) because they have all the right to stop you and check the documents before letting you inside their territory.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-055.jpg
Soon after we entered the Mudumalai forest area, we were greeted by these langoors. I guess, they are so used to vehicle traffic on this road that they were having some team-meeting right in the middle of the road. I stopped my car and waited for their meeting to get over. Mind you, honking is not allowed in this area. Eventually they let me pass after about 10 mins.

After driving for about 20 kms or so, you will enter an area where the road branches towards left. I don’t have a pic of this area – but it is easy to identify with the sign boards. I took ‘left turn’ in this fork area towards Masinagudi. The road is not so good and not wide enough for two cars to pass through. I had to be very careful to negotiate the road and also the oncoming traffic – mainly the 4WD jeeps from the safari trips.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-100.jpg
My Blue Beauty in the mirror of one of the 36-hairpin curves. The best part about the 36-hairpin bends is that, at every bend they have installed a mirror where you can see the vehicles from opposite direction. That day the downhill traffic was very less – I might have passed not more than 10 vehicles climbing down the hill.

Reached the room at around 3:00 PM. It was actually very cold at that time that we did not venture out the whole day. We just took rest at the room.

Contd in Post#2...
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Old 28th February 2014, 15:20   #2
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Default Re: From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!

Day 2: Pykara Lake & Botonical Garden
The whole purpose of this trip was to ‘do’ Ooty at our leisure – so there was no plan actually. We checked the owner of RK Homes (where we had booked our room) and he told us that we can visit Pykara lake for boating. It is located at about 35 kms from Ooty – which meant a good drive again on the scenic route

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-104.jpg
View from the balcony of our room at 8:00 AM. I can see 3/4 th of Ooty from this Balcony.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-114.jpg
A meadow on the way to Pykara

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Scenic road on the way to Pykara will tall Deodar (I guess) trees.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-144.jpg
View of Pykara lake. The approach road to the Boat House at Pykara was in extremely bad condition. The 165mm GC of my Amaze was put to extreme test on this road. Thankfully, never once it bottomed out!

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-131.jpg
Picture time – on the way back to Ooty from Pykara.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-165.jpg
The ‘Fern House’ at the Botonical Garden. It is supposed to be constructed in 1894. The entire area is very well maintained and there are acres of lush green lawn that you can just lay on and pass time.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip-183.jpg
Indian map and states in different flowers – I think is one-of-a-kind.

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A bright and sunny (and cold) evening at the garden.

Day 3: Ooty Lake
This is perhaps the most famous attraction in Ooty and we wanted to make sure that we spent whole day there. Since it was not the peak season, the crowd was also less.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-007.jpg
From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-016.jpg
The lake is also very well maintained with clear instructions and sign boards.

Day 4: Return to Bangalore: Ooty -> Pykara -> Gudalur -> Theppakadu -> Bandipur -> Gundlupet -> Mysore -> Bannur -> Malavalli -> Kanakapura -> Bangalore
From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-route2.jpg

Road Condition:
Ooty -> Pykara: Good with potholes in between – nothing much to worry about
Pykada -> Gudalur: The road near Gudalur is in real bad condition. However, it did not cause any problem with my low-GC car, but it will take some time negotiating the potholes
Gudalur->Theppakadu: Largely good, but somewhere near Theppakadu, there is a real bad patch of about 0.5 km.
Bandipur->Gundlupet->Mysore: Excellent
Mysore->Kanakapura->Bangalore: Whenever I go to Mysore, I usually take this route on the way back to Bangalore. This road is in Excellent condition and the traffic is also very less. However, there are no eateries on this road unlike the millions you would find on SH17.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-093.jpg
From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-107.jpg
A tea estate after Pykara on the way to Gudalur

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-125.jpg
Somewhere about 20 kms to Gudalur, we encountered a traffic jam. As you can see, the road is narrow and there was a truck coming from the other side. The bus and the cars behind it (including mine) had to take reverse and make way for the truck. It took about 20 mins for the truck to pass our convoy.

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-126.jpg
Clicked couple of photos while the jam was being cleared.

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Looks like some temple, high on the hill. Takes good amount of hiking to reach there

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-143.jpg
Few more pics on the way to Gudalur. As I mentioned earlier, this route is very scenic with some spots where you ‘have’ to stop and take picture

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-146.jpg
My Blue beauty among the Nilgiri trees

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A tea estate en route to Gudalur

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From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-157.jpg
Spotted few ‘spotted deers’ in the Mudumalai forest area

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-163.jpg
Bye-bye Tamil Nadu

From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!-ootytrip1-167.jpg
Welcome to Karnataka

Coming to the important aspect of this trip – performance of my Blue Beauty!

Power: The car was loaded with 3 people with boot-full of luggage. Note even for one-second I felt lack of power. This car has AMAZEing power and pull. Even on the 36-hairpin curves, I was able to cruise in 2nd gear (sometime 3rd gear) without any effort.

Handling: This car is an AMAZEing handler for sure. I have driven at least 7 cars so far – right from 1959 FIAT to 2009 Indica Vista and the driving pleasure of this car is miles ahead of the other cars. This car handles corners like a pro – especially the 36-hairpin bend was a breeze mainly due to the handling ability of this car

Mileage: Overall it returned a mileage of 20.7 kmpl for a 680+ km trip. Please note that this includes at least 100+ km of hill driving with multiple hairpin bends with speeds <30kmph. Truly AMAZEing.

Overall it was a fantastic experience driving my beauty to the beauty queen of Nilgiris.

Welcome your comments/feedback/inputs. Thanks for reading.
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Old 2nd March 2014, 09:06   #3
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Default Re: From Bangalore to Manali ..err Ooty!

Nice travelogue. We were also in Ooty in last week of December. It was extremely cold and there were thin layers of frozen water in the lake in the morning.
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