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Old 10th May 2014, 16:46   #1
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Thumbs up Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

From what was once the Garden City to now a concrete jungle, Bangalore has gotten warmer over the years.
This year the summer heat started making its presence felt in March itself and by April it went super northwards, peaking around 37 deg. Celcius!

*Don't start wondering what's there to complain so much since it's summer after all but then this is from the perspective of a true Bangalorean

It's already nearing the end of April and the school summer vacations are here so isn't it time for a family vacation ?
Well, not so soon and some of the reasons are daughter is busy with painting, music & other classes, parents are busy with work and some home improvement programs!

Finally, we manage to squeeze out time for a long weekend and we have 4 days in all from Saturday to Tuesday, need to get back to work on Wednesday.

Some random ideation happens - how about a visit to Mumbai & Pune ? Goa ? Srinagar ? Why not Hampi ? The argument continues..
Looked around for some last minute airfare & hotel deals, no luck!
It's a long weekend so most destinations, especially the hill stations are all booked.
Then the mind takes over the heart so we're back on terra firma with a pragmatic approach. It's summer so let's not go to a place warmer than Bangalore plus it's got be a drive and we have 4 days in all.

But we've been to most of the hill stations in the South so that's not even exciting enough to consider.

Then we seem to be getting desperate, what about Ooty ?
Nah, we've been there just too many times. Maybe, just maybe Coonoor, I quickly chat with our route king ampere and he suggests Acres Wild/Destiny Farms or the Taj, so I call them all but no luck again. I then called a friend who is from Ooty but his phone isn't reachable!

While reading about Destiny Farms I came across the nearby Red Hills Nature Resort and also faintly remembered reading about it few years ago probably Outlook Traveller. This place is not near Coonoor but on the other side near Emerald/Avalanchi, maybe something to look forward to since we'd never been to that side of Ooty.
But this didn't go well with the ladies in power, with a "Ooty again ?, Let's just stay back at home" response.

Reading more, I found few reasons to convince them - the place is almost 30km away from Ooty, we'll quickly drive right through Ooty town and head to a calm place, the vistas enroute will be amazing, lot of lakes, dams around the place, etc etc..and secretly in my mind the most I'm looking forward to is the drive via Masinagudi that I always wanted to do

Beyond the drive, I did not want to have too many great expectations of the place Red Hills since I didn't want to be disappointed later.

The ladies finally (reluctantly though) said "Ok".
So we're all set, but wait a moment, we need to see if they have availability. I then call Mr.Vijay and he says no availability till Saturday, available from Sunday.
Quick chat with the ladies and we decide we'll leave on Sunday and get back to Bangalore on Tuesday. Life is full of compromises you know!

The Red Hills resort website says we need to park our cars (non-SUV) in Ooty and they will arrange transportation to the resort. Checked with Vijay regarding this and he said the roads are good now and we can drive all the way up to the resort, so good on that front too.

Sunday morning comes, we're Up early by 3.30am targeting a 4.30 start. I'd decided not to go via Chamrajnagar due to the early start, didn't want to end up waiting for breakfast at Nijaguna Residency, Chamrajnagar.

In contrast, Mysore Road has lots of options for an early breakfast stop and traffic should be manageable, just need to handle the numerous speed breakers, again this is not a problem if driving sedately.

Now's lets see how much of this intuition turns out to be true.

Stay tuned, there's more coming soon!

Last edited by NPV : 12th May 2014 at 12:48.
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Old 11th May 2014, 09:29   #2
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

Some of my last minute checks like vehicle documents, etc took some time and we managed to leave home at 4:45am, 15 minutes later than the planned start, still not bad!

The previous day I had tanked up our trusty sedan Dizzy and also got the tyres checked and topped up with Nitrogen.

Traffic was light and driving through the city was real quick and in about 20 minutes we were past Chord Road/Vijayanagar junction on Mysore Road.

It was still dark near Ramnagaram and I did not see the prominent Kamat Lokaruchi. From somewhere after Ramnagaram, there was new tarmac with new lane markings as well at some places, and I guess some of the speed breakers have reduced too on account of this new layer of asphalt.

Around 6:15 we were at Somanahalli near Maddur and planned to stop at Thimmadas, opposite Adigas as I'd heard the place is good (where else but TBHP!) and wanted to try it, otherwise the fallback option would be the tried and tested Adigas.
But both were not yet open so decided to keep driving ahead.

We weren't in the mood for a food court breakfast since a recent experience on the same route at the Bestin food court's Shivalli restaurant wasn't good not to mention overpriced as well.
The Right-O food court near Srirangapatna has just opened but we decided to skip that as well.

In just a few more minutes we were at the Mysore Outer ring road junction, decided not to take the ring road and instead drove straight into the city and stopped at Kamat Madhuvan near the Mysore Palace at 7:15am - that was a good drive with very less traffic and sedate driving, enjoyed it.
Only one other table was occupied when we went in.
We had a good, fresh, piping hot breakfast and started towards Nanjangud at 7:45am.

Traffic was not dense but still quite slow moving with few trucks, buses, Maxi cabs pitching in and offering very few safe opportunities for overtaking. After Nanjangud, traffic eased up and we were quickly past Gundlupet towards Bandipur. Roads were excellent, definitely not like what it was in 2011 when we'd driven to K Gudi.

Time for some pictures, I will stop boring you with all the text!

At the Bandipur gate
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Wildlife sightings are always a treat!
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Effect of a recent forest fire
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Excellent roads inside Bandipur forest
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Last edited by NPV : 12th May 2014 at 12:51.
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Old 11th May 2014, 13:50   #3
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

The forest had a fresh, vibrant green cover probably due to the recent rains, I did not expect it at this time of the year.

There were several vehicles near the forest department visitor centre for the Bandipur Safari rides and we also saw many of their jeeps on the road with lots of excited people in them

Soon we were on the Tamil Nadu side in the Mudumalai forest range. Here, at Theppakadu as planned earlier, I turned left towards a narrow bridge that had a 'Weak Bridge, Go Slow' sign. This was my first time on the Masinagudi route and I was really looking forward to this drive.

The road after the bridge started off a little narrow, broken on the edges at some places. There were few vehicles coming in the opposite direction, probably from Masinagudi, there was also the share of reckless, speedster local jeeps trying to bully others to get off the road and hog the asphalt for themselves!

We reached Masinagudi town, went past the taxi/jeep stand there and then found calmness setting in, the road much wider and fresh tarmac as well. Spotted a nice looking Cafe Coffee Day outlet near Mavanalla but did not go there, instead stopped a little ahead where the road was wide and got some cool breeze and some photographs as well.

Further ahead, saw the HPB's (Hair Pin Bends) begin and wow, it had new tarmac with good lane markings.
It was wide enough for a car in each direction to pass comfortably but if there's a bus the equation obviously changes!

Also, the hair pin bends are almost back to back so the ascend is very quick. There are several signs on the way alerting drivers to be on second gear.

It got cooler and cooler as we climbed up the hills and soon it was 22 degree Celcius, welcome contrasting change from Bangalore's high 30's.

By 10:40 we were near the Gudalur Road (RTO checkpost junction), now that was quick, could not stop anywhere for pictures though.

Got into Ooty town, Charring Cross, turned right to go towards bus stand.
At the bus stand junction I stopped to ask a cop for directions to Emerald and he was blank! I then asked for Avalanchi road and he asked me to proceed to the left further ahead from the bus stand. Just some two hundred metres ahead reached another circle, and was confused so turned to the left and stopped a little ahead at a fork. Here I saw Club Mahindra to the right side so that was a good landmark.
Called Vijay and his number was busy!

Now, I remembered the printout I had taken earlier that morning, one of the reasons for our delayed start - an excellent post (Help required in booking Red hills nature resort Ooty) by @deepakhon on the Red Hills thread with turn by turn directions, this was our saviour! This thread was also helpful in convincing the powers that be to visit Red Hills

Turned back and headed to the road on the other side of the circle. Few minutes later called Vijay to confirm that we're on track and he asked us to call him after reaching Emerald.
It was a wonderful, slow drive soaking in all the wonderful vistas on offer and stops at some places for photographs. Drove past several villages, the Good Shepherd institutions, almost no traffic and excellent roads.

Reached Emerald with trip meter reading 300Km at 11:45am.

Called Vijay and directions he gave matched the one by @deepakhon so we were on track.
After crossing the bridge at Emerald, another ghat road begins with 34 HPB's leading to Avalanchi.
We drove till HPB #5 and turned right towards the Emerald Dam. Two more small bridges with the lake on either side and grass meadows leading down to the lake on one side, couldn't ask for more. There were some vehicles and people walking around, some on a picnic. Stopped for some photos here and headed right at next 2 forks.

Soon we saw the "Red Hills, 400m" sign and turned left. First 50m or so is asphalted and then a track with mud, stones and pebbles leads to the resort. This is easily driveable in small cars as well without any hits to the underbody as our Dizzy soon proved.
Reached the parking lot of the Red Hills resort where few vehicles were parked, trip meter reading 307Km, time 12:15pm and the temperature was 20 degree Celcius.

I parked Dizzy and we headed towards the white British bungalow on top. Amazing views from just outside the bungalow with the front portion having Emerald Lake views and views of tea estates and hills from the other sides.

Though no celebrations, this made my day and was a cherished Birthday gift for myself - felt happy that we decided on this place.

We met our host Vijay, spoke to other guests and the staff there were very friendly. We had a good lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon just enjoying the views, going around the property, some badminton (yes, my daughter carried a light kit as well). That evening we had dinner at the dining hall and caught some IPL cricket too. Thankfully the rooms do not have TV's, a welcome change when on vacation.

Speaking to the staff I found that some of the guests were planning an early morning trek up the hills so I enlisted myself for the same. Also checked for sunrise/dawn break time and hit the sack after setting the alarm for 5:30am.

Time to stop talking and share some pictures.

Some nice views near Masinagudi
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Excellent Road after Masinagudi
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The drive to Emerald
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Dizzy
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High Tea!
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Bridge at Emerald village
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Temple at Emerald village
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Emerald Dam
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Emerald Lake
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Last edited by NPV : 12th May 2014 at 13:04.
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Old 11th May 2014, 15:33   #4
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

Let more pictures do the talking.

Emerald Lake - picnic and fishing spot
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The road ahead
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Lake Vistas
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Parking lot
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First view of the bungalow
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Cottages around the bungalow
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To our room
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Our room
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Around the property
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Last edited by NPV : 11th May 2014 at 15:41.
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Old 11th May 2014, 19:53   #5
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

Some more pictures around the place:

Around the property (Contd..)
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The white bench - My favourite spot
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The Dining Room
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Got Tents?
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Dizzy parked safely with friends
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Woke up about at 5:25, 5 minutes before the alarm went off. The ladies wanted to get some rest so I headed out to catch the sun rising knowing it may not be clear due to the fog. Just sitting on the white bench in solitude and absorbing the breathtaking sights during dawn break was satisfying enough.
Other than the trek, the only planned activity was to go out in the evening to a sunset point inside the forest.

The trek up the hill was another wonderful experience and offered some great sights of the hills and lakes around.

Pictures are worth a thousand (or much more actually!) words, so without much ado..

The wait for the Sun
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Good morning!
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We're gonna trek up there!
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Last edited by NPV : 12th May 2014 at 13:07.
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Old 11th May 2014, 20:54   #6
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

Early morning trek up the hill
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During Breakfast banter with the staff we heard about a small waterfall nearby, so why not give it a try ? The trek to the place was also not difficult
we were told. With one of the staff as guide we set out at 11am to the waterfall. After walking around the lake, we could just see 2 small streams trickling down the rocks from across a small gorge.

Is this all ? Now our guide suggested we trek up through the woods to the waterfall a little ahead. It was bit adventurous and after some duck-walking below vines and bushes we reached the real waterfall. It turned out to be worth it though we were not prepared with spare clothes, etc for a bath.
Still enjoyed just hanging out on the rocks and playing in the water. Got back to the resort around 2pm for a sumptuous lunch.

Another Trek to the waterfall
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Last edited by NPV : 11th May 2014 at 20:56.
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Old 11th May 2014, 22:22   #7
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

The evening was spent going around in the resort's Scorpio with the driver as our guide. We drove into the forest to a sunset point few Kilometres away.

The drive into the forest was excellent with huge Pine trees all around, saw some Toda villages/settlements down on the slopes.
At one place saw a board for Mukurthi National Park, but we took the road in the other direction towards Porthimund.
I was told the Porthimund Dam was where an important scene from the movie Roja was shot.

The place was serene and offered beautiful views of the surrounding hills and dams. After sunset, we headed back to the resort.

On the drive way we even sighted some animals that we'd never have been able to spot without the guide. We saw Black Langurs one of them almost as big as a young gorilla, some barking deer, several rabbits and wild buffaloes.

We returned to Red Hills around 8pm and crashed after dinner.

On the way to Sunset Point
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Short walk down to the Sunset Point
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Views from Sunset Point
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Hoof marks
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Sunset
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The two days spent here were wonderful and it was time to head back home on the third day.

We left Red Hills around 9:45, reached Ooty and did some small shopping for varkey and chocolates and left Ooty around 11am.

I was contemplating taking the route via Mettupalayam but then decided against it and took the Gudalur route. There were cops at the Masinagudi road entry point with a big "No Entry" signboard so did not bother trying to go that way.
Gudalur route was a bit rough with at least couple of hair pin beds devoid of any tarmac and inside Mudumalai one small section before Theppakadu was bad, but the drive was still a very scenic one.

We had lunch at a new place in Gundlupet called Misty Rock Hotel (DeShell Restaurant). The South and North Indian Veg. Thali was decent, place was neat with clean washrooms.

Wanted to avoid Mysore and the traffic on Mysore Road so took Chamarajanagar route and reached Bangalore via Kanakapura. There was heavy rain all the way from near Malavalli so it was a slow drive back. Took the NICE Road and reached home via Hosur Road and Koramangala with choc-a-block traffic all the way. Reached home around 8pm after a 6:30pm exit from NICE Road to Hosur Road.

Trip meter read 678Km on reaching home - now that is nice

The saying goes "The journey is as important as the destination", and here we had a wonderful journey leading to even more wonderful destinations

And good roads led us to great destinations this time!

Signing off with these two pictures from the drive back home..

A view of Emerald Village
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Spotted this fella in Mudumalai
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*** End of weekend and End of Travelogue as well! ***

Last edited by NPV : 12th May 2014 at 13:20.
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Old 12th May 2014, 07:20   #8
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

Wish you a very happy birthday! A wonderful and detailed travelogue. A place to retire and settle down amidst the beauty of the nature.
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Old 12th May 2014, 08:22   #9
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

I first heard about this region on Nilgiris through this forum only. Firstly the lakes and secondly the actual location of the hills and trekking in them. But once I saw this place, it was pure ecstasy. In fact in winter one can see ice in these regions. Amazing place the Nilgiris.

I am sure @NPV its not the last time you have visited this place yet.
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Old 12th May 2014, 08:46   #10
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

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Wish you a very happy birthday! A wonderful and detailed travelogue. A place to retire and settle down amidst the beauty of the nature.
Thanks! Yes, it's a place so beautiful you just feel like being inside a do-nothing loop just taking in the sights all around!

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I first heard about this region on Nilgiris through this forum only. Firstly the lakes and secondly the actual location of the hills and trekking in them. But once I saw this place, it was pure ecstasy. In fact in winter one can see ice in these regions. Amazing place the Nilgiris.

I am sure @NPV its not the last time you have visited this place yet.
Oh yes, the Nilgiris is an awesome place. Though Ooty and probably Coonoor now are popular, there are much more scenic and beautiful places all around, many untouched and unspoiled and I sincerely hope they stay that way.
Definitely not my last visit, todo list still has Avalanchi/Upper Bhavani and Kotagiri. We heard from the staff there that on May 1 there was rain with hail.
During our stay there, the daytime temperature was between 18-20 deg. Celcius, this in Summer
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Old 12th May 2014, 10:33   #11
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

Nice trip you had there! The trek to the top of the hill is well worth the effort! Amazing views of the lakes from there.
How did you manage to drive your dzire till the resort? The last time I went there the roads were very bad. I also see a Honda city in one of the pictures!
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Old 12th May 2014, 10:43   #12
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

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How did you manage to drive your dzire till the resort? The last time I went there the roads were very bad. I also see a Honda city in one of the pictures!
The roads upto the last 400m (where the Red Hills sign board is) are good so absolutely no issues.
I'd asked Vijay if I will need to park my car at Ooty and take their transportation and he said even smaller low GC cars can now drive up all the way, so just drove up - it's definitely manageable. Also took the car out a couple times for drives to nearby places and not a single hit to the underbody. Other than the Honda City there was also an Accord up there on the first day!
I think it would be difficult during the monsoons but at this time it was just fine.

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Old 12th May 2014, 14:59   #13
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogue section. Thanks for sharing
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Old 12th May 2014, 20:48   #14
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

Hi NPV, nice travelogue and very good photos. Red Hills looks beautiful in pre-monsoon season. I have travelled to Ooty twice but never ventured beyond Connor. I have to make plans for visiting Avalanche & Emareld lakes now. One more reason to drive to Ooty.
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Old 15th May 2014, 18:08   #15
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ: Quick Escape to the calm, serene & mesmerising Red Hills

Hi NPV

Very gud write up. What were the tariffs and how would you rate the food at the resort?

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