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Old 23rd July 2014, 18:49   #1
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Default Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

12 years in Bangalore and never been to Ooty? Shame on me. So finally decided to go scale up Ooty heights and surrender ourselves into the mesmerizing scenic beauty. This time around there was no discussion or debates whether to take the car or bike. AK (my better half) and I decided we are taking Skiddy (our 5 months old Chevy Beat LT(o) 2014 model). As usual, all packing was done the night before, clothes, warm clothes to be specific, necessary items and stuffs for the next 3 days. Journey day - Saturday, 19th July 2014.

Day 1 – towards Ooty

4:33AM – we woke up around 3:45AM, got ready and started the journey towards Ooty via Bannerghatta Road followed by Nice Road. We had two back-packs, two water bottles, one umbrella just in case we need it on our way, car mobile charger as we would be constantly using mobile GPS navigation system. We also took all necessary documents with respect to the car if we are checked after crossing KA borders. Reading on ODO = 2260kms

Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty-dsc05481.jpg

Here I want to make note that we took this route – BTM > Bannerghatta Road > Nice Road > Bangalore – Mysore Road > Bandipur > Mudumalai Forest > Gudalur > Ooty. Taking this route was a mistake and I would explain why so while I proceed further.

Since we started early there were not many vehicles on the roads – trucks, office cabs, bicyclers and few walking pedestrians.

4:55AM – reached NICE Road toll gate, only one was functioning but didn’t have to wait long. Paid Rs 60 (for cars taking Bangalore Mysore route) and continued our journey.

5:08AM – exited NICE Road and took the usual left turn towards Bangalore – Mysore Road. We almost covered 26kms by now.

6:10AM – reached Kamat Upachar which is on the left side of the highway towards Mysore. We decided to pull over and rest for a while. Didn’t want to over-eat so limited ourselves to tea and a plate of puri sago. Enjoyed the early morning breeze here for a while before I took the wheel to drive ahead.

6:30AM – continued our journey further ahead towards Mysore city. I always feel good driving on Bangalore Mysore road, gives a sense of confidence. Had to keep my acceleration well within limits as every now and then there used to be these big humps near crossings, junctions and town limits. By 7:15AM we crossed Mandya town. I don’t like this place due to heavy traffic flow even at a time as early as 7. Somehow managed to exit and move further ahead towards Mysore

7:49AM – here we are entering Mysore city. I have been to Mysore many a times and each time I feel great about this city. With its historic backgrounds, this city will always remain as one of my favorite place. By this time, ODO read 2401kms, meaning we covered 141kms of our journey. Around 8:30AM we exited the city limits of Mysore and entered several industrial areas.

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8:45AM – we stopped in a petrol pump to fill our tank. Rs1000 worth of petrol, rest room usages, stretching legs and then start again. This time AK takes the wheel. A board read, Ooty – 146kms (I think this is not via Gudalur)

10:10AM – we didn’t have much cash on us so we stopped in Gundlupet. There are some nationalized banks ATM across the road – Vijaya Bank and SBI. Withdrew money, took some snacks from a nearby bakery and journey continues. Learning Kannada over a period of 12 years do help me at times when I am in such remote place and locals there only speak mother tongues.

All these while, we were at a speed range of 60 – 100kms. Didn’t want to drive rash.

10:50AM – and we entered Bandipur forest area. Forest on both sides of the small road, gave me a spooky feeling but it was all great. We were dying to spot some tigers or wild animals on our way, but alas only two elephants with it a baby from far. Monkeys were spotted here and there, crossing roads, though I don’t consider them to be wild animals. Amidst the picturesque surroundings we cruised through Bandipur forest and entered Mudumalai. I didn’t know that together with Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala and Nagarhole National Park, Bandipur forest creates the India's biggest biosphere reserve popularly known as the 'Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve'.

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11:25AM – Karnataka state boarder was crossed and we were stopped by the Tamil Border Police. They checked our vehicles for liquor bottles including our back-packs and the rear side of the car. They asked us to come out so that they can have a better look inside the car. One of them asked “Where going?” I replied “Ooty”. Then I told them ‘Sir, we don’t drink.’ The other guy replied “Bangalore people bad Ma, only drink nothing else.” I replied “Not all people are bad, Sir. There are people who don’t drink, like us.” He replied “Seri seri” (ok ok). By now, the other guy spotted the L Board on my car, he asked me (since I was driving) “L board why?” I said “For me, you want to check my DL?” He replied saying no that’s fine, you can leave.

After crossing Mudumalai forest gates, we entered the road leading us towards Gudalur. We didn’t know what was waiting for us on the way. Extremely bad roads, with potholes everywhere, I could hardly move the vehicle in 2nd gear. All the way I was in 1st gear. With one vehicle on the road, the vehicle coming from the front had to wait till the road is clear to move ahead. Potholes, potholes and more potholes on our way till we reached Gudalur town. Guys, please take it as a sincere advice, never take this bad road to Ooty via Gudalur, your car will cry and curse you for doing this injustice to them. We thought avoiding 36 HPB would be better bait but only fools like us think that way. Anyways. Skiddy was surprisingly taking all these potholes very bravely and he didn’t show any sign of rebel

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12:30PM – after much difficulty we reached Gudalur town. Roads after this were relatively fine. Not at its best but definitely better than what we left behind. By now we got a call from our hotel asking where we were. We informed them that we would be checking in within couple of hours.

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This route via Gudalur doesn’t have many HPBs and as mentioned roads were relatively good. It was raining, drizzling all the way and visibility was not really great due to fog. Now AK took the steering as I was not confident enough to drive further ahead. I must say the beauty amidst nature was mesmerizing. Clouds, fogs, rains, nature, tea estates, church on the way, several waterfalls, view points, valley view, and chain of mountains all made the drive super awesome. We city dwellers can only dream of such green scenic beauty. We had our fog lamps on and honked on all major blind curves to make upcoming vehicles aware.

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3:10PM – we reached Astoria Residency on Church Hill Road, the hotel we booked from Bangalore. The room we booked was a classic suite however due to non-availability we were upgraded to honeymoon suite for a night. Blessing in disguise I must say. The hotel was very clean, newly built, enough space for car parking and friendly staff. They took our vehicle nos, ID proof and gave our room keys. Welcomed by orange juice, snacks (biscuits, chips), water bottles they guided us to our room 207. The room had a double bed, warm blankets, 32’ TV, two sofas, one table, hi-tech bathroom, furniture, closets and cool kinda lights. But the best part - amidst clouds, valley running down into the town – this was the view from our window pane. Couldn’t ask for more. Since we both were hungry we ordered ghee rice and chicken curry from the hotel’s kitchen. The hotel had a kitchen but no restaurant, so you basically order food and they serve it at your room. At this point, our car ODO read 2573kms, 313kms from BTM.

3:45PM - I couldn’t wait any more, got freshen up and jumped into the bed. AK and I were super tired due to the journey and decided to sleep for a while. We forgot to eat what we ordered.

5:45PM – a while became 2 hours of solid sleep. We both were super duper bumper hungry, so decided to have the food that we ordered sometimes back – it was as cold as ice but hunger made us eat even that. Done with food we decided to go out, but rain stopped us. Heavy downpour in Ooty can be a bad time to go outside. We preferred to stay indoors and wait for the rain to stop. Switched on the TV and watched Crime Patrol

9:15PM – rain stopped and it was almost dinner time. We stepped outside the hotel, it was very cold. Nights at Ooty can be very very very cold so carrying warm clothes is a must. With jackets and pullovers on, we went to this nearby restaurant called ‘Quality Restaurant’. Ordered hot hot chicken soup, followed by malai paneer, rotis and kulchas.

10:00PM – everything in Ooty shuts down by 10, so we finished dinner and head back towards the hotel as it was getting colder. Checked Skiddy if it was properly locked and went upstairs.

10:30PM – got freshen up, jumped again into the bed, switched on the TV and retired for the day. We planned to sight-seeing the next day.

Day 2 – around Ooty

8:30AM – after a tiring previous day, we literally had a goodnight sleep. The hotel front desk called us to ask if we would like to order some breakfast. Tea, bread omelet and puri sabji was ordered. By the time food arrived we got freshen up.

8:45AM – breakfast arrives, seating by the window to a magnificent view, we had our breakfast. Food tends to get cold very soon in Ooty so need to eat as soon as it is served hot. Contemplating on which places to visit, we could see fog and cloud covering most part of the valley and it started to drizzle. Mesmerized by the greenery outside AK and I sat there for a while and had out sweet moments of talks.

10:15AM – when we realized the time it was already 10AM. We hurried back to take hot water shower, got ready with our pullovers and scarfs, all set for the windy and drizzly day ahead.

We enquired with the front desk and boiled down to 4 tourist places to visit. They asked if we wanted to book a cab or so but I insisted on taking Skiddy along with us. AK decided to take the wheel throughout the day. Filled the tank with Rs 1500/- petrol in a nearby HP petrol pump, we were good to go.

11:15AM – St Stephens Church was the first place that we visited, was hardly a 2 mins drive from our hotel. It is one of the oldest churches in the Nilgiris. Among high rise trees and greenery, this church looks splendid. The entire structure was made up of wood and architecture and carvings all along was brilliantly done. There isn’t any entry fee and we took about 20-25 mins to look around the church.

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12 Noon – we reached Ooty Boat House. Entry fee is Rs 10/- for adults and Rs 20/- for still camera. Initially I thought it was a natural lake uphill but later clarified that it is an artificially made lake by damming the mountain streams flowing down Ooty. A huge lake in itself, the water was so clear and looked amazing. With trees and herbs all along the lake, the view was break-taking. At one end, you will see many boats available for hire and take tours in the lake. 4, 8, 10 and 12 seater boats were busy making trips for tourists. We decided to stay back and enjoy the view from the bank. Along the lake, one can see many vendors selling jackets, windcheaters, scarfs, monkey caps, umbrellas and some eateries too. AK had sweet corn cup and I had hot freshly prepared French fries. We got a colorful umbrella too which was selling like hot cakes. It’s fun to see so many people around, chit chatting, laughing, talking and enjoying the nature in true sense. At the boat house end, there is children's park with a toy train. Just outside the Boat house local ponies are available for rides at a charge. Public toilets not very clean.

After some 50 mins spent in the Boat house, we decided to move towards Ooty Botanical Garden.

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1PM – Ooty Botanical garden, like any other gardens. Entry fee was Rs 30/- for adults and Rs 50/- for still camera. This garden is located on the lower slopes of Doddabeta peak. When we entered the garden we saw a vast expanse of green lawn going steeply uphill. We could see thousand of species of plants, both exotic and medicinal values, mostly, shrubs, ferns, trees, herbal and bonsais. In the centre of the garden one can see a fossilized trunk estimated to be 20 million years old. Snacks and refreshments are available at a cafeteria in the middle of the garden. One can purchase exotic plants from the nurseries situated inside the garden. We took a leisurely stroll all across the garden and enjoyed its scenic beauty. On Sundays the garden can be really over-crowded with tourists and locals but that didn’t stop us to completely surrender into the marvelous natural beauty. It took us 45 mins to cover the entire garden.
Now it was time to head towards Doddabeta Peak, the highest peak in Ooty.

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1:45PM – took the Doddabeta road, it’s a uphill drive. Roads are in very bad condition, potholes everywhere and fog was killing it more with minimum visibility. We had to put our fog lamps on all the time. There were a total of 7 HPBs, some very narrow, some blind, some absolutely steepy. We somehow managed all these difficulties and reached the top of the peak by 2:30PM.

I must say the difficult climb was all not worth it. The view from the top was completely zero due to dense fog everywhere. Entry fee was Rs 5/- for adults and Rs 10/- for still camera. We could hardly see anything below and even the telescope house didn’t help us much. I was not very impressed by this place, too crowded, too many vendors made it very noisy and almost took away the serene beauty. We decided not to spend much time there and started to come down around 3:15PM.

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3:30PM – we were back to the hotel. By now we were moved to the room we booked, Classic Suite. This time room no was 103 and the room itself was not bad. A high-tech bathroom was gone though. We took rest for a while and remained in our room since it started raining heavily.

6PM – by now we both were starving to death and decided to go out hunting for some food. Came across this place called ‘Sidewalk Café’ ran by Nahar Group of Hotels. Entered, sat and requested for menu – it’s an all veg place. Never mind, let’s have some veg food. Ordered tomato soup, some veg burgers, coffee and tea. Serving was pretty quick. We got our food within 10mins. Relaxed and we started hogging.

6:45PM – done with our food, we took a walk along the town. No rains – much better. The cool breeze touching our face, the gentle wind and a tinge of cold – we were simply loving the moment and enjoying every bit of it.

7:45PM – back to the hotel and immediately get call from the front desk for dinner. Ordered egg curry, rice, dal and chappati. Time to switch on the TV.

9:15PM – knock on the door and dinner’s ready. May be not that hungry, so decided to wait some more time

10:15PM – had our food, got freshen up and once again, jumped into the bed. Time to sleep and get ready for the next day to head back home.

Day 3 – towards home

8:30AM – time to wake up after yet another good night sleep. Today we have to return back home. So ordered breakfast soon – masala dosa, bread omlete and tea. By the time breakfast came, we arranged our stuffs, back-packs, water bottles and require items.

9:15AM – breakfast arrives and wasting no time we had our food. After this we wanted to inform the hotel staff about the check out. So we went down, settle our charges (Rs 4200/- for 2 nights with some additional 1000 for food). Skiddy needed a slight cleaning up, so we just gave him a quick clean-up touch.

10:15AM – we are back in our room, decided to take shower and get ready for way back home. Our check out time was 12 noon, hence by 11:45 we were ready and came down to depart.

11:45PM – left hotel. This time we are not repeating the same mistake once again. We are taking Masinagudi route with 36 HPBs on our way . No petrol was required as Skiddy was almost full. Car ODO reads 2601kms.

12Noon – we reached our first HPB out of 36. The view was amazingly break-taking. The valley amidst mountains was all very scenic. The day was sunnier and there was absolutely no fog or rain. By 12:25PM – reached half way through the HPBs (18/36). Most of the HPBs were manageable and all throughout the way there were mirrors to see who’s in the other side of the curves, sign boards as in which gear to use while climbing down. Apart from two rash drivers we didn’t face much of a challenge on our way down. The roads were decent enough and much better than Gudalur roads. However, the roads could be narrower at times. Personal advice – if you feel you need to stop before taking a curve, please do. Drive slow and never overtake.

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12:40PM – finish with all the 35 HPBs and we took the route towards Masinagudi. Here the roads are not that great and if there is a vehicle infront you might have to wait for it to pass else you will go off the road. We crossed forest reserve areas and it felt a bit spooky. We died to spot some sort of wild life but there were none.

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1:30PM – entered Karnataka boarder, no checking here. ODO read 2643kms (Ooty via 36 HPBs is just 42kms much lesser than the route we took earlier)

1:50PM – we entered Bandipur and I took the wheel this time. The drive was excellent and cruising through dense green forest was superb. I simply enjoyed my drive. On our way we spotted a golden langur by the road side expecting us to give her some food. We didn’t stop. We spotted the same herd of elephant while going to Ooty. Those were the max wild animals we spotted.

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2:10PM – now we are hungry and wanted to have lunch. We just crossed Bandipur and came across this place called ‘Hotel Bandipur Plaza’. Stopped for lunch, this is a decent veg and non veg restaurant. They have clean rest rooms too. Ordered – ghee and plain rice, dal fry, lemon chicken and a fanta.

2:45PM – done with lunch, some snacks for the way, used rest rooms, we started the journey towards Mysore via Nanjangud. It’s a straight national highway with easy drive, not many bully drivers. Still I decided to drive slow and safe.

4:45PM – arrived Mysore city limits. Now AK took the wheel and we continued our journey towards Bangalore. A board read – 145kms to Bangalore. 5:54PM is when we crossed Mandya town.

6:26PM – reached Empire restaurant on Bangalore – Mysore Road. Time for some snacks – dosa chicken and falooda with ice cream. With a 30 mins rest, we finished our food, once again used rest rooms and started.

8:40PM – reached NICE Road. ODO read – 2857kms). Home is not far. Once gain paid Rs 60/- tool charges. NICE road was a bit busy by now, too many vehicles, trucks both slow and fast moving. Some we made our way and reached Bannerghatta exit by 9PM.

9:30PM – amidst Monday evening traffic, we reached home safe and sound. Car ODO – 2881kms, total of 621kms.

Overall, a great driving experience, Ooty was amazing and scenic to the core. Sometimes, running away to such natural places gives you immense happiness and contentment. Hope we visit Ooty again in future.
Thanks guys! Hope you like it.

Last edited by nandita_bayan21 : 27th July 2014 at 18:10.
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Old 27th July 2014, 18:47   #2
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Default re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Mod note: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 27th July 2014, 23:40   #3
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Default re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Nice crisp travelogue with good photographs!!

Any bitter experience near the KA-TN border near Bandipur? Generally the staff stop you and expect their palms to be greased!!

How was the Sunday crowd on the 20th? The last time we were in Ooty in 2013, the crowd (on weekends) was maddening.

I guess you guys were lucky that the traffic cops allowed you via the 36 HPB Masinagudi route. Generally they do not allow (especially non TN registered vehicles) downhill. They redirect to the Gudalur route. Maybe they allowed, being a weekday.

Next time around please try Shinkows - it is a nice old world Chinese restaurant just a few hundred metres ahead of Astoria Residency. The food is delicious and is definitely good value for money.

Regards,

Samish
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Old 28th July 2014, 07:34   #4
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Default re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Very good travelogue. I had been there with my wife in 2013 December which I think is the most worst weather to be there. During night may be at around 10:00 PM temperature guage was showing as 4 degrees. I though thought temperature guage had bit of error but was not. When I went out of the car I realized it.
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Old 28th July 2014, 13:14   #5
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A nice and detailed travelogue you got there. The roads seem to be awesome to drive. Just curious what speeds did you'll maintain on your way to Ooty?
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Old 2nd August 2014, 11:38   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samish_g View Post
Nice crisp travelogue with good photographs!!

Any bitter experience near the KA-TN border near Bandipur? Generally the staff stop you and expect their palms to be greased!!

How was the Sunday crowd on the 20th? The last time we were in Ooty in 2013, the crowd (on weekends) was maddening.

I guess you guys were lucky that the traffic cops allowed you via the 36 HPB Masinagudi route. Generally they do not allow (especially non TN registered vehicles) downhill. They redirect to the Gudalur route. Maybe they allowed, being a weekday.

Next time around please try Shinkows - it is a nice old world Chinese restaurant just a few hundred metres ahead of Astoria Residency. The food is delicious and is definitely good value for money.

Regards,

Samish
Crossing TN border while towards Ooty was decent. The cops didn't bother us much just looked for liquor bottles and let us go finding none. While entering KA we never got stopped.

Ooty on Sundays are extremely crowded, jam packed. We could hardly enjoy nature with so much of noise and people flocking around.

As I mentioned Gudalur route was very very very pathetic, so didn't want to take the risk once again while returning. So we took Masinagudi, but was never stopped. Strange may be, as you said they dont allow.

Will definitely try Shinkows, I am a big Chinese foodie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by meetbadri View Post
Very good travelogue. I had been there with my wife in 2013 December which I think is the most worst weather to be there. During night may be at around 10:00 PM temperature guage was showing as 4 degrees. I though thought temperature guage had bit of error but was not. When I went out of the car I realized it.
It was July and temperature was just above 7 degrees in the night. So I can understand the chill during December.

Quote:
Originally Posted by S2!!! View Post
A nice and detailed travelogue you got there. The roads seem to be awesome to drive. Just curious what speeds did you'll maintain on your way to Ooty?
We maintained something around 60 - 100kmph throughout the journey. Forest areas around 30/40 kmph but Gudalur roads, nothing more than 20kmph, roads too bad can't go beyond 1st / 2nd gear.
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Old 2nd August 2014, 20:47   #7
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Default Re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Nice and crisp! Quality inn serves good food so does all Nahar joints. Shinkows used to be the best. Give it a try if you want to scare yourself. I can do better Chinese than the clown dishing up stuff there. Its just a tasmac extension these days.
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Old 2nd August 2014, 21:51   #8
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Default Re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Crisp TL & nice snaps.
I could see out of 3 days almost 2 days were occupied by Travel / Driving. May be for the next trip plan accordingly to cover the left out places.
I'm not sure of my TL (Exploring Ooty, again) may help you.
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Old 2nd August 2014, 22:00   #9
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Lovely travelogue Nandita and beautiful pics to go with it, really miss Ooty now, thanks for sharing !
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Old 2nd August 2014, 22:34   #10
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Default Re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Lovely write up and photos

Incidentally, I was in Ooty exactly one week before you went there and I had stayed in the same hotel, Astoria Residency!

More details in my ownership thread http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/long-t...ml#post3492335
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Old 2nd August 2014, 23:01   #11
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Default Re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Good going madam! Nice log of the trip.

But you still need one more drive to Ooty at least. The next you go, its not for the tourist spots, but for the places not seen by the regular tourists. Its forums like ours, which bring out these places. Here is a thread for reference.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ent-point.html (Ooty, Upper bavani, western catchment point)

PS: For every drive to Ooty, there is always one more. I have lost count of how many times I have been to Ooty... But I still want to go again. And its logs like yours, which adds to the fire!
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Old 3rd August 2014, 11:37   #12
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Nice travelogue with nice photos. Thanks for sharing.

Of such joys are the memorable moments in life made. You, your car, the significant other, nice place, good drive, and the memories stay on .

Onwards and farther !
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Old 6th August 2014, 13:08   #13
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Default Re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Quote:
Originally Posted by nandita_bayan21 View Post

Ooty on Sundays are extremely crowded, jam packed. We could hardly enjoy nature with so much of noise and people flocking around.
Hi Nandita,

Lovely and well written travelogue, and brings back memories of my trip to Ooty a few years back. Planning to do another trip soon, and had some questions on the trip, road conditions etc. Not able to PM you- could you drop me a test email at arindam13@gmail.com to which I can reply?

Thanks!
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Old 6th August 2014, 16:51   #14
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Default Re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Nice and crisp log. Ooty is always good no matter whats the season, I prefer a little colder temperatures so have been to Ooty around 4 times. You must always take the 36 hair pin side, its always maintained and faster. However, please take care as with a learners license you are not supposed to drive on the highways if I can remember the rules correctly.

Those check post cops are always funny, they had once stopped us as well after dark to warn us of animals during that time and I jokingly asked no animals to be seen, he pointed to an elephant quite close to the check post. Lo behold there was one actually standing there!!
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Old 7th August 2014, 20:50   #15
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Default Re: Travelogue: Foggy & Freezing Ooty

Nice travelogue. Next time try to stay at Coonoor, its less crowded and more scenic. Its one of my favourite destinations. Also am sure you are aware that while negotiating the 36 hair pins, you must drive on the same gears that you were while going uphill while you are coming downhill. This is very important. Happy driving and keep writing. Cheers.
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