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Old 4th May 2017, 14:22   #1
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Default Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Secret Ingredients to an awesome long weekend.
Days: 3
Kms: 1900kms
Places visited: 6
States traversed: 4+4
Max time driven: 16 hours and 22 hours
Best stretch: Bangalore Airport-Hyderabad Airport (The NH44 in between)
Places Covered: Hyderabad-Ranganthittu-Mysore-Ooty-Coonor-Kothagiri-Ooty-Mysore-Srirangapattnam-Hyderabad

After the Sikkim trip last year Duster was sitting idle except few Chennai and Nagpur trip. A long weekend is all we had to make the most of it. The heat wave at Hyderabad was just starting and had already taken a toll.
[Sikkim Trip - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...uster-awd.html (Hyderabad - Sikkim in a Duster AWD!)

The process for booking started and it was not long when we realized that it was a long weekend for everyone. Hotels were not available and we wanted to try out some HomeStays via AirBnB. Getting a perfect hotel to spend the weekend was off the table for us. We were ready to crash anywhere. Rescue came in the form of OyORooms. The hotel was a newly constructed property inaugurated just 2 weeks back. All we needed was parking spot and a descent bed to rest. Name of hotel – Rainforest.
The Bong-Duster started at 8:30pm from Banjara Hills. The Hyderabad-Bangalore road is always a pleasure to drive on, except few major humps near Ananthpur. Fueling pumps are in abundance. Some excellent restaurants are available on either side of the highway. We had our dinner in one of them around 11pm and headed straight for Bangalore. Crossed Nandi hills around 1:45am. Since I had made good time I thought of including Ranganthittu for my little kid. Plan was to not go inside but just to experience the sunrise and see how overwhelmed our kid would get hearing all those birds start chirping early morning. It was just last month I did Ranganthittu and I knew for sure that the park would open at 8:30am. We reached Ranganthittu around 6am when it was about time. The noise was something my kiddo will remember for a long long time, nature at its best . The weekend was just starting to get perfect.
Stopped over at one of the mega Dhabas after Mysore had a quick bite and headed for Ooty. Mysore road is infamous for its notorious humps and to top that up weekend gave way to some major traffic. Saw a tremendous bump in traffic coming from Bangalore post 6:30am. Without wasting much time took the 150A and bypassed Mysore City at Kesare. Finally reached Ooty at 11am. We had stopped at few places before Ootyespecially at Bandipur and Madumalai. As usual didn’t spot anything else except few humble Deer’s. Took the customary 36 Hairpin Bend route and it was fun to do that road in duster. Short gearing of AWD Duster, tell me about it so much in love with short gears. Traffic had already started pouring in by the time we reached Ooty, only later I came to know that jams here could last over 6 hours unless you know other roads to bypass.

Few pictures now from the 16 hours’ drive.
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-after-mysore-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-duster-ooty-.jpg

Short Video at Bandipur ( Sorry about the poor quality, I some how managed to corrupt the SD card, still in the process of recovering the video files )


Route Taken – Hyderabad-Bangalore-Ranganthittu-Ooty
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-hybdooty.jpg

View from the hotel.
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-view-hotel-.jpg


It was around 1pm when we all freshened up. Decided to go for local cab and visit few places around. Avalanche Lake is around 30kms from Ooty valley and the roads are extremely narrow. Good part is there’s no dug up water way besides the hill like the ones seenat Darjeeling and Sikkim, risking jammed tyres onto them. Most drivers are very cooperative and driving sense was very positive. It takes roughly one hour to reach the check post and get tickets. Personal vehicles are not allowed and only Government Vehicles can take you in. Charges are 150 per person with a 2 hour drive in dense forest. Places they show you are Mushroom forest, A temple and Avalanche lake. On the way back we got royally stuck in Jam as a truck had broken down on one of the narrow patch of the route.

Few pictures from Day-1

Mushroom Forest, the picture is not doing justice but the trees did look a lot like mushrooms and cauliflower.
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-mushroom-forest-.jpg

The Temple En-route
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-temple-avalanche.jpg

Avalanche Lake, Ooty
Avalanche Lake is located 28 kilometers from Ooty in the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu.

Name:  1  avalanche lake.JPG
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Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-avalance-lake-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-avalanche-lake-.jpg

We were given a Travera to be taken deep into the forest.


View from the Government Checkpost before entering Avalanche Lake.
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-checkpost-avalanche-.jpg


Finally Sunset at the valley.
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-sunset-valley-.jpg

Short timelapse at Ooty

Last edited by ARAY : 4th May 2017 at 16:08.
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Old 4th May 2017, 15:02   #2
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Day-2

Next day I applied the same logic as I had applied in Sikkim. Booked a cab via the hotel. When the cab driver arrived I told that I would pay him the money as discussed but instead of his cab he would be guiding me in the passenger’s seat of Bong Duster. My recently converted Cab driver to excellent Guide’s name was Anand. He was very happy to be on the passenger’s seat and he promised that he will take me to routes that only locals knew. I said the Bong duster was AWD and he got even more exited.
We started at 8 am after having a heavy breakfast. The next few hours were pure gold , with Anand giving a brief history of each and every tea garden and the local bygone era.The roads we took were mostly broken with next to zero traffic in such a peak time. Few places were very tricky but Anand was a great spotter too. The duster didn’t take any underbody hits and with 4 adults on board, it performed flawlessly. I was impressed yet again with AWD dusters capability.

Driving around Coonor



Places visited on Day-2
Dolphins Nose view point
Catherene Falls
Rallia Dam
Rose Garden
Lamb’s Rock
Monastry
https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/...89!4d76.848858
Singhara Tea Estate
Highland Tea Factory
Highland Chocolate Factory
A couple of valleys on the way
Tribal places on the way which were just trails existed of 2 tracks.
Sunset at Kothagiri

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-ooty-coonor.jpg

Dolphins Nose view point
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-dolphins-nose-coonor-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-dolphins-nose-.jpg

Valley Opposite to Dolphins Nose
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-dolphins-nose-valley-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-dolphins-nose-valley-.jpg

Catherene's Water fall which is just opposite to the View point.
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-dolphins-nose-catherene-water-fall-.jpg

Rose Garden
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-rose-garden-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-rose-garden-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-rose-garden-sunset-.jpg


Few Valleys on the way
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-valley-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-day-2-.jpg

Singhara Tea Estate, which is publicly accessible although venturing into the tea garden at few places are not allowed.

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-singhara-tea-estate-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-singhara-tea-estate-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-tea-factory-.jpg

Location Details of Singhara
https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/...5!4d76.8224352

Highland Tea factory, We were told that government tea factories are off limit for tourists but few private Tea factories allow tourists.

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-tea-factory-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-tea-garden-2.jpg


It was late afternoon already and I wanted to cover Kothagiri as well. I discussed with Anand and he said if the lights are good in your car then we can drive back at night as he knew the route very well. My wife said we don’t know when we shall be coming back and it’s best we visit Kothagiri. Without wasting any more time headed straight for Kothagiri. We arrived at 5pm after stopping at many places for some pictures. Tribal pictures were a no no from Anandand we had home cooked country chicken and rice for lunch served by one of the tribal family. The tribes with whom we had lunch were really good at spices and cooking. Wifey got few tips about using authentic spices.

The Toda people are a small pastoral tribal community who live on the isolated Nilgiris. Before the 18th century and British colonization, the Toda coexisted locally with other ethnic communities, including the Kota, and Kuruba, in a loose caste-like society, in which the Toda were the top ranking.

Hut
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-toda-hut-.jpg

KothaGiri Route
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-ooty-kothagiri.jpg


Sunset from Kothagiri
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-tea-garden-.jpg

Night Drive back from Kothagiri
Anand was amazed to see the LED H1 and H7 in the Duster and was eager to know if any modifications were needed. I explained him the setup was swappable with stock headlight and it functions in the same way and draws much less power. He drives a Toyota Etios, which was happy taking a break back at our hotel. The LEDs served good as usual and off-roading at dark became even more fun.
We reached back to our hotel at around 10pm after stopping for dinner and few other places for Banana Silk sarees.

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-2-night-forest.jpg

Last edited by ARAY : 4th May 2017 at 15:22.
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Old 4th May 2017, 15:20   #3
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Day-3

Day-3 Started early to avoid the rush that would be heading back to Bangalore. Started at 7am and reached Pykara Lake. The boat rides are for 20-30 mins and take you few kms inside the lake with dense forest on either side. It was a good experience seeing 4 varieties of monkey jumping down the forest and drinking water from the lake.

Pine Forest on the way to Pykara
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-3-pine-foret-while-return-.jpg


Pykara pictures.
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-3-pykara-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-3-pykara-lake-.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-3-pykara-2.jpg

Route Taken for Pykara
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-3-ootypykaragudalurmysore.jpg

A picture of Bong-Duster before hitting plain lands.
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-3-before-hitting-plane-land-.jpg


From Pykara we took the Gudalur route and headed straight for Mysore Palace. Reached Mysore palace at 4pm and I knew I would be royally stuck on Mysore road traffic. Anyhow we went for ticket counter and had to wait a solid 40minutes in queue. Mysore palace was flooded. Quickly finished the tour inside and even my kiddo was irritated. Stopped for few minutes at Srirangapatnam just to view the fort from outside as Mysore palace was heavily crowded. I had mentally prepared myself for crazy stop and go traffic at Mysore road as I had just hit the rush hour. My wife meanwhile started researching on roads bypassing Bangalore. To our astonishment immediately after crossing Maddur we saw a 4 lane newly built road that would later touch the Tumkur road. Calculating the road condition from google map average speed we found the road to be “theoretically” descent.

My logic on roads, specially non hilly roads is -
Average speed by google – road condition
60-65kmph – ohhyaah !
55-60kmph- excellent
40-50kmph-
below 40kmph -
The Kunigal-Muddur Road did not disappoint and the scenic beauty was excellent. It reminded me a lot of North Bengal BotolBari route with paddy fields on either side. The journey is easy if you have a smart navigator who understands the need of the hour and it was none other than my Wife.

Mysore Palace to Home via Srirangapattnam
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-mysorep.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-3-mysorepalacehome.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-3-mysorepalacehome-2-.jpg

After some evening snacks on the Tumkur highway we headed for Home. The Bangalore airport to Home run was done relatively stress free for last 570kms while tailgating a KL registered Volvo C60. The driver was great and maintained a steady pace. He slowed down after toll gates and waited patiently for puny 1.5l k9k to catch up with the mighty 2l.

To sum it up …
If you are from Hyderabad or up North and need to visit a place that needs passing Bangalore and moreover on a weekend, make sure you pass Mysore road before 4-5am or 4-5pm.
Mysore road needs a lot of patience, you could have ABS and arecareful, but the car behind might not have either, maintain safe distance. The humps make situations trickier.
Driving in Ooty is almost similar to driving at the Himalayas except roads are 30-40% narrower at few places.
People follow lane discipline except few outside registered vehicle who are probably in the learning phase. Specially Zoom car or other rental cars.
Nov-Jan and May-August are considered peak season in Ooty. Plan your visit and book much ahead of time. Hire a guide who knows the roads and shortcuts and specially the one-ways before you enter and exit Ooty.
Ooty is a well maintained place and it’s a place you can visit more than once.
Our Guide mentioned that it snowed in Ooty this January 2017.

Hope this blog helps fellow travelers with routes and other driving decisions.

Last edited by ARAY : 4th May 2017 at 18:28.
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Old 5th May 2017, 11:09   #4
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Thread moved here from assembly line. Thanks for sharing it with us
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Old 5th May 2017, 12:24   #5
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

What happened to Avalanche lake? Looks like there was a landslide or forest fire or some human construction activity. Or has water just dried up? This is how it looked in 2004.

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-dsc02040.jpg

Your pic -

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-1-avalanche-lake-.jpg

Last edited by smartcat : 5th May 2017 at 12:29.
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Old 5th May 2017, 12:26   #6
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Another great write-up and pictures. Keep rolling!

-surjaonwheelz
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Old 5th May 2017, 12:42   #7
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Ha, You beat me to this travelogue. I was there two weeks back and thought of penning down a travelogue, the first for me in this forum. Anyways, you pictures are beautiful and do justice to the place. Mine are ordinary in comparison.

[quote]It was around 1pm when we all freshened up. Decided to go for local cab and visit few places around. Avalanche Lake is around 30kms from Ooty valley and the roads are extremely narrow. Good part is there’s no dug up water way besides the hill like the ones seenat Darjeeling and Sikkim, risking jammed tyres onto them. Most drivers are very cooperative and driving sense was very positive. It takes roughly one hour to reach the check post and get tickets. [\QUOTE]
The final stretch of 3 kilometers is horrible. Once cant cross 20kmph and the suspension in my figo was struggling. Still, the place is worth the pain. I would suggest a SUV to navigate this road as hatchbacks are gonna struggle.

Quote:
Personal vehicles are not allowed and only Government Vehicles can take you in. Charges are 150 per person with a 2 hour drive in dense forest. Places they show you are Mushroom forest, A temple and Avalanche lake. On the way back we got royally stuck in Jam as a truck had broken down on one of the narrow patch of the route. Mushroom Forest, the picture is not doing justice but the trees did look a lot like mushrooms and cauliflower.

Avalanche Lake, Ooty
Avalanche Lake is located 28 kilometers from Ooty in the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu.
The driver of the vehicle that i travelled in mentioned that its called "Cauliflower" forest and yeah, it does look like one. We too saw one of the vehicles broken down, but thankfully, that didnt create a jam.



Quote:
Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
What happened to Avalanche lake? Looks like there was a landslide or forest fire or some human construction activity. Or has water just dried up? This is how it looked in 2004.
Our driver told us that the levels will raise once it rains during monsoon, from June-August. Guess the place will look similar to what is in your pic. Forest fires do happen regularly as it becomes quite dry and there are some man-made fires as well, to counter the natural fires.
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Old 5th May 2017, 15:32   #8
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Quote:
Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
What happened to Avalanche lake? Looks like there was a landslide or forest fire or some human construction activity. Or has water just dried up? This is how it looked in 2004.
First of all, a great write up and nice pictures. I agree with smartcat, when i went there couple of years back, it had descent amount of water, but now, it seems totally dry. Last year, the monsoon was very bad in Tamil Nadu and did not get any rains at all. I think it has taken a toll on this wonderful hill station as well

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Old 5th May 2017, 17:53   #9
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Wonderful Aray !! The Bong Duster pics are amazing. I am yet to explore more in this sideof the country. I have only been to Ooty, Wellington & Pykara.

These short trips on extemded weekend do act as a breather in the otherwise hectic life. By the way, I am tempted to switch to LEDs now. Will wait for Night Breakers to give away first.

Keep traveling & Keep writing

Regards,

Pawan
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Old 5th May 2017, 19:35   #10
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Short travelogue for a long drive! 1900 km in 3 days is quite a lot. Now a days good highways backed up by fast cars make it look easy!
As-usual the pics are brilliant and the details you have shared is second to none!

This trip reminds me of our Ooty trip which we did together, back in 2010 in my humble Alto!

Well for the readers thats ARAY for you from 2010!
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-img_3601.jpg

The Avalanche lake
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-180920101023.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-180920101027.jpg

The Pykara waterfalls
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-img_3579.jpg

Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-img_3587.jpg

The Pykara Lake
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-img_3588.jpg

On the way to Red Hills Ooty
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-p1010034.jpg

The humble Alto!
Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD-img_3675.jpg

And hope you will never forget this series of pics from the very same trip! May be we had the offroading itch back then too but we didn't had a proper car!
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Size:  133.7 KB

Last edited by Samba : 5th May 2017 at 19:48.
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Old 6th May 2017, 11:21   #11
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Aray : Kudos to your appetite for travelling by road and posting one of the most amazing and consistently great travelogues on the forum

Totally enjoy reading your travelogues and the photos are so mesmerizing that it can be used as wallpapers

Keep driving and keep sharing
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Old 7th May 2017, 11:42   #12
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Quote:
Originally Posted by ARAY View Post

Night Drive back from Kothagiri
Anand was amazed to see the LED H1 and H7 in the Duster and was eager to know if any modifications were needed. I explained him the setup was swappable with stock headlight and it functions in the same way and draws much less power. He drives a Toyota Etios, which was happy taking a break back at our hotel. The LEDs served good as usual and off-roading at dark became even more fun.
We reached back to our hotel at around 10pm after stopping for dinner and few other places for Banana Silk sarees.

Attachment 1635871
Wonderful writeup ARAY. Can you share more details around the duster LED setup - brand, cost etc. Looks promising.
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Old 7th May 2017, 11:44   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C300 View Post
Wonderful writeup ARAY. Can you share more details around the duster LED setup - brand, cost etc. Looks promising.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/modifi...ml#post4094661 (Auto Lighting thread : Post all queries about automobile lighting here)
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Old 8th May 2017, 23:42   #14
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Once again an awesome travelogue Aritra. Beautiful pictures as well.
And yes how can you not talk about your LEDs
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Old 12th May 2017, 15:31   #15
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Ooty in a Duster AWD

Beautiful pictures and a wonderful travelogue. Ever since you got the Duster you have become unstoppable. As mobike008 has mentioned, thanks for giving us great travelogues time and again. Keep up the good work!
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