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Old 2nd December 2008, 03:36   #1
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Default Bangalore - Ooty/Coonoor in Swift D

Route : Bangalore – Ooty – Coonoor - Bangalore

It’s been a while I had been on a road trip. Last one was sometime in July covering most of Western Ghats in Karnataka. I actually was planning a trip to Goa this time of the year, but due to some other priorities had to postpone it to January next year. Never the less, I wanted to get out of Bangalore and planned this Ooty road trip a couple of weeks back. Wanted to take my parents along this time. Sister did not get leaves at work and my dad decided to stay back with her. So it was only me, my wife and mom. With the low depression looming over Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, there were a lot of apprehensions about this road trip. No looking back, I want to go. Rains or thunderstorms, no stopping.

Preparation:
The car has done close to 16000 kms. Filled up fuel at IOC (Rs. 1000) on RV Road the previous day. Had the tyres checked for air pressure. Loaded some songs on the portable HDD. Packed bags which included lots of woolens and some rain gear. Also had got a Pioneer steering remote for the DEH-7950UB, so time to make use of it this road trip.

Day 1 (27th November, 2008) : Bangalore – Mysore – Nanjangud – Gundalpet – Ooty

Actually had planned to leave Bangalore by 6.00 AM. Due to work I returned home only early in the morning around 3.00 AM. Did not want to leave without proper sleep and I was pretty exhausted. Slept for 6 to 7 hours and left Bangalore only by 11.30 AM. Took the Kanakapura Road from Jayanagar and then took the NICE road towards Mysore road. There were rains the entire night and the weather was cloudy with slight drizzle. This did not dampen my spirits and I decided to go on with the road trip. The traffic on Mysore road was not much. Because of the wet roads and the spray of water from other vehicles, kept the Speedo needle hovering around 80 – 100 kmph. Spotted a camouflaged Skoda sedan doing road trials. I think it must be the new Skoda Laura. The front grills and the rear tail lamps looked similar. The vehicle was doing impressive speeds. Tailed the vehicle for quite some time, took snaps and finally let it go.

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The Skoda Sedan doing road trails

I only had some bread and eggs early in the morning before going to sleep and now hunger pangs have started. Decided to drive till Channapatna and stop at McDonalds. Had a nice meal of McChicken and fries and decided to stop for Lunch around 2.00 PM at Mysore. After Maddur, wife wanted to stop at Café Coffee Day. Picked up some coffee and drove towards Mysore.

Approaching Mysore I was relieved to see no wet roads in Mysore and weather was pleasant. Entered Mysore around 2.00 PM, went past the Bus Stand and then decided to go to the famous Hotel RRR for lunch. It’s an Andhra Style restaurant located at Gandhi square very close to Mysore palace. Very delicious Non vegetarian Biryani and vegetarian meals. Very crowded most of the times and would have a wait for at least 20 minutes to get a table. It’s a no nonsense place for a quick lunch. Might have to share the table with strangers. The AC part of the restaurant is much tidy than the non AC.

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McDonalds at Maddur

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Starting to get dirty

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Beautiful Bangalore - Mysore highway

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Hotel RRR at Mysore

Leave Mysore by 3.00 PM and take the road towards Gundalpet. The 2 lane highway is good with most of the potholes covered with asphalt. You will find broken tarmac occasionally. Good for speeds up to 100 kmph. Roads till Gundalpet is good. Immediately after Gundalpet, take the road going straight towards Ooty. The road going right where most heavy vehicles are going goes towards Kerala. The road after this Junction is in a very bad state. Completely riddled with potholes for the next 10 kms. After about 5 kms on this bad stretch the roads become nonexistent past the Gopalswamy Hills junction. After the bone rattling ride the roads become super smooth approaching Bandipur forest. Stopped at the check post where the guy checked the vehicle papers and my license. Continued further ahead and took the left turn at the junction over the narrow bridge towards Masinagudi. The drive from here is what looks like a smooth single lane road. You will occasionally find these M&M pickups which will not get off the road to make way for other vehicles with lower ground clearance. Saw a few deer’s and other wildlife.

Approaching the Kalhatti Ghats the roads goes straight for a few kilometers before the hairpin bends. I am doing close to 70-80 kmph behind a Scorpio who is doing similar speeds. Suddenly this guy in the Scorpio brakes hard. I am maintaining a safe distance and I too brake. Just meters ahead of the Scorpio, a group of 4 elephants cross the road. Once the elephants cross the road safely there is one huge elephant which turns back towards the road making sure no one is following it and blocking the path where the elephants just entered. Very unexpected incident which made me think how dangerous these roads are for wildlife if the drivers are not careful and over speed.

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Roads inside Bandipur Forest

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Approaching the checkpost

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Spotted some wildlife

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Roads inside the Forest - Tamilnadu

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Towards Masinagudi

As I approach the hairpin bends, I encounter slight drizzle and fog. As I keep climbing the fog gets thicker and visibility is reduced to couple of meters. The Hairpin bends are slowly tackled in 2nd gear. Last time in good weather the Swift D did manage half of the bends in 3rd gear. Slowly tail a Santro till the bridge near the Kalhatti waterfalls. Stop there for fresh carrots and stretch my legs. It’s around 6.30 PM and getting dark. Get back and drive slowly towards Ooty. The roads are in very good condition as you approach Ooty. Newly done roads with parts of roads done with cobbled stones. Now there is a constant drizzle and a chill wind blowing.

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Kalhatti Ghats

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Tailing the Santro at the hairpin bends

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Carrots - really good ones

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Fog filled ghat roads - Near Kalhatti Water Falls

Enter Ooty around 7.00 PM and find the hotel on the Ooty – Coonoor road near the Wax museum. Have 2 rooms booked at hotel Blue Bird. Check into the hotel. Just OK rooms with nothing much great about the hotel. The room is freezing. Order more blankets and room heater from the reception. Relax for some time and head out for dinner. Go to Charring Cross, and have dinner at the restaurant in Hotel Nahar. Nice cozy restaurant with a fireplace and awesome vegetarian food. Shop for some woolen gloves, chocolates and head back to the hotel. Room is warm, I had the heater on when we left for dinner. Watch news about the Mumbai attack for some time and finally retire for the night.

Day 1 has been good. Unexpected delay leaving Bangalore pushed plans I had in Ooty for Day 1 to the next day. Weather is cold, the coldest I have experienced in Ooty till date. I guess it was around 11-12 degree C. The steering remote is fun to use. Very useful and I can now control the ICE without lifting my hands off the steering wheel. Still needs some getting used to.

Continued..
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Old 2nd December 2008, 06:04   #2
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I make it a point to slow down once I enter the forest its safer for every one and also allows you to enjoy the sights of the forest. Also the evening times are the best in terms of wildlife movement. Where you asked for vehicle papers at the bandipur checkpost or the mudmalai checkpost?
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Old 2nd December 2008, 06:16   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pypkmsrikanth View Post
I make it a point to slow down once I enter the forest its safer for every one and also allows you to enjoy the sights of the forest. Also the evening times are the best in terms of wildlife movement. Where you asked for vehicle papers at the bandipur checkpost or the mudmalai checkpost?
Yes, the forest roads are best enjoyed driving slowly. But I did see a few maniacs doing well over 100 on these roads.

Was asked for papers at the Madumalia checkpost. Was surprised to encounter a cop who spoke good english, checked the papers and let me go wishing me good luck... Felt good!!! I remember on numerous trip to Ooty before cops demanding money. This time was a pleasant surprise.
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Old 2nd December 2008, 09:27   #4
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Nice writeup DreamDiesel, doing Segur ghats in Fog must be fun, isnt it?. I also wonder how did you do the Hairpins in 3rd gear? It is vert steep.

Since the Gudalur route is good now, Is the Segur ghat route become oneway for vehicles moving up? When I went in 2007 it was two way traffic.

Abhi
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Old 2nd December 2008, 13:08   #5
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Originally Posted by akroy View Post

Since the Gudalur route is good now, Is the Segur ghat route become oneway for vehicles moving up? When I went in 2007 it was two way traffic.

Abhi
OT : Looking at the Santro at the hair-pin bend in the picture - which is way too off to the wrong side - making the ghat route one way will sure avoid many accidents. Even the dog(?) in the next picture is on the wrong side .

@dreamdiesel, thanks for the trip-log.

cheers,
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Old 2nd December 2008, 13:55   #6
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dreamdiesel,
Great write up with good pictures. I shall learn this from YOU.
Happy Motoring!!
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Old 2nd December 2008, 15:32   #7
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Again nice pictures. I am surprised at the green cover others states have and also they are more ofter than not, rainy days.
Was the Skoda longer than Laura ?
From the rear door it looks like it is the Superb that is being tested.
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Old 3rd December 2008, 00:19   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Nice writeup DreamDiesel, doing Segur ghats in Fog must be fun, isnt it?. I also wonder how did you do the Hairpins in 3rd gear? It is vert steep.

Since the Gudalur route is good now, Is the Segur ghat route become oneway for vehicles moving up? When I went in 2007 it was two way traffic.

Abhi
You bet! Driving was fun in the fog filled ghats. These ghats are one of the steepest and dangerous in south India.
Last time when i went to Ooty with my friends when the weather was clear, the car was pretty new and to show off the 1.3 ddis to my friends I did manage to half of the hairpins in 3rd gear. If you can carry enough speed through the turns and keep the rpm hovering around 1800 the 1.3 ddis has enough juice left to pull the car up in 3rd gear.

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Originally Posted by ak-47 View Post
OT : Looking at the Santro at the hair-pin bend in the picture - which is way too off to the wrong side - making the ghat route one way will sure avoid many accidents. Even the dog(?) in the next picture is on the wrong side .

@dreamdiesel, thanks for the trip-log.

cheers,
The route is considered one way. There are cops diverting traffic towards Gudalur. But some people do manage to get past them either by bribing them or when the cops are not present. The descent is dangerous in these ghats as there have been many cases of brake failures in the past and the the local DC had directed traffic going out of Ooty to take the Gudalur route. While coming back to Bangalore I took the Segur ghats as there were no cops present at that time and I personally like the decent through the ghats than the boring Gudalur route.

Thats actually a goat trying to run towards my wife when she bought carrots near the bridge. She realised the goat is after the carrots and threw the carrots down the bridge..

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Originally Posted by getsurya View Post
dreamdiesel,
Great write up with good pictures. I shall learn this from YOU.
Happy Motoring!!
Thanks Surya. I will try to make it more interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aaggoswami View Post
Again nice pictures. I am surprised at the green cover others states have and also they are more ofter than not, rainy days.
Was the Skoda longer than Laura ?
From the rear door it looks like it is the Superb that is being tested.
Each state has its fair share of evergreen forests. Its more in south and I feel lucky to have travelled to most of these places.

The Skoda was similar in length to Laura. But it did not have the muscle look of the superb. It looked more slimmer or I guess sporty. What surprised me was the tail lamps were smaller compared to the laura or superb.
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Old 3rd December 2008, 02:30   #9
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Default Bangalore - Ooty/Coonoor in Swift D

Day 2 (28th November, 2008) : Doddabetta Peak – Tea Factory – Botanical Garden – Rose Garden – Ooty Lake

Wake up late in the morning around 9.00 AM. Weather is cold and foggy. Wife still asleep, I quitly slip out of the hotel, take a walk outside for 30 mins and have nice hot tea at a small tea stall. Get back to the hotel and everybody is ready by 11.00 AM. Nice refreshing hot water bath in the cold weather. Leave the hotel and stop for breakfast at Hotel Durga near Charring Cross bus stop. Nice restaurant for breakfast. Good dosas and idli vada.

Leave for Doddabetta peak by 11.30 AM. Doddabetta peak is around 10 kms from Ooty and is considered to be the tallest in this region. The roads to the peak are in good condition. The entire way it’s foggy and I know for sure that I will be missing the scenery from the hill top. As I drive up the hill, the fog gets thicker. Park the car and walk for 10 minutes towards the peak. Buy some carrots on the way. Pay the entrance fee and get onto the top where they have an observatory with a telescope. There is also a nicely maintained garden. On a clear day, the view from here is awesome. The distant plains of Coimbatore and the flat highlands of Mysore can also be sighted. Take a walk in the garden and munch on hot popcorn. Take some pictures and leave the place by 1.00 PM.

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Foggy afternoon on the way to Doddabetta peak

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The telescope house on top of Doddabetta peak

On the way down the hill from Doddabetta peak, find a tea factory and decide to head into the factory. The place is little crowded with a bus load of college students. Pay the entrance, camera fee and get into the factory. The place is warm and cozy compared to the cold and damp weather outside. A guide takes us around the factory and shows us the process of tea making from the beginning to the end. At the end of the tour, sampling of 3 types of tea (regular, masala and chocolate). There is also a shop inside the factory to purchase the freshly made tea. Wife and Mom buy some tea here. The aroma of the freshly made tea leaves is refreshing.

Now it’s almost 2.00 PM and starting to feel hungry. Head back to Ooty and straight to Hotel Nahar for Lunch. [FONT='Calibri','sans-serif']It’s almost 2.30 PM when we reach the restaurant. Have a lazy lunch and then decide to go the Ooty Botanical garden. I must say the food here in this restaurant is really good. Rates here are very slightly on the expensive side but really worth it.[/FONT]

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Tea leaves before the tea making process

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Almost completed tea

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The tea factory

The Ooty Botanical Garden is a very well maintained garden. Lots of varieties of flowers and trees. Took some pictures of flowers in macro mode. The fresh mountain air has a revitalizing effect on your body and completely energizes you. The smell of Eucalyptus in the air is refreshing. After about an hour of strolling in the garden decided to head towards the Rose garden which is around 4 kms from Ooty town. Plan to settle down in some hilly region after retirement. My wife’s idea.

Bought tickets for the Rose Garden and then enter. Big disappointment. This is not the season for roses. Though the rose garden is of several acres, there were a very few roses in full bloom. I can just imagine what this place would look like when all the plants have different colored roses. It will be just beautiful. Mom decided to buy some rose saplings which were on sale at the entrance. Bought a dozen saplings and carefully put all these in huge plastic bags avoiding the thorns. Now it was almost 5.30 PM and we head towards the Ooty lake.

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Macro shot of flowers at Botanical Garden

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Brilliant colors

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Ooty Botanical Garden

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Some useful info at the Rose Garden

This is a huge lake in the middle of Ooty. Hire a 4 seat special pedal boat (special because of roof). The lake is not crowded and we spend 30 minutes just pedaling the boat around lazily and taking pictures. All this while there is a slight drizzle and occasional cold breeze. After boating, we sit around near the lake for some time and head back towards the hotel before it gets dark.

Its 6.30 PM and getting dark. Before going to the hotel, visit the Wax Museum nearby. This wax museum is in an old bungalow on the Ooty- Coonoor road. We were the only visitors at the time. Nice statues of known personalities made of wax. Though the statues do not look very realistic but the lighting and the ambiance does make it little realistic.

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Ooty Lake

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At the Wax Museum

After spending 30 minutes here at the Museum, head back to the hotel nearby. Relax for sometime in the room and around 8.30 PM go to Charring Cross. Take a walk on the Commercial street window shopping. This place usually gets crowded. But this time the streets were empty. Decided to try some other restaurant for dinner. Found a nice little Chinese restaurant called Shogun at the Hotel Charring Cross complex. Food was not bad at all and the prices were resonable. Back to the hotel by 10.30 PM and watch the news about the Mumbai attack and drift off to sleep by 11.30 PM.

Day 2 has been exciting. The fresh mountain air completely recharges you. Today was usually in and around the town. Ooty has a special feeling when it’s not too crowded. I guess all hill stations do.

Continued..
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Old 3rd December 2008, 07:51   #10
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Umm, colorful. Roses really speak so much, wow

The Gandhi one seems to be closer to real than the Mothers. Infact, the face is little different than mothers.

Putting it to my list on next visit. Thanks.

No horse ride???
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Old 3rd December 2008, 08:45   #11
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Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
Umm, colorful. Roses really speak so much, wow

The Gandhi one seems to be closer to real than the Mothers. Infact, the face is little different than mothers.

Putting it to my list on next visit. Thanks.

No horse ride???
Yepp!! never knew about all this. Roses do speak a lot. The wax museum is nice place to spend some time in Ooty. No horse ride. I really wanted to. Started raining after boating at Ooty where there was horse ride.
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Old 3rd December 2008, 14:12   #12
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Dreamdiesel, nice pics and write-up. I've never visited Ooty so far, and its right up there among the places i want to visit in the near future.
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Old 4th December 2008, 03:07   #13
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Default Bangalore - Ooty/Coonoor in Swift D

Day 3 (29th November, 2008) : Coonoor – Dolphins Nose – SIMS Park – Tea Factory

Wake up early by 8.00 AM. Try to wake up my wife for a morning walk. No she does not want to get up and pulls the blanket over her head. I quickly brush my teeth and get out of the hotel. Take a look at the car parked below. She is all wet and dirty. Clean the windscreen and dust the seats and the floor mats. First thing I get back to Bangalore is to give it a good wash. Better take the car to a service station for a complete wash including underbody.

The weather looked hopeful. Saw the sun after almost 2 days. Warm the engine for some time and then take the car to the HP fuel station near the Ooty club. Fill up fuel for Rs. 1000. Diesel is cheaper by 2 rupees in Ooty. I think it was around Rs.37.30 per liter. Get the air pressure checked for the tyre and head back to the Hotel. Have tea at the small tea stall next to the hotel. Around 11.00 AM everybody is ready and we leave the hotel. Get back to hotel Durga near Charring Cross and fill up on Dosas and Idli Vada. And leave towards Coonoor by 11.30 AM.

Coonoor is around 20 kms from Ooty situated at a slightly lower altitude. The drive to Coonoor is on a well paved 2 lane highway with lots of twists and turns. I must say Tamil Nadu roads are very well maintained. Karnataka should learn from them and try to maintain their road standards on par with the neighboring state. The drive towards Coonoor is very scenic. Very difficult to overtake if stuck behind heavy vehicle as there are blind turns every 100 meters. You will encounter a train of vehicles trying to overtake each other on this narrow highway.

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Ooty - Coonoor Road

Reach Coonoor in 30 minutes. Dolphins Nose is around 10 kms from Coonoor town. When I had been here last time the road towards Dolphins Nose was in shambles. You will be literally off roading. Surprise! The roads are well done. The entire narrow stretch is paved with cobble stones. Take a look at the picture. As soon as you enter the road towards Dolphins Nose, you are surrounded by tea plantations. Stopped the car and took some photos. My wife and mom got photographs clicked dressed as tea plucker with the bamboo basket on the back. Leave the place and head towards Dolphins Nose.

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Tea plantations enroute Dolphins Nose

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Picture perfect

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Narrow cobble stone road towards Dolphins Nose

Now the fog starts getting thicker and the scenery gets better. Dolphins Nose is an excellent viewpoint on a clear day. One can view the Catherine waterfalls from here. Lambs Nose is another point on the way to Dolphins Nose that too exposes a vast panorama. Reach Dolphins Nose around 1.30 PM. No views from here because of the fog cover. But really enjoyed the drive and the cold foggy weather. Have hot tea here and take some snaps of monkeys trying to brave the cold weather.

Head back to Coonoor town by 2.30 PM. Stop at Blue hills hotel for lunch. Small restaurant with average food. Leave the hotel after a hearty lunch by 3.30 PM and head towards SIMS park.

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Foggy afternoon

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Monkeys braving the cold weather

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Stopped at the temple on the way back to Coonoor

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Coonoor town

It’s another well maintained one huge garden. Smaller compared to the Ooty Botanical garden. Lots of varieties of flowers and trees here. Stroll through the garden for an hour. Out of SIMS park by 5.00 PM decide we still have time before going back to Ooty.

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SIMS Park

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Some macro shots of flowers at SIMS park

Mom wanted to purchase some more tea for friends back in Bangalore. So head towards another tea factory, this time in Coonoor. Its around 3 kms through the road right next to SIMS park. This tea factory is huge compared to the one we visited yesterday and not crowded at all. Pay the entry fee and we are taken around the factory and shown the tea making process. After the tour buy lots of tea at the factory. And by 6.00 we leave the factory and head back towards Ooty. The view from the factory is great and as you drive up the road can see the Coonoor Golf course in the valley below. Acres of well maintained lush green lawn. Now it’s getting dark as we drive back to Ooty.

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Tea factory

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Tea plantations around the factory

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Charring Cross

And by 7.00 PM we are back in the hotel. After relaxing for a while we all head back to Charring cross by 8.00 PM. Some more shopping for woolen gloves and I pick up some books at sale going on in to a book store nearby. Call up a friend who suggested Shinkows Chinese Restaurant near the Cafe Coffee Day (Next to Ooty Police Station) close to Charring Cross. Good Chinese restaurant. Resonably priced and quantity of food is huge. After the dinner we are back to the hotel by 10.30 PM. Watch TV and off to sleep in an hour’s time.

Day 3 has been exciting again. The drive towards Dolphins nose was just too good. Saw the sun after 2 days. Tomorrow we leave, back to Bangalore.

Last edited by dreamdiesel : 4th December 2008 at 03:11.
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Old 4th December 2008, 06:00   #14
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Default Bangalore - Ooty/Coonoor in Swift D

Day 4 (30th November, 2008) : Ooty – Mysore – Bangalore

Wake up late only by 10.00 AM. Pack the bags, get ready and check out by 11.30 AM. Get back to Charring Cross and have breakfast at hotel Durga. After breakfast, last minute shopping to be done. Have to buy Ooty chocolates. There is King Star bakery next to hotel Nahar just opposite to Higginbotham’s Bookshop. This is one of the oldest Bakeries in Ooty and they make the best Ooty chocolates I have had so far. Shop is pretty crowded on Sunday afternoon. All people leaving Ooty back to their hometowns are shopping for Chocolates here. Buy lots of varieties of chocolates. Then head towards Ooty market for some vegetables and fruits shopping. Lots of different fresh veggies which is hard to find in Bangalore. Once all this is done we leave Ooty by 1.00 PM.

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Fresh Fruits and Veggies at Ooty Municipal Market

Just outside Ooty, where the junction towards Gudalur and Kalhatti is, I find no cops diverting traffic towards Gudalur. I take the straight road towards Kalhatti. I personally find the Gudalur router quite boring, time consuming, heavy traffic and last time I was in Ooty previous year the roads were in a very bad shape. I go ahead and start descending the Kalhatti Ghats. I slowly make my way down engine braking and using the brakes minimally not to overuse or overheat them. I encounter fog at some stretches and in no time I am on plain lands.

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View of the Ghat roads

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View of one of the hair pin bends

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Fog filled descent

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Part of Kalhatti Ghats

Go past Masinagudi and 3-4 kms before the check post I encounter a group of elephants. Stop for sometime taking pictures and the elephants completely ignore us. Go past the check post and encounter the bad stretch before Gundalpet. Slowly make my way on this 10 km horrible stretch and back on good roads at Gundalpet. Incident free drive through Nanjangud to Mysore.

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Some wildlife spotted on the way back through Bandipur.

Enter Mysore city around 4.00 PM. Very hungry now and am not sure any good restaurant for a late lunch. Call up my friend who suggests Fish Land Dhaba just before Srirangapatna. Stop at the Dhaba by 4.30 PM and have late lunch. This Dhaba specializes in Sea food and its pretty good. Fish dishes are very fresh and tasty. Leave the place by 5.00 PM and head towards Bangalore.

The traffic is pretty heavy with all weekend travelers heading back to Bangalore. Encounter a Verna Diesel, NHC and a Swift D playing NFS on Mysore road. I have a ring side view of the fight for the next 30 minutes. Stop at McDonalds for some burgers and fries. After Bidadi take the NICE road, enter Kanakapura Road and park the car in the house in Jayanagar by 7.30 PM.

End of Day 4 is the end of the road trip to Ooty/Coonoor. Travelled close to 730 Kms. Mileage is around 18.8 km/l. Expected mileage with hill climbing and flooring the pedal at times on Mysore road. Got the car washed including underbody at a nearby service station. Waxed and polished the car. Shinning like new. An irritating rattle has started somewhere on the rear right passenger door. Will get that taken care at the 20k service.

Regards,
GODWIN
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Old 4th December 2008, 08:39   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post
Dreamdiesel, nice pics and write-up. I've never visited Ooty so far, and its right up there among the places i want to visit in the near future.
Thank you bensb29. Ooty/Coonoor is a must visit. Try to go there during off season. thats in winter when is not much crowded.
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