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Old 11th March 2010, 10:31   #1
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Lightbulb 'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-20100306070456.gif
Map Source: Google maps.

Just Google around and you'll find 1000s of travelogues about Ooty. If you are in the southern part of India, Ooty is considered as one of the 'must see' places on the tourist circuit.

Now, is Ooty actually worth visiting? Does it live up to all the hype?? These are questions I would rather not delve into... since the answer depends on your individual perspective, your expectations and your own experiences... and also the time of the year when you land up in Ooty.

While doing my pre-trip research on Ooty, I came across a small but excellent thread on a popular travel forum called 'Indiamike.com'. Here is a link to the thread: Is Ooty really worth a visit? - India Travel Forum | IndiaMike.com

Coming back to my Tlog, this was a trip done over last weekend; i.e. 6th, 7th & 8th March 2010. The occasion was our wedding anniversary. Given that we had three days, we considered a couple of other options too, but somehow Ooty it would be this time! Total distance driven was 674kms.

In all these years of traveling around, both of us have been close to, touched or even passed through Ooty, but never actually did a 'proper' Ooty trip. Most recently, I passed through Ooty town in December 09, while going towards Mukurthi. ( http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...near-ooty.html ('Xing'ing around ! - A weekend trek to Mukurthi Peak near Ooty...) )

After a little bit of research, we planned our itinerary as follows:
  • 6th March - Start from Bangalore as early as possible and drive to Masinagudi. Spend a leisurely day there and stay overnight.
  • 7th March - Check out from the resort at around 9.00am and drive towards Ooty. Since it is around a 1.5 hour drive, reach Ooty by around 11ish and visit the main places to see and check into our hotel at the end of the day.
  • 8th March - Reach the Ooty railway station by 8.30am to catch the mountain train to Coonoor, reach Coonoor by around 11ish, hire a cab to take us around to the local 'must see' places and drop us back to Ooty by late afternoon.

    Start driving from Ooty by around 4.00pm, stopping at a couple of places enroute and eventually drive through Mudumalai & Bandipur before dark, so that we could spot some animals.
Booking accommodation and train tickets was quite easy:
  • Browsed through Tripadvisor & HolidayIQ to shortlist a couple of accommodation & resort options in Ooty & M'gudi.
  • Checked on Cleartrip and Makemytrip to confirm their rates, availability.
  • The resort that we short listed in Masinagudi - 'Jungle Retreat' accepts bookings via phone; provided them with my credit card info and confirmed our stay for the night of the 6th.
  • Hotel Darshan in Ooty was available for booking via Cleartrip and that was done.
  • A little bit of Googling around on how to book the train tickets from Ooty to Coonoor revealed that it could be done via IRCTC. So we used Cleartrip again to confirm the tickets for the morning of the 8th.
Packing luggage, getting the car ready and preparing an itinerary of the places to cover in Ooty did not take too much time, especially with the loads of info available. Just check out @Ravibhat, @BomBatt, @laluks, @dreamdiesel and @Chevy_lover's extensive Ooty travelogues on Tbhp and you can quickly evaluate what you must see and what can be skipped. Besides, their travelogues cover Ooty during different times of the year.

A Govt tourist map that is quite useful in understanding the general layout of the Nilgiris district:

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-20100306070456a.jpg
Source: TOURIST

To be continued with pics and details...


By the way, any guesses on what is this ? Spotted this somewhere between Mysore and Nanjangud.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-guess.jpg

Last edited by hotstuff : 11th March 2010 at 10:42.
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Old 11th March 2010, 10:53   #2
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Hi hotstuff,
I have been reading your Xinging around stories as and when it comes and this travelogue has come just in time for me. I am planning a trip from hyderabad to blr on weekend of 2nd april. Planning to reach blr by 2nd afternoon and relax for the day and then leave early morning on 3rd to someplace, which is not decided. It can be either ooty or yercaud, but I am open to some more options. Would need your advise too as, I plan to return to blr by 4th evening and then return to hyderabad on 5th morning. Do give suggestions for places around blr for one night trip.
And do complete your travelogue with all the pictures.By the way what can you do in Masinagudi ??
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Old 11th March 2010, 12:07   #3
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Is it a picture of the Narrow gauge/Meter gauge rail coach which has been left on the old bridge of the Kapila river? I heard sometime back that this would be converted into a restaurant.

So, by the looks of it, you did not go trekking this time, eh??
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Old 11th March 2010, 15:46   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
I am planning a trip from hyderabad to blr on weekend of 2nd april. Planning to reach blr by 2nd afternoon and relax for the day and then leave early morning on 3rd to someplace, which is not decided. It can be either ooty or yercaud, but I am open to some more options. I plan to return to blr by 4th evening and then return to hyderabad on 5th morning. Do give suggestions for places around blr for one night trip. And do complete your travelogue with all the pictures.By the way what can you do in Masinagudi ??
@Fordmanchau, there are plenty of options for a 1 night - 2 days trip from Bangalore. Can you indicate the type of trip you look forward to? i.e. a temple-trip, a wildlife trip, a general drive into the hills etc.?

If Ooty and Yercaud are your primary choices, I would prefer Yercaud. Either place is doable in the time you have, but it may be a little hectic. Also, are you driving down to Blr?

Masinagudi - I will provide the details in the next couple of posts; basically there are quite a few resorts adjacent to the Mudumalai sanctuary, so there are safaris, jungle walks etc. But this being summer, you'll find the play quite hot and dry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by addyhemmige View Post
Is it a picture of the Narrow gauge/Meter gauge rail coach which has been left on the old bridge of the Kapila river? I heard sometime back that this would be converted into a restaurant.
Close, very close! I am posting the details in a few minutes in my next post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by addyhemmige View Post
So, by the looks of it, you did not go trekking this time, eh??
No Sir, no trekking in summer... also, no trekking for me for the next one year, till around April / May 2011. Maybe a couple of short trips near Ahmedabad.

Last edited by hotstuff : 11th March 2010 at 15:49.
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Old 11th March 2010, 16:34   #5
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Lightbulb Drive to Masinagudi.

Saturday, the 6th of March 2010, 5.00am. 'Beep-beep' 'beep-beep'...The alarm started to ring incessantly. To prevent myself from hitting snooze every five minutes, I had placed the mobile well beyond my reach. Got out of bed, freshened up and we were ready to drive after a quick cuppa tea. At 5.55am sharp, we were out of the gate.

Went through the Sirsi Circle flyover onto Mysore road and we reached Lokaruchi at 7.00am, just as the buffet breakfast counter was opening up for the day.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-1.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-2.jpg


At Rs.70 per person, you get to try a variety of breakfast delicacies, with a juice to start and tea/coffee to end.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-3.jpg


From there we drove through to Mysore, took the ring-road to bypass the city and drove through past the Chamundi hills...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-4.jpg


Stopped to take a pic of these abandoned rail coaches on top of a bridge and spotted something interesting...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-5.jpg


It looked like a pair of buses, but on rails? Was this a tram?? Did mysore have a tram service at some point??? Took a pic and thought of looking it up later...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-6.jpg


Back in Bangalore, I looked up for info on the strange vehicle and it turns out to be an interesting aspect from our railway history. This is the so called meter-gauge 'Rail-Bus'. It was running between Shimoga & Talaguppa till a few years ago, but has been taken out of service after the gauge conversion. Looks like it was decorated as part of some Dasara celebrations and low lies abandoned near a bridge between Mysore and Nanjangud.

Here is a pic of the rail-bus while it was in service.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-7.jpg
(Pic courtesy Wikipedia)

More info on the Rail-bus: Shimoga-Talaguppa railway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


We found that the road condition is quite good all the way up to Ooty, just a couple of Kms of bad tarmac near Masinagudi and some bad roads in Coonoor, else all other roads were satisfactory.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-8.jpg


Nearing Bandipur, were we on the right road to Ooty? Any doubts we may have had were quickly dispelled by this row of boards advertising a shop called 'Mohans' in Ooty! and were still a 100 odd kms away

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-9.jpg


Reached Bandipur and slowed down to less than the official 40kmph speed limit, trying to spot any wildlife alongside the road. Deer are aplenty all through...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-10.jpg


The road is a lot more scenic and heavenly after the rains, right now there is a lot of brownery with the onset of summer...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-11.jpg


But some parts of the route are very colorful and pleasant!

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-12.jpg


Crossed Bandipur and entered Tamilnadu...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-13.jpg


More jungle roads...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-14.jpg


We came across a few Elephants quite close to the road. As a lady in the resort later told us, the Elephant population is growing at a very healthy pace in this area and the number of Elephant-human encounters is also on the rise...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-15.jpg


There are a number of birds in and around these areas, truly a bird watcher's paradise. Note to self : Time to pick up a Salim Ali book to be able to put a name to these birds.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-16.jpg


More spotted Deer... this time we spotted a whole herd of them!

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-17.jpg


Crossed a small river just before the turn-off towards the resort. I guess this must be the 'Moyar'?

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-18.jpg


Masinagudi has plenty of resorts available. Just pick a name from the pole and Google up for details and pricing before you head up there

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-19.jpg


Turned into the road towards the resorts area, we could see the Nilgiri mountains up ahead of us...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-20.jpg


You'll see splashes of bright colors in several places alongside the road...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-21.jpg


Reached the resort at around 11.45am and checked in after a brief 'orientation' speech from a lady at the front desk. I had booked the 'Bamboo cottage' option, which is the cheapest in the place at Rs.1969 per night. + 3 meals @ Rs.1200 per person + any additional food & beverages extra.

We zeroed in on 'Jungle Retreat' since Sangeetha had stayed at the resort a couple of years ago on an office trip.

Our opinion about the resort after our visit: Their location is excellent and will look really great after the rains. Looks like the Bamboo cottages are getting a little too old are not being maintained properly these days since I could find some nails sticking out of the walls + window latches that are coming off etc.

Food was good, but at 1200/- per person, is a little on the expensive side.

If you are visiting during the rainy season or winter, avoid the Bamboo cottage option and choose one of the other options since the 'super ventilation' of the cottages means that there will be very little difference between the temperatures outside and inside... and it does get quite cold in these areas during winters.

All other facilities and options are in line with what you would expect from any decent resort in these areas; i.e. organized safaris, a few outdoor games, a good pool, courteous staff etc.

On a scale of 10, I would rate the place a 7.0 for the 'Bamboo cottage' option.

Main improvement areas I could see were:
* The bamboo cottages need to be maintained better, else the rusting nails are a tetanus hazard.
* Though the staff were courteous, the lady at the front desk just gave us a brief orientation speech about not wandering around after dark etc. Would have been good if they can also take a couple of minutes to explain what are the activities that are available for visitors.
* Like many other places which are frequented by foreign tourists, there seems to be a tendency to kind of ignore Indian visitors, while going overboard in fawning over foreigners.

(I was also comparing this resort with the last one we stayed in, i.e. the Barefoot Resort on Havelock Island during our Andaman trip. The staff were a lot more efficient and made sure that visitors were not left to figure out things on their own... a person from the front office was assigned to specifically take care of the arrangements and they made sure that our day was packed with activities from dawn to dusk.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...tamilnadu.html ('Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.) )


'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-22.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-23.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-24.jpg


They have a small herd of tame wild-goats (an oxymoron?) on their campus, they are quite gigantic!

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-25.jpg


The pool at the place is really lovely!

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-26.jpg


A typical 'English scene' with a British lady, in a pink dress, with a proper hat, sitting in the shade and painting a mountain scene...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-27.jpg


They also have a dormitory option if you are in a group...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-28.jpg


The resort is contagious with the forest corridor and has a wide variety of birds...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-29.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-30.jpg


Contd...

Last edited by hotstuff : 11th March 2010 at 16:43.
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Old 11th March 2010, 17:23   #6
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Very nice pics and narration, hotstuff. Eagerly looking forward for the rest of the journey details!
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Old 11th March 2010, 17:55   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotstuff View Post
@Fordmanchau, there are plenty of options for a 1 night - 2 days trip from Bangalore. Can you indicate the type of trip you look forward to? i.e. a temple-trip, a wildlife trip, a general drive into the hills etc
If Ooty and Yercaud are your primary choices, I would prefer Yercaud. Either place is doable in the time you have, but it may be a little hectic. Also, are you driving down to Blr?
Masinagudi - I will provide the details in the next couple of posts; basically there are quite a few resorts adjacent to the Mudumalai sanctuary, so there are safaris, jungle walks etc. But this being summer, you'll find the play quite hot and dry.
I was basically looking for hill driving to a good hill station. I know one night trip will be a bit hectic, but that is all the time I have. Though I have been ooty once in 2007, still would like to see the place. But if there are other places I don't mind.
I would by all probability be driving down to blr from hyd.
And belated Happy Anniversary to you!!
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Old 11th March 2010, 18:26   #8
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Hey "xinging" is back

I like the effort you put in getting information. Wheather it is map, or history or anything. Hats off.

After missing those "Lets go" Tlogs[yes, abhi!!!], seems Xing is in full swing. Lol.
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Old 11th March 2010, 18:51   #9
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Nice writeup hotstuff, very informative indeed. However i guess most of the resorts there will come under the axe of elephant corridor, not sure about the court order.
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Old 11th March 2010, 19:09   #10
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A good travelogue very well captured in photographs.
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Old 11th March 2010, 20:26   #11
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The elephant looks 'too' clean. Most likely a camp elephant. Right?
Nice photos though. Did you ask the resort, if they will be affected by the supreme court order that asks the resorts around Masinagudi to be cleared and 'levelled'?
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Old 11th March 2010, 20:37   #12
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Crisp photos and lively description. Waiting for more. Where is resort? Is it very close to the deviation at the Masinagudi junction?

I have seen many folks don't prefer the buffet at Lokaruchi. Dont know why, that section is always empty. I love that breakfast though.
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Old 12th March 2010, 00:43   #13
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wow! this is a very very structured t-log! and nice pics too! Will hang on to it as I have been planning for a trip to Masinagudi - Ooty!
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Old 12th March 2010, 01:19   #14
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Nice write up. Was planning for something like this but we was not able to decide the place... Now the place is fixed

I am adding the resorts name pic in the other thread.

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Originally Posted by mjothi View Post

After missing those "Lets go" Tlogs[yes, abhi!!!], seems Xing is in full swing. Lol.
Looks like Abhi is completely absconding
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Old 12th March 2010, 09:26   #15
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Lightbulb Masinagudi & Ooty.

Since buffet lunch would be served only at around 1.30pm, we freshened up and went over to the restaurant / lobby area to relax for a while with a book. Post lunch we spent some time lazing around and eventually the sun had gone down enough to consider hitting the pool.

Unfortunately the pool is a little small and can get crowded if there are more than 5 or 6 people in it. When we went there, there were already quite a few people in the water and we decided to come back later and just wandered around on the property.

Lantana - found almost all over India, nice & colorful flowers, but the plant is actually an imported weed, like Parthenium. Here is an article that talks about how Lantana is harming our forests: India Together: Scourge of the alien invasive species - 27 July 2006

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-1.jpg


ANother inquisitive bird that walked up to take a close look at us...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-2.jpg


We walked around for a while and eventually decided to take another look at the pool...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-3.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-4.jpg


By this time, it was getting a little dark and the pool was empty! So we had it all to ourselves...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-5.jpg


By the time we were done with the pool, went back to our room to change etc. it was close to 8.00pm and we headed back to the restaurant for dinner. Though it was not so cold, a camp-fire had been lit. Sat near the fire for a while with a soft drink, watching the flames.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-6.jpg


Went inside for dinner at around 8.30pm...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-7.jpg


Robin, who works there in the management, was showing some pics and videos of wild animals caught roaming in the resort area by the Camera-traps. (They have some 5 - 6 camera traps on the resort grounds.)

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-8.jpg


A motion sensitive infrared camera trap...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-9.jpg


By around 10.30pm we were ready to retire and dozed off with the alarm set to 7.00am the next morning.

Woke up on the dot, freshened up and opened the windows to see a number of wild deer walking around on the campus. (The lady at the reception had spoken about an electric fence around the resort, looks like the fence ain't working ).

This guy was probably thinking that he is a tiger and was stalking the deer...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-10.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-11.jpg


Breakfast would be served only at around 8.30am, so we went around for another walk through the property...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-12.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-13.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-14.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-15.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-16.jpg


After a light breakfast, we checked out and hit the road towards Ooty!

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-17.jpg


Some sections of the road is a single track, but most of it is a decent dual carriageway...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-18.jpg


Reached the foot of the Nilgiris, from where the famous 36 hairpin bends begin...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-19.jpg


Stopped in a couple of places along the way to take a few pics...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-20.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-21.jpg


Finally we reached the end of the ghat section and entered Ooty. By the way, we almost took the diversion to Kalhatty waterfalls on our way up; but a shopkeeper at the corner of that cross mentioned that there is no water, so we continued on towards Ooty.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-22.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-23.jpg


Ooty town was quite messy, with lots of weekend traffic and a lot of KA & KL cars!

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-24.jpg


Our first stop was going to be Doddabetta peak, which is the highest point in South India. Asked for directions and we were on our way. Enroute, you can see a few spot which give us a glimpse of what Ooty once was...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-25.jpg


Any yes, there are a few cheerful looking tea gardens alongside...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-26.jpg


Reached Doddabetta, found a parking place and walked up.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-28.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-29.jpg


Looks like Doddabetta has been a popular place from the 18th century! This painting titled 'Dodabeta picnic' dated Jan 21st 1852 shows that an observatory existed at that site even then and it was a picnic spot for the Britishers.

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-27.jpg


On a clear day, you can see some panoramic views of Ooty and the surrounding area...

'Xing'ing around ! - Masinagudi, Ooty and Coonoor.-30.jpg


Contd...
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