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Old 19th May 2010, 01:50   #1
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Default Hyderabad to Ooty road trip

Hi All,

Wanted to share the road trip that I recently had down south with family for the summer vacation. The plan was simple - drive down from Hyderabad to Ooty and back with family (wife and two kids); and if time permitted throw in Coorg as well.

The major challenge was which vehicle to drive down in as I have two - an Indigo Marina and a recently purchased Tata Sierra. The Indigo Marina has travelled all over the country the road trips being
1. Hyd to Manali (till Rohtang) visiting Nagpur, Jhansi, Gwalior, Agra, Delhi, Chandigarh and Simla on the way. This was a 19 day trip and total distance covered was around 6200 kms
2. Hyd to Kerala (Kottayam, Munnar, Kodaikanal, Coimbatore, Salem, Allepy etc thrown in). Total distance around 3000 kms on a 15 day trip
3. Hyd to Goa - 5 day trip
4. Delhi (while I was based there for a while): to Dalhousie, to Mussourie, to the 4 prayags, to Ajmer and Jaipur (Bharatpur, Fatehpur Sikri and Agra thrown in). In all 3 diff road trips from Delhi
5. Recent (December 2009) Hyd to Mahableshwar (in Maharashtra) 6 day trip

By now the family was quite bored going in the same car though we found it extremely comfortable (with the rear seats foldable allowing the family to sleep in the combined space between the rear seat and the boot).

So the verdict was simple - to go in the Sierra. It was more spacious, big car with loads of boot space and it would certainly be more adventurous with the risk of breakdown.

The Sierra has been with me for only slightly above a month and hence wasnt giving me enough confidence. However the mechanic assured me that 'Aal is well'. With that assurance we started on the evening of 7th May at 7 pm from Hyderabad. I prefer driving at night. This is due to 3 main reasons - 1. very less traffic and no slowing down while passing through villages which eats into time, 2. No autorickshaws, bikes, cycles, bullock carts etc to negotiate thus reducing risk, 3. Much cooler and thus comfortable and more exciting to stop every now and then at a dhaba for tea.

May 7: 7 pm out of Hyderabad.

Hyderabad to Kurnool: Took the PVN expressway towards the airport, passed it and continued straight towards Kurnool. Reached Kurnool (about 210 kms from Hyderabad) at 11 pm. Halted for a light snack and then continued towards Anantpur. The road till Kurnool is a breeze but there was some traffic and I took it easy because I didnt want to push the Sierra so early in the journey. Post Kurnool the family went to sleep. I had made some arrangements. The boot being spacious was converted into a bed for my younger son aged 6. I put all the bags in the boot and put a cut out ply (to fit the shape of the boot) on top of the bags. On the ply went a folded carpet and a thick folded blanket and a few pillows to make it comfy for him. He slept like at home. Ensured that the boot was locked properly though and he could just hop over the rear seat back rest to join his mom who had the back seat all for herself. My elder son who is 16 gave me company in front.

Kurnool to Anantapur (approx 190 + kms) is tricky with stretches of road still not completed and had to take short diversions every now and then. Had to really concentrate to ensure I was not driving too fast to make it tough for a turn at a sudden appearing diversion sign. Reached Anantpur around 3 am. Felt sleepy and parked at an Indian Oil petrol pump and slept for an hour. All 4 of us were asleep; younger son in the boot, wife in the rear seat, elder son and I on the front stretched out seats. I got up at 5 am and drove on. One thing which I am too careful about is never to drive even if I am slightly sleepy as you never know when you can sleep at the steering wheel.

Anantapur to Bangalore (approx 170 kms) is a mixed one. The initial 50 kms is with some diversions while the rest 120 kms is a breeze. Stopped just before Bangalore at 7 am, woke up family and had breakfast at a decent hotel (cant remember which one). Took the Tumkur road and then the Hosur road bypassing Bangalore city towards Mysore.

May 8:
Reached Mysore (which is around 150 kms from Bangalore) in the afternoon. Stopped for some medicines, some tea and a quick check of the Sierra. I drove the Sierra at a leisurely 80 km/h as my primary focus was safety first and speed next. There were times I touched 120 km/h on the speedometer but then realized that I was going too fast, relented and came down again to around 80. I also took frequent breaks which means I stopped every 125-150 kms for around 10-15 minutes. This allowed a quick check of the vehicle and a small respite to it.

Mysore to Bandipur: This road though in good shape had a lot of traffic and slowed me down considerably. I reached Bandipur around 3 pm. We checked into the MC forest resort (this is just past the Govt run Bandipur Safari Lodge around 1 km away). This has decent cottages which for me means cleanliness, proper beds, running hot and cold water and good service. This being an eco resort had no TV. They charged me Rs 5250 which included 3 adults and a child with an extra bed (mattress) thrown in. The package meant complimentary lunch and dinner and breakfast (the next day), a 2 hour jungle trek from 4-6 pm the same evening and an early morning 2 hour jungle safari the next day.

We didn't see much on the trek except a few birds and a few distant cheetal. Came back to the resort for a camp fire but as luck would have it, it rained and the camp fire idea was doused. Met a few other interesting families over dinner who admired the Sierra and my courage to drive down so far with family.

May 9:
Early morning jungle safari: 6:30 am to 9 am. The resort guys woke us up at 5:30 am with some tea. A quick shower and we 4 were ready for the jungle safari. Got onto the bus and waited for others to show up. We got good seats in the front. The safari consists of a 2 hour + plus drive through the Bandipur forest stopping every now and then when animals are spotted. We saw herds of bison, deer and elephant every now and then, few peacock, lots of birds.

Came back at 9 am, had a sumptious breakfast, chilled out for a few hours at the resort and then left for Ooty at 12 pm. Reached the Bandipur-Madumalai forest borders and saw a diversion on the left which was a shorter 36 km drive to Ooty. This has the famous 36 hair pin curves. This was a painful climb for the Sierra and took more than an hour and a half to climb all. I took two 20 minute breaks every 12 hair pins to ensure it didnt overheat. There on reaching Ooty was a breeze. Reached around 3 pm and checked into the hotel. A quick shower and lunch and we were ready for the Ooty lake.

A boat trip and some shopping at the Ooty market and a few pics at the 'charring cross' fountain and we were hungry. We had chat at the Nahar hotel chat centre and came back to the hotel. One thing to add though. We had come back to the hotel after the boat rides and then walked down to the market which was just a km and a half away. We were too tired to walk back and decided to take an autorickshaw to the hotel. We realized that autos dont have meters but have fixed fares from the center to various points/hotels. The fare even for 1 km is not less than Rs 40.

May 10:
A late lazy breakfast at the hotel and we were ready for the Doddabeta peak, the highest point as it is claimed in South India.
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Old 19th May 2010, 07:47   #2
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Nice start to a lovely travelogue.

Bring it on.

How old is the Tata Sierra?

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Old 19th May 2010, 08:56   #3
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A very descriptive travelogue. Nice sightings of elephants and Gaur.
Is that lake Paykaara?
If your Sierra was not turbo, then it must have been painful on ascents.
Thanks for sharing.
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Old 19th May 2010, 12:26   #4
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Nice trip & photos !
Did u take same route on way back ?

Ooty - BNG - HYD or different ?
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Old 19th May 2010, 12:49   #5
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Wonderful description coupled with some nice photographs.
Are the pictures scanned? It's very rare to find someone using a film camera these days.
Eagerly waiting for the rest of the travelogue!
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Old 19th May 2010, 20:49   #6
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Hi Syed

Good description, good photographs = good travelogue
waiting for more

thanks for sharing
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