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Old 29th November 2010, 16:39   #16
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Default Day 1 – Chennai to Ooty contd. (Avanashi to Ooty):

We pass Annur and decide to take a break. The weather is very pleasant. We’ve got farms on both sides and shady trees. There only an occasional vehicle passing by. The camera comes out and the clicking starts. The Blue Mountains and visible at a distance.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0301.jpg
Parked by the side

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The mountains at a distance

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The two beauties

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The road ahead.

We just sit there enjoying the shade and nature and just talking with each other. It’s really amazing when you think about it, over ten years together and we still have things to talk about, there are still things that we’re discovering about each other and we really enjoy being with each other. I tell Calvin about my days at Ooty when I was a kid and some of the fun times that I’ve had in school there. He was around 4 the last time we went and doesn’t remember anything from that trip. He’s excited about the cold and the fog and is a little disappointed that it does not snow in Ooty.

Half an hour later and we’re on our way. We soon reach Mettuplayam and just as we leave town we reach the place that I call “Donkey junction”. This is the place where the road to Ooty via Kotagiri moves out and the reason for the name is that I’ve always found a few donkeys around here, ever since I can remember. We make a halt here and I ask:
“Do you want to go via Conoor or via Kotagiri?”
Wife: “Huh”
Me: “Do you want to go via the straight road or the one on the right?”
Wife: “It doesn’t really matter, you're driving, you pick”
Wife: “What’s the difference?”
Me: “About 20 km”
Wife: “Let’s go straight then”
Me: “But the one on the right has less traffic and is more scenic”
Wife: “OK, It doesn’t really matter, you pick”
Me: “Calvin, do you want to go through the straight road or through the right road?”
Calvin: “Right”

You know which way I wanted to go .

That’s settled then, via Kotagiri it was. So we turn right and resume our journey again. One of the reasons that I wanted to take the Kotagiri route was because I had read of landslides in the other route last week. Also it had been a long time since I’d taken this route, at least 10 years. Very soon the ghats start and the vegetation becomes much thicker. We’re in forest territory now. Just as the ghats began I saw a check post like structure. There was a shack to the side, a couple of drums (barrels) kept on either side of the road to slow down traffic and a gate. By gate I mean one of those things that are lowered to stop traffic if required. As I slow down to negotiate this, I see a man frantically waving his arms at us. I had just entered the part of the road where the drums were kept and could not stop there. And as we passed this, the guy started running behind us. Seeing this I stop to the side and this guy comes over and says “Sir, toll 20 rupees”. Bl**dy sh*t. And I thought it was something serious.
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Old 29th November 2010, 16:56   #17
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I did this last June. In case you missed it, here it is:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...s-flowers.html (Romancing the Blue hills and falls and flowers and...)
One good thing to go via Kotagiri and come via Coonoor, you are most of the time on the hill-side on the road and not on the valley-side except some between hairpin bends, which is safe to drive, in case of any eventuality like a moronic mad drunk driver makes mistake, you don't fall of the valley.
Man there was no toll there. Some trick? Waiting to see the story.

Last edited by RajaTaurus : 29th November 2010 at 16:58.
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Old 29th November 2010, 17:11   #18
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Man there was no toll there. Some trick? Waiting to see the story.
You're real lucky RajaTaurus - I got an official reciept too .

Yes, I had gone through your thread while deciding the route, it sure helped.
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Old 29th November 2010, 18:03   #19
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Safedrive, your travelouge is plain and simple. I had plans and reservations done for kodai, but had to abandon due to a health reasons. I heard that the weather did spoilsport for all those travellers and most of them remained indoors for their duration of stay. I am glad that you had fun.
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Old 29th November 2010, 19:28   #20
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Smile Day 1 – Chennai to Ooty contd. (Avanashi to Ooty):

The climb starts and so do the curves and turns with it. Speed has now reduced to the 20s and the 30s and the gear has been shifted to lower ones. Third gear is the best that we are able to do. As we climb up, we can see the plains getting farther away from us.
4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0308.jpg
Going up the hill

Sometime later we stop to just take everything in. The road along this route has very few places where you can stop and just relax. We’re lucky enough to find a place on the road where we can park our car to the side without hindering traffic. We grab the opportunity, park our car and cross the road to sit on the stone edge. We can see the plains from here and it’s a fantastic view. The sun is shining bright, it’s not hot nor is it cold. Just perfect.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0310.jpg
Mother and son – what are they looking at?

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They’re looking at this and it’s beautiful.

Calvin then decides to do some rock climbing. He’s got a new shoe that says “Sport” on it and so declares it a “Sports shoe” – a shoe that is meant to be run with, climb rocks with…. Well you get the drift.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0313.jpg
Trying to climb a rock but not very successful.

We start again after around 10 minutes and as we climb higher you can see the plains getting farther away.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0317.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0318.jpg

In spite of a bright day you can see that it is not very clear. There is a slight haze around but we pay no attention to it. The road on the other hand is through a very thick forest.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0319.jpg

So the views include the thick green foliage of the forest, the plains in between and occasionally some things like this that stick out.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0320.jpg
I thought this rock with no foliage stuck out from the rest.

The sky became a vibrant blue as we went higher.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0321.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0322.jpg

As we neared Kotagiri, the forests gave way to tea estates and the flowers started to appear.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0324.jpg

Another picture of flowers

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0326.jpg

Wait what’s that in between…

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0327.jpg
A monkey!!

By this time we had lost sight of the plains and the scenery was now mountains.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0328.jpg

We passed through Kotagiri town and took the road towards Doddapetta. And then suddenly the whole thing turned – what had appeared to be a superb and clear day changed. We were engulfed by fog and visibility became very difficult. I could see only around a couple of meters in front. We switched on our lights and for a moment I considered parking the car to the side. But then I decided to press on forward – parking might not be the best option in these narrow roads. Speeds were now brought down and eyes were riveted to the front to identify the road and any vehicles that were coming our way. And it became cold. We rolled up the windows and switched on the heater for some time. And then it began to rain – not a very heavy rain but just enough. The wipers and the defoggers were immediately put to use. I had just changed my wipers a day before we left and I was very thankful that I did. So we had a black swift going through a white fog with all lights (headlights, front fog lights, rear lights and rear fog lights), wipers and defogger on crawling along towards Ooty. We still had over 10 kilometers to cover and the going was not easy. And to make things worse we had absolute morons coming from the other side with no lights at all. While most folks slowed down and had their lights on, these guys were either gifted with x-ray vision eyesight or were just plain stupid risking their lives, the lives of the passengers with them and of the others on the road.

Around twenty minutes later and the familiar parking lot at Dodabetta comes into sight, well barely. I heave a sigh of relief on seeing this; I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see Dodabetta. We pass Dodabetta, pass the tea factory and ride into Ooty town. The fog has cleared and the rain has stopped. It’s not very cold but it is a little chilly. Charring Cross signal never looked so good.
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Old 30th November 2010, 10:36   #21
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Safedrive, your travelouge is plain and simple. I had plans and reservations done for kodai, but had to abandon due to a health reasons. I heard that the weather did spoilsport for all those travellers and most of them remained indoors for their duration of stay. I am glad that you had fun.
Thanks ElantraGT. Sorry about your vacation, hope you've got another one planned for soon.
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Old 30th November 2010, 11:08   #22
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The waiting is the most antagonizing period for me. I started counting the days until the 20th, and then the hours and then the minutes to D-day. We were like kids awaiting the end of a school year.
...
The planned start time was 05:00 a.m. and so the alarm was set up for 04:00 a.m. The bags were all packed and ready to be loaded.
...
I was the first to wake up. The alarm had not yet sounded, so I just lay in bed for some more time hoping to drift back to sleep. A half hour passed by so and no such luck. So I got up from the bed and checked the time. It was only 02:30 a.m. What do I do now? ... And so it was that 04:00 a.m. saw us in the car ready to leave – one hour earlier than planned.
... My son soon joins in and in less than five minutes of our start, we have our first break of the trip – to admire the moon and the night. We'd travelled less than 5 km.
...
Even now, after having done a number of trips, I still find it difficult to sleep before a long trip. I am promptly sent to bed at 8:00 p.m. "because you have got to drive a long distance tomorrow". But it never happens.

We normally load all the bags the previous night.

I thought the moon picture was that of a street light, before I looked at it closely.

I loved your comment about passing the AP registered trucks. It had me in splits.

And yes, I love Ooty and Kotagiri. Too bad that I am so far away.

-Biju
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Old 30th November 2010, 14:34   #23
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I thought the moon picture was that of a street light, before I looked at it closely.
It's very rarely that these street lights burn. They were put there when Stalin came to inaugerate the flyover at the end of this road and I guess their "utility" ended with that. Even in the picture only the lights at a distance are burning.
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Old 30th November 2010, 17:30   #24
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Post Day 1 –Ooty

The weather forecast as per the net had been temperatures between 16 and 26C with cloudy skies and rain fro the week. We’d reached Ooty around 02:00 p.m. but it wasn’t very cold, probably because of the time of day. We’d travelled 615 k.m. and been on the road for a little over 10 hours. You could probably deduct an hour and a half or more for our halts and considering that I must admit that we did very good time.

As soon as we crossed the Charring Cross signal, we pulled up and parked the car. Lunch was long overdue and Susann suggested to have it at Hotel Blue Hills. This is a restaurant that has been around since my school days and served decent Kerala food. As we got out of the car, Calvin again started demanding his pants and jacket. I was just too hungry to open the car again and told him that it wasn’t that cold to warrant a jacket. Promised to give it to him after lunch. Susann and I had thali meals for lunch and Calvin had parotta. To be honest we were a bit disappointed with the food and so that was the first and last time on this trip that we had food there. I definitely remember the food being better here. It was also less crowded than it normally is - I wonder if it was because of the off-season or something else.

I felt like having a chocolate after lunch and I went about trying to get myself a Dairy Milk or the like while Susann went to the car to get Calvin his jacket. Walked around a bit but I was not able to find a shop selling Cadburys – all of them had Ooty homemade chocolates though!! So I went back to the car and drove towards Club Mahindra Derby Greens. CM had bought the old Hotel Dasprakash and renovated it, and they’ve done a good job at it. This was right next to (above) the race course. So drove down the road towards the bus stand and when we reached there we found out that the road just in front of the bus stand was dug up and blocked. They seemed to be laying a drainage pipe across the road. So I drive around the circle to turn around and use another route and stop at a small shop just before the market to buy some chocolate. The shopkeeper tells us that we can go to the other side through the bus stand – there is a small temporary link made from the main road into the bus stand. You get into the bus stand and then exit at the other side. So we turn around again and take that link into the bus stand - it was as good as off roading .

We reach Club Mahindra and check in. The process is a little slow but we make it in a little over 30 minutes. Get into the room and I hit the bed – snore…

For dinner we go to one of our favorite restaurants in Ooty – Shinkows. This one has also been around from time immemorial and what’s even more surprising is that the décor still looks the same, except maybe for a fresh coat of paint. The weathers become really cold now (for a Chennai guy anyway) and we’re all decked up. A good hot soup later and we’re feeling more comfortable. Food is good and affordable. Back at CM, we switch on the heater and spend some time reading and watching TV. A little later and we hit the bed again. Goodnight world.
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Old 30th November 2010, 18:50   #25
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Hey @SafeDrive, this is too good write up man.... I went to Ooty in last week of October'2010 and I am still relishing the drive & nice moments we had in Queen of Hills. To top up, you made me to do a complete flash back in my memory again

You could try Nahar Nilgiris Hotel near charring cross next time, to get good quality food.
We loved the food there. It was just awesome !

-Ravi
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Old 30th November 2010, 19:40   #26
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You could try Nahar Nilgiris Hotel near charring cross next time, to get good quality food.
We loved the food there. It was just awesome !
-Ravi
Ha Ha! You reminded me of those two fattys in NDTV Good times, who first introduced me to this place (Courtesy: Highway on my Plate).

I went and tried the Wood Fired Pizza and it was real nice at Nahar as hey had recommended.
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Old 1st December 2010, 10:17   #27
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@ravib - glad I could bring back some good memories.

Yes, Nehar is a good place for food.
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Old 1st December 2010, 11:05   #28
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Yea, and one more thing to note... All these years, i thought Madurai Murugan Idly shop's idly was the softest ever I had, but Nahar Nilgiri's idlies just changed my opinion. It was much more ultra soft than any other idly i ever had. Same goes with parota and other foods too. Though the prices are bit expensive, but for a quality food, its worth paying it !

-Ravi
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Old 1st December 2010, 17:49   #29
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Default Good narration

That was a good narration Safe drive. Waiting for rest of the travelogue.
I am planning for a similar trip in February. Would get in touch with you for some details.
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Old 1st December 2010, 19:48   #30
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Default Day 2 – Ooty

We wake up to a sight that we would soon get used to. In the mornings the fog would envelope the mountains tops. It really looked pretty.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0332.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0334.jpg

We had nothing planned for the day in particular. Calvin took a look out, saw the fog and demanded that he get his long pants, jacket and sports shoes. He went back out again after this and came back excited saying that there’s a horse outside. He wanted a ride.

There were two horses inside CM, a black one and a smaller white one. A ride was Rs.150. “So where do you go to?” “Upto the old Woodlands sir”. I had no idea where that was but still nodded my head. Calvin got the smaller one to ride.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0335.jpg
Off for the ride

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0347.jpg
Back from the ride

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The other horse – looking good.

Horses in Ooty have really “evolved” over the years. Years ago they used to be no bigger than donkeys and closely resembled them. Now they’re like professional athletes – big and muscular and well built with their head held high (compare between the black and white in the above pics). These kinds of horses earlier could only be seen during the racing season at Ooty and only at the races, now they're all over the place.

CM Derby Green like the rest of Ooty was full of blooming plants.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0339.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0338.jpg

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It’s not every day that you see a palm tree in a hill station.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0357.jpg

We didn’t have anything planned for the day. In fact we didn’t have anything planned for the whole holiday. Not for me the usual spots – no Dodabetta, no Botanical Garden, no Rose Garden, no Boat House… Oh well maybe that’s going too far, I’ll take the boat house. We were just going to roam around, go where the road would take us – that sort of thing.

So with that being the plan we got into the car and drove. We went straight out the resort, took the high road, the left road and then the up road, followed by the right road until we didn’t know where we were. No problem. It had started raining lightly. The interior roads of Ooty are really narrow allowing for only one vehicle to ply at a time. So if two vehicles were to come face to face, one of them would have to back up and stop at some area where it could allow the other vehicle to pass. We did this a few times.

The rains stopped and we reached a sort of junction with a small shop. It was a grocery cum vegetable cum tea stall, all rolled into one. And he was making hot bhajis. A cold day, a cup of piping hot tea and some hot bhajis straight off the kadai – who can resist.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0361.jpg

I’m human and I gorged. So did Susann and surprisingly Calvin who normally dislikes bhajis had some too.

So that being done we set off again. There were a lot of farms along the roads and the views were beautiful.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0367.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0368.jpg

On the way we also saw this sad horse. It looked starved and was eating out of a garbage bin. Notice the ribs showing.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0369.jpg

A closer look and it looked like it was eating the garbage bin.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0371.jpg

After some time we reached a point where the road seemed just too narrow for us to continue further down. So we turned around and tried to back track our path – but we had come too far and I did not remember the exact way back. But a right over here, a left over here and so on and I ended up near Fernhill, a place that I knew. Just a short drive and we would be at the bus stand.
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