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Old 10th December 2010, 16:53   #46
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Default Re: 4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai

Excellent write-up Safedrive and pictures were also nice
It was actually a wise decision to choose Kotagiri road rather than coonor route, Kotagiri route will be less congested and roads will be good. They have started to collect toll in Kotagiri route since 2009.
Shinkows is one awesome place and they still maintain their heritage, all travelers to Ooty need to visit Shinkows at least once. They serve food real hot and their favorite are beef and pork.
Also throw some review about the hotel stay and some pics if possible.
Awaiting for your "rest of the trip"
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Old 20th December 2010, 12:59   #47
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Arrow Day 3 – Ooty:

It’s close to 12:00 when we leave. We decide to drive up the road to my old school and meet up with one of our friends who is now teacher there. We’re there in less than 5 minutes and will have to wait until 12:30 when the lunch break begins. Susann and I take a walk around the school while Calvin plays at the ground.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0484.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0487.jpg

The school building will easily classify as one of the oldest in Ooty. It’s situated right above the lake just off Woodcock road and had a splendid view of the lake.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0489.jpg

We meet our friend and then set up a rendezvous for later in the evening after school. So the rest of our day just got booked solid. And that was day 3 – easy and fun.
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Old 20th December 2010, 20:00   #48
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Post Ooty over the years

Although I don’t live in Ooty, a good portion of my school years were spent there. My first memories of Ooty go back to probably the late 70s. And here’s my opinion on the changes that have happened from then.

Let’s first star with travelling to Ooty. The main road as is today was the Mettupalayam – Conoor – Ooty one. The road was narrower than what it was today, especially at the hair pin bends. Just before the climb began after Mettupalayam, both sides of the road would be areca nut plantations with their distinct smell. This would tell us kids that the ghats were starting. As is today the bus would be struggling up the climb in second or third gear and as is today it used to give a hell lot of exhaust fumes. Traffic was much lower and more importantly better. Even as kids we had it drilled into our heads – vehicles going up have precedence over vehicles coming down. Speed and racing never existed as far as I remember. Compare that to today and you get a scary picture. You have those lorries with “vegetable express” written over them speeding down the slopes at break neck speeds. And it’s not just them but also cars as small as the 800s are also guilty of the same. It’s not much different on the way up. Where once a car would honk once or twice when behind a bus and then wait for the driver to signal him to pass, we now see cars and buses overtaking even at blind corners!! To give where credit is due – the public transport bus drivers still do drive like gentlemen.

There was one major stop between Mettupalayam and Conoor. There used to be a few (4 or 5 maybe) shops here and all buses and most cars would halt here. This was more like a cool off period for the engine and a break for the driver and passengers. You’d get steaming hot tea and vadas / bhajis here. Now, there are multiple places where one can halt for a cup of tea on the way up there. The monkeys are still there but the wild hens seem to have disappeared. I’m not comparing the train as I haven’t been on it for a long time now.

Reach Conoor and the bus stops at the stand. This was major refreshment time for us kids. This also meant that the major climb was over and what remained was a more sedate one. The chill would have already set in and the warm clothes would be out. If we were travelling by train, we would be gorging on the hot potato bondas at the station tea stall. Now this is an interesting tidbit. This person who mans the stall, actually minded the stall at 2 stations. So you could see him at the station before Conoor and he would wind up and close the stall and get into the train with us and then man the stall at Conoor. And this was done on the way back too.

Up the last climb and descending onto Ooty was always memorable. There used to hardly anything there at that point – all I remember is the old Stanes motors building. Charring Cross did not have a signal, but it did have an occasional cop. Turn left into the main bazaar road and you had a building followed by a CSI church, a kind of hotel run by some co-operative society and then a row of shops on the left side of the road. On the right were another row of shops ending at Kurunji. Kurunji used to be a tea and snack shop as opposed to a restaurant now, but it still looked more or less the same. There were two places on this road that we loved – Chellarams and a small video game shop. Chellarams used to leave us astounded whenever we went there – the sheer size of the store, the wide array of imported candy (bublleyum used to be a personal favorite) and the row of guns always had an impact on me. I’d never seen a store that big ever. Go further and you reach the market followed by the bus stand and railway station – just the way it is today. So what’s changed on this stretch – almost everything!! The buildings for example – there are so many of them now and multistoried. No more old quaint buildings with sloping tile roofs. The crowd – that is just unbelievable. And the traffic – it’s as bad as Chennai. This is one part of Ooty that I stay away from as much as possible. The same is the case with the areas around the lake. Where once we could see the occasional bungalow with its large windows ( without grills) and quaint gaden, what is now visible is multistoried buildings with concrete parking lots!!

And now to the people. The folks that I normally used to see around town were more of the retired age group. Gentlemen dressed in suits (not necessarily a tie) with a walking stick and occasionally a dog. The schools had a good amount of Anglo Indian ladies in their bright dresses. And let’s not forget the planters. Cars, well they were the regular Fiats and Ambassadors with an occasional import thrown in for good measure – a red MG convertible of my class mate comes to mind. There were also quite a few Dodge buses – you know, the ones with the noses. That was not something that I’d see regularly outside of Ooty.

Get a little away from town and things haven’t changed as drastically. You’ll still see the fields, the older houses, the tall trees, the small streams etc. Where once cabbage and carrots used to be grown, we now also have more exotic veggies like broccoli, cauliflower etc giving them company. This part of Ooty still has its charm and that is what keeps pulling me back there again and again. And let’s not forget Shinkows, Assembly room and Modern stores from the town…
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Old 20th December 2010, 23:18   #49
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Default Re: 4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai

The best part of Ooty as per me is the road towards Upper Bhavani and the great lakes (Avalanchi and Emerald)! Plus add to it the Good Shepred School and it makes a beautiful setting.

How I envy those students who study there!
What a place! What a place!
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Old 21st December 2010, 08:32   #50
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Default Re: 4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai

Ampere - I agree that Good Sheperd is at a beautiful setting, but I would have been much more happier if it were not there at all. They've taken up too much space!!
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Old 21st December 2010, 09:29   #51
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Default Re: 4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai

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Ampere - I agree that Good Sheperd is at a beautiful setting, but I would have been much more happier if it were not there at all. They've taken up too much space!!
I guess you are the right person to comment. Since I was just a passer-by, I admired the place and kept moving. But as you said, folks who have stayed around, really know about the "real facts"!

I used to just wonder, how much they should be charging as fees!
Must be astronomical!
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Old 21st December 2010, 12:57   #52
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Cool Day 4 – Ooty:

Day 4 dawns and as usual it starts with the customary picture taken from just outside our room.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0490.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0491.jpg

Ummmm, I’m in two minds now. A part of me is filled with joy because of the fog while the other saner part tells me that we’ll probably have to confine ourselves to in and around town if this continues. Fortunately for us it begins to clear up by the time breakfast is over.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0492.jpg

Breakfast consisted of leftovers from last night – Chinese food from Shinkows . During breakfast we begin to plan our day while watching the cartoon channel. Yup, Calvin controls the remote. My earlier attempts at taking a trip towards Avalanche and Emerald had been vetoed by the two because of the distance and time. This time I play it a little different.


Me: “I’m taking you guys to a place today”
Susann: “And where is it?”
M: “It’s a surprise”
Calvin: “I love surprises.”
M: “That’s great, you’re going to love it there”
C: “Is there a lake?”
M: “Yes.”
C: “I want to go boating. This time let’s go to the end of the lake.”
M: “Ahhggg.”


Luckily for me the commercial got over and the cartoon was back on. Mum and son were back into it in all concentration.


M: “There’s no boating there, but we can go boating in the afternoon”


Silence, blessed silence. Yes, this was the time to strike.


M: “So we’ll get out right after breakfast. We’ll take a leisurely drive all the way to Avalanche. We’ll take water and buy some snacks before starting.”
Both: “Eeehh”
M: “I hear the roads are bad but we’ll go as far as we can.”
B: “Umm..”
M: “If we do get stuck you might have to push the car a bit”
B: “Ugghh..”


Yup, the deal was struck. I considered it wisest to finish the food and leave the room before the next commercial when more questions could be asked. Dirty pool that but as they say, all’s fair in love and war – and we had both going on right now. I didn’t have a forest permit so I wasn’t sure how far we could go, but then nothing ventured nothing gained – so what the heck.

By the time mother and son were done with breakfast, I had packed the camera, water and snacks into the car and was waiting outside.

As soon as we start from Club Mahindra, Calvin says that he needs eucalyptus leaves for good health. So we stop and pluck a couple of them. The car now has a strong scent of this. A couple of kilometers more and the scenery changes – and what a change it is! From the hustle and bustle and honking and the packed roads of the city with its concrete we get this.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0495.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0496.jpg

But wait, there’s something strange between the trees. So I change the lens and zoom in to see this. Is it some kind of receiver? Can someone help here? My son would really like to know what it is.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0493.jpg

This thorny bush in the below picture used to be a constant sight in Ooty. Not any more.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0498.jpg

Some more shots of the country side.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0497.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0499.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0500.jpg

And after some more driving, we get our first sight of her – and she is really beautiful. Nothing, absolutely nothing can beat Mother Nature in all her glory.
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Old 21st December 2010, 13:16   #53
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Default Re: Day 4 – Ooty:

This thorny bush is the Gorse Bush. It is not native to the Nilgiris but was imported in the 1800's by some homesick Scotsman/Englishman and planted in and around our hills.

The Nilgiri Hills ambient temperature, climatic conditions and rolling contours are very reminiscent of the UK and the Scottish highlands so it must have seemed natural for them to bring their gorse bushes along as well, to re-create the desired atmosphere.

These bushes proliferated for the next couple of hundred years and yes at one time were all over the place. Today they are confined to the relatively undisturbed areas which have less or controlled human intervention.

They are all over the Ooty Gymkhana Golf course for example and form one of the natural hazards that abound on that golf course.

Woe betide any poor unfortunate golfer who clobbers the little white ball into one of them - retrieving the ball is better not attempted since the thorns are vicous as I have found to my cost many a time.


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This thorny bush in the below picture used to be a constant sight in Ooty. Not any more.
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Old 22nd December 2010, 12:41   #54
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Default Re: 4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai

Hello SafeDrive, that was a lovey and emotionally rewarding experience that you have shared with us. Having a family outing to the hills is just cool. And it's an add-on if one's already connected to the queen of hills being school-ed amongst one of the many lovely schools that are around. I certainly understand the train tracks, Shinkows, Charring Cross, Boat house and others, from the perspective of a kid. But I must admit, that magic is slowly fading. Which school did you go to SafeDrive? Ooty ain't the one we saw her before.

Just an incident that I recollect when I was in school. I didn't know how to ride a bike and I was all but 16 (shame I know). There is this bike rental near Hotel Sapphire Paradise, to the right of Charring Cross when you are entering Ooty. There was a shiny new Yamaha YBX for rent and I picked her up to ride around with another of my northy friends. I lost control of the bike when I started it, as it wheeled and steered right towards an old Jeep standing just before a sudden plunge down. Man I am sure I wouldn't be around if not for that Jeep. It was another story that I had to pay up the charges for the bike repair and the Jeep's door handle and dent !

Thanks for sharing SafeDrive.
Cheers
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Old 22nd December 2010, 13:34   #55
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Default Re: Day 4 – Ooty:

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Originally Posted by SafeDrive View Post
But wait, there’s something strange between the trees. So I change the lens and zoom in to see this. Is it some kind of receiver? Can someone help here? My son would really like to know what it is.

Attachment 471882
That looks like the Ooty Radio telescope ( Ooty - Radio Telescope ). Isn't this near Good Shepherd International school on Avalanchi road ?
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Old 22nd December 2010, 15:19   #56
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Default Re: 4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai

^^ Wow, thats good piece of information. Even me was curious to know what it could be. Great work Kala.
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Old 24th December 2010, 07:09   #57
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Default Re: 4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai

Quote:
Originally Posted by kala View Post
That looks like the Ooty Radio telescope ( Ooty - Radio Telescope ). Isn't this near Good Shepherd International school on Avalanchi road ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by RajaTaurus View Post
^^ Wow, thats good piece of information. Even me was curious to know what it could be. Great work Kala.
Yes even I also vaguely remember spotting something like that, while driving on the Avalanchi Road and was wondering does Ooty has a radio telescope?
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Old 28th December 2010, 20:36   #58
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Default Day 4 – Ooty:

“Stop, stop, stop…..” two voices cry from the back. I can see why but I still think – we’ve stopped the first time to get the picture of the radio telescope, the second time to get into a tea estate and explain to Calvin on tea and now for a third time. We’ve been going over an hour now and we’ve covered maybe 10 kms!!! But better sense prevails and this is what makes me stop.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0504.jpg

There she lay in all her beauty, in the distance beyond the rolling hills covered in green. The day had still not cleared up but the slight haze gave a totally different look to her. She looked like a beautiful lady covered in a flimsy veil and me – I was like the quiescent teenager who was peering hard for a good look beyond her veil.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0501.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0502.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0506.jpg

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0508.jpg

The initial wows and aahhs are followed by a period of silence as the three of us take in this view. As I turn around I see that Susann was still in the car enjoying the view from the warmth inside and Calvin, as he had done in the other stops had brought out his bubble blower and gone to work.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0510.jpg

In fact the entire journey had been punctuated by the same questions repeated by Calvin – “Can we have a bubble break?” “How long to the next bubble break?”

Floating against the hilly horizon, the bubbles do make for a wonderful sight.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0511.jpg

Around 10 minutes later, after a lot of cajoling and coaxing, I am able to pack Calvin back into the car and start on the journey again. We soon reach a small junction where a board says that Emerald dam was to the right. This was definitely not in the itinerary for the day, but then neither was anything else. So right it was. The road started with a climb and then started narrowing down. The surface was good to begin with and then soon turned bad. This was followed by patches of good and bad, more decent surfaces than bad surfaces. However the road and the ascent did not allow for a fast drive. A few kilometers into the road we stop at a good spot. We can see the lake closer. We stop here for some time just admiring nature and talking to each other. And as always Calvin starts with his bubbles.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0513.jpg

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“Go on Appa, you can back up more”

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0518.jpg
2701 – The cleanest that she would be that day.
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