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Old 26th November 2010, 15:58   #1
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Wink 4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai

Did a 4 day tour of Ooty from the 20th to 24th of November. Attaching the trip log below.

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I will be posting a more detailed travelogue in the following posts.
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Old 26th November 2010, 17:04   #2
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You forgot to mention about the car in which you travelled.
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Old 26th November 2010, 19:27   #3
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Sorry, the car is a Swift Zxi. It is an early 2006 model and the ones before the K-series engine.
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Old 26th November 2010, 21:09   #4
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10 hours of drive must be exciting, safe drive where is the writeup dude? waiting for it eagerly especially the pics.

BTW how come a trip on a week day
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Old 26th November 2010, 21:26   #5
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@safetrip : Why didn't you choose to bypass Salem and use the Mettur -Annur -Sathy - Mettupalayam road ?
Also, How cold is it in Ooty ?

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Old 28th November 2010, 09:06   #6
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^^ Ooty was freezing. I had to skip the Mettur part due to time constraints.

I normally take a week off during Christmas every year, but this year the bug bit earlier. I started itching from October and after looking at the calendar decide to give up my Christmas vacation for a few days in the last week of November. Getting the wife and son in was not a problem at all.

And then came choosing the location. As usual I wanted to restrict it to Club Mahindra and so the choices available were Munnar, Ooty, Poovar, Coorg, Ashtamudi, Kodaikanal, Yercaud and Thekkady. I opted for a non Kerala destination and was left with Kodai, Yercaud, Coorg and Ooty. Kodai was a definite no as the resort there was not that good when we went there last, and Yercaud was ruled out as we had been there in 2009. Now all that was left was for me to choose between Ooty and Coorg. Coorg was dumped for no apparent reason and all that was left was Ooty. OK, so who am I kidding! The truth is that I’ve had this love affair with Ooty for a long long time and invariably end up visiting the “Queen of the hills” often. This was my third trip to Ooty after my son was born and he’s just turned seven. So I’m averaging a trip there every 2.3 years. So I apply for leave and let people know of my plans and the common comment I get is – “Ooty, what are you going to do there for 4 days? You can see all of Ooty in a day.” Yeah, yeah, I know but I’m just a very slow sight see-er (if that is a word).

Destination – confirmed. Room reservation – confirmed. Leave – approved. Mode of travel – pending. Now this was going to be tricky. I never drive at night as a rule and my wife considers a day spent in the car as a lost day. My son too normally frowns on spending long hours in the car. So what do I do? A little white lie helped – the train tickets are sold out. And I brought in figures that showed that the cost of train + cabs will be more than double a trip by our car and the fact that I can get them there by afternoon and the deal was sealed. Surprisingly my son was all gung ho on a car trip if we were not going by plane and so that made the votes two to one. Mode of travel – confirmed.

And the waiting starts.

Last edited by n_aditya : 29th November 2010 at 12:07.
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Old 28th November 2010, 09:53   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshguy View Post
BTW how come a trip on a week day
The idea was to go during Thanksgiving but all the resorts were full during that time. By then the bug had bitten pretty hard and so settled for the first half of that week.
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Old 28th November 2010, 10:53   #8
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Default Day 1 – Chennai to Ooty:

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.

Finally D-day -1 arrived. I left work for home early – if you can call 05:00 p.m. early. The car had undergone a check up the previous day and we needed to fill in fuel. After all our chores were complete we hit the bed early, full of anticipation and excitement. 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. The camera had been charged earlier that day. In short we were ready to go.

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 just as I was pondering this, my wife woke up too. Fifteen minutes later and Calvin wakes up, surprising both of us. Guess the excitement got to him too. So now that all of us were up, we decided to do an earlier start. And so it was that 04:00 a.m. saw us in the car ready to leave – one hour earlier than planned.



4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0292.jpg

The dashboard display showing odometer reading at start.

We get out onto the Pallavaram – Thoraipakkam radial road. The pilot was just getting comfortable and onto auto pilot mode when comments on the beauty of the moon start from my wife. 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.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0293.jpg
The full moon.


Oh well – that’s how we travel, more breaks than actual travel.
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Old 28th November 2010, 13:07   #9
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Default Day 1 – Chennai to Ooty contd.(Chennai to Thoppur A2B):

We took the road to the end, joined up with GST and then got onto the Chennai bye pass road at Tambaram. And then the real journey started.

Most of the vehicles on the 4 lane road were lorries, some on the left lane, some on the right lane, some parked on the shoulder and some just about anywhere. Very soon I was able to identify a pattern. The TN registered lorries always rode on the right most lane and stayed there. If you want to pass, take the left lane. The KA registered lorries stuck to the left lane. You continue on the right lane to pass. The KL registered lorries rode on both lanes but would move to the other lane for you to pass. So if you want to pass a KL lorry just flash your lights and honk and they move to the other lane (be it left or right). The AP registered lorries might as well have been autorickshaws, they just entered into every little space they had. The zigged and they zagged all over the place and if you wanted to pass, you better say your prayers.

Now take a minute to reflect - it's a four lane road (2 lanes to either side), TN lorries on the right lane, KA on the left lane, KL on both lanes and AP on God knows where, add some late night cabs often driven by maniacs, some private cars and some buses, put them all together and you get a fairly good idea of life on Indian Highways at night. The saving grace was that we did not encounter stop and go traffic anywhere.

Once I’d identified the pattern, driving became easier (for the time being). We soon reached the toll plaza, paid the toll and then got onto the Bangalore highway. And then we hit upon another kind of transport carrier. The ones that carried cars – and we would encounter these all through our journey. These were huge and slow and always, always on the right side. Given the size and our roads/people/animals, I guess I would stick to the right side too if I were driving them.

Once we’d passed Sriperumbudur, the traffic became sparse and the roads really opened up. We were averaging around 60 km until then. The sun was still not out and so we continued between 60 and 70 for some more time. Once the sun started coming out, we increased our speed to between 100 and 110. Traffic was sparse, the roads were wide and straight and more importantly there were no people or animal on the road. We passed Vellore and soon reached Ambur. We encountered quite a bit of smog around Ambur and there was a definite stink too. My guess is that these were the results of the effluents of the industries around there (mainly leather). While some of them (the bigger ones) did seem to have effluent treatment plants, my guess is that the smaller ones did not. It’s really amazing how folks are able to live among this – the strength of human perseverance.

At around 07:20, we left the Bangalore highway and joined NH7 towards Salem at Krishnagiri. Once we reached Dharmapuri, all eyes were to the right side of the road looking out for A2B. It was well past our regular breakfast time and we were starved. Calvin was asleep at the back seat and it was time to wake him up. We found A2B at by around 08:00 and took a U-turn and pulled in. Breakfast was three plates of hot puris and bhaji followed by a hot cup of coffee – just lovely. After breakfast we hung around for some more time before we set off. I took out the camera and started clicking.


4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0294.jpg

The Black Beauty at A2B.

Right after I took this shot, I saw this.


4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0295.jpg
4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0296.jpg
4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0297.jpg

And then he just got up, ran and hugged his mother saying he’s cold. I have no idea what he was up to.

4 days in Ooty – drive from Chennai-dsc_0298.jpg

Ah, the joys of being a child.
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Old 28th November 2010, 14:40   #10
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First time I have read, some one with a family was able to start before time and that too one hour before! Wow !
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Old 28th November 2010, 18:39   #11
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^^ I was very surprised too. It was only possible because Calvin woke up early. If he had slept then we would probably have started around 05:30 or 06:00 I guess.
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Old 28th November 2010, 18:57   #12
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Amazing crisp writeup as always. Now whats your camera gear as the moonlight picture has come really well.

Also why go thru Dharmapuri and Not Bangalore / Mysore to Ooty. Is it shorter ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeDrive View Post

Right after I took this shot, I saw this.


Attachment 460240
Attachment 460237
Attachment 460238

And then he just got up, ran and hugged his mother saying he’s cold. I have no idea what he was up to.
ROTFLMAO
Showed it to wifey and she's also like
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Old 29th November 2010, 11:31   #13
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@ MileCruncher - I use a Nikon D90. The moonlight pic was a challange and it took some time.
I opted for the Salem route because I was more familiar with that route. I also had my misgivings about Banglore traffic. The last time I took that a few years back I got stuck at Bangalore as I did not know how to get to the Mysore road.
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Old 29th November 2010, 11:36   #14
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Lovely narration and pics, waiting to see and read more ! Ooty is one of my favorite destinations after Goa !
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Old 29th November 2010, 14:11   #15
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Angry Day 1 – Chennai to Ooty contd.(Thoppur A2B to Avanashi):

Well Calvin was right about one thing, it was cold there. He was wearing half pants and we had kept a pair of full pants in the car for him just in case it got really cold. While checking the weather forecast on Friday it showed rain and temperatures between 26 to 16C in Ooty.

“Appa give me the car keys, I want to change into my pants”
“Come on, it’s not that cold”
“But it’s 16 degrees”
“No, it’s not”
“Yes it is. I’m cold.”
“We’re not at Ooty yet Calvin. That’s still a good distance away. It’s going to get colder as we go.”
“Brrrr….”
“Alright come on – Appa will keep you warm

And so the three of us just sit there for some more time. I then top up on the fuel and we start our journey again. The roads have been really good and we’ve made good time. So we slow down a bit as we reach the “mountain” part of NH7 near Salem. It’s partly because of the bumps on the road and partly because we just want to enjoy it. We were expecting to see the monkeys there and were not disappointed.

We soon reach Salem and take the exit from NH7 to get into NH47. Having grown up in Trivandrum, NH47 was the very first highway that I drove on and hence it has a very special place in my heart. I was thrilled to get onto this road and was pleasantly surprised to see the fantastic condition of this road – a far cry from what it is in Kerala. Why oh why can’t we have it like this in Kerala too. No, don’t tell me – I already know.

So we’re jamming and cruising along on NH47 at around 100 kmph when we encounter our first issues with the road. We’ve covered around 100 km in NH47 so far and are around 16 km from Avanashi where we need to get onto another road for Mettupalayam. They’re constructing some bridge like structure and hence we’re made to get off the road, go around it and then back up on the road on the other side. The deviation off the road is really bad, it’s not paved tarmac but just a mud path (if you can call it that). It’s also narrower and a very uneven surface. Traffic from both sides have to use this and hence it’s also caused a slight build up in traffic – mainly caused by the heavier vehicles. There are quite a few of those lorries carrying cars who found this stretch difficult and add to this the “me first” mindset of most of our drivers on the road and you’ll get what I’m talking about.

My first thought was that once I pass this all would be well, but that was not to be. Right after this the road had become a two lane (one to each direction) and to make matters worse there were five more of these bridges under construction before Avanashi. I guess this was a good way to acclimatize folks to condition of the highway when they reach Kerala.

Avanashi town is an experience by itself. Words really can’t describe the mayhem there. You have a highway running through the town which has been encroached on both sides, add to that the traffic especially the lorries and the “car carriers”, multiply it by the confusion caused by these same people wanting to take a left or a right and thus blocking both sides of the road, square it to factor in the two wheelers nudging in from all sides and the people and animals and you probably come close to the actual scene. We’d spent a good 15 minutes trying to navigate out of this place. So the last 17 kilometers of NH47 had taken us around 40 minutes!!

As soon as we left Avanashi, we turned right to take the Annur-Mettupalayam road. Free at last! The road was a two lane with not much traffic. Peace again.
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