Sightseeing on the way from Bangalore to Ooty

There are times when all of us need the refreshing and rejuvenating trip away from the suffocating chaos of the crowded cities that we live in. A road trip is just the solution to this dilemma. Be it a solo trip with just you and your thoughts on a wild yet peaceful ride on a bike or a wonderful trip with family and friends all bundled into a car with all of you creating joyous new memories, it’s refreshes and cleanses you. Being in Bangalore has quite a few perks if you overlook the hectic pace of life, the never ending traffic jams and other woes that assail you. The perks are that we are within short riding or driving distance of some of the best hill stations in the country. You have Coonoor, Munnar, Coorg and Ooty just a stone’s throw away from the big, bustling city of Bengaluru! With a long weekend approaching next week, let’s put all those idle brain cells to work and plan a road trip away from here. And what better place to ride or drive to than Ooty? The cold, crisp air, the fresh, crunchy carrots and the hair-raising drive through the hairpin bends will put all those city worries out of your head.

Whether you drive to Ooty in your car or ride on your bike, there are two routes that will get you to Ooty from Bangalore. The first one will take you via Mysore (Route A / SH17), and the other route through Kanakapura and Chamarajanagar (Route B). Both these routes finally join at a border town in Karnataka called Gundlupet, before you enter Tamilnadu and continue on to Ooty. Now you’ll be covering a distance that is roughly about 300 kilometres. So it is better to arm yourselves with enough food and water for the journey as you might not encounter a lot of restaurants offering either considering you’ll be travelling through a forested area.

Next we go on to tell you all about the sights that you can see on the way to Ooty, because what’s a road trip worth without a few of those in your kitty.

Route A: via Mysore:

If you’re taking the route which goes through Mysore and you’re planning on sightseeing in Mysore then you can stop to see the world famous Mysore palace. Another thing of interest is the magnificent Philomena’s Church built in the Gothic style of architecture. If you’re into temples then there’s Chamundi Temple sitting majestically on top of the hill. The trip up that winding hill offers you a beautiful view of the city and you can also see a colossal statue of the bull called the Nandi of Mysore and at 350 years of age it’s one of the oldest monuments in India not to mention the third largest in size at about 16 feet in height and 24 feet length. Originally a boulder, the image of Nandi was carved in situ and right behind it is a small cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Once finished touring Mysore, you leave to Ooty via Nanjangud on the NH212.

Nanjangud is a historical, pilgrimage town that is about 25 kilometres from Mysore city. The Nanjundeshwara Temple, known as ‘Dakshina Kashi’ or ‘Varanasi of the South’ is definitely worth a visit as the temple is known for its Dravidian architectural style. Spend a while on the banks of the river and revel in the serenity of your surroundings. Then continue on NH212 for a further 38kilometres till you reach the border town of Gundlupet. The road on either side is dotted with sunflower and marigold fields and offers a veritable feast to your eye-sight! There’s a Vijaynagara temple in Gundlupet that is very well known and other attractions for you to check out are Himavad Gopalaswamy betta and Parvathy betta. Betta means hill, by the way. And the view from Himavad Gopalaswamy betta is to die for, you feel as if you’re floating amid the clouds because of the dense fog. There’s a temple you could check out too. It’s totally a trekker’s dream come true and the closest you can be to the clouds.

Now we’re officially leaving Karnataka and after about 20 kilometres you enter into the Bandipur Forest area. Fringed by Kabini and Moyar rivers; and Nugu River passing through, several endangered species of flora and fauna are live in the protected environment here. Word of advice here, please do not honk if you see a herd of wild elephants! They will not take it as kindly as your city commuters. Make way for wildlife traffic as you’re in their home turf now. Lastly whatever happens, DO NOT STOP TO TAKE PICTURES! Bandipur is a tiger reserve and they have daily jungle safaris at 6.30am and 4.30pm. And if you want to experience staying in the wilderness, they have jungle lodges and other stay options. Do stop for a bite to eat at Pugmark in Bandipur. You’ll reach a check post after which you’re officially no longer in Karnataka and have entered Tamil Nadu. Then you continue on the highway for about 25 kilometres onto Mudumalai Tiger reserve. This is the same forest range as Bandipur, but just on the Tamil Nadu side is all. Their jungle safari closes at 9a.m. And if you’re really lucky you might just spot a Leopard or a Bengal Tiger in either of these places. Vehicular movement is restricted in the forest stretch between 21:00 and 06:00 hrs, so plan your trip accordingly.

At both side of the border are check posts. They stop the vehicle and check for collecting details (like travel itinerary, vehicle credentials etc). It is more likely the guards on the Tamilnadu side of the border will check your baggage as you enter the state. You are not supposed to carry any banned objects (a gun! Why would you carry one on a holiday in the first place?) into the forest; more importantly they are concerned about tourists carrying liquor. So beware! After crossing into Tamilnadu you reach a place called Theppakadu which is a junction. Theppakadu has an elephant camp for research and training of pachyderms that were captured. About twenty-five elephants are part of the camp and these gentle giants are trained for joy rides and timber logging. Saturday and Sunday evenings are entertaining with elephants involving in races, soccer and dancing. Devala, a picturesque valley that is about 20 kilometres from here receives the third highest rainfall in India. A foggy stretch of Pine Forest greets you on the way and is a treat to your eyes that are used to seeing smoke and smog. One should venture inside a little for some quiet time and photographs and fill your lungs with the sharp, clean air of the mountains. There are a couple of view points off the highway ahead, Needle Rock and Frog Hill offer amazing views of the forest cover and are perfect for some more pictures for the naturalist in you. From this point there are two routes to Ooty. One route which takes you via Masinagudi, this is shorter but riddled with steep climbs and the thrilling ride through hairpin bends (36 of them!). The other is via Gudalur, which is the regular bus route to Ooty. If you’re an inexperienced driver and not used to narrow ghat roads, do avoid the Masinagudi road. It is not for the faint hearted! But this is a trekker’s paradise and riddled with resorts and home stays if you’re game for some exploring.  Both the routes converge at about 6 kilometres before you enter the town of Ooty.

Other sights that you cannot miss on the way:

Pykara Lake and waterfalls have a protected shola forest cover and the Toda tribal settlement in the periphery that constitutes Mukurthi National Park. The park was mainly created for protection of the Nilgiri Tahr, casual tourism is not permitted and specialized groups are by case allowed to trek and camp on peaks here.

The Upper Bhavani Lake and dam are mostly untouched habitats which are surrounded by thick foliage of shola forests. Then there’s Avalanche Lake, a preferred spot for camping in its circumference and as a base for treks on hills nearby. One could also engage in trout fishing here, with supplies from the trout hatchery.

Route B: via Kanakapura:

From Bangalore you take the Kanakapura road and exit on the NICE Road. Follow the road to Chamarajanagar which is essentially the NH209. You’ll be passing through tiny towns called Malavalli and Kollegal to reach Chamarajanagar. From there you’ll take the diversion to Gundlupet. From Gundlupet you follow the same route as mentioned above to reach Ooty. This route is usually free of traffic but unlike Route A, the roads aren’t as good or wide on this route. And it’s a lonely stretch too with not much to see, eat or drink. But it’s a reasonably good drive and bikers can choose this option if Ooty is the only thing you’re interested in.

But all said and done, it’s always about the journey and not the destination. So take a pause from your life and stop hurrying to the end goal. You’ll arrive sooner or later at our destination. Stop to smell the flowers and the clean fresh air on the way. Live life a little at a time! Throw those pesky cares to the wind and have a little fun. Having said that, we at Ooty cottages have some exciting offers for that weekend trip to Ooty.

So what are you waiting for, pack your clothes, fill up the fuel tank, pick up the phone and call 8880924391 for customized packages to Ooty.