Ooty and Coonoor are the most popular hill stations of South. Another equally charming, yet an off-beat travel destination is Kotagiri. The place has not been explored much by travellers unlike the former two. Let us brief you a little on how to get there, where to stay and what to do while you are at this charming hill station.
Kotagiri is a small hill station in Nilgiris, very much similar to Ooty and Coonoor in landscape, but less crowded. It is located about 29 kms east of Ooty and 19 kms northeast of Coonoor. This little village is tucked inside the blue mountains covered with lush green shola forests. The place gets its name from the native Kota tribes. “Kota-giri” means “Mountain of Kotas”. Once a British settlement, the place still reminds of its British influence through its churches and schools. The pleasant weather makes it an attractive retreat all round the year. With surplus tea plantations around, you get a chance to feel the freshness of the tea leaves as you take a stroll by one of those tea plantations.
How to get there
You can reach the place by road, rail or air
By air: The nearest airport is the Coimbatore airport. You can hire a cab to reach your stay from airport
By rail: You can either choose to get down at the Coimbatore station or Mettupalayam, the former preferred due to better connectivity.
By road: If driving from Bangalore there are three routes you can follow.
- from Bangalore via Kanakpura, Chamarajnagar, Bannari, Mettupalayam to Kotagiri
- From Bangalore via Mysore , Ooty, to kotagiri
- From Bangalore via Salem, avinashi, Mettupalayam to Kotagiri
If you have an extended vacation plan, you can stay at Coimbatore, explore its evening bazaars and restaurants and then head to Kotagiri the next day. Staying for a day at Mettupalayam is also a good idea.
Where to stay
Choosing to stay at one of those guest houses nestled inside a tea estate adds some extra aroma to your vacation. Hotel Prince offers accommodations at reasonable price in Kotagiri. Windy gap cottage, Sunshine bungalow are few other recommendations. You can find more at TripAdvisor.
Places to visit in Kotagiri
Feel close to nature at Longwoods, evergreen shola forest in the middle of tea country. It is not difficult to spot “Indian bison” during your morning walk as they frequently visit the nearby tea plantations. Carry a camera if you want to click yourself amidst the greenery of tea plantations on the way.
About 10 kms from Kotagiri is the Bikkapathi reserve, ideal for trekking. This reserve is under the jurisdiction of the Forest range officer of Kattabettu. Prior permission is required for trekking.
Kodanad view point
Kodanad view point is located almost 19 kms from Kotagiri. It gives visitors breathtaking views of the blue mountains and the valley below. The panoramic view of the place covering nearby tea estates and Moyar river is beyond words. From atop the watchtower you can catch a bird’s eye view of Rangaswamy peak and Rangaswamy pillar. The view can be obscured during monsoons, but in all other seasons, the view, especially the sunset is worth the hike uphill.
Catherine falls is located about 21 kms from Coonoor and 7 kms from Kotagiri. The fall is located near Aravenu on the Kotagiri/ Mettupalayam road. This double cascaded waterfalls is named after the wife of M. D. Cocburn, who introduced coffee plantations in Kotagiri. Trek for 2-3 kms from the main road and you reach the falls. If you intend to trek across the forest, you need to take prior permission from the forest department. Like any other falls, the best time to visit the waterfalls is during the months of October to May soon after the monsoons when the water cascades down in full flow.
The Elk falls or the Uyilathi falls is placed below the Uyilathi village. The falls is located almost 7 kms from Kotagiri which might take a 15 minutes road drive. A British-styled vintage house located adjacent to the falls adds beauty to the composition of this picturesque landscape. From here, one can watch the Kookal valley below famous for its oranges.
The name Doddabetta translates to “big hill”. It hill range lies 2636 meters above sea level. Reputed as the second biggest peak of Nilgiris, Doddabetta peak has a unique placement between the Eastern ghats and Western Ghats that adds to its beauty. Ooty valley comprises of the gigantic Doddabetta range along with Elk hill, Club hill and Snow Down hill. Trekking up the hill isn’t very difficult. There is vehicle access to the summit. So in case you have difficulty trekking up the mountain range, you can drive your vehicle uphill. Talking of the view from the top of Doddabetta range, the panoramic 360 degree view extends as far as Chamundi hills. One can even see spot Coimbatore and Mysore from atop the range. On your way up, you come across varied flora that includes Shola grasslands as well as coarse grass and shrubs.
Rangaswamy peak and pillar
This peak is located at a height of 1788 meters above sea level. This peak is not just famous for its beautiful view but also for its religious importance. There are 2 temples on this peak- one of Lord Rangaswamy and other of his consort. It is believed that the lord quarrelled with his wife and came to stay at this hill. The locals might even show you two footprints below the hill as an evidence to this story. To reach the base of the hill, you have to travel across Devashola estates. The trek to the peak might not be easy. But the beautiful sceneries along the way keep inspiring you at every step. Be cautious if you are trekking during monsoons as the stone path uphill might be slippery. Carry refreshments along with you as there are no stalls or kiosks on the way, rarely you might find a chaiwala on the road. For camping, you need to take prior permission from the forest department.
Kotagiri is a laid back village. The place let’s you relax, unwind and feel close to nature amidst its blues and greens. Your vacation at Kotagiri might not be as lively as an Ooty vacation or a Coonoor holiday. But you sure can trek up the mountains and take leisurely drive through the winding roads while enjoying your sip of hot chai from one of those street vendors and feel the cool mountain breeze on your face – an experience you might not have had before!