Lush green forests, rugged mud roads, old British buildings, churches in almost every direction and of course. CHOCOLATE! Homemade chocolate stores in every part of the town you go to. These are probably the most common things witnessed by anyone visiting Ooty for the first time or the millionth time!
Ooty or Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam, also known as “The Queen of Hills” is a small yet beautiful town in South India. It is located along the Western Ghats in the state of Tamil Nadu. The town is one of the oldest tourist spots in southern India even when the British ruled. It is a pleasant little town with cordial people and amazing climate that will give you fond memories to take home. Ooty is a getaway for most people living around the mountain range. Honestly, Ooty or Ootacamund is a very special hill-station for bikers; seasons go by with roaring Harleys and Enfields filling the roads!
So what is so different about this place from every other hill-station? Why does anyone have to pick Ooty when there are so many other hill-stations that may have the same climate as Ooty or may be said to be better than Ooty?
If this is your first time to Ooty, I suggest you read on to fall in love with the place even before you visit it and those who have been there already… Just relive those moments!
Queen of Hills for a Reason!
Ooty gained most of its popularity during the British rule and ever since it has been the summer destination for people in India and abroad. Ooty is situated in the western ghats midst the three states- Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. This gives Ooty the advantage of being accessible by road to people in all the three states. Once considered only as a summer destination, Ooty now has tourists coming in throughout the year for its amazing climate and more importantly the kind of experience this little town has to give away!
The Highway to Paradise
Until you have a helicopter of your own or hire one, it is impossible to reach Ooty directly by any means other than road. Ooty is well connected to all major cities by road. And finding the perfect route is not very difficult. There are very frequent bus services to Ooty from all major cities. For the places without direct bus services you can always find cut-buses that take a bit longer than the single route buses. If you wish to hire a cab, you can find very comfortable ones in the bus stands of the city you travel from, that take you on a decent fare and drop you at Ooty.
Not to forget the heritage Ooty train, also known as the “Toy Train” that might take longer than a road trip to Ooty; but is one of the best experiences for any person visiting Ooty. It takes you through the hills into the forests, starting from Mettupalayam and a pit stop at Coonoor and again all the way to Ooty.
The Beautiful Mornings
Ooty is a hill-station that stays cool for most of the year. Except for unusual circumstances, the average temperature in Ooty during summer does not cross 30°C in April-May. Summers are usually accompanied by light drizzles to heavy rains in the month of May. This could be followed by the Kerala Monsoons and other monsoons that come its way. Winters can be quite freezing with temperatures going down up to -4°C in December- January. Winter in Ooty is the best season for tourists though the tourist season is said to be April – May. In the months of October and November you can find the the slow change in climate from cold to freezing and eventually wake up to thick sheets of frost on lawns, roofs and vehicles in the month of December. What could give you more joy than waking up to a misty, cold morning and enjoying a hot cup of tea?
Cottages are Better than Hotels! Any day!
Like every other tourist destination, Ooty is filled with Hotels. You can find them everywhere. But the concept of cottages has been growing in the recent past and here’s why we recommend you stay in a cottage rather than a hotel. Hotels are usually located in the heart of the town or somewhere around the town. Though summer is the tourist season of Ooty, it is still crowded for most of the year. Staying at a hotel in Ooty literally means you are paying a big price and not experiencing even a teeny bit of the beautiful town.
However, if you consider cottages, you can find them all over the town, around the town and many outside the town. There are plenty of cottages in remote places that are usually serene and beautiful, untouched by the tourist groups. If you catch hold of the right contact, you can find a pleasant stay and enjoy the tranquility! And most of these places provide good food and they all might be in your budget… But remember, you need to find the right place.
What to see? Where to go
Ooty to any normal visitor has many places to visit that are mentioned on Google or that a local guide takes them to. They include a whole lot of usual spots that are filled with tourist:
Botanical Garden and Rose Garden
Both these gardens maintained by the Government of India are the first places that come to anyone’s mind when they think about a trip to Ooty. However, the best time to visit these places is in the Summer, during the flower show when the flowers bloom.
Dodabetta and the Tea Factory
On the way to Kotagiri, no one can ever miss the sight of these two places. A little above the town on the side of the road, you can see the Tea Factory, that has become a major attraction in recent times. Enjoying a fresh cup of tea of your desired flavor is the specialty here. And of course going further, you can visit Dodabetta, the highest peak in South India.
Boating in the Ooty Lake
Pykara and Avalanche
These are the two of the most beautiful water bodies in Ooty that are open to tourists in Ooty. Situated a few kms away from the town, both these places offer a different kind of experience and fun activities. The Avalanche lake is best known for its trekking and camping facilities, where one can engage themselves for an entire day to a couple of days. Pykara falls run through a series of rocks through a beautiful forest. Boating and fishing are common activities to do here.
Apart from the usual places to visit above, one can always use the help of a local friend or guide who can guide them to places that have less crowd and has its beauty intact. Coonoor, Masinagudi, Kotagiri are other small towns around Ooty that you can visit within a 2-hour drive.
Shopping and Souvenirs
Ooty is best known for tea, homemade chocolates, spices, and hand-looms. Charring Cross is the main point at Ooty you can shop from. You have plenty of shops but the secret to success here is BARGAIN! You can find the Tibetian market right outside the Botanical garden if you are keen on buying woolen clothing, but they are also famous for other clothing. Tea and homemade chocolates are the best return gifts you can take along from here.
Apart from this, if you get a chance to visit the Ooty local market, DO NOT MISS IT! Maybe it is for the locals, but you definitely will be surprised at what you find there! It is once in a lifetime experience.
Ooty is by far the only hill station that has an increasing tourist count every year. If you need a good vacation with family or friends or even just by yourself in a very quiet and beautiful destination, Ooty is where we suggest you go!
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Happy Traveling! 🙂