I thought it will be helpful to write a travelouge for my trip to some of those who wish to plan a trip to Ooty from Bangalore by a self driven car. Before planning my trip, I tried to search the net for some experiences but all those could not give me a confidence and some of them even discouraged me to go ahead with the trip. The fear was due to descriptions of a dense forest , wild animals and hill driving especially with hair-pin bends. Yet we started this trip along with my wife and kid.
I had already booked a company provided guest house in advance at Ootty for 2 days , so could not face problems in locating a decent accomodation . I had to reach the guest house at 25th Morning , so I started to Mysore on 24th and stayed in a Hotel at Mysore. The journey from Bangalore to Mysore was cool as the road was very good and it took me 2 and a half hours with a moderate speed of 80-90 kmph through the slow lane. It is possible to go at higher speeds in this road but I prefered to stick to safe and responsible driving.
Started from Mysore early morning after a cup of hot coffee towards Mysore -Ooty road which pass through Nanjangud. On the way we took breakfast on a highway dhaba and proceeded to Gundlupet. The road was good and is a one-way state highway . It is possible to go at high speeds in these roads , but special care needs to be taken while overtaking and reaching small towns (humps without warning can shake your vehicle!).
After Gundlupet town , the road straight goes to Ooty and the road right goes to Calicult. From this point till you reach Bandipura Forest range the road is very bad. Big pathholes at every inch of the road forced me to drive slowly ,otherwise could have damaged my car. After struggling for half an hour we reached the entry point of Bandipur Forest. After driving a small Ghat section with hair-pin bends the jungle started to appear. Seen some Warning sign boards of "Animals may cross , go slow at xx km etc".
Driving through the jungle was a pleasure , the road condition was good. We reached Mudumalai wild life Sanctury check post. Given Rs. 50 /- as entry fee and proceeded . The forest looked little dense from here and greeted with warning sign boards "Critical Elephant Zone , go slow" . We could locate some deer, monkeys and two tuskers gracing at a distance. After driving some distance we reached near a forest office and check post(forgot the placename at this point) . The sign board says there are two options to reach Ooty. A road left goes to Ooty via Masinagudy which is a short cut and the straight one goes via Gudalloor.
Before starting my trip I made up my mind that I will not select Masinagudy route , but I have seen many cars and mini buses and TT taking this route so decided to follow them. After passing a small bridge the road again entered into a jungle. We were slow and enjoying the ride again through elephant and Leopeard zones and reached a small check post where all non TN vechiles drivers has to write down the details of the vechile and driver in a register. We proceeded some distance through this one way road and greeted with a big mountain in front of us. The feeling was such that our road is going to end at the foot of that mountain. The sight of the valley at this point looked beautiful. Finally the road started climbing the hill as we too had to climb the hill.
Seen the haipin bend number 36/36 sign board , the count starts from the top to bottom. Though the road was narrow it was a good road. After first two three bends I got confidence . My WagonR could easily handle this in 2nd Gear, some places I need to change to 1st Gear as some vehicles in front of me are slowing down. And a few places my vehicle demanded 1st gear. But being slow and steady I could find the drive was not so bad and anybody with a good driving skill can handle this perfectly. Do not take the warning by some people "This road is only for expert drivers" as these seemed baseless.
After driving through this hill finally we reached the way to kalhatty waterfalls, but since we had to reach Ooty early we started climbing again and finally reached the top. Ooty town is just 2-3 KM from this point and we reached the Guest House without much delay.
The climate was very chilling , we took a hot bath and had our lunch and started towards Govt. Botanical Garden. The Botanical garden is very near to Ooty town. The Garden is very beatiful and is a must see place . We spent the whole afternoon walking every nook and corner of this beautiful place. By evening we came back to Guest House , had our dinner. The climate was very chilling we had to turn on the heater throughout the night. Luckly we took some good woolen bed sheets with us , this extra things kept us warm , we could get up late next day due to the cold climate.
26th May 2008 (Monday)
After having breakfast we decided to visit Sims Park at Coonoor. Coonoor is about 20 km from Ooty town. The drive to Coonor was exciting , the roads are good but with lot of bends and curves. Coonoor drive looked like a small downhil drive from Ooty. We reached Sims park , the park cannot be compared to Botanical Garden but still some trees and a small pond where you can enjoy a leg-operated boat ride. Good for Children to enjoy. At noon 1 PM we have finished with Sims Park and start searching for some good hotel . This place we could not find any good hotels but by chance located a North Indian Style Kashmiri Hotel. But to our surprise we found the food very tasty. The hotel has counters with name boards like "Gujarati Thally", "Maharashtra Thally" etc. Being a south Indian this is the first time I tasted a real north Indian style . The dish was spicy and yummy!!
After lunch we started to see Dolphin's nose which is a near by attraction from Coonoor. The road was very narrow and someone needs to be very careful on these roads. The roads to Dolphin's nose is a treat to eyes as this passes through tea plantations and hill views . After visiting this spot we started back to Ooty and a heavy rain poured on the way. Way back to Ooty from Coonnor we visited Valley view , Wax world and Rose Garden. Wax World is near to Ooty town on Ooty -Coonoor road. From Wax world take a right this road goes to Rose Garden. We spent some time in this beatiful garden ,but rains ruined our plans to visit Doddapeta Peak on the same day. We came back to Guest house by evening and the day ends.
27th May 2008 ( Tuesday)
Our trip plan ends on this day so we have to be in Bangalore by end of this day. As usual finished breakfast and checkout from Guest house and planned to drive from Ooty to Bangalore through Gudalloor route instead of Masinagudi route. Way back from Ooty visited St. Stephen's Church , which is one of the oldest building . The Church's interior was very beatiful especially the wood works and glass paintings.
The Gudallor route , the road was extremely good except a few km with very bad roads. (The road work here is in progress ). But for the scenic experiance one must take this route , better on way back. The shooting point, Pykara falls , frog rock view are enroute. We reached Gudalloor which is a town and stopped for lunch. Though this place is TN which is bordering with Kerala the place shows a mixed culture between TN and Kerala. We stopped at a hotel and had a Malabari style of lunch. The taste of the food was very good.
From Gudaloor a 3 km drive lands us again into Mudumalai forest. The strech between Gudaloor and forest station where Masinagudi route junction starts is said to be a critical elephant zone , we could see a herd of elephants on the way. We drove through the forest again on way back home. This is an unforgetful expereince in life. I suggest one should drive though the forest in day time . Night driving through this jungle is dangerous and may not be scenic as in day time. Once I had to pass through Bandipura forest towards calicut during night time where I encounterd with a herd of elephants blocking the road. But it was not a problem as it was in groups. But I decided on that day I will not use jungle roads at night anymore.
We reached Gundlupet by evening , had some coffee and started to Mysore. On the way heavy rain started, it was a difficult drive as I could hardly see the road. Due to rain we reached Mysore late by 9 pm . Took our dinner at Mysore and drove non stop to Bangalore . Again due to heavy rains I have to be slow and took me 3 hours to reach Bangalore. Around Midnight we reached Yeshwanthpur. The Total trip clocked at 650 KMs.
We had nice weekend holiday at Oooty even though we missed some attractions. Attached are some of the photos for which I took more care not to personalize.