Let me be honest, I would proudly call myself a Kodai-girl. From my early childhood to my college years, we visited Kodaikanal almost every summer. The memories I have of Kodaikanal are numerous over time and hence it holds a very special place in my heart. However, when it comes to Ooty, I have always been quite opinionated. Having visited it once as a 7 year old for my uncle’s wedding and once as a college student for a performance, I never really got to go around Ooty, as both trips were very brief.
Over the years, I have only heard Ooty to be extremely crowded and polluted in summer. While we were being roasted and toasted in the scorching Hyderabad’s heat and contemplating a small vacation, all we wanted to do was escape to some place cool. As we also had a Family wedding to attend at Erode, in order to save on time and travel, after much hesitant deliberation, we decided on OOTY! Frankly, I had little to no excitement about our trip.
Like every trip I plan, I asked around and googled recommendations. Thanks to good friends for their tips, I WAS COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY BY THE SPELLBINDING BEAUTY OF OOTY!
The drive from Coimbatore to Ooty was so much fun. I have always been a fond lover of car rides through the hills. Good music plus the scenery instantly transports me to a different world altogether. When we arrived in Coonoor, Vijay randomly stopped at a roadside Tea Stall, not knowing how quaint and cute it was going to be!
The Coonoor TANTEA Stall
On the first look this tea stall is like any other tea stall you will find in Tamil Nadu.
The variety of teas they offered came as a surprise! I had the Chamomile tea!
This tea stall had the cutest seating. There were a few chairs placed under a tree. The tea-master, who happens to be a bird-lover, had fitted the tree with several bird feeders.
What we thought would be a quick tea pitstop, turned into almost an hour of bird watching.
With steaming hot tea in one hand, Vijay, me and the girls sat there enjoying the sight and chirping of numerous little sparrows and other little birds.
Just past the little birds and the tiny white fence was this view of Coonoor!!!! Right then and there, I kept aside every misconception I had had about Ooty and I got enthusiastic about our next couple of days in this paradise!
Note: We came across several TANTEA stalls in Ooty during the course of our stay. They all were just like the regular ones. They did not offer the additional variety of tea nor a cute seating!
Day 1: Avalanche Pine Forest
This year, Ooty registered a footfall of 10.5 lakh visitors in April and May, at least 53,000 more than last year (Source: Times of India). Fearing the crowds and the traffic, we planned all our sightseeing outside of the city!
On the morning of our first day, we drove for an hour through the winding roads of the hills, 26 Kms away from Ooty to the Avalanche Lake. Interestingly, the Avalanche lake was not formed by an avalanche but a landslide. The Avalanche is said to be surrounded by lush woods and a tranquil lake.
Due to the threat of rampant deforestation, poaching and industrialisation, private vehicles are allowed only upto the forest guest house. The Tamil Nadu Forest Department Safari buses ply from there to the Avalanche. The ride is said to be very adventurous and an absolute treat for nature lovers.
Unfortunately, due to unexpected volume of tourists, all the safari buses got booked for the day. However, we did not regret for long. The Pine Forest right opposite to the forest office beconked us!
How we and the girls enjoyed our time in the woods! Watching them climb trees, pick up pine cones and play with the pointy pine leaves, brought back so many childhood memories of me and my brother playing in the Pine Forest of Kodai.
On our drive back, we were treated with an epic view of the Avalanche Lake.
The Emerald Lake is a slice of serenity away from the maddening crowd of Ooty. It is a part of the Silent Valley National Park in the Nilgiris District located near Emerald village not too far from the Avalanche.
It is a lovely little picnic spot – clean, quiet.. perfect to spend some quiet time soaking in the charm of the majestic mountains and the greenery.
Although, one can visit the dam, the minute we saw tourists (not too many though!) entering it, we decided to take a tiny road that was on the left of the Dam entrance. It lead us to this lonely vantage point from where we could see the entire dam,
While the kids sat there scribbling in the mud with sticks…
We stood there in complete awe of the emerald blue waters…
And the mesmerising hills!
After an enchanting morning visiting the Avalanche and the Emerald lake, we were on our way back to the Ooty city. We still had a couple of hours on hand. When I Googled for places nearby, I read about the Arboretum!
An Arboretum is a botanical garden. This Arboretum was started in the year 1992 by the Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department. It different from the Government Botanical Gardens of Ooty. It is located very close to the Ooty bus stand.
It was more like a small, well maintained park.
It has numerous varieties of exotic tree species.
We enjoyed a relaxed walk in it!
Horse Riding by the Ooty Lake
While the girls did enjoy their day with nature with absolutely no complaints, we wanted to do something exciting for them. Both Kaity and Krissy being ardent horse lovers, we decided the best thing would be to take them horse riding.
Right outside the Ooty Lake entrance, was horse riding. The girls went on multiple rides and were ECSTATIC!
We left the horse-stand (Is that the term for the place where horses are kept?!!) only when it began to get dark and rides were finished for the day!
We headed straight to the Thalassery Restaurant!!!! After checking out some restaurants that were recommended and being completely disappointed either by the food or by the service, we landed at this Kerala Restaurant! It is a very simple & clean restaurant with very tasty food and courteous staff. Their flaky malabar parotta was all it took to impress me! We became regulars for the rest of our stay at Ooty!!!
By the way, we stayed at the Khems Wood Cottage Finger Post Airbnb Accommodation. It fit our budget and had a great view. However, the experience was not so pleasant, unlike my previous Airbnb stays. You can read about it in the review I shared on their Airbnb page.
However, if you are planning your vacation to any part of the world and would like to enjoy an Airbnb stay with a discount of Rs. 3000, CLICK HERE AND USE MY CODE – https://www.airbnb.co.in/c/michelles38062?currency=INR
More about all the beautiful places we saw on Day 2 in my next post!!! STAY TUNED!!! It’s going to be loaded with horses!!!!