Exploring Western Ghats : Part 11 : Ooty

Exploring Western Ghats : Part 11 : Ooty

Ooty / May 23 – May 27
Despite knowing the fact that Ooty is probably the most crowded hill station in this region, we decided to stay there for a week.

Route Recap
Hyderabad – Chennai – Kodaikanal Marayoor Munnar – Kochi – Vagamon – Thekkady – Munnar – Palakkad – Kalpetta (Wayanad) – Masinagudi – Ooty – Ananthpur (AP) – Hyderabad.

For previous part, click here


May 23, 2016
We checked out around 10:00 AM and started for Ooty. We had been warned several times about the hairpin bends and steep inclines on Ooty road. I didn’t ignore them completely but didn’t take them too religiously either. The warning/advice was something we needed. This stretch is not to be taken lightly. We encountered two totaled vehicles on the way. There are a total of 36 hairpin bends between Masinagudi and Ooty. The steep inclines at the hairpin bends add to the difficulty level. We were in first gear on most of these. The car was not feeling all that good even in second gear on some of them and I didn’t want to take any chances.

Hairpin Bends on Masinagudi-Ooty Route

All hairpin bends are equipped with convex mirrors for enhanced visibility. Also, the bends are numbered so that you can monitor your progress.

A section of the same route.

It took us around 1.5 hours to reach Ooty. Then started the real trouble. It felt like high altitude version of Bangalore without potholes. Too many people, too many cars and super confusing roads. To add to the trouble, Google maps trolled us like a boss. It took us into some real narrow lanes. We had to finally call the home-stay owner to guide us on phone. Another interesting thing that came out of all this experiment was how your perspective makes you its slave. The narrow lanes where I was having a tough time reversing my Honda City with all the reversing aid, a Tata LPT 1612 full size truck was unloading cement. How did he even get there! How is he ever going to take a U turn to go back. Anyways, philosophy aside, it took us close to 1 hour to locate the home-stay.

Since we were ultra frustrated after the navigational mess, we opted for pizza home delivery. Ate and slept. Not much to talk.

May 24, 2016

While searching for places to visit, all popular places within Ooty were immediately crossed because we didn’t want no more trolling. I came across this place marked as 43 Hairpin Bends on Google maps. I felt like that road was calling me We had to go there.

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43 Hairpin Bends Road

I always wanted to drive on a road with lots of hairpin bends but I never had the time or car to take up the trip to Gata Loops. Yeah, sad story Anyway, the deal was done and we were going.

On the way we crossed Lovedale. A few kilometers after Lovedale, we were greeted with mind blowing valley views. The best we have seen so far.

Speechless

When you are in any other part of the country and you read Major District Road on Google maps, you imagine a 1.25-1.5 lane wide road with potholes and sky high speed breakers and other death traps. That’s not the case in TN. MDRs are better than some state highways in other states.

A section of TN-MDR-1077

And finally the 43 Hairpin Bends road. I am personally calling it poor man’s Gata Loops.

Welcome aboard! No convex mirrors here.

We went all the way down till Geddai and covered 38 of the 43 bends. Now that we didn’t have no business in Geddai, we turned around to drive back to Ooty. We traveled through ~110 hairpin bends in total. There was another set of 7 bends and a set of 34 of which we only covered 10 I guess. I was all smiling. We almost never had motion sickness but wife was feeling a little dizzy and she didn’t speak at all on the return journey.

Word of caution: If you are in Ooty for a short stay and you don’t like to kill time, avoid this. It’s just a drive at the end of the day. Definitely not recommended if you passengers prone to motion sickness.

Beautiful temple on the way
Chamraj Tea Centre

We stopped at Chamaraj Team Center while returning. Nice little place. They offer Ice Tea and Black Tea. No milk tea available though.

Our company for tea. One of them didn’t really like it.

May 25, 2016

It was a little tricky to come up with places to visit when you are not going to visit what everyone else is visiting. So, we had lunch, road around a little. A super intelligent cop advised us to not go to Botanical gardens. May god bless him and all his forthcoming generations.

We tried The Sidewalk Cafe (inside Hotel Nahar) for lunch. Horrible place. Waiter looked like totally high. Slow service & bad food. BTW other two restaurants within Hotel Nahar has really good food but they get very crowded.

After the messed up lunch, we decided to drive down to Chamraj Tea Center again. I really loved that road but it’s a super 21 KMs away from Ooty. Few pics from the day.

View of Ooty City

A school compound in Ooty. Zoom in and notice the number of buses parked there. Now imagine all those buses on Ooty roads twice a day. Now imagine that this is just one of the schools in Ooty. Feel better.

Clouds were totally trying to own the valleys
Sun

May 26, 2016

We decided to drive down to Ketti Valley as we read that it has amazing valley views right off the Coonoor road. That wasn’t the case really. We had better views from the Chamraj factory road. While returning we stopped to checkout this place called The Culinarium. It’s run the company that manufactures needles. They have a continental cafe and a shop where they sell DIY kits for embroidery, knitting and stuff like that. Wife immediately liked it and purchased some stuff to make some other stuff as well.

The cafe gets really crowded though. Nothing much other than that. We took a few pictures on our way back to Ooty.

Beautiful farms
Nice way to create visual confusion
Who advertises like that!

May 27, 2016

Since we liked the culinarium much and didn’t get to spend much time there earlier, we decided to have lunch there. BAD IDEA SAAR! Pathetically slow service. All that glitters is not gold. They have like 15+ staff to wait 4+3 tables and over the counter sales. All of them are running around constantly and nobody is getting what they ordered. Not sure what they are running for. It took us 1.5 hours for us to actually have the lunch. As soon as we finished the lunch, wife hit the DIY craft store again where she purchased some more stuff to make some more other stuff. I have no idea what she purchased. While she shopped, I killed time teasing other shoppers’ kids.

After finishing the shopping business, we drove down to Coonoor and take a round of the city. It felt like we were inspecting the roads. Nice roads BTW. Oh and we accidentally came across the Kapoor’s house they showed in the movie Kapoor and Sons.

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Kapoor’s House

Stuff bought from Craft Store
Other stuff in progress
Other stuff

After getting home, we both got real upset stomachs. Bad food at the Culinarium I guess. And perfect timing too. I need to drive like only 850 KMs over the weekend to get back home. We had light dinner. I even had to take half day off from office as I was coming down with fever as well. The first aid kid that we always carry saved the day (or night). I was all sound when I woke up next morning. And that’s all for Ooty.

To be Continued…..

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