Ooty is a city tucked in the Blue Mountains of the Indian state, Tamil Nadu. This hill station is crowned as the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’, is a great choice for an ideal southern getaway. What makes this place more attractive is its pleasant weather and the scenic beauty. Amidst the eucalyptus and pine forest, resides a city that gives that awaits exploration. From highest peak to the prettiest lakes, let us dig into the city’s core to experience Ooty to the fullest.
Coimbatore is the nearest airport to the city; from there you can hire a cab to reach Ooty, which is approximately 86 km away. You can also take a flight until Bengaluru and hire a cab to reach Ooty (278 km), the route is longer but the journey through the national parks is great.
We were 18 people on a road trip from Bengaluru to Ooty. We had hired a private bus that took 12 hours to reach (many stops in between). It is advisable to book a cab instead, as the bus is not allowed in many places within the city and you will have to walk a reasonable distance to reach the spots.
Things to see in Ooty
Start the day soaking the morning sun at the Dodabetta Peak, which is the highest peak of the Nilgiri Range (Blue Mountains). Take a 360-degree tour of the mountains from the telescope tower. Then walk around the market and indulge yourself into binge eating. Do try the spiral potatoes, sweet corn and chickpea salad. They are worth a try!
Spend the afternoon in the tea gardens and tea factory. Located on the lower hills of Dodabetta Peak, the Tea Factory and Museum is a tea lovers’ haven. The whole process of tea extraction is so satisfying to the eye. What you’ll love the most is the tea tasting session that happens at the exit counter of the factory. You can also visit the chocolate factory, which is right above the tea factory for a wholesome chocolate tasting experience.
Relax and rejuvenate your minds in the lap of Mother Nature at Ooty’s Botanical Garden. Walk around the pathways surrounded by an abundance of flora, beautiful swamps and fill your lungs with the sweet smell of eucalyptus. After all that walk, it’s time to charge up with freshly brewed filter coffee along with Varkey.
Ooty Lake is one of the major attraction in the city. This man-made wonder is a place to relax and enjoy the fresh breeze while you float around the lake on a motorboat. The boating begins at 9 am and goes on till 6 pm. If you’re not a big fan of boating, then you can rent a bicycle and take a tour around the lake. Apart from these, there are plenty of other entertainments options available in the close vicinity of the lake compound, like the horror house, mini train rides, horse riding etc.
Spend some time admiring the beauty of one of the oldest church in the Nilgiris, the St. Stephen’s Church. The quaint architecture, beautiful stained glasses and the painting of the last supper on the wall of the western side will definitely remind you of the colonial times.
The evening is worth spending time in the local market near the Botanical garden. The upper bazaar (market) specializes in exotic spices, homemade chocolates, tea, essential oils whereas the lower bazaar specializes in authentic Toda jewellery and woollen clothes. This place can easily transform you into a spendthrift.
Activities you can do in Ooty
Toy Train ride
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is one of the main attractions of Ooty and a thing to experience. Declared as the UNESCO world heritage site runs from Mettupalayam to Ooty (Udagamandalam) via Coonoor. It’s one of the steepest tracks in Asia and runs on a steam engine. The main highlight is the journey that takes you through beautiful tunnels, bridges and picturesque terrains.
You can buy the ticket either directly from the counters at the railway station or book on the Indian Railways website.
Boating on this manmade lake can be a refreshing experience after all that sightseeing. The eucalyptus forest surrounds the lake and the view is serene. A must-do for all when in Ooty.
10 INR pp for Indians and 560 INR pp for Foreigners
30 INR for Still Camera and 125 INR for Video Camera
200 INR for 4-seater and 160 INR for 2-seater pedal boat for 30 minutes
180 INR for 2-seater rowboat for 30 minutes and 450 INR for 8-seater motor boat for 20 minutes
If you have a day to spare, then take on these amazing treks to experience Ooty through its roots and discover its hidden gems. You can book your tour from here.
If you’re a adrenaline junkie, then head to the Eagles Dare Adventure near the Tea Factory for some adrenaline gushing experience. You can book your experience here.
What to eat in Ooty
You can find a variety of healthy food here to indulge in. Why I said healthy is because most of them are either raw, boiled or steamed.
Snack – For snacks, you can binge eat on fresh grown veggie salad (Chinese cucumber, red radish, sweet carrots and zucchini), spiral potatoes, masala kadalai, chickpea salad and varkey.
Meal – Dosa, Idli, Uttapam, Vada along with Sambar and coconut chutney makes a good combo for a great meal. If you are bored of these, you can try out the Biryani that is prepared using southern spices and tastes heavenly.
Ooty is an imposing city to visit. Two days are not enough to explore the entire place but enough to see and enjoy its beauty. Let me know in the comments below about your Ooty experience.