Monday, 24 December 2012

Ooty!!

Ootacamund (officially, Udhagamandalam sometimes abbreviated to Udhagai or Ooty), is a town, a municipality and the district capital of the Nilgiris district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.Since we saty in Chennai and there is a direct train to Mettupalayam(nearest station to Ooty) from Chennai which runs everyday,we decided for a trip to Ooty.We booked the train 2 months in advance from irctc.gov.in.Book in advance else it's difficult to get the tickets these days.
We boarded the Nilgiri Express from Chennai at 9:15PM reached Mettupalayam at 6AM.Every minute matters,we had almost missed the train by 2 mins.This was S²s 1st and I²s 3rd trip to Ooty.
 The toy train leaves for ooty at 7AM from here.We could  not get the tickets(2 months back when we booked our tickets online ) still tried our luck but in vain and took the bus instead.Bus or cab takes around 2hrs to reach Ooty whereas the Toy train takes around 5hrs.The bus stop is 10 minute's walk from the station.
Mettupalayam Station!
We reached our hotel TTDC smack in the middle of the market at 10 AM.After checking in we ordered for some dosa and took some rest.At 12 we decided to explore Ooty,out first stop was the lake.This artificial lake is a favorite spot for boating,located near the station. It also has a lake garden, a jetty, snack bars, pony rides and toy train rides.
The Lake
We decided to try our hands at boating.

We took the 2 seater pedal boat and it was fun :) Our next stop was the Botanical garden.No that great.Good for a stroll to soak the sun.
Botanical garden
Just out side Botanical garden.
By this time we were famished,we had heard about Nahar hotel so we headed there to try some pizza and soup.
The NAHAR hotel has got 3 restaurants -

1)Sidewalk which is more like a cafe and serves Italian food.A meal for 2 would cost INR500.
2)Garden serves South Indian cuisine.
3)Chandan serves Indian and Chinese.A meal for 2 would cost you around 600INR unless you go for a south Indian meal which is priced at 100INR.
All the restaurants are a bit on the bit expensive side for the quantity they offer.Ooty does not have many options except some local restaurants and Dominos.Do not forget to pick up some home made chocolates from the market.Ooty is known for home made chocolates,you can find a lot of shops selling them.
Sidewalk
Our next stop was CCD just a 5 minute walk from Nahar cafe.When in Ooty,this CCD is a must visit.Its big,has chimneys though they were not functional this time around :( (were functioning when visited last.. a few years ago) and you cant help but fall in love with this CCD atleast.
The Chimney
We had booked our tickets for the Toy train to Coonnor for the next day so we decided to sleep early as we had to board the train at 9AM.Between Coonoor and Udagamandalam, there are four daily trains each way.Even though the NMR stations have networked computerized ticketing systems for onward journeys, it still issues Edmond son style manual tickets for the Ooty-Mettupalayam journey to preserve the 'World Heritage Site' status of the railway. Tickets can be booked on IRCTC.
Book the tickets in advance else you would not get the tickets.
The Interiors
The famous Hindi song "Chaiyya Chaiyya" from the film "Dil Se" featuring Shahrukh Khan was shot on the roof top of NMR. The train fare is 24 rupees for second class and 142 rupees for first class, one way.
On the way to Coonoor!
The 'Nilagiri Passenger' train covers a distance of 26 mi (41.8 km), travels through 208 curves, 16 tunnels and 250 bridges. The uphill journey takes around 290 minutes (4.8 hours), and the downhill journey takes 215 minutes (3.6 hours) It has the steepest track in Asia.
The Tunnel
We took a half day tour of Coonoor.We will talk about that in the blog about Coonoor.

The next day we took the Filmi chakkar tour which starts at 9AM and ends at 2PM.A cab would cost you around 900INR and a maxi cab would cost 150INR per person.
It covers the following spots-
 Rose Garden
6th Miles (Old Mysore Road)
Golf Links
Pine Forest
9th Miles
Pykara Dam
Pykara Boat House

We enjoyed the pine forests and the walk to the lake.
Pine Forest
Lake
The 6th mile gives some amazing views.Pykara waterfall has no water so you can skip it.
6th mile.
some fun!!
We had already done boating in Ooty so skipped that and instead sat in the restaurant and enjoyed the view as we sipped on some hot tea.
Pykara lake
 The Pykara River is considered very sacred by the Todas. It rises at Mukurthi peak, flows northwards, and then turns to the west after reaching the edge of the plateau.
Rose garden
We left for Rose garden from here.The Government Rose Garden is the largest rose garden in India.The rose garden has also received the Garden of Excellence Award for being the best rose garden in south Asia, from The World Federation of Rose Societies, during May 2006, in Osaka, Japan.This garden is one of the 35 gardens world wide to have won this award.
Rose Garden
Buffet@Taj
This was the last spot of our tour.We had our lunch at Chandan(Nahar) and decided to rest for a while,as it was S²s  B'day we booked a table @Taj Savoy.We left around 7PM for the dinner.We opted for the buffet . the spread was (surprisingly) heavy on the vegetarian side.I² first time ever loved the fish fingers,they were amazing and the tartar sauce too was simply wow.
 The Palak Paneer,Dal,Vegetable rice,Noodles,Triple Vegetables,Chicken were truly the Taj style.The desserts were out of the world in spite of our full stomachs we relished all the desserts.This is the second place(Dinos being the fav till now ) where I² loved the Cheese cake and S² for the first time ever enjoyed the cheese cake :))..
As it was S²s B'day we got a complimentary cake :) which we could not eat all so they packed it for us.Not to mention it was damn tasty!
Bonfire
Taj Savoy, Ooty sets up a bonfire in the gardens around 7:30PM each day. With night setting in, the temperatures drop and this provides the excellent setting for sitting by the fire. Simple Pleasures of Life!!!!!
Our table!!
If you are looking for a nice dinning experience you can head to Taj Savoy, Ooty in their typical Hill Station style restaurant ( wooden interiors and a fire place :) ). You may want to call up and book a place by the fire side for that lovely dinning experience.

Personal experience with Taj in general has been excellent and this time was no different. Service and attention to customer delight was quite evident.The Ooty trip ended with this,next day we left for Mysore.

The best time to visit is April to June and September to November.During these months the days are pleasant and nights a bit chilly.
Winters can get quite chilly.


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