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PICS: Make the most of 24 hours in Ooty

Last updated on: January 5, 2013 19:26 IST

PICS: Make the most of 24 hours in Ooty

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Aditi Bose

What do you do when you have just about 24 hours to spend in the Queen of Hill Stations in India? Here's what Aditi Bose did.

After a late afternoon journey from Mysore, through the jungles of Bandipur (where we were lucky enough to spot four elephants playing with dust), we reached Ooty after a drive of over four hours and thirty-six hairpin bends later.

Ooty or Udhagamandalam, the capital of the Nilgiris district is rightly called the 'Queen of hill stations'. During the British Raj it used to be a popular summer getaway for English. Today too, with its innumerable picturesque view points, it continues to be a well known tourist destination.

We would be in Ooty for a single day. I knew it was impossible to see it all in twenty-four hours. However, we had chalked out our plan from earlier and were all set to have fun and explore the mountain terrains.


Image: Ooty
Photographs: Premkudva/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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One of the features of this hotel that I found most attractive was its view. This was the first time that was I actually seeing the 'Blue Mountains' and it truly was blue.

The Nilgiri Mountains are often called the 'Blue Mountains' The reason for this is twofold. One, because of the bluish haze created by the smoke that the born fire of dried eucalyptus tree (a tree found in plenty in this region) leaves emanate and two, due to the blue kurinji flowers that bloom on the slopes every twelve years.

Overall our stay in one of the cottages that has been tastefully decorated was quite comfortable. The staff were courteous, the food quality good, the property clean and a fun filled tambola and born fire late in the evening


Image: A view of Ooty from Doddabetta
Photographs: VasuVR/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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Our morning began with horse riding. I have to say that it can be quite addictive but mighty expensive too. A short ride of less than 10 minutes on one of the horses that stand outside the Ooty Lake will cost you around Rs 150 during the off-peak season. So if you plan to explore the mountains with your guide then be ready to shell out quite a hefty amount from your pocket. 

Image: Horse-riding around Ooty Lake
Photographs: Aditi Bose
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A boat ride on a crisp winter morning with the fragrance from the nearby eucalyptus trees wafting in the breeze... always a tempting offer.

The approximately 2 km long, L-shaped Ooty Lake was constructed in 1824 by John Sullivan. It is an artificial water body and so you can enjoy boating here throughout the year. The water from the mountain streams was dammed to form this lake.

It not only has various boating options like row boats, peddle boats and motor boats but also a small amusement park for the kids and also a mini toy train and a nursery.

No wonder, the place was teaming with people even at 9 am in the morning.

Don't miss out on all the woollen and the strawberry vendors near the gates. 


Image: Ooty Lake
Photographs: Edukeralam, Navaneeth Krishnan S/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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Next on our agenda was the Thread Garden. It is located just opposite to the Ooty Lake. On display here is an amazing collection of over 150 varieties of artificial flowers made out of thread!

This 'garden's' idea was conceived by Antony Joseph, an artist from Kerala. He with 50 other skilled craftsmen worked for 12 years to complete this 'creation'. Around 6 crore meters of embroidery thread of over 400 different shades had to be woven around stiff cardboard to form the petals and copper wire to form the stems to create this marvel. No needle or any other machinery has been used here.

Do stop by at the sales counter to touch one such flower. You can even buy miniature plants with the smallest costing Rs. 600. If you do buy one, then take care of the 'art work' by keeping it away from direct sunlight and also using only soft cotton to clean the outer surface that is made of glass.


Image: Thread Garden
Photographs: Aditi Bose

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Inaugurated in 1986, the park is situated on the fringes of the Ooty Lake and is one of the high altitude fauna park in India. It was constructed to house and let tourists view fauna that is otherwise not visible in the Nilgiris.

However, personally speaking, it was quite a disappointment because I was hoping for a park full of deer. Or at least something like a small zoo. But what greeted us was just a small expanse where three to four deer were roaming around. I guess it could be because of the 22 acres that this park occupies; only 6 acres has been made open to the public.


Image: Deer Park, Ooty
Photographs: Aditi Bose
Tags: Ooty Lake , PICS , India

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Given that it opens at 8am, when we reached the garden around 11 am the crowd had already started to gather. After standing in queue for over 15 minutes we managed to enter.

Located along the Dodabetta peak and covering an area of approximately 55 acres, the Botanical Garden is one of the best gardens of India. It was conceived by the Marquis of Tweedaleway way back in 1847.

The huge expanse of manicured greenery quite like a golf course and the cleanliness of the place are commendable. More so because of the huge number of families who were picnicking there with their lunch baskets and yet I could not see any paper or food packets littered on the greens.

The government and the Horticulture department are surely taking a lot of care to maintain the place well.

If you are a 'tree enthusiast' then this is a 'must see' place for you. Amongst others, some that are sure to catch your attention are the cork tree, the paper bark tree, the tree which remains a puzzle to monkeys and hence is called the 'monkey puzzle tree, and  fossilized tree that is over 20 million years old. Not to forget the garden with blooming flowers like the dahlia, snapdragon and the roses that border a clear pool.

As an end note, don't miss having a look at the Toda tribal silver jewellery and embroidered shawls that is being sold on the right side just after you enter the garden.


Image: Entrance to the Botanical Gardens of Ooty
Photographs: Justinvijesh/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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Six miles from Ooty (and hence the name) on Ooty to Mysore road on the way to Pykara, is the 6th Mile. It is also popularly called the 'Shooting Spot' as many Bollywood movie songs have been shot here. The climb down through the extensive pine forest to the placid lake is quite breathtaking (but for those with 'non-exercised' bodies, be prepared for some panting on your way up).

Go on and let the child in you come out as you pose amidst pine trees, play hide-n-seek or simply spend a while collecting fallen pine cones for decorating your home. And once you have made your way down, horse rides will await you too.

The never ending green undulating meadows are quite enthralling as well. Don't miss the opportunity to play frisbee there or a game of running-catching. Else simply sit there and munch on an apple (as I did) as you stare at the sunlight glistening on the gentle ripples on the lake.


Image: The 6th Mile
Photographs: Aditi Bose
Tags: Ooty , PICS , Pykara , Mysore

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We ended the day with some shopping and the best place to shop in Ooty is Charring Cross. At the end of an hour and a few thousand rupees poorer , in our kitty was a jacket, two bottles of eucalyptus oil, a few packets of spices, a couple of bottles of honey, one packet of flavoured tea, a few boxes of fresh homemade chocolates and a piece of tribal Toda silver jewellery.

My husband even gave in to me buying an elephant statuette and a brass bell from the Tamil Nadu Emporium. I was happy!


Image: Charring Cross, Ooty wakes up to a bright sunny morning
Photographs: Gcheruvath/Wikimedia Creative Commons
Tags: PICS , Toda

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Next morning I woke up early to the sunlight of the cold winter sun streaming into our room from behind the curtains. Despite the cold winds outside, I felt compelled to walk out and take a picture of the hills at the break of day. The sight was breathtaking.

Our day long stay at this quaint hill station was pleasant and well spent. However we will surely have to go back some day because a lot still remains to be seen. Be that the rose garden, the stone house and the Toda huts, the tribal museum, the St Stephen's church, the countless lakes and view points or even the toy train ride to Coonoor.


Image: A panaromic view of Ooty
Photographs: Amlan G/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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