10:00 pm,17th December 2011
We weren’t expecting the sun till 9. But, we had the dawn greeting us at about 7. It was still cold outside; the woods behind the guest house were beautiful. The creepers bearing orange, red and white flowers at the entrance were very welcoming. We hired a taxi to go around the city and visit some site-seeing places in three hours. We had to take the train back to metupalayam at 2pm.Everything in Ooty opens at 9. We had breakfast at the Ooty Saravana bhavan at 8:30am and then set off to the botanical garden.
The botanical garden is a must-see for nature lovers. The green lawns are very
refreshing. The trees, around, reach high to the sky. The serenity of nature can capture anyone’s heart. The photographers flock you for instant pics. It takes a whole day to enjoy the garden to the fullest. We skipped the major part of the garden as we didn’t have any such time. There are rock garden, sunken garden, conservatory, glass houses, top garden, picnic spots and many other attractions at the garden to enjoy. You can also buy seeds and plants at the nursery.
Next in our list was Doddabeta. It’s the highest point in Ooty and the second highest in South India. On the way, the taxi driver showed us small blue flowers – locally called ‘Neelikurinji’, these blue flowers bloom once in 12 years. The local tribes used to use these flowers to tell their age. These flowers are found only in Ooty, Coonoor and Munnar. It is after these flowers that the hills are named ‘Nilgiris’. You can catch a telescopic view of movements in Ooty city and also Coimbatore (on a clear day). The view from the peak is like ‘heaven on earth’. The far-away hills seemed to be elegantly submerged in a sea of white clouds extending forever. You can see the serene waters of the avalanche dam form the tower. We had some hot boiled groundnuts from a street vendor, a perfect food for the crisp weather.
After Doddabeta, the taxi driver suggested going to the tea museum and the tea factory as mom was determined to do some tea shopping. You get to see the process of tea powder making in the factory. Inbetween the lush green estates, the tea factory is one place where you can do quality tea purchases. You can get various kinds of flavors – chocolate-flavored tea, cardamom flavored tea, green tea and silver tea are the favorites. There are also Silver tips that are hand-picked, sold
here. Though a little costlier, silver tea is said to have many health benefits. They sure have a great business going on; none who visits this place leaves without making purchases. Besides tea, you can also find stalls selling chocolates, oils and balms, spices and leather. Then, we went to visit the rose garden. It is not the season for good rose blossom. That is one of the reasons why it seemed a waste of time. Once we have seen the botanical garden, the rose garden didn’t seem very exhilarating. Rows of rose plants of different colors- that is all there is. But, if you are a rose-lover, which I am not, you may be able to appreciate the beauty. If you happen to go there, do not miss the green rose, right next to the entrance. After the rose garden, we visited the lake and the thread garden which are next to each other and also near our guest house. The thread park can be visited to appreciate the hard work of 50 women over 12 years. The work involves making real-seeming plants or flowers without the use of machines, needles or colors. We didn’t have time to boat in the lake. We had to catch a train at 2 back to Mettupalayam. The taxi driver told us that the Ooty Lake is an artificial lake. There is another natural lake 30km away from the city known as the Pikara Lake, which has serene waters and scenic spots.
It was already past 1. We hurried back to the guest house and packed up to leave. We had lunch at VRR canteen attached to the railway station. The Ooty train, popularly called the ‘Toy train’, is something no tourist should miss. The train goes on a narrow gauge line from Ooty to Mettupalayam through lush green tea gardens, dark tunnels and scenic valleys. The train has large windows; so stick your head out and experience the nature.
Every turn around a rock reveals pristine beauty of forested hill slopes and valleys filled with pine trees and here and there, a brook runs through the woods. The train ride is a three and a half hour breath-taking experience and something without which the trip to Ooty is never complete. We arrived at Mettupalayam at 5:30 pm and caught the Nilgiri Express to Chennai. This Ooty trip has been a very memorable tour and served as an excellent get-away from a mundane urban life. This is, indeed, a miracle of a God’s work of sublime beauty.
- Ootucmund (shomaabhyankar.wordpress.com)