Udagamandalam: a hill station with bountiful natural beauty - #XploreBharat Blog Train

Udagamandalam: a hill station with bountiful natural beauty - #XploreBharat Blog Train

Our blog train's tour of India started off on the 1st of February at the Wagah border with immense enthusiasm. We have cut right across India over the last six days and today we find ourselves at the southernmost state of India, Tamil Nadu. I am very happy to receive the baton for this #XploreBharat blog train from Aditi to take us further. This journey across India is getting more and more interesting as the days go by.  Today I take pleasure in introducing my fellow travellers to my native state of Tamil Nadu where I have spent nearly twenty-five years of my life.

Summer is approaching and I assume my fellow travellers are beginning to feel the heat a bit. With this in mind, I have decided to take you to that Queen of hill stations, Ooty in Tamil Nadu, where you can experience the cool and refreshing mountain air and rejuvenate your body and mind. I would first of all like to inform you that the correct name for Ooty is Udagamandalam. The Britishers shortened it to Ooty and originally it was a place where the Viceroys and other important officials of the British Raj used to vacation to escape the hot summers of the plains.


Image credit: Wikimedia.org

I visited Ooty a couple of years after marriage, which is nearly eleven years ago. This was my first visit to Ooty, though my wife had spent a considerable part of her life living in Aruvankadu, a town close to Ooty in the Nilgiris. My late father-in-law was employed in the Ordinance factory in Aruvankadu. To clarify, there are several small towns very close to each other, nestling in the Nilgiris. When we talk of Ooty, keep in mind that though it is the star attraction, there are several other towns in the Nilgiri hills like Coonoor, Aruvankadu and Wellington quiet close by. 

I had heard quite a bit about Ooty from my wife and I was simply thrilled to be fulfilling my childhood dream of visiting this place. We were actually five people, myself and my wife, my sister-in-law, her husband and their eight-year-old son travelling by car. Our first destination was Coonoor where we planned to spend the night at the house of one of my wife's childhood friends before we set off to Ooty by train the next morning. We particularly wanted to travel by train after reaching Coonoor because we knew that would be much more enjoyable. My wife's cousin's family was also supposed to join us at Coonoor for the trip to Ooty.

The drive through the steep mountain roads to Coonoor was simply marvellous and the view was breath-taking. Once we reached Coonoor we made our way to my wife's friend's house. We were greeted very warmly. Soon my wife's cousin's family which comprised of her cousin, his wife and two sons joined us.

The next morning we caught the train from Coonoor to Ooty. My wife made sure that we got tickets for seats in the first class compartment of the train which was also part of the guard's cabin. Let me explain a bit about these trains that connect the towns in the Nilgiri hills. They are basically toy trains. The tracks are meter gauge tracks and when the train is moving towards higher altitudes as it does when travelling from Coonoor to Ooty the engine is attached at the back and it pushes the train forward. Trains use a rack and pinion system and the guard cum operator seems to use a kind of steering to engage and disengage at various signal points. 

We got into the first class compartment. The view was simply breath-taking. Here is an image we clicked of the view looking ahead as the train moves forward along the tracks.


The kids were really excited to see the operator manoeuvre the steering wheel and pestered my wife to ask him if he would allow them to hold it for just a few seconds. My wife did request him to do so but her request was politely turned down. My wife was a bit surprised and told me that when she and her siblings were kids they knew most of the train operators on this line and they used to allow my wife and other children to fool around a bit. I guess it is a bit dangerous and against regulations. And this train in-charge was perhaps more conscientious about his duties than the ones who used to work the line during the time my wife was a kid 😃.

We soon got down at the Ooty station and our first destination was the botanical garden, renowned for its exquisite flowers. We reached it soon and found ourselves in a beautiful flowery haven. And believe me, the beauty of the glorious flowers blooming all around us held us spell-bound. It was a really dreamlike experience to be surrounded by colours of so many hues and shades. Makes a person feel like he or she is in heaven. Here are some images we clicked.






There is a flower called the Kurinji Malar which blooms once in twelve years in Ooty, but unfortunately, the year we visited was not one of the years when it bloomed. It is also called the Nilakurinji and its botanical name is Strobilanthus Kunthianus. Here is an image I have borrowed from Wikipedia



Picture Credits: Wikimedia.org

The next place we visited was the Ooty lake. The boats used to ferry passengers are pedal boats. They have the capacity to accommodate four people at a time.


Naturally, all of us decided to take boat rides. I remember when we were pedalling somewhere in the middle of the lake I began wondering about how deep the waters were at that point. I asked the boatman accompanying us about this. He told me, 'Easily twenty-five to thirty feet, Sir.' It suddenly occurred to me that boating was a slightly dangerous business and I further inquired if mishaps were frequent. And he replied with a grin, 'Accidents have occurred and I have rescued people from drowning myself. But boating here is generally very safe and there is absolutely no need to worry.' 

It occurred to me that there is always some risk in indulging in anything adventurous, but then there is a risk in even crossing roads which we do every day. What is life without a bit of danger in it? We also visited the famous Pykara falls and lake. I don't seem to have any images of the Pykara falls. Boating is allowed in the Pykara lake too. My wife and I were not too keen on going boating again so soon. But the others in our group were eager to try their hand once more. Here is an image



There were some tea plantations which we visited though I do not seem to have too many images of that. Here is one I found.


Next, we stopped for a cup of special Eucalyptus oil tea. The very first image you saw in this post is that of me with a king-size tummy posing for a photo in the tea stall where we drank tea.

After that, we did some shopping and made quite a few purchases. By then it was nearly evening and we made our way back to Coonoor. The next day found us reluctantly driving back homewards. We can't keep holidaying, can we? Sooner or later we have to return to the business of everyday life. To my readers, I have only one thing to say: if you get a chance to visit Ooty, don't let it slip by. It is a marvellous place. It is worth your money and time.

And tomorrow, we go racing back to north India again, to Kashmir the paradise on earth. I hand over the baton of the #XploreBharath blog train to Saba who will take us there.

Note: Two of the images used in this post are free images from Wikimedia.org for which I have given appropriate credits. All the other images used are owned by me and captured using my camera.

This post is a part of the #XploreBharat Blog Train hosted by AditiEshaMaheshwaranPraGunPreetiSabaSanjotaSoniaSudipSuhasini, and Supriya

And finally a bit about FABZANIA and KAIV who are the sponsors of this wonderful #XploreBharat Blog Train.

FABZANIA

FabZania is an upcoming Food, Travel, Entertainment and Lifestyle web portal.




KAIV

KAIV is a personal grooming accessory and appliances brand offering a wide range of world-class products.




Comments

  1. Thanks taking me down memory lane, Jai - we visited Ooty a few years back and I distinctly remember Pykara lake, botanical garden...nice narrative ! Hope to visit again!

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    1. Yes. I visited Ooty thirteen years back. I would also like to visit again. It is indeed a wonderful place. Glad you enjoyed reading my post.

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  2. You've captured the sights and sounds so vividly through your words and pictures that I am longing to be in Ooty right away. Thanks for taking us to this beautiful hill station.

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    1. Do make a visit. It is indeed a beautiful place. Glad you enjoyed reading the post.

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  3. My husband grew up in Ooty. So, I have heard, and seen enough about the place to say that you have covered it well, Jai. We've missed the Kurunji flowers too, hoping to catch them 12 years later.

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    1. Memory was a bit hazy since it was thirteen years since I visited. But the images I had with me helped me recollect things pretty well. Glad you enjoyed reading the post.

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  4. I stayed in Mysore for 5 years and Ooty used to be our favorite weekend destination. I've been to the city as a solo traveler, with my gang of girls, my parents and my husband. Your write up brings back memories of a beautiful past.

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    1. I have visited Mysore too. The beautiful gardens are really captivating. Happy I could jog your memory and bring back the happy times you have spent at Ooty. I went there only once some thirteen years back and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

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  5. Thanks a lot for giving me the chance to recollect my old memories. Good post indeed

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  6. Such a wow post Jai. I am staying in Wellington, Nilgiris only and this place is so so close to my heart and life. Your captures are wonderful, lovely kurinji click and glad to know you have visited aruvankadu too. Happy traveling. We are glad to have you with us on #XploreBharat with #BlogBoosterIndia

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    1. Actually we visited Aruvankadu and went to the exact same house my wife grew up in. Naturally, it was occupied by some other people when we visited but they were nice and allowed us to look around. And my wife and sister-in-law were too full of themselves recollecting their childhood. Glad you liked the post.

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  7. Such a beautiful straight from the heart post, jai. I have been to ooty once when I was a small child, guess 30 yrs ago. Feels like a lifetime now. I remember it was cold, clean and nice. I wish to visit the nilgiris again but this time not only I will visit ooty but also coonnor. Also it's my dream of sitting in the toy train.

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    1. Yes, it is a great place. I am also planning to make another trip to Ooty sometime soon. My daughter is very keen on it as she was not yet born when we went long time back. Glad you liked the post.

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  8. Beautiful pictures and nice description! My dream to visit Ooty seems to take a shape:)

    #XploreBharat #BlogBoosterIndia

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    1. Thanks Aditi. Do take time off and visit Ooty. You will not regret it. It is simply a great place.

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  9. Wonderful post. Loved the way you presented your experience in Ooty with your family. Ooty is indeed a beautiful place but the family time you had there looks more precious to me ☺️��

    -Maya Bhat

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    1. Yes. It was really fun to go with my wife and her family. We enjoyed Ooty, but as you say we really had a lot of fun being together. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  10. Loved this post....the toy train sounds so exciting... Had been to TN as a child but couldnt visit Ooty... Must plan a trip soon

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    1. Esha, the toy train is much more fun if you get into the very first engine cum compartment. And do try to get the train in-charge to let you hold the steering for some time :). We tried and were turned down, maybe you would be luckier. Do visit Ooty sometime. Glad you liked the post.

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  11. I visited Ooty as a boy. Now it's time to go again .Let me see. Your post has revived the interest.

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    1. Do visit. It is a great place to visit especially if you need some relief from hot summers.

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  12. Reading this post was a walk down the memory lane for me. 9 years ago I visited this place post marriage with family like you Jai. Though toy train was under maintainance that day, I enjoyed reading your experience.

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    1. Yes, the toy train was real fun. The scenery and the cool air and the mountains make it a wonderful journey. Happy that my post brought back pleasant memories for you.

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  13. Ooty was the famous honeymoon destination once upon a time. Liked the way you showed us Ooty with beautiful narration and pictures. I haven't visited the place but it's nice to explore it through #Xplorebharat Blog train.

    I have heard that there are Tea shops in Ooty and one must buy tea from there!
    https://www.hackytips.com

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    1. Thank you Sanjota. Yes I did buy a couple of packets of medicinal tea in Ooti for my father because he is a connoisseur of tea. But if I remember correctly he did not like it much. Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  14. Have never been to Ooty before but you beautifully took us through it. Lovely clicks.
    Sthuti.

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    1. Thanks Sthuti, glad you enjoyed the post

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  15. Beautiful post Jai... Ooty and married couple.. haha, goes together!! Perfect place as it is the poor mans kashmir :)

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    1. Thanks for reading and liking the post. Yes, Ooty is indeed a great place and you are correct, most people go to Ooty for their honeymoon :)

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  16. Wow, what a beauty , words, photos are so beautiful that , for a moment I felt that I am not in Pune , I am in udagamandalam , and it is quite new information for me that, ootty's real name is udagamandalam, beautiful post

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    1. Thank you so much. Yes, Ooty is indeed a beautiful place. Thanks for visiting the blog.

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  17. Surely it is the queen of hillstations.loved it a lot.

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    1. Yes. Ooty is very aptly named as the queen of hill stations. Glad you liked the post.

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  18. Udagamandalam, the name made me think of a divine place with lots of temples. It did turn out to be divine but of different genre...scenically divine! Fluid narration made me feel that I was travelling with you and absorbing what you pointed out. Thanks for this guided tour of Udagamndalam aka Ooty, Jai

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    1. It is a beautiful place Anagha. Do visit it sometime. Yes, you are right, the name does have a religious flavour. Glad you enjoyed reading the post.

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  19. Been to a few hill stations of Tamilnadu like Yercaud, Kodaikanal etc but could not visit Ooty for some reasons. Your descriptive post and stunning pics make me regret even more now and I wish to be there soon now.

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    1. You should definitely make a trip to Ooty. Actually Yercaud is known as poor man's Ooty. Ooty is simply beautiful. Glad you enjoyed tge post.

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    2. Sure Jai, will plan sometime. Thanks for another information about Yercaud - Vartika

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  20. We have been witnessing Ooty through Bollywood movies since ages. It is a such a detailed post covering one of the most beautiful places in Karnataka. Good work Sirji.
    #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Manas. Yes, Ooty is the favorite destination of film-makers especially if they want to show the hero and heroine dancing around trees in a beautiful scenic setting. This is particularly true of south Indian film-makers. Just a small correction Ooty is in Tamil Nadu not Karnataka. I am sure you made an inadvertent mistake. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  21. I loved visiting Ooty and you have captured its essence beautifully with your words. I like the pictures you have picked as well.

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    1. Thanks for visiting and reading, Prerna. Glad you liked the post. Yes Ooty is indeed a wonderful place.

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  22. I've never been to Ooty and your post has captured the essence of this wonderful hill station very well and I feel the city has most greens around. I loved reading your personal experiences while exploring the city.

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    1. Yes, Rohan the botanical garden is a lovely place with a lot of flowers and greenery around. Do visit some time. Thanks for visiting.

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  23. Ooru is one of my favorite places and like to go there as often as I can

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  24. Ooty is very picturesque location, it was first vacation me and my husband had after resuming back to work after marriage. Thanks for refreshing them. wonderful flow in your words.

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    1. Yes, it is indeed a beautiful place. Glad I could bring back fond memories of your trip to Ooty. Thanks for visiting.

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  25. last time I was in Bangalore, wanted to make it OOTy by due to time paucity was unable. your post made me more inclined to visit it next time..lovely and detailed post

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  26. I have had the pleasure of visiting Ooty when few years back. Your post took me back there. The botanical garden, the lake, the tea gardens and the toy train are few of many places that we visited. Your post is so vivid that the images came flashing back to me. By your emotions entwined within your post it looks that you really enjoyed this trip.
    #readbypreetispanorama

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    1. Yes, it was a great trip for us and real fun. Thanks for visiting. Happy that it brought back memories for you.

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  27. OMGGG!! I loved this post!! Thank you jay for this amazing place! I never knew about this

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    1. Happy to know you enjoyed the post so much. Do visit Ooty sometime. It is a great place.

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© Sitharaam Jayakumar and Jai's Writing Retreat, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material from this site without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sitharaam Jayakumar and Jai's Writing Retreat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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