Ooty - Wellington - Coonoor

#1 Jun 8th, 2006, 16:54
Join Date:
Apr 2004
  • lonelyaztec is offline
I had a 10 day break in between jobs. And what would I do with all the time. I spend 5 days with my parents and the other 5 days traveling.

I had not visited Ooty. People always told me about commercialization, crowded bazaars, dirty lake full of plastic covers, so every time there was time for travel, I opted for other places and left Ooty for a later.

I have never visited a tea estate, though I am a tea drinker.

So, during the 5 days that I had, I decided to go to Ooty. The plan was to stay outside Ooty so that we are away from the crowd. So, I chose a place in between Ooty and Coonor, called Wellington. Wellington is about 18 kms beyond Ooty, if you are driving from Bangalore. Also, it is about 8 kms ahead of Coonoor.

So, there is more to Nilgiris, than just Ooty. There is lots to explore at Coonor and Wellington.

Me and Aravind love to drive. The route is Bangalore – Mysore – Masinagudi ie Mudumalai Wild life sanctuary – Ooty – Wellington – Coonoor. It is about 290 kms and take 7 hrs to reach if you drive non – stop with minimal number of breaks.

We left in the morning at 7. When we plan long drives, we ensure that the car is well serviced, petrol tank is filled and air is filled. My zen performs better with Speed and Power petrol – it is meant to be that way is it not. Mileage is better.

The Bangalore – Mysore highway used to be nightmare. When I went to Kabini river lodge before 2 years we were cursing the government for all the gotalas and scams. Today, the road is nice and it is scenic too. My favorite, is still the East Coast Road.

We reached Kamat Upachar at 9.20 am. We had our fill and decided to zip it to Ooty. Check post outside the national park creates a new excitement.

After signing in at the National park entrance in a register, we roll down the windows and start driving. I love driving through the jungles – the greenery, the loneliness on the road, there are usually too few vehicles or they are so scattered that you may feel that you are the only one around. Also, the sighting of a peacock, a bison, langur or some deers fills me with so much joy. It is a great feeling to see these animals in their natural habitats, that in the confines of a zoo.

It was mid January, but, I found Mudumalai sanctuary very dry with full of dry leaves and zero green leaves. Nagarhole and Bandipur are a lot more greener. May be the season is a dry season, I don’t know.

We drive straight, enter Masinagudi town, and we know we are just getting close to Nilgiris hills.

My friends kept telling me that after Masinagudi there are about 27 hair pin bends. There was a bet, that a santro can do the hair pins better than the Zen. The drive on the curves was smooth, and in no time, we had completed the ghat section.

Ooty was just a few kilometers away. The road was good, mountaineous, and the smell of fresh air was captivating.

The friends were right. Ooty is dusty, noisy and was almost like a large crowded city. The entire mountain side is full of buildings, and there is hardly any greenery left. Lake view, mountain view, pond view, pine view, valley view – hotels with all possible names, all in one place. I am glad I avoided Ooty for the stay.

We drove ahead to Wellington. Wellington is about 18 kms beyond Ooty. It is a army cantonment , and the British army regiment has been here for a long time. We could see our Hotel Riga Residency from the main road, and we drove straight to the hotel.

For the record, after a extended break fast break, lunch break, and 2 tea breaks and break to locate a water fall from a water fall view point, and a few breaks to nature’s call, we reached Riga at 4 pm.

Riga has 2 types of rooms. The room that we stayed at was called deluxe room, had nice comfortable beds, nice bathroom, hot shower, tv with remote, but, without ac. We din’t need ac in any case. It was January and was cold. Heaters would have been better. The charge was Rs. 800 per day. It was a nice bargain. What was a let down was their restaurant, the menu options were limited, and no place was close by, to go and have a good meal. So, ended having the same mushroom fried rice and egg omelette every meal.

The view from the room was awesome. The Wellington railway station was right in front of my hotel room window. I could also see the small market area in Wellington. So, from my 3rd floor hotel room, the view of the market area with the childrens school, play ground, temple, mosque, church, the surrounding mountains with tea gardems, the railway station, etc was all very beautiful.

The Nilgiris toy train is a World Heritage site. It is a movable world heritage site along with the Dargeeling toy train. The main stops on the route are Mettupalayan – Ooty – Wellington – Coonor. It goes through tea estates and a lot of mountain valleys, tunnels and makes the Ooty trip memorable. Due to time constrains, we dint do the toy train trip. That is the problem, if you have your own transport. You , simply don’t want to try any thing else.

We had 2 days at Wellington. We wanted to visit Ooty on one day and on one day – we decided to go to Coonoor and a bit of Wellington.

Wellington is a army town, I am told that movie Roja, most of it was shot here. It is great to have a home in a place like this on the sides of the mountain slopes. There is so much mist all over the place, it is just dream like. Staying here would be one long honeymoon. The army maintains the town very well, it is called Zero garbage town, and as they have declared it, it is hard to find any garbage, papers or plastic any where. It is spotlessly clean.

We spend one day in Ooty. We went to Doddabedda, the highest point in South India in the western ghats / Nilagiri hills. We went to Jayalalitha Rose Garden. It was started during the centenary year of founding of Ooty. It has over 1000 varieties of roses and they are all beautiful. We visited another botanical garden, it have a nice green house with the most beautiful orchids and lilies.

For all those who thought that the Ooty lake was a gone case, there is some good news. Due to the efforts of localites and the government, the lake has been cleaned up and it is beautiful. Boating is a pleasure.

Interested in History of Ooty ? The collector of Coimbathore, Mr. Keys sent some English men to survey the area in 1812. They went upto the base of the hills, upto Kalhatti and returned. They did not discover the beautiful valley that lies ahead which has now become the modern hillstation.

In 1817, Collector of Coimbathore John Sullivan sent his team to explore the hills. They came back with news of the beautiful valley. Sullivan got a grant to construct roads and got the Coonoor – Mettupalayam road and the Kotagiri – Mettupalayam road constructed. A bungalow was also constructed. From then on, the place has been buzzing with activity and has become a refuge during the hot summers.

After the local Ooty trip, we had a sumptuous meal at Amaravathy restaurant. I prefer food when it is spicy, and whom to trust, other than the makers of Andhra cuisine.

Day two was also cool. We decided to drive through Wellington to get a hang of the place, and then proceed to Coonoor to see the tea estates. As I told you, I have never been to one.

Am repeating it again, Wellington is just beautiful. Picturesque and dream like. We proceeded to coonoor. As soon as we reached a intersection, young boys just ran towards our car. They were the local guides. Trip of tea estate for Rs. 30 –seemed a good bargain.

So, little boy hops into the car in the back seat.

He takes us straight to a local tea garden. He says movie Saajan was shot here – especially the song – Mera dil bhi kitna paagal hai. Yes, I remember that one. He also gives us dope that the estate of about 500 acres belongs to Madhur Madhwani – who is the husband of actress Mumtaz ( the one who does Jai Jai Shiv Shankar, along with Rajesh Khanna ), who is now the mother in law of Fardeen Khan. Interesting !

The urchin goes on to explain about the various parts of the tea tree, and tells us which part is used for chocolate tea, masala tea, green tea. Peco, Orange peco etc, all are different types of teas. He speaks like an expert. Then says – sir, I will take photo. Both of you, please stand together. And, then we both pose for the photo, with tea estates, rolling behind us.

He then takes us to the tea shop at the tea factory. We love teas. So, we bought 3 months stock of tea for us and all the other tea drinkers in the family.

After this we got back to our hotel and relaxed. TV is provided in most hotel rooms and hence I settled down to watch ‘Starsky and Hutch’ on Star Movies. I also watched the Nilgiri toy train chugh in and out of the Wellington station two times. I took as many photos as I wanted.

The trip was complete. Visited places in and around Ooty, stayed away from the crowd and enjoyed different types of teas.

The next morning we left Wellington and drove towards Bangalore, starting 10 am. The road was so good, we drove non stop and reached Bangalore at 4.30 pm. That was pretty good timing for distance of about 290 kms.

Getting there :

Road : Bangalore ( 290 kms ), Mysore ( 155 Kms ) Chennai ( 535 Kms ), Coimbathore ( 100 Kms )

Rail : Ooty is connected to Mettupalayam by the toy train. It takes about 1 hr to reach Ooty from Mettupalayam.

Airport : Coimbathore is the closest airport – 100 kms

Best Time : Throughout the year. In winter it can get really cold, you will all the wollens that you have.

Trip Duration : 3 days

Getting around : You can hire a local auto or taxi to visit the places in and around Ooty

Accomodation : There are a lot of hotels – the fancy ones and the budget acco types. Like I did, avoid Ooty as it is like staying in Chennai or Bangalore in any case with all the traffic noise and the pollution.

Contact numbers : Hotel Velan ritz : 0423 – 2230484, Hotel Wellington Riga : 0423 – 2234405.

There are some beautiful high end hotels like the Taj Savoy and the Sterling Resort etc, which I avoid, but, I am sure they are nice.
#2 Jun 9th, 2006, 15:55
Join Date:
Sep 2001
  • steven_ber is offline
Originally Posted by lonelyaztec Rail : Ooty is connected to Mettupalayam by the toy train. It takes about 1 hr to reach Ooty from Mettupalayam.
Great report as usual, but the above info seems incorrect.
#3 Jun 10th, 2006, 01:40
Join Date:
Sep 2004
SF Bay Area
  • webtraveller is offline
Originally Posted by lonelyaztec
The trip was complete. Visited places in and around Ooty, stayed away from the crowd and enjoyed different types of teas.

The next morning we left Wellington and drove towards Bangalore, starting 10 am. The road was so good, we drove non stop and reached Bangalore at 4.30 pm. That was pretty good timing for distance of about 290 kms.
Hi Lonelyaztec,
Soon we will have a LA Guide book (Lonely Aztec Guide Book), it looks like.
Well written, lots of info.
Keep it up.
#4 Jun 10th, 2006, 14:05
Aircraft Service Engineer, Astronomer & Traveller
Join Date:
Dec 2004
Mumbai, India. (Lat 18.967 N, Long 72.833 E, Alt 11 m)
  • aadil is offline
Yes, that seems quite a big possibility ...... the Lonely Aztec Guide Book!!! Keep up the good work, looking forward to your new posts and destinations in India especially in Karnataka!!!

Climb high; climb far;
Your goal, the sky,
Your aim, the stars!!!
#5 Jun 10th, 2006, 15:03
Join Date:
Oct 2003
  • Bigzero is offline
Terrific stuff, LA! Keep driving and keep writing!
miles to go....

Bigzero's Photo Gallery
#6 Jul 25th, 2006, 20:59
Join Date:
Jul 2005
  • yuhoo is offline

Reg Plzs to visit around OOty

Hello Ppl

Could sm1 provide more info on

1. AValanche ? how to get there ? is there a pls to stay overnight ? is some permission reqd to visit this pls ?

2. Mudhumalai and Bandipur - same q's ... is there a pls to stay overnight ? We plant o go arnd aug 15th ... is this time ok ? rains ?
#7 Jul 25th, 2006, 23:20
Join Date:
Oct 2004
Chennai, India
  • Nick-H is offline
One correction: We stayed at one of the Ooty Sterling resorts.

Not to be recommended

the place might have been nice once, but it is aged now. Service very poor. Complaints were met with a laugh.

Actually we were approached by a Sterling salesman at an exhibition last week. We told him, no way! we've just stayed in one of your places and it was lousy. He laughed. Must be company policy!!!!

Ooty Climate Warning We went in July, expected lots of rain but were completely taken aback by the temperature. Mrs N had previously stayed in Coonoor, which is suffieciently less altitude to be pleasantly mild. Ooty was cold.

Being driven up and down the mountains was beautiful. We will certainly go again, but not all the way up, as I prefer to be warm
Life gets aadhar every day.
#8 Jul 25th, 2006, 23:42
Join Date:
Apr 2006
  • Lugubert is offline
Please go on. For some reason, I've gotten interested in Coonoor. If we don't use up a whole month in the north in October, Coonoor will be a distinct possibility for my daughter and me.
#9 Jul 26th, 2006, 00:12
Join Date:
Oct 2004
Chennai, India
  • Nick-H is offline
That's a long, long way to go for a small place!

I have no experience of mountains, so being at over 8,000 feet, going up and down the mountain roads was quite something for me. I guess that those who have experienced the Himalyas, or even the Alps, wouldn't find it much at all.

I read somewhere that the Nilgiris are the highest mountains in the world not to have snow on the top. I don't know if this means that they are just not quite high enough, or that their proximity to the equator means it just doesn't get cold enough (somebody?) but it does mean that they are never that cold (unless you've just come from Chennai in July --- Brrrr).

We (Mr & Mrs N) went by train from Chennai to Metapalayam. After 9 hours on that train we chickened out of the Mountain Railway, although that is something I really want to do another time.

Even the drive up into the mountains was great, though, although it was rather spoilt for me due to earache (having a cold, blocked eustachean tube, increasing altitude, decreasing pressure = pain ).

After taking some rest we went into Ooty (Sterling Fernhillis out of the city) and bought some warmer clothes, along with some chocolate, and met a driver who we commissioned for the next day.

We used this same driver for next three days, including our return to catch the Chennai train. I didn't at all mind the fact that his Ambassador was old and slow. Going faster would have been a terrible waste of scenery!

Over the next couple of days we visited many of the places decribed by LA. Mrs N was truly delighted to be standing inside a cloud on Doddabedda peak, although to an Englishman it was just another foggy day . The downside of that cloud was that there was no view to see.

We drove around Wellington. Here's a great roadsign:

You are entering a
War Memorial Zone
Please Drive with
Care and Compassion

Glad to report that our man's driving was a model of compassion .

We visited Simm Gardens in Coonoor. A delightful garden, and the best thing was to see a Rudaraksha tree in the flesh, or rather wood. The women who sweep the gardens keep the seeds, and I was delighted to pay Rs2 each seed for a string of 54. I don't expect to have the chance to get a mala from a tree I've actualy seen ever again!

Coonor has a lovely climate (in the first week in July...), although I found, as we went down the mountain, that I started feeling "right" again at about 1,500m. Thats about 1,000m below Ooty.

Visiting Mudhumalai meant going pretty much all the way down again, so we did plenty of mountain up-and-downs. This area was green and lush in july (intersting to read that it is not in January) and I really enjoyed the foliage and landscape. We didn't see anything really special on the trip around the reserve, but I just enjoyed the landscape.

It was funny seeing flowers in the gardens of Ooty and Coonor that I'm more accustomed to seeing in UK. Oh, there was one more charming garden we saw. It might have been in Kotagiri?

Well, that's some of the stuff we did in three days in the Nilgiris --- I really must start keeping a diary!
#10 Aug 1st, 2006, 18:23
Join Date:
Nov 2004
  • 2cents is offline
Originally Posted by yuhoo Could sm1 provide more info on

1. AValanche ? how to get there ? is there a pls to stay overnight ? is some permission reqd to visit this pls ?
If you are planning to go the Avalanchi route,there is a place to stay further up - Sundance.A single cabin tucked away in a remote corner.
#11 Aug 1st, 2006, 18:44
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Jul 2005
  • yuhoo is offline
is some special permission reqd to visit avalanche ? i heard u need to get permission @ some forest dept
#12 Mar 18th, 2010, 07:58
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Feb 2010
  • Bangalorewalla is offline
I liked this article, very useful. Anyone have a good map of the Wellington area. Need specially the garrison cemetery approach. Carn't find a google map of the same. ronnie
#13 Mar 19th, 2010, 00:20
Join Date:
Nov 2008
  • Dacoit Chief is offline
Originally Posted by Bangalorewalla View Post I liked this article, very useful. Anyone have a good map of the Wellington area. Need specially the garrison cemetery approach. Carn't find a google map of the same. ronnie
Hi Ronnie,

Forget trying to find decent current maps of the Nilgiris. They do not exist! Even the Google digitisations are all pretty inaccurate, as are the opensource maps you can find online. (Apart from Ooty and its immediate surroundings... which somebody has done nicely)

Navigation in the Nilgiris is done just like anywhere else in India. Get as close as possible to the site, and then ask. Which Garrison cemetery are you after? As far as I know, there are a few. I know that there are two churches (RC and CSI) within the Garrison, but I am not sure if each has a cemetery. The one that is mostly referred to as "Garrison Church" is the protestant CSI one. This has a small cemetery next to it. It is the large building with the clearing around it shown in the middle of this frame:

To get there from the Main Ooty to Coonoor road, take the intersection at Black Bridge (now called Sam Manekshaw Bridge). Cross the bridge and pass through the arch which is the main entrance of the "Madras Regiment Centre" (MRC). Then follow the main road (the one to the left) up the hill for about 750m through the Eucalyptus trees. You will then hit a small circle, with the main entrance to the Military Hospital on the left. You need to go in the opposite direction of this and take a small steep road to the right from the circle. This will take you directly to the Church. There are efficient military signs everywhere, and there should be some friendly MP's (Military Police) on the circle that you can ask.
Last edited by Dacoit Chief; Mar 19th, 2010 at 18:01..
#14 Mar 19th, 2010, 00:30
Join Date:
Nov 2008
  • Dacoit Chief is offline
If you need more help, just ask me. It will be a lifetimes work, but someday I will try find some time to edit the OpenStreetMap of the Coonoor/Wellington Area. For the area you are after, this is all there is:

Black Bridge is shown as 2 parallel bars in the middle.
#15 Apr 22nd, 2010, 22:13
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Apr 2010
  • Xkuger is offline

Thumbs up Brought back Nostalgic memories

This was a fantastic write up lonelyaztec

I say this because I grew up in Wellington all my school years. I went to St.Josephs down the road from Riga. In those days Riga was'nt even built.

You fantastic pictorial description of the wellington train station brough back nostalgic memories of us taking the train once a month when we would go to Ooty as a outing.

I did read all about the landslide and the train being out of service.. I hope they get it back online again. Also the train as it leave the wellington train station makes a curve up the hill over a very tall bridge which is a fantastic sight specially in the old days when they were coal trains.

Now I live thousands of miles away in New York and still miss the fantastic little town of wellington.

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