There is absolutely no doubt in the fact that hills and mountains are some of the prettiest places in the world. Apart from being great to look at, these also make up for excellent places to have fun. Thankfully, our country has no dearth of hills; they are everywhere…east, west, north, south! Most of you reading this blog must already know quite a lot about the hill stations in the Himalayas. It is those in South India that are relatively lesser known, but extremely amazing. Today, I will be focusing on Ooty, a picturesque hill town in Tamil Nadu. To know how you can make a trip to the hill town memorable, keep reading.
Things to do in Ooty
1. Capture unmatched beauty from Ooty Lake
This is one activity you must definitely try if you are here with your family or partner. A leisurely ride on the clear waters of Ooty Lake, with views of the clear, blue sky above and tall trees all around will definitely relax your mind. The lake is so popular among tourists that many Ooty hotels have come up near it.
2. Enjoy a tryst with wildlife at Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
The Western Ghats are extremely rich in wildlife; in fact so rich that these are one of the Eight Hottest Hotspots of Biodiversity in the World. This makes wildlife tour a must-do activity in Ooty. Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which includes several national parks, is the best place for a wildlife tour in the area. You can go on a Jeep safari, elephant safari, bird watching trip or a hike through the reserve. Among the animals you can spot here are tigers, gaurs, Nilgiri tahrs, lion-tailed macaques, elephants, Malabar giant squirrels, grey langurs and leopards.
3. Take stunning pictures at Government Botanical Garden
The Government Botanical Garden is arguably the prettiest place within the town, and taking a stroll through it is a highly recommended activity. It boasts plants and flowers in all colours possible in variously themed gardens. If you come here in May, remember to attend the flower exhibition, which will be a literal treat to your eyes. The green landscape, interspersed with flowers, makes for amazing photographs. You can stay at FabHotel SRJ’s Thaneesh Southwick to easily access the botanical garden.
4. Tour the Tea Museum
For a unique and enriching experience, you can go on a tour of the tea factory and museum. Located in Doddabetta, it is a tea estate, tea factory and tea museum all in one. You can walk through the lush plantations, and see local women plucking the choicest leaves. Further, you can take a tour of the factory to see how the leaves are processed and packed. Don’t forget to try local tea and take some home with you.
5. Have a Fun Day Out at Pykara Waterfalls and Lake
Thanks to hilly surroundings, Ooty and the area around it are home to several stunning waterfalls. About 20 km from Ooty, Pykara Falls is an idyllic spot to enjoy a picnic, get refreshed and forget your troubles. Being outside the main town, it is incredibly quiet as well; the silence is only broken by the sound of the water splashing on rocks and chirping of birds. All around the waterfalls are gently sloping meadows with velvety grass and tall trees. There is even a lake here, on which you can enjoy a boat ride.
6. Trek to see the lesser-frequented places
How can one not go trekking when in the hills?! The Western Ghats in and around Ooty are not as steep as the Himalayas, so hiking here will be a lot easier. If you have no prior experience in trekking, but want to take it up, then this is a great place for you to begin. The hiking trail would take you through lush forests, and before you know, you would be in open grasslands, called shola locally. You can trek to remote tribal villages, valleys deep inside the hills or almost-unknown lakes.
7. Ride the Toy Train
Whatever you do or don’t do, you absolutely have to travel on the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway. The railway line connecting Coimbatore and Ooty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to it being the only rack railway in the country and the views it offers. The train takes passengers over mountains, past farms, across rivers on high bridges and through several dark tunnels. It will be a ride you will remember for a long, long time.
8. Repose at Pine Forest
If you ever go to Ooty, you must not miss out on visiting the pine forest. This is one of the very few places in the country outside the Himalayas with pine vegetation. You could simply sit under a tree and read peacefully or walk around to explore the area more.
9. Get a Taste of Homemade Chocolates
Did you know that besides its natural beauty, Ooty is also famous for its homemade chocolates? Yes, this is true, and when you come to this picturesque hill town, do try the chocolates made here. Since these are not mass produced in a large factory, these are bound to be better than your branded ones. You can get these in a wide variety; the options include dark, regular and white, whereas the various flavors are fruit and nut, cashew, raisins, pineapple, strawberry, orange, coconut, almond and butterscotch. This is not all that can be done in Ooty. You can also visit the Government Museum for a glimpse into the local culture. All these activities can be enjoyed round the year, regardless of the season. So, head to Ooty today, and believe me, you will enjoy every bit of your vacation.