Route Map: Bengaluru to Ooty via Salem Junction
Which destination pops up in your mind’s eye by the very mention of the name Nilgiris? It must be either Ooty or Conoor which is, of course, the most sought-after tourist spot. But, do you know that there are also some offbeat attractions in the queen of hills which are really mind-blowing? Our recent trip to these intoxicating locations was truly an unforgettable one. Allow me to take you through a quick virtual tour across the unsung attractions cozily nestled in these majestic hills.
As residents of Bengaluru, we chose to take the road trip via the Coimbatore- Salem route. When we entered the winding path of the hills after a long journey through the plains, we were greeted with a whiff of fresh eucalyptus scent which was extremely rejuvenating. We decided to explore the offbeat locations, skipping the more famous ones. The first on our list was the Emerald dam.
If you want to view nature in its purest form, then this breathtaking scenic spot should take a special place in your itenerary. A shining, placid green lake in the midst of tall pine trees or in other words a stunning emerald jewel studded in the centre of lush greenery, can best describe this out- of- the- world destination.
Location: Situated at about 18 km from Ooty, this place is an hour- and- a- half drive from the city’s bus stand and on the way of the next exotic tourist spot which I am going to describe.
Some tips to note:
_ As the spot is remote, it is best to avoid the place after sunset.
_ Some snacks should be kept handy as there are no eateries close by.
Avalanchi Amman temple.
This exhilarating scenic destination gets its name after a landslide way back in 1823 due to which the stunning location was formed. If you are a nature lover and are longing to have a break from your hectic schedule then the ambience of this location will act as a perfect tranquiliser to the fidgety mind. You are welcomed by a canopy of trees as the region is approached. After the check post is reached you are not allowed to use your own vehicle. You have to depend on a forest vehicle to complete the tour. The ticket pricing is Rs 150 per head. The forest jeep takes you through a thick forest. Your luck decides whether you’ll be able to spot any animals. There are three pit stops which can be listed as the Cauliflower View Point, Bhavani Amman temple and the Avalanchilake. The three places offer terrific scenic views which vie with each other for your attention. The Cauliflower View Point offers a breathtaking view of slopes covered by sholatrees which have a striking resemblence to the cauliflower vegetable. Now you know why this view point is so named. The next spot gives a perfect view of the Bhavani river (a tributary of the river Cauvery) gushing down from its source ThalaiBhavani. The last stop is a mesmerising spot formed by a crystal clear lake nestled in the midst of huge slopes covered with ample greenery.
Location: Situated at about 25 kms from the heart of Ooty, it is an hour’s drive.
Some tips to note:
_ Though the timings of the jungle tour through the Avalanchi area last from about 8 am to 3 pm, it is best to be an early bird and book the tickets for the tour well in advance. There are chances that you do not get any tickets for the tour if you reach there late during the peak tourist season as the tickets are given only on a first-come-first-served basis.
_ Beware of the monkeys which loiter about, eagerly eyeing the snacks in your hand.
_ Another information to be kept in mind is that the Avalanchi lake remains closed on Mondays for the purpose of maintenance.
_ If you want to take some cool photographs with a picturesque view of the tea gardens in the backdrop, then you are free to do so as there is an open entry to a few of them on the way to Avalanchi.
Pine forest shooting spot.
Imagine walking through slopes filled with an array of closely planted pine trees soaring into the sky and overlooking a serene lake. Well, the beauty of the place cannot be explained through mere words and has to be experienced personally. No wonder it has served the purpose of some famous cinema shootings.
Location: Located at about nine kms from the heart of Ooty, this is a place which should not be missed by any tourist.
Some tips to note:
_ As one has to walk through slopes to enjoy this place to the fullest, do ensure that you are wearing comfortable footwear.
_ The entry fee is Rs 10 per head.
_ The location opens at about 8 am.
Once used as a hunting ground by the British and the Europeans, this panoramic view point comprises of spectacular rolling hills, spanning about 20,000 acres of lush green meadows. The top of the hillock serves as a perfect picnic spot and offers some exotic views of the Nilgiris.
Location: Being 16 kms from Ooty’s centre, one will never regret one’s decision for having visited this place.
Some tips to note:
_ One can combine this place with another splendid location called the Pykara dam, located at about an hour’s drive from Wenlock Downs.
_ Timings are from 9 am to 6.30 pm.
On our way back we took the Ooty-Mysore highway, which extends through the Bandipur and Mudumalai forests. We were lucky enough to spot some deer, elephants and langurs. This is a quick gist of our short but sweet trip loaded with evergreen memories. To conclude, Ooty’s unsung attractions are just as attractive as the well known ones. Three cheers to the queen of hills.