Ooty – A Jewel in Nilgiris : South India II
|Ketti Valley, Valley of View, Ooty|
As we passed through the Coonoor region, which is almost midway between the base and destination, the scenery changed gradually to include tea plantations and while we were tempted to stop, we were reminded that this scene is going to be with us for most of the upcoming trip. In the interest of getting ahead of the traffic, we decided to skip these plantations for something which we now know was worth the wait. We also stopped by for a few moments at the Kattery Park on the way which is a children’s garden built in absolute beautiful surroundings. One would find it difficult to imagine the beauty that nature has to offer and one needs to be present there to realize it. As we had anticipated, avoiding traffic helped us move fast and we checked in our rest house by 8:30 AM. It was really a lovely accommodation surrounded by hills and nested in picturesque scenery. The toy train tracks passed a couple of feet from the building wall and we could literally shake hands with the passengers while still being in our room. The room was well set up with all modern amenities and it was an awesome place to spend our next two days of stay in this hill city. We rested for some time to get out of travel tiredness and had a great south Indian breakfast served in our room. We then proceeded for the site-seeing as it was difficult to restrain ourselves from all the beauty of nature surrounding us.
Sunrise on way to Ooty
Our first destination was the Dodapetta Peak, the highest peak of the Nilgiris and known as the peak of Tamil Nadu. We travelled for about half an hour to climb the roads towards this point and green slopes of the hills through the valleys abounded throughout the route to only become better from the top of the peak. The height of the location was enough in itself to give thrills and the breathtaking views of the hills were simply a cherry on the cake. There was a central view point which provided a panoramic view around which, though good was confined to the glass walls. A short hike ahead the raw natural view was much more catching. Nothing beats a Chana zor garam (a snack) at this location. We spent some great leisure moments and then hesitantly decided to move to the next location. The next thing we planned to cover was the nearby tea and the chocolate factory - Dodapetta Tea Factory. This was one of the few factories which allowed tourists to get in and see the manufacturing process live in its operational environment. They had set up a good system to allow people to see how the famous Nilgiri Tea is made right from start to end. There, the facility manager himself was present to explain the entire lifecycle of tea making from plucking of tea leaves to fermentation and segregation to packaging with live demo from within the sections of the factory. He explained the details of the process along with difference in various types of tea over a complimentary cup of tea made from leaves processed in the same factory. The slight chill and steaming tea with this flavor and fragrance was sure to put up a question – can we buy some of it to take back home. Well the answer was yes, but that was for a bit later. While we are on the topic, let me gist down the tea making process we could grasp.
|Naming it Terrace Housing|
|View - Dodapetta Peak|
Along with the tea production, the facility had a small chocolate making center where we saw how flowing chocolate paste was getting converted into freshly made mouthwatering desserts. We bought quite some tea and chocolates as souvenirs. Later we moved ahead to Botanical Gardens which were near the city. These gardens had well-manicured grasses and beautifully carved trees and hedges depicting various forms and patterns. It was indeed an awesome model of horticulture. There were many greenhouses to provide the right environment to hundreds of variety of plants and flowers spread over expansive campus. This was definitely a place for interest for any botany enthusiast and though we appreciated the superficial beauty, a person really interested in this field would definitely find worth all the effort in maintaining such a huge garden. We spent over an hour there and then went for a quick tour across the nearby Rose Gardens. These gardens famous for numerous varieties of rose when on full blossom did play sort of spoilsport as it was seeding season and hence flowers were limited in numbers. We were starving by this point and hence we broke for lunch and Pakwaan Restaurant. The place had a decent spread with good food and nice ambience and served good North Indian menu. We tried their thali which is economical yet provides enough variety over a 4 course meal.
Post lunch it was time for another significant travel to our next point of interest which was about 20 kilometers from the city center. Though the travel was involved we were not repenting any moment of it. Lush green surreal views were more than enough to keep us going on the road. We were heading to the Pykara Dam when the clock showed 3. After about 40-45 minutes ride our car stopped by the Kamaraj Dam on the way. We visited the dam and then headed forward and soon reached the Pykara dam. A few kilometers ahead we had the landing to go for the boat house which has a boating facilitiy in the Pykara Dam. It is great boating experience in the undisturbed water of the dam reservoir that creates a lake of about 50 square kilometers and over 100 feet depth. The entire area is surrounded by lush green forests across Nilgiris. There is also a waterfall created by the dam’s extension which provides a good point to sit across and relax. There is also a view point developed nearby called the Shooting Point owing to being the location of many Bollywood movie shoots.
|Looking at the trip ahead|