Travel Guide Asia India Tamil Nadu Ooty



three and the sky

three and the sky

© coolbois

Ooty is a town and hill resort in Tamil Nadu in southern India. Ooty stands at 2,240 m (7,347) feet above sea level in the Nilgiri mountain range. It was founded in the 19th century by the British, and served as the summer headquarters of the Madras Presidency.

Located in the mountainous range called the Nilgiris ("Blue Mountains"), it draws swarms of tourists every year. The weather is quite pleasant at a mean of 15-20 °C around the year, dropping to lows of 0 °C during winter. The landscape is marked by rolling hills covered with dense vegetation, smaller hills and plateaus covered with tea gardens, and eucalyptus trees. Many portions of the hills are preserved as natural reserve forests, and special permits will be needed to camp in noncamp sites. Ooty is not the destination in itself, as much as it is the focal point of attraction. Auto touring the surrounding country side is certainly a must do. Unfortunately, the hill town suffers from overcrowding and erosion of natural resources. Tourism has placed an enormous strain on the natural resources resulting in pollution, water shortage and roads.

The hilly region also houses smaller towns like Coonoor and Kotagiri. These smaller towns are a better choice to visit and spend time in, since they are off the beaten path, yet less than 1 hour away from Ooty. They enjoy the same natural climes and prices are a lot cheaper.



Sights and Activities

  • Doddabetta Peak. The Dodabetta Peak stands at an altitude of 2,623 m. It is the highest point in the district, making it possibly the best vantage point around Ooty. It is 10 km from Ooty so you can simply grab your camera and head straight to the peak, and click amazing pictures of the valley below. Many say that on a clear day, which is honestly not that often, one can see far off areas, even the plains of Coimbatore and the flat highlands of Mysore. You can get there by catching a bus from ooty bus stand which will charge you ₹10, but will have to walk about 3 km. from the stop where the bus will drop you. You will enjoy the way up the peak, if you love walking.
  • Ooty Botanical Gardens. If you are on a sightseeing tour to Ooty, you might want to visit the Government Botanical gardens, which were laid out in 1847. The picturesque gardens that are maintained by the Horticulture department of the state, cover an area of about 22 ha. The gardens have well over 650 species of plants and trees, including a fossil of a tree, which is believed to be more than 20 million years old. The garden is very popular with nature lovers and those who long to walk among greenery and see rare ferns and shrubs up close. If you are in Ooty in the month of May, then you can also be a part of the summer festival, which is held here annually. The festival holds flower shows and various cultural programs showcasing the talent of the locals and the renowned artists.



Getting There

By Plane

The Coimbatore airport is the closest to the hills at 3½ hours by road. There are flights into Coimbatore from Singapore, Sharjah, Colombo and most parts of India including Mumbai (Air India, Jet Airways and Indigo), Chennai (Spicejet, Air India, Indigo and Jet Airways) and Bangalore. The Mysore airport is about 4 hours away from Ooty by road. The road trip is quite scenic from either airport.

By Train

The hills are connected to by a nightly train. The Nilgiri Express (Train No. 2671) leaves from Chennai at night, and reaches Mettupalayam (which Indian Rail spells Metupalaiyam), a small town at the foothills of the Nilgiris early the next morning.

Most people prefer to travel the 51 km distance from Mettupalayam to Ooty by taxi or bus because those who have travelled by the mountain railway option know how uncomfortable and slow it can be. Even worse is the fact that two thirds of the jouney doesn't go through scenic hills. The beautiful hills start only after Ketty or Lovedale. The 51 km distance can be covered in two hours by road whereas the toy train takes about six hours. That is why the locals avoid the mountain train like the plague.

If you have lots and lots of patience, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway train leaves Mettupalayam at 7:10 am pushed by a small steam powered historic locomotive that is a remnant of Swiss-engineered trains imported in the late 1800s. The steam train is much smaller, and can only accommodate a portion of the passengers that disembark at Mettupalayam.You have to book separate ticket for this journey. Tickets can be booked through [http:/www.irctc.co.in IRCTC] like any other rail ticket booking.

The steam train takes a very boring route and there are constant stops and repair sessions on the way. At some stations, the engine has to take on water. The train uses a rack and pinion system to haul itself up steep slopes, and also to prevent the train from sliding down when stopping. The train is pushed from behind. There are brakesmen at the rear of every carriage who will apply and release hand powered brakes individually for that carriage. The train often travels at 5-10 km/h, allowing some adventurous passengers to disembark from the train and walk along the train. This practice is not recommended and can be dangerous, besides there is a good chance that the train will speed up, and you will be unable to get back on board.

If you don't have a confirmed ticket of that toy train then you would not get the chance to board in it as railways issue limited say only 30 tickets on the spot at Mettupalayam starting at 5 am, and at 1 pm at Ooty for the entire journey from Mettupalayam to Ooty, and make sure that you have gained proximity to the ticket window before it opens. This is because of unexpected rushes when the ticket counter opens for business. It is no use trying for a ticket at Mettuppalayam because of the heavy rush in the morning. But tickets are easier at Ketty and Lovedale stations up the hill. You can go there by bus.

By Car

The Nilgiris are in Tamil Nadu, but it is quite near the borders of neighboring states Karnataka and Kerala. The hills consequently can be reached from within Tamil Nadu by travelling up a heavily forested winding road, with many sharp hair-pin bends. The road trip from any state is quite scenic, although the Coimbatore-Mettupalayam-Coonoor-Ooty road (i.e. the Tamil Nadu route) is the most travelled and well maintained. All roads to the Nilgiri hills are toll roads, although the tolls are quite nominal.

One can also avail taxi from the Coimbatore "new bus stand", they agree to go for ₹2500/- (negotiable) when reserved and ₹600/- each on sharing basis, four people share an Omni (Maruti Van). In case a hotel has been per-booked, they often have contracts will taxis to provide pick-ups to and from Coimbatore for ₹2000/-.

Ooty is 284 km from Bangalore by road. The journey takes about 8 hours, depending on the condition of the road. One can take a shorter route for which a diversion has to be taken at Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary. This route will take you past the small towns of Masinagudi and Kalhatti. This route will curtail the distance to Ooty by about 50 km. This road is closed at night as it passes through the jungle, so you may actually have to spend a few hours at the check post which is closed invariably at night. Only good drivers should take on this road as it is very narrow and steep.You'll find some eateries and a fuel station in the town of Masinagudi. There are some wonderful resorts around Masinagudi town where one can rent a cottage. These places are a good weekend getaway for rest and relaxation. There are eating places between Bangalore and Mysore, and within Mysore, but from Mysore to Ooty one should carry some food, as there are very few restaurants. Start early if you can so that the drive through Bandipur and Mudumalai forest can be done leisurely taking in the occasional animal sightings.

By Bus

There are buses and shared taxi vans that can be boarded from most parts of India to Ooty. If you don't want wake up early to take the train from Coimbatore, plenty of buses are also going to Ooty. The Coimbatore "new bus station" has frequent bus service to Ooty via Mettupalayam, and it takes around 3½ hours to get there. However buses are not every comfortable and often crowded. The lack of air conditioning in the buses hurts till it reaches the hills. One can also avail taxi from the same "new bus stand".

On the way back in morning, some buses make a 10-15 minute stop over at Mettupalayam for breakfast. From the "new bus station" it takes about 25 minutes by (another) bus to reach the Coimbatore railway station. From Kozhikode (Calicut) there are two government buses daily, leaving 05:00 and 07:00, travel time is about 6 hours. Mysore is served few times a day, too. From Kannur there is a KSRTC bus starting at 7:30AM everyday and a Tamil Nadu bus at 10PM everyday reaching ooty at 4PM and 7AM next day respectively.



Getting Around

Taxis, tourist cabs, auto rickshaws are available in plenty. There are no standard rates except for tourist cabs. Rickshaws charge a minimum of ₹30. Town buses are available to all important places. Conducted sight seeing tours are arranged by private operators and the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC). There are around 3-4 different day trip routes/packages available. Bus day-trip cost ₹125-150 and taxi day-trip cost ₹900-1100. Even if you arranged the taxi through the hotel (even TTDC), verify with the hotel and operator before the trip that there are no hidden costs. Taxi drivers will often demand high parking fees and lunch, which is already paid for. It is not uncommon for bus/taxi drivers to get commission from remote restaurants and shops. These places are overpriced, try avoiding such restaurants.

Bus and taxi will take tourists to remote, high-priced restaurants for lunch. Try not to eat in such places because the food is cold, the place is not clean beyond the façade, and it is always overpriced (you will end up paying for taxi driver's lunch, too).

Also avoid driver's recommendation for sleeping arrangements. They (few of them) will take you to the hotels for accommodation where they get 20% commission, which will be added in your room tariff without your knowledge.




There are various restaurants in Ooty, mostly offering South Indian food, but some offer North Indian food.

One can also obtain some Chinese/Indo-Chinese food from restaurants such as Wang's kitchen, Shinkow and Western food such as pizza and sandwiches from chains like Hot Breads. Try avoiding Shinkows since most of the items are overpriced and the staff there is rude. Do not miss trying Ooty's famous buns, varkis, cakes, and other baked goods, as well as fruit and nut chocolates. Try Modern Stores, Kingstar Bakery and Pichakani stores.




The Nilgiris are famous for tea.




There is no dearth of accommodations, with many hotels and inns that cater to every budget. Accommodations are no more expensive than most cities in India, and the popular Indian hotel chains have a presence here.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




Keep Connected


There's good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.

Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.


See also International Telephone Calls

The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.

The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.

Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9', '8', or '7'. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.

If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You'll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you'll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.

Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you'll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.


India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.

If you want to send bigger packages/parcels, it might be better, faster and sometimes even cheaper, to contact a private company like DHL, TNT or UPS.


Accommodation in Ooty

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This is version 13. Last edited at 13:55 on Sep 27, 18 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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