Tamil Nadu, India
(17/08/2014 – 18/08/2014)
I have traveled alone before. But it has never been for myself. Always to meet a friend, or a boyfriend (at that point of time) or in a group of friends. But the escapism that travelling alone can provide has always eluded me.
Someone asked me: ‘What is the one thing you would like to do if there was no strings attached in your life?’ And all I could think of as an answer was ‘To disappear’ I never had the travel bug. Yes, like everyone else in this world I wanted to see the world renowned cities, experience the haute couture. But travel bug, that itchy feeling to get a backpack ready and move was never a part of me. That is until few days ago. I finally got to experience that one solo trip that is just all for you because you wanted to go somewhere, and do something according to your own wish, and not follow the crowd.
Travelguru, Redbus and KSRTC made my life easier. One thing is for sure, I really do like the easy life. Not that I don’t like living in budget, but seriously, easier the better.
15/08/2014 – Hopped down at Bangalore for my first quora meetup as part of the global initiative. Met new people, conversed awkwardly initially over couple of subways and a very hungry stomach. Actually conversed more over coffees and pav bhaaji. In short, sober and good time can happen, and is always better when the company is of that sort. Don’t get me wrong. I am a very social person, and I have led a very hectic party life. But once in a while I just want to let my hair down, literally and just unwind.
16/08/2014 – Spend the day just relaxing in the hotel. Plus point of a budget hotel is you don’t have much to hotel. Negative point of being in Bangalore is everything is too bloody expensive, especially the autos. Having a night of travel means you just have lot of time to kill on your hand. And if you really don’t want to shop (and being a shopaholic I am saying this) there’s not much you can do about it.
17/08/2014 to 18/08/2014 – The day starts when you open your eyes to a foggy chilly morning. I knew Ooty was a hill station, but this makes you contemplate whether you really have the right clothes to carry with you when the temperature stays constant around 13 degrees all year long. Seeing everyone wearing woolen turtle necks and scarfs and hats really wasn’t a reassuring factor on top of it.
The Hotel That I selected – Lakeview Hotel, was seriously the best that I have ever stayed in. Not only budget wise (I had somehow saved up a lot for it), but also as the personality of the hotel as well as that of the staff suited my nature very well. I like minding my own business. And the secluded cottages allotted for each guests enabled that.
Freshen up and get set go!!
I like researching a lot, and accordingly I planned the places I wanted to go for sure. There are lot of trekking places in and around Ooty. And those with the adventure fever can truly have a gala time trekking up the hills and communing with the nature. I prefer my feat to be grounded and not to huff and puff a lot, and hence chose the spots more inclined to tourists, and more commercialized. Public transport have a fixed rate, so no worry of getting cheated there. So this was my check list.
- Thread Garden – One must simply visit the place just to see how under-appreciated Indian craftsmanship is. Each and every single petal, grass, stem, leaf has been made single-handedly by threads.
- Rose Garden – This is just not a simple garden, but a shrine to all kinds of roses that you can imagine, with names as creative as it gets. You can actually imagine the full glory of the place during the season of full bloom, with the sweet, cloying scent permeating the air around you. And the garden has been so well-maintained that you will actually enjoy the stroll through numerous lanes.
Infamous Pine Forest and horse riding through it – You remember the Bollywood movies where the actors are running amongst trees, serenading each other with songs that used to have a meaningful lyrics? Well, there you go!!! When foreign destinations were still a high budget aspect for a movie, Ooty and its pine forest provided the much needed mysticism. My guide serenaded me with all the details of each and every song from movies that has ever been shot there, and how well he knows!!!
Nilgiri Toy Train – The Railway station is located at the heart of the city and the toy train is an experience that one should always experience. Be warned though… 5 hours is a very a long time. If you are agreeable to wasting that much amount of time on something that ancient, then go for it!
Safari in Mudumalai National Park – They have maintained the animal sanctuary and habitat beautifully, I’ll give credits for that. But seriously, you have to be careful about the timings you choose to go. If you are hoping for an excited glimpse of the Tigers, then you just might run out of luck. A tip, go for the bus service provided by the park authorities. They will take you through the lesser traveled tracks, unlike the preferred jeep services.
Ooty Lake and Pykara Falls and Lake – Both the places are one of the most commercialized spots in Ooty, and the most preferred ones by families with kids and couples. Boating, Ferry services, amusement park for kids. You name it. It’s all there. Boating and ferry and services similar to that are extremely over-priced and hence I avoided them completely. But serenity of the place will capture your soul for sure. Water truly has a calming effect. One thing to remember about Pykara Fall is if you have imagine some kind of glorious natural waterfall, then you will be sorely disappointed. The fall is basically seen only when the dam is opened in view of shortage of electricity in the city. So this is completely fluke and on your luck.
- Shooting Point – Nothing so murderous as the name suggest. This is basically the place where all the scenic moments that you see in Indian cinema are directed/shot. A panoramic landscape with lot of opportunities to have a new display picture for your social networking sites.
For the adventurous ones, the check list will further include certain must-ones, at least according to me (and the ones that I failed to visit):
Doddabetta peak – It is the highest point on Nilgiris and the view from the top will just catch your breathe, both literally and metaphorically.
Upper Bhavani Lake and Avalanche Lake – Another scenic spot. And a beautiful place to see if you google it up.
There are many more of course. But these are the ones that attracted my attention purely on how the view is.
Overall, You will be charmed by the city, because of its beauty, and its enthusiastic Hindi-speaking locals, and the romantic cosy atmosphere that is present year around. I will call it a successful first trip, and the worthy one in my book.