Into the Quiet Corner of Nilgiris
With kids exams getting over and summer heat hitting the peak, I decided to head for a weekend trip on the fly, to the Queen of the Blue Mountains (Ooty) with family. Ooty for most of us resonates to lush green tea gardens, chocolates, Gardens and the best part pleasant weather. My memories of this place were limited to age old standard school or college trips. But like any other place, its been over commercialized, so visiting the road well traveled by everyone was no-go for me. As usual i have to pick up offbeat locations and believe me, still there are less known places in Ooty for many of us and I managed to uncover few. So our trip was set to Avalanche side which is a 30 km drive from Ooty. Many places around Avalanche is still untouched and brimming with natural beauty and the best part absolutely zero crowd at many places.
Here are the 8 lakes i had in mind to cover: Avalanche, Emerald , Upper Bhavani, Porthimund , Parson Valley and Western catchment 1-2-3. Parson and Western catchment requires special permission to visit and its not that easy to get in a day. A bit of upfront homework would have helped me to cover those. So my trip was limited to Emerald, Avalanche, Upper Bhavani and Porthimund lake this time. For the next visit i will cover Kinnakorai which in itself is a beauty and is the last village near the Kerala border. That would require a full day travel to explore areas near the village.
We decided to stay at one of the most beautiful resort named Red Hill Nature resort, so that reaching these places can be easy especially as i wanted to view sunrise and sunset. Made a telephonic call to book the place and we were all set. The place, old world charm of ORIGINAL BADAGAS, is just awesome. Badagas are one of the original inhabitants of the Nilgiris.
We reached the Resort by 12.30 noon and greeted by Mr. Vijay and his 3 beloved and friendly pet dogs (Mika, Luna and Alfy ). We were just dumbstruck once we reached the resort after a 7 hours self drive from Bangalore. The view was just splendid with one side overlooking the Emerald Lake and another side tea gardens. The 150 years old bunglow stood it time and still looks majestic. Mr. Vijay and his family has maintained it beautifully along with a fantastic hospitality you can ever get. A home made scrumptious lunch cooked with organic grown vegetables was just delicious. After a quick nap, we decided to head towards organic farming place which is around 45 minutes drive from the resort for sunset. And the journey was bit difficult as only 4*4 can reach that place. The roads looked secluded and scary. Then we saw few villages and plenty of tea plantations. The 360 degree views are really worth the visit.
Woke up at 5.45 am to catch the first rays of Sun, while the entire world is still at sleep. The sunrise was on its full glory with minimal colors.
Meanwhile during bf, one of the guest staying there recommended not to visit Upper Bhavani as its mostly dried and there will be a lot of crowd. And moreover i dont like taking a time bound trips where they wont allow time to enjoy the nature. Also our host said the highlight of our stay would be to do a trekking to the top (1000 ft) which starts from the resort. Nature calls the strong hearted for a walk in the jungle. It took 1 hr 15 minutes for us to reach and its steep climb through out. This apparently is the third highest point in Ooty which give a visual splendor of seeing three lakes in one go. Photography in the middle of the noon time was extremely difficult, so the shots were sort of OK to me. Ideally the best time to start the trek would be 4.30 am so that we can reach the top before sunrise, but as we need to cross through a jungle, it was deemed dangerous. The trek did take a big toll but the dogs were a real inspiration. They apparently love trekking ,guiding us and staying with us through out the trek. Once we reached the top, we were lost in the vast expanse of visual splendor in front of us.
In the evening we decided to go to Porthimund lake and it took us around 45 minutes to reach the place. We just reached on nick of time for the sunset. Though not that impressive with low water levels, the lake still looked majestic on the mountain back drop. We were the only souls in that place. Make sure you go with a guide as there is no proper sign boards nor are people on the way to ask for a route :).
As usual i went out for a solo early morning drive to Avalanche side for a misty sunrise shot. Driving alone in those roads felt bit scary but thats the fun about visiting offbeat locations. The atmosphere was pitch perfect for shots. And in the evening a stroll down the emerald lake. The walk was through luxuriant thickets of Eucalyptus.
Time to say good bye and the hard part was of course the dogs, the best companion anyone can have. They were just lovable and tears came from my sons eyes when we parted. He was with the dogs throughout. Will I visit the place again, and its a big hell Yes.
Here are the few snaps from this rare travel experience
BLR - NICE Road - Malavalli - Nanjagud - Gundalpet - 36 hair pin curves - Ooty - Avalanche
Return not possible via same Road, only TN-43 vehicles allowed to get down via hair pin bend. So add one hour and a 50 kms additional drive via Gudalur side.