Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ooty Conquered !!

Good Friday holiday expects us to go on a long ride. How could we waste a good long weekend like that? But the weather was playing tricks on us. We had taken permission to leave early from office on Thursday afternoon and had decided to go up to Mysore and take a night halt. But just before our scheduled departure time, the rain gods were out in full force and there was much indecisiveness about whether to go or not. By the time we were able to get out of office and try to decide whether to go or not, it was already 6 in the evening and we didn't feel up to the ride with the tiring decision making and the fact that we worked overtime in office in order to leave early. So we decided we will get up in the morning and check the weather and decide whether to go or not. We filled up the tank and the wallets and went to sleep.
We are up and ready before 5. The weather looks good so we arrange the new cramster bags which we had bought to avoid any luggage problems which we had faced before. The bag design is a genius (that's an exaggeration). I mean, it fits so well on the bike, has enough room to stuff a lot of things in it, and it has a design element for each requirement like some easy access compartments, bottle holders, rain protection and the like. It is an absolute must for people who are serious about going on long trips on their bikes.
Ok, so the ride is on at 5 in the morning. The weather is nice and cold with early morning breeze. It was a smooth ride till Coffee day at Channapatna. After half an hour break for the essentials we are back on the road at 7. There is a light drizzle and all through the way till Mysore, the rain gods were threatening us with a few drops here and there but I guess they like us and so they didn't bring forth a huge downpour. I was thanking the Gods for that.
We reached Mysore by 8:30 and didn't take the bypass road to Ooty and entered Mysore so that we could have breakfast. After searching for a hotel, we finally found a small one and had our staple travel breakfast of idlies and tea. We left Mysore by 9:15 and went through Nanjangud, Gundlupet. The road from Gundlupet to Bandipur is in a bad state. But in the forest, the road was good and the surroundings beautiful. We spotted deer and peacocks near the road but didn't stop to take pictures. The forest on the Tamil Nadu side is called Madumalai Wildlife Sanctuary.
After the sanctuary, there are two ways to reach Ooty. One is through Gudalur and the other through Masinagudi. The only thing we knew about the 2 routes is that the Masinagudi one had 36 hair pin bends while the other didn't but was longer by almost 30 kms. And that most people still took the Masinagudi route. We stopped to decide which one to take and finally decided on '36 hair pin bends' route. The hair pin bends and some portions of the road are quite steep. Even our 350cc Enfield was having trouble climbing at some places and it didn't help that Anurag and my combined weight was around 150 kgs and some more weight for the luggage. We saw even a few cars, specially the smaller ones having trouble climbing. The 25 odd kilometers of ghats took us nearly 2 and a half hours and some stops to let the bike cool down.
At 3:15 we were finally in Ooty in the hotel room. We had booked Hotel Villa Park through Makemytrip. It was slightly cheaper through the site than direct booking. It is a huge place with all types of rooms. We had taken the standard room which was slightly small but very clean. The bathroom was big, neat, functional and very clean. Trying to decide on a hotel in Ooty is very difficult if you are using internet as the source. Every hotel has some bad reviews written about it.
We had to wait till 4 for the restaurant to open and then we had some nice dosas and went back to the room. It was very cold and it was a good thing the hotel provides heaters in every room. We sat with our feet facing the heater and then went to sleep. We got up at 6:30 and decided to go for a walk around the market place near the bus stand. It was very near from the hotel. It was like bone chilling cold and I could feel my nose turn into ice ;) but it was really nice to walk around in the mist and clouds. No sooner did we reach the hotel, it started raining. Thank you again, rain gods!

The next day, the weather was bad with rain and mist all through the day. So we had booked a van tour which would show us coonor and some spots in ooty. At most viewpoints, all we could 'view' was clouds instead of tribal villages ;) But they were beautiful views nonetheless. The tea gardens looked so beautiful especially in this weather.
At Dodabetta peak, I thought we have reached subzero temperatures (exaggeration again!)
We didn't go to the Botanical Garden and left the van there. We went roaming and exploring on foot. We reached Charring cross and saw a nice looking restaurant called 'Sidewalk Cafe' or something. As soon as we entered, we saw Rocky and Mayur and their team. These are the guys who go around eating food on highways ;)!! They come on NDTV Good Times channel in a show called Highway on my Plate. We really like the show and so we were happy to meet them. After some more roaming around and some shopping, we were back to the hotel.

The next day we had a nice Ayurvedic massage at the hotel. After bath and breakfast, it was already 10:45. Anurag went to an Enfield mechanic to show the bike as it had a strenuous ride up to Ooty. The oil needed to be changed and all of that took nearly 2 hours. So, we could finally check out after 1:30 only. We had lunch at the hotel after that and then left at 3. The mechanic had told that Gudalur route is a curse for the shock absorbers and so we went through the Masinagudi route again. I had my heart in my mouth for the entire 30 minutes it took for us to climb down the ghats. I had clutched the seat so tight, my hand started paining. I used to breathe a sign of relief for every hairpin bend that we crossed. Phew! I am glad we made it after all. Climbing up took us 2 and a half hours but we came down in just 30 minutes!!
While crossing the forests, this time, we saw lots of elephants close by. One tusker was almost standing on the road. We stopped at JLR restaurant after Bandipur for tea and reached Mysore at 8. We saw the lit up palace and hunted for a descent hotel. Finally found one and crashed for the night. Next morning, started at 5:30 and were home at around 8 and back to office at 10 in the morning.
Every ride we take on feels better than the previous!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks like a nice n enjoyable trip you had....your passage continuity is pretty well done!! - Anon :) but u always find it out

chetan said...

I'm almost jealous of your trip. The photographs are amazing and the trip on an enfield sounds even better.

DEESHA said...

I loved the pics .. beautiful .. I went to ooty when I was 5, I really dont remember any of it

Kusum rao said...

Nice and informative blog. Me and my hubbie are also planning to hire a kinetic honda/activa when we visit ooty and conoor. It's something we would like to explore ourselves. I was wondering if the ride was safe along ghat roads as I would be riding in parts. Did you switch off the engine while going downhill? Just need some tips and wondering if there are many female riders out there? Thanks.