Travelling into Ooty

A quaint little town, straddling all of 37 Square Km’s, Ooty certainly deserves the title – The Queen of Hill Stations. A pleasant climate almost all through the year (barring a wet few weeks during the monsoon), an ideal locale, straddling the borders of Tamilnadu, Kerala and Karnataka, a diverse range of attritions from picture post card valleys, beautiful lakes, breathtaking views from strategic view points, green carpeted Tea plantations to thick green jungle cover abounding in an amazing range of flora and fauna – this place stands tall amongst the plethora of Hill stations in the country.

Being a hill station situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,359 feet) above seal level, Ooty has Two major modes of travel to get into the charming town. It is connected by Road links from three states (Tamil nadu, Karnataka and Kerala). Most of these approach roads are decent. The Pro's and Con's of each of them are discussed in detail below.

The single Rail route that connects connects Ooty to the outside world is through the world heritage Toy Train option, which starts from Mettupalayam and crawls it way up to Ooty.

Train Number: 56136  Boarding Point: Mettupalayam. Railway code: MTP        Destination Point: Ooty. Railway code: UAM

Travel time: 280 to 300 minutes Distance: 50 Kms Average Speed: 9 KMs / Hour Stops on the way: 6 Halts 

There are 6 road route options to climb up the Ooty hills, 3 of these are from Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore),  2 of them from Karnataka (Mysore) and 1 from Wayanad (Kerala)

1) Coimbatore - Mettupalyam- Coonoor - Ooty (90 Kms). This is the most widely used route. Excellent roads, passes through Kalar, Burliar, Coonoor, Ketti, laws falls etc. But being the most popular route, is often crowded and traffic prone. Most public transports and trucks ply this route.

 2) Coimbatore - Mettupalayam - Kothagiri - Ooty (105 Kms). A spectacular and scenic route with excellent roads passing through Kothagiri and Dodabetta. Less crowded but a bit longer in terms of distance. Roads are not as wide as the earlier one and help (breakdown / puncture) along the way are limited to towns like Kothagiri.

 3) Coimbatore - Karamadai - Mulli - Geddai - Manjur - Ooty. (130 Kms). A great wild route but not for the regular tourists. More for the adventurous kind, where patches of the route are bad in terms of road conditions and some patches excellent. The longest route to Ooty and hardly any traffic on it. It is easy to get lost in this route for there are very subtle deviations and forks. Roads are very narrow at points. Don't even think of immediate help should you have a flat or your vehicle stalls. Hardly any traffic at all. Some breathaking scenaries along the way.

 4) Mysore - Nanjangud - Gundalepet - Bandipur - Masinagudi - Kalhatty - Ooty (125 Kms). The most popular route from the Karnataka side. A mixture of good and bad roads (especially between Masinagudi to the foot hills of Kalhatti). However, the Kalhatti climb (or descent) is a very steep one and beginners on the road may need to exercise caution. It is about 36 hairpin bends in a short stretch of 15 odd Kms and some sharp inclines which need the first gear to grip the roads on the climb. You will need to be extremely cautious on the descent for the brake pads start smoking soon as they are constantly under pressure on the steep hills. The twilight hours on this route are magical to say the least for apart from the challenges of the steep climb, narrow roads, animal (especially elephant) movement are common on this stretch. First time ghat drivers and learning drivers need to be very careful on this route. The route is scenic as well and there are a couple of view points and the Kahatti falls on this stretch.

 5) Mysore - Nanjangud - Gundalpet - Bandipur - Gudalur - Naduvattam - Pykara - Ooty (160 Kms). The longest route from the Karnataka side but again very scenic for the Gudalur ooty stretch has a few great view points like the Needle point, Pykara etc. The roads are not very steep, but the public transport and truck traffic is something to be wary about. Some great places to stop for a Tea or a snack along the way and a few great picnic spots. Pykara boat lake is also on this route.

 6) Wayanad - Meenangadi - Pazhur - Noolpuzha - Devarshola - Gudalur - Naduvattam - Pykara - Ooty (110 Kms). The only option for an entry from Kerala (the other being via Palghat into Coimbatore and then pick an option between 1 & 3).

 Chances of encountering wildlife on the road is high on routes 3, 4 and 5.