What better way to beat the heat than spend a weekend up in the blue mountains of Ooty. Our family holiday in the hills was an exceptionally enjoyable getaway.
What better way to beat the summer heat than to spend a weekend up in the blue mountains of Ooty. As far back as I can remember, almost every summer vacation was spent in Ooty and Coonoor with my folks or cousins and family visiting from other places. In continuation of that tradition we set out for a weekend in the hills this year as well.
Where to stay
We were a fairly large group of 8 adults and 3 kids and had to find a place that would comfortably accommodate all of us while at the same time feel like home. ‘The Bungalow in Ooty’ fit the bill perfectly. This old, well-preserved colonial bungalow located in the heart of Ooty close to the race course has 3 large bedrooms with attached bathrooms and a central living/ dining area opening out on to an expansive manicured garden. We reserved all three 3 bedrooms for our two-night stay and so we had the entire bungalow exclusively to ourselves.
The caretaker family who live on the premises ensured that all our needs were taken care of and made our stay relaxed and comfortable. The food was excellent and turned out to be economical as well; charging as they did, only for the cost of ingredients! Meals were served in the cozy dining area by the fire place which is great for those special dinner conversations. Evenings were spent huddled around the bonfire outside setting the stage for much merry-making.
In the early hours of the morning we spent some time bird-watching in the vicinity of the bungalow. Later we took the children for a walk up the gentle slopes of the hill outside the gate. The view from the top is spectacular; you can see the entire valley and the race course beyond. The kids enjoyed running around the large grounds of the bungalow and taking short nature walks in the surrounding area.
What we like
Ooty is an idyllic hill-station with a central main street; Charring Cross – the epicenter for food and shopping. The botanical gardens and Ooty Lake are the other attractions to visit. You can go boating on the lake and the kids can enjoy a toy train ride around the banks. Between the garden and the lake we had a packed day which delighted the kids and left them completely worn out by the end of it, in a good way!
The highlight of the weekend was the train journey from Ooty to Coonoor. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway operates a charming steam locomotive that plies between Ooty and Coonoor daily. The one hour train ride filled with picturesque vistas enthralls kids and adults alike; a must do during your trip. The train tends to get a bit crowded during the holiday season with tourists and local commuters. It is best to book your tickets directly at the Ooty railway station a day in advance of your planned travel. First class tickets are recommended to ensure a seat on the train.
We got off at Coonoor station with plans to spend the day taking a relaxed look around. We had lunch at the absolutely gorgeous ‘La Belle Vie’ restaurant in the Upper Bedford area close to town. We found the service at this place a tad wanting, but the perspectives from here overlooking the valley of tea estates will leave you mesmerized. The kids had a great time on the swings in the play area as well as just running around their well maintained grounds.
On the last morning before bidding goodbye to Ooty, we tucked in a sumptuous breakfast at the Bungalow and headed to the charm-laden Savoy Hotel for a brief visit. The hotel property is spread over six acres of exquisitely landscaped gardens punctuated with beautiful flower beds. Nestled among colonial-era cottages built around 1834-1865, the hotel provides some splendid backdrops for memorable family photographs. Children can also take a short pony ride around the grounds.
We could not have asked for more from our three-day family getaway. It was exactly what we expected of a weekend holiday in the hills.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway tends to be very crowded during holiday season time with tourists and local commuters. Therefore it is best to book your tickets at the Ooty Railway station a day earlier before your planned travel. Also you must book tickets in First Class as you can have a seat to enjoy the journey. Tickets can be bought directly from the counter at the Ooty Railway station which is in the heart of town.
If you’ve had a similar family holiday experience you would like to share, please do write in. We’d love hearing about it!