Titled as the Queen of Hills, Ooty has a charm and mystery to it that most other hill stations can’t compete with. A part of the famed Blue mountains, Ooty offers a different experience to anyone who visits. In fact, I have visited this place thrice myself and each time, I learned something completely new about this place.
A popular weekend getaway in South India, Ooty is the perfect place to head to if you are looking to spend some time in the mountains. After all, there is a beauty in being surrounded by the Nilgiri mountains and enjoying the marvelous views in front of you. And you can also spend some time in the tea plantations and learn how one of the most delicious teas is processed in Ooty.
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We all have a habit of taking things for granted. In fact, every day, we take people in our life granted thinking that no matter what we do, if they love us they will be there for us. Right? . . You can act like an asshole to the people you love the most. And they will forgive you. Time and again. That's why it sucks when you expect someone to stay even after your shitty behavior but they don't. You feel hurt and betrayed because you thought they loved you completely. . . But what we essentially forget is that all of us have a breaking point, a saturation level. What we forget is that just because someone loves you a lot doesn't mean they don't have a saturation point. It might take months or years but someday you are going to do something which will make it difficult for them to forgive you. And even if they do, it won't be the same. It never is. Don't get me wrong, they will still love you but they would care less. . . They will feel less about you. It is as if the part in their heart which cared about what you said or did has been numbed. Because you slowly chip away pieces of their soul and they let you do it for a while. But then one day, they have nothing more to give you anymore. . . And when you realize it, that it's your own doing, you will curse yourself for losing something so precious. So, what is the point of this long message? . . The point is that don't test the people you love and who love you back. Be nice to them, be kind to them. And every now and then show them how much they mean to you. Apologize when you are wrong and when you aren't wrong because relationships are more important than your ego. . . Because if you don't, someday they will stop apologizing to you and it would be too late before you realize that you lost someone who put you before everyone else.
And with this 4-day Ooty itinerary, you can easily cover both the offbeat and popular places. Trust me, it can be a lot of fun to do both the touristy and non-touristy thing. And well, this Ooty itinerary has a little something for all kinds of travelers.
So, whether you are traveling with your friends or family or solo, this Ooty itinerary is going to be perfect for all kinds of plans.
Ooty Itinerary (4 Days)
Day 1 – Spend a Day Exploring Ooty
Depending on when you leave for Ooty, it is safe to assume that you won’t be able to explore anything other than Ooty on the first day. We have been a couple of times here and every time, we are so tired from the journey that we end up exploring our surrounding areas.
So, a good idea would be to first check in to a hotel and rest for a while before heading out. Thankfully, there are many good hotels in Ooty near the bus stand so you should easily find one. After you have rested and freshened up, you can head out for the following places in Ooty.
The highest mountain peak in of the Nilgiri Hills range, Dodabetta Peak is a perfect spot to get a look at the Karnataka and Kerala borders from Tamil Nadu. It is a crowded location but the sight of the Shola forest is definitely something to look forward to.
And you can spend around 40-50 minutes here, just enjoying the surrounding hills and forest views. There are also a few food and tea stalls here for refreshments which you can enjoy. Although we didn’t like how commercialized this place was, we did enjoy a delicious ice cream here along with the beautiful hilly view.
How to Reach
Since it is just 9 km away from Ooty, you can easily reach here by cab or a bus. An auto to this place will easily cost you around 500 INR for one side. And you can get an auto for 700-800 for the return trip including the wait.
You can also take a bus to the base of this peak which will cost you 15 INR from the Ooty Bus Stand. From the base, you will get shared taxis to the peak for 50 INR per person.
Finally, you can also take a cab which will again cost you around 700-800 INR and can also be negotiated to include a stop at the Tea Museum and Factory on the way.
After spending quality time in Dodabetta peak, you can make your way back and explore the Ooty Lake next. An artificial lake which was built in 1824, Ooty Lake is a popular boating area for tourists.
Surrounded by the Eucalyptus trees, you can enjoy different styles of boating here including padding boating, row boating, motor boating, and so on. There are many food and entertainment stalls here to immerse yourself in. And you can also buy good woolen caps and mufflers here for yourself or your loved ones.
How to Reach
To reach here, you can easily take an auto from the bus stand for 100-150 INR. Or you can walk as well since it is only 1.5 km from the bus stand. I did walk here and the walk itself was so serene and peaceful. And on the way, I met a few locals as well who were so nice and interesting to talk to and shared their life stories with me.
Nilgiri Railway Ride
One of the best things about taking a hotel in Ooty near bus stand is that you are close to the Udhagamandalam Railway Station. As a result, it is quite easy to go for a train ride to Coonoor and enjoy the services of the famed Nilgiri Hill Mountain Railway. So, once you are done boating in the lake, you can head to the Railway station which is just next to the bus stand.
If you plan early enough then you can get a ticket online on the IRCTC website. But if you don’t get a ticket online, then you can always get a ticket from the station. However, you would need to arrive an hour early and stand in online to wait for the counter to open. There are a few tickets sold on the spot but they get over pretty quickly.
So, make sure you are standing in front of the queue. A second class ticket will cost you around 20-30 INR for Ooty to Coonoor and will take you through numerous tunnels and valley views on the way. It takes around 1 hour 15 minutes to reach Coonoor and it is a completely amazing experience on the train.
I still remember our time on the train and how awestruck we were by the views passing us. Plus, since we had taken the 6 p.m. train, we also watched the sun setting down in a completely magical setting.
How to Reach
Since this place is next to the bus stand, it is quite easy to reach. If you are staying in a hotel in Ooty near the bus stand, then you can simply walk to this place. Otherwise, you can get an Auto or Cab from most other locations.
Finally, once you have enjoyed your amazing train ride to Coonoor, you can get a bus or a cab back to Ooty. And you can roam around the bustling Ooty market for food and shopping. I would definitely recommend you to try out the chocolates here and the essential oils which can be found in abundance over here.
Plus, most of these essential oils are quite useful as well. You will find oils for headaches, stomachaches, skin problems, hair problems, and so on. Apart from the chocolates and the essential oils, you will also find a variety of tea and coffee packets here. Since Ooty is quite famous for its tea, you have to try them out.
And they have a wide range of tea flavors available like jasmine tea, chocolate tea, cardamom tea, black tea, and so on. You can easily spend 2-3 hours looking around the market and then have a nice lunch at one of the local joints like Hotel Saravana Bhavan or Amma’s Kitchen for an authentic South Indian Dosai.
How to Reach
If you are staying in a hotel in Ooty near the bus stand, then you can simply walk to this place. We didn’t mind walking 2-3 km in Ooty at all. Otherwise, you can get an auto or cab which can cost you anywhere between 150 – 400 INR, depending on the distance.
Day 2 – Explore the Lakes in and Around Ooty
Avalanche Forest Reserve (Avalanche Lake and Upper Bhavani Lake)
On day two, the best thing to do is to explore all the lakes around Ooty. Make sure that you start early today so that you can enjoy the places without too many tourists. Leave your hotel around 6 – 7 a.m. as it will take approximately an hour and a half to reach the Avalanche Forest Reserve.
Here, you will go on a 45 to a 60-minute tour which will cover the Cauliflower shola forest, Bhavani Amma temple, and the gorgeous Upper Bhavani reservoir.
Honestly, Upper Bhavani lake is one of the most beautiful lakes that we have witnessed in Ooty. So, I would definitely recommend you to include it in your Ooty itinerary and do spend adequate time here. You will also find this area is surrounded by pine trees so you can spend some time admiring those as well.
Avalanche Lake itself can be found near the entrance of the Forest reserve. So, once you are done with the tour, you can head to the lakeshore and spend some time here. The entire lake is surrounded by trees so it is quite peaceful and beautiful here. You can also enjoy a short lunch on the shore here and can just take in the dazzling view in front of you.
After spending 2-2.5 hours in the Forest Reserve, you can leave for the Emerald Lake.
How to Reach
You will need to hire a cab as there aren’t any buses going to the Avalanche side. You might find a shared cab going to this side but you will have to struggle and wait a lot. So, unless you are traveling solo, I would definitely recommend you take a taxi.
It will charge you around 1800 – 2000 INR for 6-7 hours and will include Avalanche Forest Reserve, Emerald Lake, Vegetable Land, Tea Plantations, Toda Village, etc.
Emerald Lake is around 8.5 km from Avalanche Forest Reserve so it would take you around 30-45 minutes to reach here. A part of the Silent Valley National Park in the Nilgiri district, Emerald Lake is a perfect place for nature lovers.
Since it is a relatively secluded spot and is surrounded by tea plantation, it is a popular picnic spot for locals. And honestly, the view from the road of the Emerald Lake and the village is quite enchanting. Plus, we literally never saw anyone around here which was a bonus.
So, if you love spending time in nature, away from the crowds then spending a few hours in the Emerald village is the perfect way to do that.
How to Reach
You can rent a scooter/scooty and reach the Emerald Lake. But if you don’t know how to drive a two-wheeler, then you will need to get a cab. A cab will cost you around 1500 INR for this location. So, it will be better to get the Avalanche Forest Tour Package.
Tea Plantations and Vegetable Land
It will take you around an hour to reach Ooty from Emerald lake but before that, you have other 2-3 stops on the way. You will stop at the Tea Plantation where you will see the locals farming in their tea farms. You can enter these farms and interact with the locals to learn more about the process. And you can even take pictures in these farms to hang at your home later on.
If you are interested, then you can even buy the tea leaves from them. They will give you authentic tea leaves which will produce the most delicious tea ever.
After the tea plantation, you will come across the Vegetable land which is quite a colorful patch on this route. Here, you can stroll in the farms and see how the locals grow herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, etc.
How to Reach
You can rent a scooter/scooty and reach this place. But if you don’t know how to drive a two-wheeler, then you will need to get a cab. A cab will cost you around 1000 INR for this location. So, it will be better to get the Avalanche Forest Tour Package.
Finally, you will reach the end of your tour which is at the Toda Village. Here, you will learn about the culture and lifestyle of the Toda tribe which is an ancient Nilgiri Hills tribe. Their major livelihood is dairy farming and they build half-barrel shaped huts which are known as Todas.
These small huts have small doorways so that the animals cannot enter inside. Made up of bamboo and decorated with Toda artform, Toda huts are really unique and beautiful to look at. The people in the Toda tribe wear jewelry and home-made shawls which have black and red embroidery on them.
One of the most fascinating things about this tribe is that their land is known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
By the time you complete all these sights, it will be around 2-3 p.m. in the afternoon and your cab will drop you off from the point where it picked you up. So, you can rest for a while before heading out in the evening again.
How to Reach
It is just 2 km from the Ooty Bus Stand so you can always get an auto to this place. An auto will charge you around 150 INR for this place or you can walk here too. If you are going to Avalanche Forest then you can take the tour package which includes a visit to the Toda Village.
Since most other places near Ooty will take at least a day for you to explore, the best thing to do in the evening is to go to Tiger Hills. A completely secluded spot from the rest of Ooty, Tiger Hills Dam is the perfect place to watch a sunset in Ooty.
Surrounded by the Shola Forest on one side and Nilgiri Hills on the other, this place is inexplicably beautiful. And the best part is that not many people come here. In fact, even we got to know about this place on our third visit.
But yes, if you are looking for some peace and secluded time in Ooty, then Tiger Hills is definitely a good place to include in your Ooty itinerary. However, do remember that since it is near the forest, you could encounter wild boars, tahrs, etc. here. So, always be careful when you come here.
How to Reach
It is just 5 km from the Ooty Bus Stand so you can always get an auto to this place. An auto will charge you around 300 INR for this place or you can walk here too. If you stay near the Tiger Hills area then walking would definitely be a good option.
Day 3 – Spend a Day in Kotagiri
Any Ooty itinerary is incomplete without spending a day in Kotagiri and I agree with that. Honestly, the best part of our Ooty trips has been the trip to Kotagiri because you see so many wonderful sights on the way. And since most people stay in Ooty and don’t venture this far, you can actually enjoy the views in peace.
So, make sure you include Kotagiri in your Ooty itinerary if you want to enjoy some offbeat locations near Ooty.
Kotagiri is situated around 33 km from Ooty and is a perfect alternative to this crowded hill station. And honestly, there is so much to see and do here that a day is just not enough. But if you are in Ooty for a long weekend getaway, then you might not be able to spend too much time here.
Well, not to worry, because there is a lot that you can do in just a day too.
Kotagiri gets its name from the Kota Tribe and is actually located in the heart of the Nilgiri hills. This small hill station is surrounded by blue mountains and shola forests which gives it a magical feel. Even the drive to Kotagiri is gorgeous with tea plantations flanking the roads on both sides.
In Kotagiri, you can walk around the village and take in the beautiful view around you. You can also take a bus to go to Kodanad Viewpoint or Catherine Falls from here.
How to Reach
To reach Kotagiri, you can take a cab for 2000 INR and explore this hill station at your own pace. You can also take a bus which will take 1.15 hours to reach Kotagiri and cost around 30 INR. There is a bus leaving from the Ooty bus stand at every hour for Kotagiri. But make sure that you start early since there is a lot to cover in Kotagiri.
From the Kodanad Viewpoint, you will get a beautiful view of the Nilgiri mountain range. That’s not all though, you also see Catherine Falls, Dolphin’s Nose, etc. from here too. Although the actual viewpoint is too commercialized, the nearby area is perfect for a light stroll.
Since we aren’t too keen about being around crowds, we walked a little from the viewpoint. And we were blessed with an unobstructed view of the Rangaswamy Peak from here. Plus, the tea plantations surrounding the roads made the whole landscape quite surreal to look at.
How to Reach
You will need to walk 300 m further from the Kotagiri Bus Stand to get a bus to Kodanad Viewpoint. It will take you another hour and 30 INR to reach this place but trust me, it will be completely worth it.
Kodanad Tea Estates
Kodanad Tea Estates are actually quite beautiful and are on the drive to Kotagiri. We actually walked around an hour or something before we stopped a bus. It was truly amazing to be walking on the road with tea plantations surrounding you on both sides.
How to Reach
There is only 1 bus leaving from this viewpoint every hour. So, you will need to wait before you get a bus back to Kotagiri. You can take this bus and get down wherever you want near the Kodanad Tea Estate.
On the way to Kotagiri, you will also come across a small village called Ellada. We randomly got down here because we loved the views around this place. And honestly, it was a good decision as, after 5-10 minutes, we did come across a beautiful viewpoint.
So, if you don’t mind walking a little then I would definitely recommend you to get down here. If you have your own cab then it is even better as you can stop here for a while to enjoy the views.
Once you are back at Kotagiri, you can head to the waterfalls nearby. There is the Elk waterfall which is situated 7 km from Kotagiri. This is a cascading waterfall which is surrounded by lush greenery.
But the most famous waterfall in Kotagiri is the Catherine Waterfall. This waterfall is at an altitude of 250 ft. and is around 8 km from Kotagiri. The fall joins Kallar river as it flows down and actually got the name from a Coffee Planter’s wife name.
There are a few other places like the Rangaswamy Hill, Longwood Shola Forest, etc. which you can cover. But make sure you take your time to enjoy the places and don’t be in a hurry to cover them all.
How to Reach
You will get a bus to both the waterfalls from the Kotagiri bus stand. The cost will be somewhere around 15-20 INR and it will take you around 20 minutes to reach.
Day 4 – Enjoy a Safari Here
Finally, on your last day of Ooty trip, you should definitely head to the amazing Mudumalai National Park and the Pykara Lake Dam. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go to the National Park because we went for a weekend so we didn’t have an adequate permit with us.
But you can learn from our mistakes and get a permit beforehand so that you can include this place in your 4-day Ooty itinerary.
Mudumalai National Park
A tiger reserve which shares boundaries with neighboring states of Kerala and Karnataka, Mudumalai National Park is the home to endangered animals in India. This park is divided into 5 sections and is home to animals like Indian leopards, Bengal tigers, etc.
This park is located on the northwestern side of Nilgiri Hills and is around 43 km from Ooty. Here, you can see the animals in their natural habitat. With a population of 50 tigers and over 500 species of animals, reptiles, etc., this place should definitely be a part of your Ooty itinerary.
You can easily spend half a day here and enjoy a short safari. On this safari, you will also see around 266 bird here.
For the permit, you will need to go to the Forest Reserve Department in Ooty itself. However, if you are planning a visit during the weekend, then get a permit from the Chennai office. This is because Forest Reserve Department is closed during the weekends so you won’t get a permit from here.
Note: Earlier, Mukurthi National Park was also open to tourists but it isn’t anymore. So, if you were looking to enter the park and enjoy a safari or trek there, it is not possible. You will need to have contacts in the National Park in order to enter there.
Safari Options and Timings
There are different types of safaris available, depending on your time and budget. Bus Safari costs 135 INR per person and is a 30-minute safari in total.
And the vehicle safari is available only during 6 – 10 a.m. slot and 2- 6 p.m. In the vehicle safari, you also have the option of hiring a gypsy for 3000 INR. There are only 2 gypsies available and the entrance fee is 15 INR per person along with an eco-preservation charge of 100 INR.
The cost of using a Still Camera is 25 INR and the cost of using a Video Camera is 150 INR. They also offer Elephant Safari for 1120 INR (maximum 4 people). And it is a 40-minute long safari with only two available slots: 7 – 8 a.m., and 4 – 5 p.m.
Another popular activity to do here is to go to the Elephant Camp and see how the elephants live and eat here. The entrance fee for this activity is 15 INR per person and the camp is only open from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
How to Reach
You will find many cabs and taxis for Mudumalai National Park which will cost around 2000 INR. You can actually get a customized package which will include both Mudumalai and Pykara lake. Apart from that, there are a few buses heading to Mudumalai National Park as well.
But no one knows the timings so you will need to ask at the bus stand a day before.
Pykara Waterfall and Lake
After you have enjoyed some time in the Mudumalai National Park, you head to the Pykara Waterfall. This waterfall/lake will come on the way from Mudumalai to Ooty. So, you just need to add a stop here and spend a few hours to explore and enjoy yourself.
Pykara Lake is a popular tourist spot so you will find a lot of people around here. But it is a huge place so you can easily find a quiet spot for yourself. You can enjoy a nice lunch here by the lake or the waterfall. And if you are interested then you can also do boating here.
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An excerpt from my favorite book, #IntoTheWild Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.
You will easily spend an hour or two, relaxing beside the waterfall and the lake. And you can even dip your feet in the cool water here before heading back to Ooty.
How to Reach
You can get a customized taxi package for Pykara lake which will cost around 800-1000 INR. Apart from that, there are a few buses heading to Pykara Lake so you can opt for those too. It will cost around 30-50 INR by bus to reach Pykara Lake.
Once you reach back to Ooty, you can start for your return journey, depending on your travel mode. If you are taking a bus to some nearby place then you can go to the bus stand and get a bus from here. Most Volvo buses leave from near the Railway Station so they will be easy to find and are quite comfortable as well.
I have been to Ooty thrice now and each time, I have had wonderful memories of this place. And the best part is that there is so much to explore that you never get bored. In fact, I have discovered so many places in and around Ooty because I have visited this place three times.
So, although a 4-day Ooty itinerary is not sufficient to explore the mysteries of this hill station. But it is definitely a good way for you to start exploring this wonderful place. If you think we are missing out some important place in this Ooty itinerary, then do let us know in the comments.