15-Aug-2014: I woke up at 8:30 am. I was still feeling sleepy, but we were here on trip and not for sleeping :). Got ready quickly and then woke up G and then Ar as well. It was quite cold in the morning as was in the night. Heater was our savior, without which we would have been frozen, at least I if not G and Ar .
We all got ready and then went to dinner room for breakfast at 10:20 am. The breakfast was served till 10:30 am only, so we were just in time. If I hadn’t pushed everyone so much, we would have missed it :). For Ar there were fewer options,she had idli and some South Indian dishes. For us it was quite good.
Before leaving for sightseeing, I went to the reception to check on the booking status. Actually for 3 days we had bookings for 3 separate rooms, that’s the reason we had got the bookings. We were not getting 3 days continuous bookings online. I went over to check if we can keep the same room for all the 3 days, but he informed me that 2 bookings were for executive rooms and one which was for that day was for standard room, so I will have to switch rooms and requested me to keep my luggage packed, before going out, so that they can shift us to the other room. I again requested him to give us the same room and I am willing to pay the upgrade. He told me he would try and I went back to room to get everything packed up. That took time for us and so we were able to head outside by 11:00 am only.
Our driver was already ready and we started immediately. Today’s plan was to cover Ooty sights. We first went to the botanical garden. It’s the garden set up by British and then expanded and maintained by the local government now. It’s very beautiful, with lots of species of trees. The garden has kept the natural contour of the hills, so looks very good. There are few water bodies which Ar as always wanted to get into, which I was able to stop her with much efforts. They have also created various murals using plants; like geographical map of India, Mickey mouse, Mermaid etc. It was such pleasant site to roam around. Ar liked it a lot. On the entrance gate, there were many monkeys and Ar was shooing them. She was being too brave 🙂
Once done, we started for our next point Dodabetta peak. This is the highest point of Nilgiris and 3rd highest in western ghats at the height of 8500 feet above MSI. It’s up hill from Ooty and the route to this place is also very scenic. When we reached closer to the peak, we got stuck in traffic. It seemed that this would be jammed for a long time, so we got off there only and decided to cover the remaining distance on foot. The whole area was covered in mist and we were walking in it. After walking around 15-20 minutes we reached the top. Such a great sight. You can see far across all the hills, greenery all covered in mist. It was quite cold and it was raining a bit and then it started drizzling. We took shelter and got hot coffee. It was a memorable moment, just like few years back I and G sipping coffee on snow clad mountain of Kufri. After some time the rain subsided a bit and we started the descent. On the way G got mau for Ar, which is her favorite toy, which she lost also in few days, the events which led to that would follow in 4th blog of this series.
By the time we started descending, we saw the traffic was now smooth and asked the driver to pick us uphill only. We then moved on. On the way we saw Tea garden and estate, where we took break. We bought some tea and coffee, which frankly didn’t turned out to be good enough, which we realized after the first cup of tea back home. The tea was quite pale in taste. On the estate counter we came to know that we could have a walk in the tea garden and ticket charge was Rs 40. As we hadn’t been to any tea garden before and wanted to see one we booked the ticket and went into the gardens. It feels good, we took many pics, but the tea leaves don’t smell like tea as was my assumptions. Seems that they get there aroma after they are dried and processed.
It was almost 12:30 pm now and we decided to have lunch. We asked the driver to take us to some good South Indian place to eat. The place he took us, some tiffin house, I don’t recollect the exact name. We orderd the South Indian meal and it was not good at all. Dal Khicahdi to Ar, which I believe was fine. We then packed Dosa for driver, Uthapa for Ar for afterwards and moved towards our next destination which was the Rose garden.
Rose garden in Ooty is spread across large area and it had hundreds of varieties of Roses. All colors, sizes, shades. It was such a pleasant sight to watch. Ar was running all across it. Aai would have liked to see this place. We took many pics and really liked this place. We also saw Green rose here, which looked quite unique. When we got back, came to know that driver had eaten Ar’s lunch as well . So on the way, went to same place again to order for her.
It was now almost 4:00 pm and we decided to head for the last stop for today, the Ooty boat house. Its located across the Ooty lake and they have developed it as a garden, amusement park and food court. Various types of boats are available here. We chose the rowing boat and went boating. We thought the rates were quite reasonable. The lake is awesome and we had a great 45 minutes ride. Ar enjoyed the water. After that we decided to go for some rides for Ar. We went to the Dragon train ride, which runs across an oval shaped track and at very fast speed. Ar enjoyed the ride. I had read about the mini train ride in this garden and thought may be this was it :(. Once we were done with the ride, we started back. On the way I saw the board for Mini train pointing towards left of us. I quickly went over to the mini station they had built, to inquire if there is any train still running. He replied in affirmative and I booked the tickets. After a wait of 20 minutes the train arrived and we got in. The train was good and the compartments were nice and cozy. The train passes through tunnels, hooting once a while, it takes a semicircular round of the Ooty lake and then starts backwards. It was fun ride, reminiscent of our mini train rides in Satara garden during my childhood. Ar enjoyed a lot and we took good video of the ride.
After having great time, we headed back. On the way there were couple of food stalls. We decided to have mirchi bhaji and tea. They were ok. We were back to resort by 6:30 pm. The resort had fireplace in the room and I always wanted to sit in front of one. Impact of movies I believe :). So I enquired to the hotel staff, they told me you just let us know once you are back from dinner as they don’t start the fireplace without someone being around. We then went to lunch at 8:00 pm, The diner was good. Once we were back, I called the room service to lit the fire place. He came with rockel and matches to lit the fire place. What an experience it was, something which I wanted to have one day or night rather. I lay in the chair in front of it for long time. Actually I wanted to a read a book besides it, but that didn’t happen . Then we all were feeling sleepy, so decided to hit the bed. After very good start to the Ooty trip, Coonoor was our next stop for tomorrow. So after a tiring day we were hoping for a good night sleep, but then there was …
No, no fire to the room, but fire in fireplace. Now that’s obvious you may say, but tell that to G . The fireplace was still burning and we were still hearing the cracking sounds. But I was too tired to bother about this and had gone to sleep. But G was not getting sleep due to the thought that the fireplace is still active and even waked me up. I put in water on the fire, pulled out woods which had still not cached fire and it seemed that it’s over now and went to sleep. G woke me up again that fireplace has again started. It had now become bigger than before :(. I gain put in lot of water, but it again started in some time . Finally went to bed. It finally extinguished when it had consumed all the wood and our sleep 😉