Coonoor, in Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu produces the well known Nilgiri tea. It is also a quiet hill station at a height of 6000 feet unburdened with commercialisation which ails almost all north Indian hill stations. To a north Indian, even neighbouring Udhagamandalam, or Ooty as it is better known, although highly commercialised by the local standards, appears to be almost a virgin hill station.
It is easier to reach Coonoor from Bangalore (300 kms) in Karnataka than from Chennai (530 kms) in Tamil Nadu. We, myself and wife, were visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Bangalore in April 2013 and decided to spend a weekend in Coonoor. The four of us left Bangalore early morning, stopped for a latish typically Kannada breakfast at Kamat Upachar on the way, drove through Mysore without stopping and drove through Bandipur National Park to Ooty.
Craning our necks, straining our eyes and driving very slowly through Bandipur National Park we tried to locate wild life. All we could see were some sambhar, cheetal and the like. No tigers. April is not the right time to visit the Park.
Like Mysore, we drove through Ooty and on to Coonoor, 20 kms away. We prefer to stay close to nature, away from the buzzing urban life and had booked ourselves in Tea Nest, a small little place in the middle of a tea estate. We arrived just in time to be welcomed with the most delicious tea I ever had in my life. I had two cups and would have asked for more but for the icy glare from my wife.
We never wanted our strolls through the tea estates to end. They were so relaxing and exhilarating.
Our visit to Ooty by the toy train was a pleasant experience. This train is not in the same class as the Darjeeling one. But one is able to buy a ticket and board the train. Which is more than can be said about the Darjeeling train. And one way ticket is only Rs.20/-.
On our way back to Bangalore, we visited Mysore Palace. The palace built between 1897 and 1912 has been the seat and official residence of Wodyars, the royal family of Mysore and is a major tourist attraction of India.
The famous Tipu Sultan, fought the British valiantly for a long time but lost a decisive battle against a combined force of the British and the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1799. The victors ransacked Srirangapatna, Tipu’s capital and almost totally destroyed it. Today, very little of it can be seen. A memorial has been raised where the Sultan’s body was found.