Udhagamandalam or Ooty – as the Britishers called it – is a hill station nestled in the Nilgiris or Blue Mountains of Tamil Nadu in South India. While it is a busy tourist destination all year round, Ooty makes for a special treat for travelers during the monsoons. With low-hanging clouds that roll past you as you stroll through the hills and foliage that has been washed clean by the abundant showers that the region receives in the monsoons, Ooty is even more charming and beautiful in the rains than you imagine. We bring you a compilation of the things to do in Ooty in this season of plentiful showers and breathtaking vistas!
Ride the Toy Train Up the Hills!
The first thing we can think of when we think of monsoons in the hills is this wonderful little locomotive which is half a century old. Part of the region’s history and heritage, enjoy the endless downpours as you journey past ravines and through forests in this charming train service that runs through the hills of Ooty.
You can step on board the train at Mettupalayam – the last stop in the plains before the climb up the Nilgiris begins. The route that this train will take stretches over 46 kms of winding tracks that take you past ravines and rolling tea gardens, providing you with panoramic views of the surrounding rocky terrain. Gaze at sleepy cottages nestled amidst pine forests that pass you by on your way up.
The ride navigates 250 bridges, 108 curves and 16 tunnels. You can find more details on irctctourism.com.
This toy train is no stranger to Bollywood and has been featured in several blockbuster movies such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Jodi and Dil Se. Swing to the tunes of Chaiyya Chaiyya in the privacy of your cabin (or in full view of the passengers on the train! Just ensure you don’t disturb other passengers!) as you take the self-same route as the actors in the song did all those years ago, atop the roof of the train! Or click some groupies and selfies at Thunder World – a dinosaur park a short ride away from the station.
Alternately, you can choose to ride up the hills in the comfort of your own taxi for the price of Rs.1500- Rs.2000 or take a bus ride that may even allow you to interact with some of the locals. The local language in Tamil, though the crowd in Ooty is familiar with English, thanks to the constant stream of visitors both Indian and otherwise and also thanks to the long British rule that the region and country have seen.
Yummy in Your Tummy: Piping Hot Treats to Keep You Warm
Catch some of the delicious local treats on the train before you alight at Ooty. Snack away on Ooty’s famous Varki – a popular deep-fried snack from the region made of semolina and wheat flour. You can also find healthier baked versions at bakeries in and around Ooty. Nibble on a few Varkis with a hot cup of chai (tea), another of the region’s specialties thanks to the countless tea plantations that thrive in the locale’s mild, temperate climes. This makes for an even more scrumptious treat during the cold and wet monsoons that leave you craving for some warmth.
Salt biscuits, bajji, bonda and vadas all make for more delicious treats this season. You could even sample some of Ooty’s famous home made chocolates available easily in the town. Careful about how much you gorge on though, lest your tummy rebels!
Safety First: Staying Safe and Healthy in the Monsoons
Needless to say, Ooty gets a bit chilly in the monsoons thanks to cold winds and the drop in temperature that the rains bring. Carry wind cheaters, raincoats and umbrellas – enough numbers for everyone in the party, especially children.
Unfortunately, Ooty is considerably infamous for minor incidents of food poisoning among tourists. A bustling tourist destination, hygiene unfortunately has taken a hit in recent years. Stay away from tummy trouble and more by sticking to cooked and hot food and drink such as sambhar, chai and the like. Avoid cold salads and chutneys – the latter are especially infamous for causing food poisoning.
Essential medication to be carried includes those that treat stomach infections, respiratory tract infections and common cold, cough, throat infections and fever.
Also, carry comfortable – preferably water proof – footwear with a good grip. The latter is essential in the wet and slippery ground that the monsoons bring.
Look Out for Off Season Rates on Your Accommodation..and More!
Off season rates can be considerably lesser than the rates that prevail during the tourist season. This is as true about Ooty as any other destination. Don’t be shy, ask around for a better rate. One can even try to negotiate, you’ll most likely have some luck in getting slashed down rates.
Charming little cottages and smartly furnished heritage villas make for a great option during the monsoons, giving you a vantage point from where you can enjoy the pitter patter of the rains in the privacy of a home away from home.
The treat doesn’t stop there! Tickets to shows, entry into the Botanical Gardens all see a slash of rates during the monsoons.
Take advantage of these and more during the monsoons in Ooty!
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