Hit the road Jack!
An unplanned drive to the hills to celebrate a new car. A friend picked up a VW Polo and it was decided that 5 of us would head to the hills and put the car through its paces. We knew we were leaving at 5.30 am on Saturday and need to get back home by 5 PM Sunday. The rest we decided to figure out on the way 😉
While most of the group wanted to stay close to Ooty, I slowly but surely persuaded them to let me figure out a place that is a little off the beaten track. After a few hours of Gmaps, Airbnb and calls, we zeroed in on Cascade Meadows near Kotagiri. The drive to Mysore was a pain as usual but after that it was a lot of green as we crossed Bandipur and headed up the 36 hairpins to Ooty.
In the company of Horned Gentlemen
Reached Ooty at 1:30 PM and after quick lunch we decided to head towards Kotagiri. Since Doddabetta was en-route, we decided to quickly check out the view from the top before we begin out descent to Kotagiri. It was a bright sunny afternoon and the views from the top were beautiful but we decided to move on as we did not want to miss sunset over the hills. At doddabetta, don’t miss the piping hot groundnut sundal (steamed groundnut with onions and masala) and tea near the parking area.
Just as we drove out of the parking lot of Doddabetta, we saw these horned gentlemen stroll down the hillside. It was beautiful to watch these majestic creatures make their way towards the road. The way their muscles ripple and move with each step, you can’t help but wonder at the power behind them.
The road from Ooty to Kotagiri is beautiful tarmac which is every drivers dream. Not a lot of traffic and at times it just feels like the thrum of the engine and the cold wind is all that surrounds you. The valley opens up before you in a lot of places and the road is littered with view points. After many many stops for pics, we finally drove up to Cascade Meadows at 5.30 pm. Unfortunately cloud cover did not allow us to view the setting sun but the views from the homestay more than made up for that. Rolling hills blanketed by mist and tea. At night, you can clearly see the twinkling lights of Mettupalayam.
Cascade Meadows Homestay was a colonial manager quarters, which has been converted into a homestay. Set amidst tea plantations, its a 15 minute ride from St Jude’s public school, which is on the Ooty – Kotagiri main road. Abhinandan the owner is quick to respond on phone and ensures that you get to the homestay without getting lost.
Each home is split into multiple bedrooms and the one we stayed in could easily accommodate 6 adults. Hot water is not an issue and the homestay is quiet clean and well maintained. The caretaker and cook ensure that most of your rational needs are taken care of and the food that you are served is simple but delicious home made fare.
As the night progressed, it got very cold but the blankets provided were more that adequate and did a good job of keeping you warm and cozy. As usual I woke up at 5.30 am to get a peek at the rising sun but it was not to be. Heavy cloud cover ensured that I only got to watch the canvas of grey early morning sky slowly morph into different hues or orange and pink. Breakfast on Sunday was served late but delicious sambar and omelettes more than made up for the delay.
The drive back to Ooty was a real pleasure and I enjoyed throwing the little car around the curves. We stopped just before Ooty for some Chocolate tea – yes you read that right. Apparently Ooty is famous for Chocolate tea and I was unaware of this. After a tentative first sip, I enjoyed the rest of the cup of tea. We all picked up some chocolate tea to brew in the comfort of our homes and headed back to the plains via Gudalur. Quick stop at Pykara for a look-see and we were off again.
The rest of the journey was uneventful and we managed to reach home safe and jump back into the monotony of everyday work life.
Route & Road Conditions
Onward: Bangalore – Mysore – Gundulpete – Masinagudi – Ooty – Kattabetta – Cascade Meadows. Good roads all the way except for a couple of patches here and there. 36 Hairpins of Kalhatty ghat are fun to drive up but can be a bit of a challenge for first timers.
Return: Cascade Meadows – Ooty – Pykara – Gudalur – Gundulpete – Srirangpatna – Pandavapura – Nagamangala – Kunigal – Bangalore
We decided not to slog through the mad sunday traffic on Bangalore – Mysore road and hence the deviation after Srirangpatna towards Kunigal. This ensures that you take will reach Taj Vivanta Signal at Yeshwantpur in ~2.5 hours from Srirangapatna, which on most days is a good timeline even though the distance is more.