Jul 21, 2014

Posted by in Budget travel, Travel Reviews | 3 Comments

Ooty and Bandipur- Trip down South

Ooty and Bandipur- Trip down South

Exploring South India

My itchy feet were on the qui vive for a quick vacation and so thinking twice about a trip to Ooty was not even on the cards. The idea of a four day trip with a friend’s family to Ooty via Bandipur had its desired effect and the next moment I was booking tickets to Bangalore instead of headhunting the next great candidate (well yes, I happen to be a recruiter by profession).

The next thing I found myself on an early morning flight to Bangalore, reached at about 9 am and after a heavy breakfast of idlis and dosas, we got the ball rolling.

With a DSLR accompanying us, I couldn’t help clicking some random pictures as we braved through the Bangalore-Mysore traffic. Our next pit stop was a quick breakfast at Kamath’s, authentic South indian food yet again. And yes, while I’ve been born and brought up in a North Indian family, I’ve definitely got some South Indian in me. What do y’know!

Making a few pit stops on our way to stock up alcohol and a few calories, we entered the Bandipur National Park at about 7:00 pm. And the next 30 minutes of driving can only be described as Elysian happiness. Once a private hunting reserve, it is now only known for its wildlife amidst dry deciduous forests. And we soon found out why. The trail takes you through twinkling streams and an area that stretches across almost 874 square kms of forest with an eco system that is a rarity in India.

This sanctuary is home (or so we were told) to tigers, leopards, deer, wild boars, peacocks, elephants and many more animals. What follows is acres and acres of greenery in place that gave the impression of being completely unexplored. While I was thinking this to myself, what caught my eye was a flying peacock (your lens most definitely cannot capture that), elephants taking their time to cross the road (and mind you, we realized instantly that we need to respect that), buffalos and cows grazing on either side and lots more. What strikes you instantly is how the government has helped maintain their habitat, to the extent that while these creatures unknowingly posed for our cameras, they remain unfazed and that’s when you realize that you’re a mere visitor in their land.

Not that I’ve been lost in a jungle before, but the next 40 minutes of driving in the dark with a feeling that you’ve reached a dead end every once in a while is ever so slightly frightening.

We finally spotted a row of tents at a distance and were finally out of the woods (literally). True to every letter in its name, we spent the night at Deep Jungle Home. While I am fairly quixotic with my travel, this one took my imagination to a different level altogether when I lay down on my bed only to realize that the only source of light around were the fire flies and the only source of sound were the turkeys getting spooked by us. Or were they trying to spook us?

We had a long leisurely dinner which consisted of earthy local fare followed by aperitifs and good conversation around the bonfire. At 2:00 am, it was time for bed.

We were woken up the next morning by the same screeching turkeys. When I got up, only to get rid of that sound, what I saw outside was a ringa-ringa-roses of ducks and turkeys and what was noise to us was maybe their playground singing game.



After a quick breakfast (the place does not have too much to offer there), we set out to our next destination, and that drive will hold a fairly special place in my heart forever. Because we drove for nearly four hours through the tea estates, with the road being a complete driver’s delight; barring a few blind turns eventually leading to Ooty. The surrounding view of the valleys and hills is absolutely spectacular. The honey (literally this time) lovers can pick up a jar or two from the road side sellers.

A stay at Ratan Tata’s Holiday Home estate (thanks to my friend’s dad who is an ex-army officer) is clearly like living in clover. However one must mind one’s P’s and Q’s here. But this quaint colonial mansion with its simple architecture leaves you awestruck, be it the wood work or the well maintained garden outside. What does catch your attention, are the pictures and stories of the brave Indian Army that adorn the walls. The property is located in the heart of the city and is extremely well planned. It is not just a comfortable but a budget friendly place with a great ambience. The place is well equipped with all the basic amenities and a good room service, with the kitchen reminding you of an old army mess. However, tired as hell and the temperature being around 12-13 degrees, I was soon in the arms of Morpheus.

While the view from the homestay is compelling enough to keep you in for hours, even in and around the property itself, we decided to drag ourselves out of our cocooning biosphere, turn our steps to exploring the area. This day was a pre-decided guilt free Chai trip (I’m trying to cut down, you see). And being a tea connoisseur, I can most definitely say that you’re as good as a carpet’s knight if you’ve not had tea in the Nilgiris.

Our next sojourn was the typical tourist spots like the Ooty Lake, Echo point, Suicide point and so on.

One must not miss out on the raw mangoes covered in spicy masala while enjoying a boat ride (deep down, I’m an uncontrollable tourist). At the centre of the lake, you realize that the place is draped in stretches of Eucalyptus, pine and confier trees. A breath taking view of the valleys soaked in morning mist with the clouds kissing their tips leaves you speechless and I guess that’s what DSLRs are for.


With an uproar from the engine, we took off again and drifted downhill, the view alongside reminding us of the unmapped and innocent surroundings yet again. We made a quick visit to the Tibetan market, specially recommended for tea lovers. The shops around also house some yummy home made chocolates apart from most known spices.

All the time we spent marvelling at the scenic atmosphere was bound to work up an appetite. A quick dinner and we decided to call it a day as the next morning was a long drive back to Bangalore.

I woke up the following morning to find my friend outside, walking around a Mercedes A-Class. We gave in to our temptation of a drive through Bandipur forests yet again. I truly believe that the perfect music along with a perfect climate is a mood amplifier. We soon found that the heady combination of this beautiful Mercedes with its sunroof open and Bono belting out his best music elevating our happiness to a different level altogether.


I soon found myself at the Bangalore airport saying goodbye to friends. If one really enjoys travelling in the lap of nature while not being too big on food, hygiene etc, a trip to Ooty with an overnight stay at Bandipur is a great way to spend four days of pure R&R, giving you ample opportunity to reconnect with nature. As for me, this trip will continue to sparkle on my travel map for sometime to come. The only question now is where to go next. Any suggestions?

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  1. Hii…informative post.thanks for offering to us.i enjoyed the way you set up the information.i am planning to visit BR Hills Resort furthermore bandipur resorts this weekend with my Famliy.

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