Feeling very at home in the cooler climates of the hills we decided to spend some time in the hill stations of Coonoor and Ooty. Both are filled with tea plantations, towering pine trees, lots of chocolate shops, and stalls selling jumpers and coats.
We started with Coonoor, Ooty’s smaller, but equally beautiful (and less touristy) younger sister. Staying just outside the busy town allowed us easy access to endless walks among the tea plantations where, like Kodaikanal, the views did not disappoint.
On day one we made the 6km hilly walk to Lamb’s Rock, a view point that looks out over the Nigrili hills. To our surprise we had to pay to get to the viewing station…this seemed a little ridiculous to us and we agreed that the views from the walk were plenty impressive enough.
Feeling pretty walked out, and with James enduring a Birkenstock blister, we made our way back towards the town. After a slight wrong turn (mysteriously found by James) we stumbled upon our first pub in India. Suddenly we felt wide awake and spent the afternoon (and evening) enjoying a few Kingfishers.
The following day we decided it was best to take it easy on the hiking, so instead spent some time wandering down into Coonoor’s town centre. An easy amble downhill, it was great to just take in the daily life, and to avoid the inevitable selfie requests that we receive in the tourist destinations.
While happily wandering, the heavens all of a sudden opened with a deluge of monsoon-like rain. Having no other option, we took shelter under an archway with what seemed to be, most of the town’s goats!
Once the rain eased we left our new found goat friends and headed for the local markets. Like all other Indian markets the stalls were hap-hazard, colourful, repetitive and a joy to walk around.
Feeling refreshed, the following day we paid a visit to the much raved about Sim Park. The online description promised a peaceful walk through luscious flower beds and exotic flora, but unfortunately it did not deliver. Instead, we were asked for selfies every five minutes, and the only flowers we saw were those giant daisies we get in England. I didn’t take many pictures, but I thought these giant leaves were quite cool!
When we left the park, to our surprise we found loads of elaboratelyy decorated tuk tuks, cars, and open back jeeps zooming past us. A local informed us that it was the celebration of Ganesh’s birthday, and that many Hindu people bring statues of Ganesh through the town and out to the lakes for a special ceremony. it was a real treat to witness the spectacular birthday part celebrations, and even the drizzly weather couldn’t hold back the colourful festivities.
After a really great four days in accommodation that felt like home, we were quite sad to leave Coonoor, but excited for the picturesque train journey that would take us to Ooty.
Ooty is known as the Queen of hill stations, and the busy train station and built up town in all corners of the hills immediately gives you this impression. We were staying away from the central bus and train stations, and with the hills interrupting the sprawl of a normal city, Ooty feels more like a collection of small towns among the hills, something we really liked.
Like the rest of our time in the hill stations we spent most of our time wandering in the markets and away from the madness in the Nature Reserves (we spotted no tigers unfortunately/fortunately!)
After a couple of nights in Ooty, our twelve day stay in the hill stations of the Western Ghats came to an end and we headed back down the mountain towards Mysore the next day.