Enchanting hills of Nilgiris - Red Hills
Red Hills located 28 km from Ooty is great place to explore unexplored parts of Nilgiris. Red hill area has few amazing lakes called Emerald/Avalanche/Parson's Valley and Porthimund.
How we reached: We left K Gudi at 10.30am and drove through Masinagudi. Few stretches from Gundlupet to Bandipur had major pot holes. Masinagudi to Ooty is 34 km with ghat section. Driving on the ghat section(36 hair-pin-bends) can be tedious as the roads are narrow and there are vehicles constantly approach in the opposite direction. It was 1.30 pm when we reached Ooty. One has to pass through places called M Palada, Ithalar and Emerald village to reach red hills. Everything is written only in Tamil and it is very easy to get lost. We took about 2 hrs to reach red hills as we lost our way after Emerald. Getting to red hills can be tiresome and frustrating. Every fork that you encounter needs to be cross verified with the locals.
K. Gudi->Chamarajnagar->Gundlupet->Bandipur->Madhumalai->Masinagudi->Ooty->Red Hills
Red Hills is around 310 km from Bangalore.
The ghat section(Ooty-Masinagudi Rd) which is shorter and better road to drive back to Bangalore is one way on weekends i.e. Vehicles are allowed to enter Ooty via this ghat. Outgoing vehicles have to take Gudalur road which is pathetic. Alternatively one can avoid Gudalur road by taking deviation to Kalhatti village and join the Ooty-Masinagudi Rd just before 11th hair-pin-bend. There are further no checkpoints beyond Ooty. On weekdays it is converted back to two ways.
Accommodation: Red Hill Nature Resort
This resort located at 7000ft above sea level in red hills surrounded by tea garden, offers a splendid view of Emerald Lake. Mr. Vijay and Mrs. Bhanu are the proud owners of this beautiful place. This colonial styled bungalow was purchased by Mr. Vijay's dad in 1937. The resort has 9 furnished rooms with red oxide floor and log fireplaces. There are two rooms adjacent to the main bungalow, three rooms within the bungalow and four rooms behind the bungalow. We choose a room that was outside the main bungalow facing the Emerald Lake. I was excited to see a beautiful garden with atleast 50 different variety of flowering plants. The walls in the living room are decorated with huge paintings and artifacts. Taxidermied Sambar deer on the walls captivate the visitors. Morning breakfast and lunch is served in the open backyard which has a well maintained lawn. Dinner is served inside the bungalow as temperature drastically drops in the night.
Tariff:** 4000 per couple for one night. Includes breakfast/lunch and dinner. The resort is closed for three months(June/July/Aug) in monsoon each year.
Food:** Home grown vegetables are used in cooking. The local tea plantation workers are trained in cooking and they make some great Italian/Chinese/Indian food.
Booking: Bookings can be made directly by calling Mr. Vijay at(0423)-2595754-55 or 09842259554.
Organised Trek:** Morning trek after breakfast is good way to burn few calories gained and to get better view of Emerald and Avalanche Lake. This peak of red hill is the 4th tallest peak in Nilgiris. The uphill trek has steep ascent in the beginning and can be exhaustive to the core. Blacky(Mr. Vijay's pet), a friendly dog was the only inspiration for me to reach the summit. At the summit one gets to see Emerald and Avalanche dam, few barren mountains of Mukurthi. Downhill trek was rather easy and we got to walk through woods and tea plantation.
Walk to Emerald Lake: There are some paths in the tea plantations that leads to Emerald Lake. It is better to take a resort guide as many tea plantations are fenced and there are more chances of taking wrong path.
Parson's Valley Lake**(8 Km from Red Hills): Parson's valley lake surrounding red hill area has a small reservoir that supplies drinking water to near by villages and Ooty. The road that leads to this lake from Red Hills has hair-bin-bends and there is hardly any vehicle movement on the roads.
Mukurthi National Park**(18 Km from Red Hill): The other guests at the resort were praising about Mukurthi National Park the previous night. So we skipped a visit to Porthimund Lake and headed towards the national park. Entry to this park was rather tough as we did not have prior permission from the forest department. We were told that it normally takes 3 days for an approval. The resort staff who accompanied us was helpful in getting us entry. He knew the forest guard and tipping him got us entry. The topography was breathtaking, never seen such huge barren mountains. Our guide would spot a Sambar deer few miles away from the road. It is easier to spot animals as the area is dry land with dispersed bushes. There were few trekking trails and rest houses being made inside the national park. On the way back, got a glimpse of a huge Sambar deer which accidentally came on road.
There are couple of more places that we could not go. Trout hatchery at Avalanche, hydroelectric power stations at Emerald and Avalanche, Upper Bhavani reservoir.
Background track for the video – Rahul Sharma’s album'Time Traveler' – Destination’s