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Coonoor - Indian Hill Station Gem-Superior to Ooty
Aug 14, 2007 07:54 AM 17508 Views
(Updated Sep 09, 2007 11:05 AM)


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Coonoor gets a very passing mention about hill stations when compared to illustrious rivals like Ooty and Kodaikanal but boy its a beautiful and silent place to spend time with your family.

We went on July 10th and came back on July 14th from Bangalore thru KSTRC bus, the bus journey was a nightmare after Bandipore, terrible roads, beware it would take 5 hours from Bandipur to goto Coonoor. Maybe a SUV can cover it in 4 hours? Another better way if one can afford it is fly from Bangalore to Coimbatore and then come via bus/taxi to Coonoor (100 kms away, atleast 2-4 hours drive depending on the condition of the roads)

We encountered fantastic climate conditions (23C/65F during the day and 18C/55F in the night). Probably we were lucky to get that weather during rainy season.

Having endured such a torrid journey we were awe struck with the peace and solitude encountered at Coonoor. No rain whatsoever during the entire stay (maybe a few trinklets of drops. hehe)

We stayed at Taj Garden Retreat, even though quite a pricey 3, 450 rupees/day inclusive of taxes (around $86 USD/$92CDN for a standard room, they have premium and suite rooms too, more pricier though), but was value for money. The room consisted of a fireplace very close to the entrance and a room heater nearby and a well laid out bed, 2 people could comfortably sleep on it. The room was 9x20 size atleast with 1 closet for hanging probably 10 cloth pairs.

The only downside we could think of was the less amount of walking space in the direction of where one's leg would end up. Only one person could pass the area but other than that it was no big deal. The washroom was huge, atleast 12x15 if not more.

The hotel was quite well maintained, and total it contains only 33 rooms

The breakfast is a part of the room pricing. The rooms can be booked online at their website. The room pricing can go upwards of $125 during the summer rush.

The breakfast contains a bevy of options (bread, muffins and omelette for the westernized folks) and the indian cuisine is not the best but is alright (you have idlis, vadas, uttappam, idiappam, uppuma, pongal etc, dosa can be ordered, very crisp and very thin with good chutney to boot) plus milk shakes, juices, fruits, coffee and tea (some days coffee was good, other days tea was better). Its a low season at that time and the hotel was 2/3rd empty.

They charge a heavy premium for food served at your room or at dinner/lunch but we did not utilize that option. One day we got late in the evening (10 PM) and we ended up paying 580 rupees (for a bowl of curd rice, 6 sandwich slices and chips).

The rooms were quite clean, the flooring was old style grey wood and the bedsheets smelled fresh and clean and no bugs either at all. While going out you can slide the plank on the door to indicate that you need the room to be cleaned. Nothing of our personal belongings were misplaced or out of place or stolen but we took our own precautions to lock suitcases and carry the credit cards and cash with us. Room service was quite prompt and the toilets are western style. The attendants all could speak English well. Ofcourse a local smattering of Tamil would be a bonus. :-)

The Taj has a good and clean garden with the beautiful overview of the mountains from the distance. They have a Yoga centre (have to pay extra) and internet service too (160 rupees per hour or something close to it).Basically the town is divided into Upper and Lower Coonoor.

Taj Garden retreat, SIMS Park, Pasteur Insitute, Lambs Rock are all in Upper coonoor and the bus stand is in the lower side from where travel to Ooty, Wellington Army regiment and other places can be undertaken.

Anyway, we went to SIMS park, a 2 km ride from Taj Garden. Autos can be found a 5 mins walk away and we spent 50 rupees ($1-1.5). SIMS Park is a nature lover's paradise, so many varieties of trees, you can easily spend 2-3 hours checking out the entire park. Park admission is not free, I think we remember paying 10 rupees per person plus a charge for video camera / digital camera. It has a boating area too (albeit a small one but very enjoyable nevertheless, 25 rupees for 30 minutes).

There is Pasteur institute exactly opposite SIMS Park, they have guided tours during the weekend. From there we went to the tea garden, we paid the auto 100 rupees to take us there. We ended up watching the whole process of plucking the tea leaves, separation, removing the moisture, crushing them into powder etc.

Lamb's rock offers scenic views of the distant locations, we could even see the waterfall thru a telescope.

We were surprised to find internet connection in the town, very near to the auto stand (a short 5 mins walk from Taj Garden). Dirt cheap (20 rupees per hour)

It is just good enough to do a stroll all across the town (I would prefer Upper Coonoor because of very less number of people).

There are almost very very few restaurants to eat worth mentioning there.

Quality Inn was average (veg and non-veg both served). We had buffet there twice. Quite reasonable price (150 rupees for 2 people).

Someone mentioned a very good veg restaurant, cant remember the name, right near the bus stand, cannot miss it, but the food was very ordinary

The best restaurant in Coonoor by far is Rangoli (very small, can seat 25 people), very ethnic decor, clean and has food which you can enjoy. They have opened only 4 months back.

Quite reasonable pricing (60-100 rupees per dish). The only odd thing we noticed was the wording "Fine Indian Dinning" imprinted on the tablecloth (Spellcheck was not done before I guess). South and North Indian cuisine served.

Their address is: Orchid Square, Brooklands, Opp. CMS, Coonoor. Tel: 0423-2238306

It has a chinese cuisine restaurant besides it as well.

The bus stand, 2 kms from Taj Garden, going down the hill, bustles with activity and has good connection to goto Ooty, Coimbatore, Kotagiri. You have to ask locals where do the buses go as all the wordings are in Tamil language (We could get by because of the speaking ability).

A bus ride to Ooty cost us just 15 rupees. There are taxis on hire to goto many places as well. Skillful negotiation is required as you could be charged a bit if you did not ask the locals before for an estimate.

One day we went to Ooty, boy a totally dirty tourist spot, too much overcrowding, the ooty lake boating was the only saving grace, unclean and bad quality restaurants. Its a 45 mins drive away from Coonoor at a higher altitude.

All in all, would highly recommend Coonoor (if you get the Taj Garden Retreat accommodation then it would be an icing on the cake).

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