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Cool and Classic!
Aug 09, 2004 02:51 PM 11791 Views
(Updated Nov 21, 2004 09:45 AM)


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Coonoor has always been a poor cousin of Ooty. This place really deserves more and is comparable with most other hill stations in South India with an altitude of 1850 m and a cool climate (10 to 25 deg C). It would have surely got more credit and better appreciation, but for being less than 20 Kms from Ooty.

We wanted to visit the Ooty flower show in may of 2001 and started to enquire about accommodation in various hotels around Ooty. We could not get a confirmed accommodation for our first night’s stay, as all of them were booked. We decided to take a risk and drive up to Coonoor from Chennai without any reservation.

Coonoor is about 520 Kms from Chennai by road, with the last 20 Km on the hills (about 70 Kms from Coimbatore). The national highway is very good all the way. We started at about 6.30 am and it took us about 11 hours (with two stops) to reach Coonoor. We straight headed for Sims Park as it was already around 5.30 pm. The park established in 1870’s is well maintained and has a very impressive rose garden. The variety of flora in the park is extraordinary. Some of the flowers in the park are unique and cannot be seen even in the Botanical gardens in Ooty. Only disadvantage was their unreasonable charge of 250 Rs for Video camera. This park is famous for its fruit and vegetable show, which happens soon after the flower show in Ooty, every year.

The local policemen were very helpful and suggested us a place called Vivek tourist home, very near to the park in upper Coonoor (lower Coonoor does not have many good hotels). We were quite sceptical about the place, but since we did not have any bookings we went ahead to have a look at the hotel. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise for us. The hotel’s deluxe rooms at around 500 Rs per night were newly built and looking pretty good. The room was also quite big and neat. Their restaurant food was less than average. For good food and accommodation you could choose from Taj Garden Retreat, Wellington Riga and Monarch Ritz.Advance bookings are necessary, especially during the apri-july season.

The next day we came to know from our guide that there are several other scenic spots / view points around Coonoor (we paid 50 Rs for the guide). The road to many of the spots, is dotted on both sides with big tea estates on the mountain slopes. The fresh and cool aircoming from the estates / dense natural vegetation make it a memorable, sweet and refreshing drive.

LAMB’s ROCK :Named after the person who developed the small path way to this beautiful view point, Lamb’s Rock is a favourite spot about 5.5 Km from upper Coonoor. You get a very good view of the mountain railway from this rock, which drops down several hundred feet into the jungle below.

DOLPHIN’s NOSE :This picturesque spot is about 12 Km from upper Coonoor. This Dolphin shaped rock provides you with a very beautiful view of the St. Catherine falls near Kothagiri. You will be able to appreciate the dolphin shape of the rock only if you view the rock from St. Catherine falls. Like Lamb’s rock, this place also offers a very good view of the misty mountains and the flat plains of Coimbatore below. Both here and at Lamb’s rock, you can get quality eucalyptus oil and lemon grass oil (which grows in large quantity here) at relatively cheaper rates when compared to the shops in Coonoor and Ooty.

LAW’s FALLS :This is a beautiful waterfall about 7 Km from Coonoor on the Coonoor-Mettupalayam road. The height of the falls is about 180 feet. You need to take a small diversion from the main road to reach this spot.

KATTERY FALLS :About 5 Km from Coonoor on the Kendala road, this is one of the highest falls in the Nilgiris. We could not go to this spot. But view from the spot is supposed to be magnificent.

PASTEUR INSTITUTE :This famous institute for research on Rabies was established in 1907. One important project of this Institute is the manufacture of POLIO VACCINE. It is situated near Sim’s park.

POMOLOGICAL STATION :This model experimental fruit orchard is located very near to the Sim’s park. It is maintained by the Horticultural department..

WELLINGTON :This town is located on the Coonoor - Ooty road about 10 kms before Ooty (about 10 Kms from Coonoor). It is the headquarters of the Indian Defence Services Staff College and also the headquarters of the 250 year old Madras regiment, which is the oldest regiment in the Indian Army.

KOTHAGIRI :This is the oldest of the three Nilgiri hill-stations and is located about 35 kms from Ooty, overlooking the plains. Kothagiri has a milder climate than Ooty. Catherine Falls is a popular attraction about 8 kms from the town. Other spots include the Kodanad viewpoint (16 kms), Rangaswamy Pillar and Rangaswamy Peak.

The calm and scenic Coonoor turned out to be a memorable experience and also changed our perception about the place.

The cool climate was quite pleasant and we actually could not find any major difference to that of Ooty. Another highlight is the tourists spots are not crowded enabling you to enjoy the holiday, unlike Ooty.

By the time we reached Ooty from Coonoor, I was actually thinking why I made the mistake of booking a hotel in Ooty for the second night in this peak summer season.

What more do you need ? visit Ooty ? You could take the train to Ooty to enjoy the scenic valleys, misty mountains and vast tea estates or take a one day trip to the spots in Ooty comfortably using taxis / vans

My recommendation to stay in Conoor in peak summer as Ooty is too crowded.

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