The serene Western Ghats is often called the emerald gem of India. Away from the bustling cities and pollution, this beautiful area is filled with biodiversity. Small little hilly towns in South India started cropping up in these Western ghats, which made it even more alluring. Tourists started flooding, and these lovely hill stations are the gems of the Western Ghat. Brimming with culture, amusing landscapes, serene atmosphere and history, these places are the perfect places to spend a quiet yet memorable time at.
The wonderful and exciting town of Coonoor has located only about 20 km from Ooty. If you want to stay away from the commercialized centre of Ooty then make your way to the more peaceful and away from the maddening crowd- Coonoor. This little town has some of the most panoramic viewpoints which have the power to make the time standstill. Visit one of the many emerald-green tea plantations here and half a cup of piping hot tea, as the sun sets int the background.
If you are looking to go off the map then travel to Kotagiri, which is located about 30km from Ooty, and is unexplored and uncharted. This wondrous hill station is the perfect place to both unwind and introspect in the lap of nature. Spend some idle moments by walking around and soaking in all the fresh air possible. This place also houses the Sullivan Memorial, which was the residence of John Sullivan- the founder of Ooty.
The Queen of Hill Stations, this serene town in Tamil Nadu is situated at 2500m in the Nilgiri Hills. One of the most famous tourist spots of South India, this hill station has the perfect relaxing vibes that you so desire. It is one of the best examples of the beauty of the Western Ghats, and the greenery that makes it so ethereal.
Ooty was one of the first hill stations that the Britishers chose to develop to stay away from the sweltering summer heat, that engulfed the mainland of India. Ooty in comparison was the perfect haven for Europeans, due to its cooling weather and pristine surroundings. It is away from the cacophony of people, and beyond the bustling chaos that India is known for.
Here, everything moves in slow motion and everyone enjoys a certain kind of peace. One can spend hours just looking at the misty clouds hovering over the low lying mountains. Ooty is also the base from where tourists can go and explore the rest of Tamil Nadu’s biodiversity.
If you like living in the hustle-bustle that cities have, then Ooty has that too. Just head over to the lively markets that are brimming with joy and lights. If you are looking for peace then pedal across the calm lake and reminisce about the simpler times. Take a walk down the British era lanes, and let history be your guide, as you pass through exceptional red coloured bungalows with trimmed gardens. You can also visit St. Stephens Church, and relish the exquisite colonial-style architecture.
Don’t forget to sample the rich South Indian cuisine while you are at Ooty. Just help yourself to some delicious idlis, vadas and dosas in some of the best restaurants in Ooty. If you are looking to go off the radar and become an explorer, then take the off beaten road and hike up to the shrouded hills and the misty tea plantations spread over acres and acres of land.
You can also visit the Doddabetta viewpoint to witness the serenity of the entire city of Ooty from up there. Try and visit some tribal villages and learn more about their lifestyle and cultures. From here you can also go for a trek to the famous Madhumalai Forest and spot some unique wildlife.
If you are visiting this area, then skipping Munnar is blasphemous. The small town of Munnar nestled in the scenic state of Kerala is more like a proper city. Commercialised owing to the high tourist population, Munnar has now become choked with traffic- the only reprise- captivating green hills, acres, and acres of tea plantations and cottages hidden behind a periphery of trees.
Take the off-beaten path here, and indulge in some guide walks and tours here to the tea plantations. You can also try your hand in some cooking classes and learn all about the cuisine of Kerala and the spices they use. This culinary fiesta will add another sparkle to your south india trip and make it that much more memorable.
If Ooty is called the Queen of Hill stations, then Kodaikanal is referred to as the Princess of Hill Stations. True to its name, this atmospheric town is famous for its lovely lake and idle walks. This town situated around the pristine Kodai Lake, making it even more alluring. A lot of people have fallen in love with this town more than Ooty. Owing to its off the radar vibes, and less commercialized places, Kodai has become one of the top places to unwind and relax. This little town was founded by American Missionaries and has a little different culture than that of Ooty. Filled with international schools, distinct dishes, and isolated areas, this town has its unique identity.
Spend a lazy afternoon just roaming around the lake and watching the colourful rowboats bobbing up and down the pristine lake. The lake gently reflects the trees whose leaves float around slowly and steadily giving it a mystic personality. The hillsides are spread with shola forests- a feature only found in the Western Ghats.
You can also visit the eternally magical Vattakanal Village, which is only about 4.5km from Kodai. This village has an amiable atmosphere, and people often called it mini Manali.
Embark on two days, three-day treks cover the uncharted territories and unearth hidden gems. Walk past glistening lakes, and magnificent views of the Western Ghats, or just visit the palatial bungalows of an era long gone by.
If you do choose to visit these towns of the Nilgiri hills, then the fun lies in the journey more than the destinations. The journey is more memorable than the city itself. The beautiful and miraculously built Nilgiri Mountain Railway will take you through these scenic towns. This railway network has always been awarded World Heritage rank by UNESCO.
The sky blue coloured toy train will take you through some breathtaking avenues, and measuring sceneries. Witness some of the most amazing lakes surrounded by green fields, mountains hidden behind clouds, eerie forests, dark tunnels and marvellous tea plantations that make every gasp.