Weekend getaway @ Coonoor
Last weekend I went to Coonoor.
It was just a really quiet getaway after a while. Being in Bangalore of course has its perks — being able to just go to a lot of really nice places via overnight bus journeys. And all this was planned within a span of 3–4 days just based on the availability of this particular hotel that I had my eyes on for a while, Neemrana. Accommodation is a critical factor for me— since without proper sleep & rest — I can get real cranky. Real.
Anyhow, Coonoor had been in on my list for a while now — another quiet hill station in Tamil Nadu after Kodai. We reached the city early in the morning when it was all misty & cold with a gentle tease of a drizzle. A short walk & Zomato’s graceful guidance got us hot crispy dosas & coffee — a much-needed break from the Bangalore thick dosas. The check-in to our hotel was only at 2 PM which led us to Google “things to do in Coonoor” — After reaching Coonoor. Yes. 🥲
Coincidentally, we saw one of our friends who posted a story about traveling in these cute trains near Ooty & we immediately decided to check it out. The trains were available between Coonoor & Ooty for the next day — from where we anyway had to catch our return buses to Bangalore.
Luckily — the railway station was just 5 mins walk away. We enquired the details & then proceeded to book the tickets via the IRCTC website since they would only take cash — which took another 15 mins almost due to form submission errors! 😵😵 Afterwards, we hired an auto to take us to just ttwo shortlisted places — the Dolphin’s Nose & the Lamb’s rock — since neither of us wanted to go to tea or essential oil factories or do boating in the cold weather.
We were indeed early, having left at around 9 am towards the hills, where we witnessed throughout — the white cotton candy-like clouds slowly playing hide & seek . We had to ask the rickshaw driver to make a stop every now & then throughout the journey because the views were really breathtaking & I honestly wanted to soak it all in.
In spite of not wanting/asking the rickshaw not to, he ended up taking us to an essential oil extraction place(cuz commission matters! 😢). They showed us how eucalyptus oil was made & gave us various tea samples to taste. Coonoor is very famous / at least we seem to think it is, for teas & essential oils considering the number of shops for either one or both. I ended up buying a small bottle of “pure” eucalyptus oil because of my frequent headaches.
So the first spot, the Dolphin Nose — um, was not exactly as excited as we thought it would be. Perhaps, it was the climate & having the clouds everywhere covering the supposedly famous viewpoint. It was unusually crowded with tourists & several monkeys swinging back & forth all over. We would have spent less than 10 mins at that place. I saw the disappointment in that rickshaw driver’s eyes when we returned back sprinting to leave.
Next, we were taken to Lamb’s rock & along the way — we saw the hills that seem to give the perception of the ‘Sleeping lady’.
We declined the offer from some very persistent tour guides who insisted that the tour will not be complete without them showing the 3 iconic hidden spots which are otherwise not visible to tourists.
We climbed the few slippery steps & reach the top — where we got to see in plenty — more clouds & more hills. It was almost meditative seeing the white clouds slowly climbing & covering the hills. It almost feels like someone was pulling a blanket slowly over.
If we had planned our trip better, it would have been absolutely pleasant to watch this while lying down in the warm comfort of the room for hours.
The climb got me hungry & tired and I just wanted to get to the hotel, have food & rest while. We had booked rooms at the Neemrana Wallwood — a quiet “non-hotel” hotel. The folks there were very warm & lovely. I upgraded my room to one with glass walls facing the hills & garden.
I had high expectations for food which were not met. And we didn’t realize that there was a Third Wave close by & Zomato & Swiggy was operational as well until much later.
We took long walks & I ended up curling with a blanket and a crime novel throughout the day. It got very cold & I ended up having to use the warm air blower to keep it warm throughout the night.
The next day, we left after breakfast to catch our toy train from Coonoor to Ooty. We were surprised by the number of folks who had turned up to ride the train since it was nearly empty the previous day & we were thankful to have booked the tickets earlier. We found our “first class” cabins & the train started on time — slowly waving the flags & taking off across the beautiful hills of Coonoor. The weather was very pleasant & sunny throughout as we cruised through the mountains sitting by the window. I could feel it getting colder as we neared Ooty / Udhagamandalam & lo & behold — it started drizzling!
It was very windy & I was shivering throughout. We had made no plans for Ooty fir for a rainy day & our plan to “wing it like usual” felt through like biscuits in chai. We were hungry & found this restaurant called Angaara which served absolutely delicious food. I think we tried to compensate our stomach for what we missed just last day & ended up getting bloated. After spending as much time possible there waiting for the rain to slow down, we decided cafe hopping would be the only hope to kill time till our bus late at night.
We again took our chance with Zomato & found a cafe close by. On the way, we saw the path to the famous rose garden of Ooty, up above hill & honestly could not motivate ourselves or convince our stomach, to walk all the way. Instead, we ended up at Sugar Dribble, a charming cafe inside a parking lot. The warm tea kept me from shivering & we ordered cakes to go along with it.
As the rain receded, we decided to walk to the next place I found on Google called Willy’s — a bookstore cum cafe — similar to Champaca smaller.
We ended up walking to the place & climbing the stairs to find a very dimly lit cafe with a corner filled with racks of books. We were honestly surprised to see the number of people already inside the cafe and the number of footfalls later.
I picked up a Sidney Sheldon book & a cup of hot lemon ginger tea & let myself immerse in the pages for hours. I decided to have a light meal since we already had a heavy lunch before boarding the bus. But by the time I started walking toward the restaurant, I started to feel even more bloated with gas. Eno by now has become a constant in my travel kit & we got into a nearby restaurant (Kailash Parbat) to drink this. I also ordered tomato soup from there, which I highly suspected was pre-cooked/from Knorr considering it came in 5 mins & wasn’t good.
Worried that I’ll have stomach pain or even worse, I got some medicine from a medical shop, popped up the pills & boarded the bus.
The bus traveled all the way back to Connoor & down these several hours of hairpin bends that made me severely nauseous. No amount of Tiger Balm or Eucalyptus oil was helping me. Anticipating this, I had thought I’ll try to distract myself by watching a movie on Hotstar which I had downloaded on my phone before the internet was flaky. I really do not know what “Hotstar” meant when they used the term “Downloaded” since it simply would not stream no matter what — offline. So each time, I would turn on the internet to load the buffer & wait when then it got stuck & then retry connecting to the internet all over again. Such a mood kill! Somewhere in between this very straining process, I thankfully fell asleep & woke up to find us cruising on the very flat highway back to Bangalore.
Overall, okay. Would rate it 3.5/5. Might not recommend going in this season.