I’ve summed up my favourite attractions and spots in the Nilgiris which will leave you enthralled. And what do you do when you’re surrounded by the lushness of tea gardens all around, the gurgling tiny rivulets, birds chirping, the leaves rustling and clouds perpetually blanketing the area? Well you go out and soak in the beauty of nature, Isn’t it?
When in hills hiking remains my favourite pastime. I mentioned about the best places to eat in the Nilgiris in my previous article so this time I’d tell you the best hiking spots to drown yourself in the tranquility and also shed a few pounds! DSSC also organises a few hikes but I feel you must take the feel of both, going with 600+ people and just the two of you or with a few friends. Going with the latter gives you a chance to enjoy the pristine, untouched wilderness without the usual human babble disturbing the heavenly quiet while the former has it’s own charm, the motivation to trek for hot samosas, chai and scrumptious lunch at the end, the non stop chatter with friends is absolute fun! So either way you’re going to have an amazing time.
1. Non such and Glendale Hike-
I still remember coming to this area for the first time. It was so green, that it almost looked unreal. There’s a spot for parking the vehicle near the Non such tea factory (open rocky area just short of the village), so you may park your vehicle and start walking uphill towards the BSNL Tower/ Pakkasura Peak. Another option of parking is much ahead near a tea stall in a small hamlet (4 kms from earlier point). We chose to park in the beginning to extract the maximum of exploring on our own. Initially we went to BSNL view point and later went with college to Pakkasura view point. After some incidents of few trekkers falling off the cliff, you need to obtain the permission from concerned authorities in advance for Pakkasura view point (College will do that for you). But no permission is required for BSNL tower view point, a cliff with an awesome view however, be cautious as it’s a little dangerous. On our way, I also met a cutie patootie furry friend ‘Babloo’ who was super happy and excited just as me. Once you pass by the tea stall don’t forget to have a cup of tea and delish Mirchi, Baingan pakodas amidst floating clouds in the misty rolling hills.
2. Forest Dale-
We never knew the road which goes towards the college (SBI gate) would lead to such interesting trail. So we found it one fine morning while taking Jason for a walk and couldn’t stop gushing with happiness! we crossed the golf course, three tiny waterfalls, lush tea gardens and a long continuous stretch of trees appearing mysterious and even making weird sounds. The road further goes ahead and meet Kotagiri highway short of Cafe Diem. Once you hit the highway you can turn right and follow it till Sims park and than to WGC. We turned back from the same route as with our dog we did’t want to take the main road because of little traffic on it. We later did this track a number of times. You’ve an option of turning inside from a small road next to Sim’s park and come down from tiny hills and cliffs through WGC or take the straight road of Tan tea stall, Mciver and than to WGC. Tip- Carry some loose cash to enjoy fresh Idlis and tea at the small joint the moment you hit the highway.
3. Toda Village Hike–
Don’t you miss this hike organised by the college, you’d get to see and meet the fascinating Toda tribe who are indigenous people of Dravidian descent. Their area has already been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. It was so interesting to watch them do their traditional dance and young men pulling stunts like lifting 100 kg of stone in a unique way in order to marry the girl of their choice, interesting isn’t it!
4. Kullakamby waterfalls in Sutton Division-
Frequently missed by many this off the radar spot is just out of the world. This place is in the Louisiana estate of Sutton division. It’s 17km from Coonoor and its an absolute pleasure to drive the ghat roads and Shola forests. There are two places to visit the waterfalls, first one which google will take you to the view point where you can see the falls from a distance just like any other and second one is where we went i.e at the top of the hill, source of the waterfalls. There were no roads or any beaten track to follow from where we went. So do follow the map carefully to get there.
You can take your vehicle much more ahead (upto Realm Resorts) but we avoided for two reasons first was of course that we wanted to hike and second was the narrow and extremely bad condition of the road (That you will encounter if you follow the GPS to Realm Resorts). We gave our car much deserved rest near an open patch besides the road (as marked on the map) and walked straight into the fairyland, and what a delight it was! There’s absolute no human settlement or vehicle movement. Though be careful of large groups of Bisons here, I remember ducking and hiding from them in order to pass. After you’ve trekked about 5-6 km along the road, there comes a point where there are no proper trails to reach the waterfall, so you’d need to hold on to the trees and glide down, thrilling it sounds, isn’t it? Be careful during the last stretch as you will be walking on the edge of the cliff. Tip- We did the hike after the rainy season was over so water flow and level was less and we could sit inside, bathe, play and enjoy. The flow may be more during monsoons, so be very careful. The place also seemed like water point of Bisons and other wild animals, though we just saw the paw prints but you may encounter them too. Lastly, it’s kind of no network zone, so please inform someone about where you are going so that people are able to trace you back if you get stuck somewhere.
5. Mist Valley hike-
There’s a stunningly beautiful hiking trail much before Kodanadu view point. While on our way on a Sunday morning to the view point, we came across a beautiful bungalow (to your left in the skyline) on top of the hill amidst tea gardens. We thought to check it out but the entry to the tea garden was restricted being private property. We decided to check it out on our way back, yes we’re quite abrupt and last minute with our plans, haha crazy, no. My husband typical of his navigation skills started working out the options how to reach there avoiding the tea gardens.
We decided to climb the hill and follow the spur line to get there, sounds thrilling isn’t it. Though, later on we could find a very simple trail to get there. On your way back, you would come across a small village Kodanad on your right side, park your car there and start walking through the village crossing tiny huts and simple locals sitting and chatting. You can also circumvent the village by walking along the perimeter road rather crossing through the village. So after parking the car keep we kept walking along the road in the general direction of the bungalow. After reaching there we were lucky to find the caretaker there who gave us the tour of the beautiful mansion and later became our guide and took us further to adjacent hills overlooking Jayalalita’s house.On our way back we asked him to give the bungalow to us on rent for 2 nights so that we can come back with our gang and party to which he obviously didn’t agree, lol. Though he was more than willing to sell the property to us for mere 8 crores, Oops!
Tip- Do carry your camera for majestic view of the valley. The bungalow is on a saddle giving views of both sides of the hill.
6. Ralliah Dam-
This place is located on Kotagiri road, Coonoor. The dam was built by the British and is in the interiors of the forest, you need to park your vehicle at a distance and require to walk uphill through densely populated trees to reach to this beauty. There’re a lot of wild animals so don’t go alone but in a group. The clear water glistens in the sun, with serenity all around, this place is nothing but ethereal. This was our first organised hike by the college and was absolute fun hiking with friends in the woods and getting chai, samosa at such stunning location!
7. Tiger Hill Cemetery Forest Hike-
Another hidden gem situated nearby with mesmerizing views of the Mettupalyam valley. You can choose to either start the hike walking from WGC or drive in the car up to general area Bedford police station and park it at a suitable place. If starting and finishing at WGC you can take a shortcut through the Golf ground, climb up the hill, reach the Sims park, walk along Bedford road till road junction near Bedford Police Station and turn right towards Tiger hill cemetery. The actual tranquility starts about a km ahead of that, suddenly the hustle bustles of Coonoor will disappear and the valley will open open up.
Once you reach the cemetery, continue walking to the edge of the hill and follow the trail amidst tea gardens to get a view of the complete Mettupalyam Valley. On the other side of the hill there is a beautiful state government rest house with majestic views. We were short on time to explore the possibility of booking it for overnight stay as we did the hike towards the fag end of the course but you guys can surely try that. If you continue to walk along the same path you will come out on the road to Orchid square. Enjoy your breakfast there and fall back.
8. Rail Trail Hike Wellington to Lovedale-
Start from Wellington railway station towards Ooty. So here you’d be trekking along the tracks with towering trees, rocky terrain and varied flora & fauna but beware as it tends to get secluded and forlorn with nobody around but wild animals, so go in a group and you’d enjoy the picturesque landscape, the misty hills climbing away, waterfalls, tiny hamlets at a distance and also witness the whistling and chugging of the train passing by. You’d cross many small towns and villages like Aravankadu(Cordite factory), Ketti etc before reaching Lovedale. While coming back hop on the train as it’d otherwise become a lot hectic and strenuous, the one way distance is about 15 km.
Tip- Be careful while crossing bridges, listen out and look for approaching train. There is no way to go if you are stuck over bridge then to run back if train is approaching from the other side.
9. Grass wood Tea Garden Hike-
We went to one of the tea estates where husband had gone for an exercise from the the college and he couldn’t stop talking how stunning the place was, so on a Sunday morning we decided to go there with Jason, and as far as I could see the area was surrounded by a blanket of lush green tea gardens.
We spent an hour weaving through the rolling plantations, interacted with the local tea pickers who were happily singing local songs while filling baskets with best of the tea leaves.
10. Wellington Barracks- Pemberly Estate- Gorkha Hill
If you want to do a quick hike and don’t really want to go far so here’s where you can go, again like all other areas this path too is teaming with absolute beauty. There aren’t trails but proper road and does get steep at times, notwithstanding, it’s not strenuous at all.
BARBECUE AND PICNIC SPOTS
With good weather comes barbecues, picnics, swimming and good times. And in the Nilgiris you can do this all round the year, isn’t that awesome! Instagrammers will be spoilt for choice here, absolutely breathtaking and magical. In fact all the above hiking trails and the below mentioned spots presents a sight to behold and treasure forever.
1. Avalanchi lake–
We went to this place twice, first with our friends when it started pouring down so heavily and we had to turn back that too when we were so close to it! However, we were lucky to find a property called King’s nook overlooking the lake and it was nothing but magical, the weather was surreal that day. We took their best room for some time, did barbecue with music and crazy fun till evening. We wanted to but didn’t stay at this place overnight as we weren’t prepared administratively for the same. You can plan a weekend getaway by booking the property online. The owner knows the Wellington crowd well and offers good discount plus additional rides (only on liasion) to top of the hill overlooking the lake. Avalanchi lake is amazingly picturesque and one can do camping and fishing as well. In fact if you plan well you can go hiking to Upper Bhawani area from here.
We felt like we had stepped right into a storybook so this place is in the silent valley region of Ooty and living up to it’s name the area is lush green with clear placid water with snatches of birdsong filling the air and soothing your soul like no other. The three of us had an incredible time walking through the woods, wading down through the tea gardens to reach the lake and spending an idyllic morning listening to the water, birds chirping and seeing Jason’s antics. There aren’t any shops or restaurants nearby so come prepared with your picnic basket to have a great time.
3. Pykara lake-
The college organises sailing activity at this lake which is simply wow but do go on your own as well to make the most of this place because with college crowd you’d barely get to sit or eat due to massive gathering. So go with your friends, bask in the rays of the sun by the lake side while enjoying delicious snacks(Do take your picnic basket), subsequently you can go for boat rides to soak in the heavenly views of the surroundings. The gate of DSSC Pykara lake is much before the lake which is for general public so don’t get confused. And since the area is bestowed with green rolling pastures, sprawling landscape, lush meadows so you can pull over anywhere to enjoy the resplendent view.
These ahh-worthy sights would keep you drooling to explore more and more to make the most of these eleven months.
Have you checked out these places? How many of you leave no chance of being outdoors exploring? Also for any related query shoot me an email or leave a comment below and I’d be happy to help.
Keep exploring and stay happy!