Nilgiris have always been one of our favorite weekend destination from Bangalore. There are many places that one can visit in and around Nilgiris – Ooty, Coonoor, Bandipur, Kabini and Masinagudi. With a long weekend looming around the corner, this time around we planned a 3 day trip to Masinagudi and Ooty.

The plan was to start early on Friday morning and reach Masinagudi by 9AM, explore the places around Masinagudi (mainly the jungle safari) and then head to Ooty through the famous 36-hairpin route. The plan was to reach Ooty by evening before sunset so as to save ourselves the pain of driving through the hairpins in darkness.

 

For more road trips from Bangalore click here

 

We had driven to Ooty on multiple occasions from Bangalore and it usually takes us around 6 hours to reach. The day before the drive, went through the usual ritual that I follow before any drive – tank up, go through the basic checks (brakes, engine oil, power steering oil, wind screen fluid, air pressure etc.). We have a 1.5 year old toddler and she has become an integral part of our road trips. A significant part of our planning goes in packing stuff which would keep her engaged during the drive. We double, triple check the checklist so as to ensure that we do not miss out any essentials of the baby. We woke up early and managed to get the engines revved up at 5:30 AM – an accomplishment indeed with the little one 🙂 …

We quickly drove through the NICE road and were cruising on Mysore highway by 6:00 AM. The early start meant that we skipped all the traffic that one would find at 8 AM on Mysore road during long weekends.

Bangalore - Mysore express way
The wear and tear on this beautiful highway is visible these days. There are many stretches where you will find patch work. The infamous speed breakers have been removed and the new ones are much more safer.

 

Bangalore Mysore Express highway
The express way still does not have the lane for bikers. Hence overtaking at times can be tricky.

 

We were making good time and managed to breeze through Mandya. We usually stop at Right O for breakfast, but considering that our little one was fast asleep in her seat, we decided to continue our drive.  We were able to reach the Mysore outer ring road at around 8:00 AM. The outer ring road is a beautiful stretch of 4 lane road with hardly any traffic.

 For a detailed description of drive from Bangalore to Mysore, you can read my following post

Mysore Outer ring road
Take the Mysore outer ring road if you are continuing your drive to Bandipur, Ooty, Masinagudi Coorg, Wayanad etc

 

The last time we drove to Ooty, the road conditions were not that great. The road became a 2 lane highway after we crossed Mysore all the way up to Ooty. My friends who had done the drive recently did mention that the road conditions have improved significantly. We were pleasantly surprised to see a newly laid beautiful 4 lane road greet us from Mysore all the way up to Nanjanagudu.

Mysore to Nanjanagudu
The newly laid 4 lane highway from Mysore to Nanjanagudu.

 

Mysore to Nanjanagudu
Traffic was very thin in this route and we made great time

 

Mysore to Nanjanagudu
A non functional toll plaza. Not very sure if this would be a tolled road going forward. We simply flew by the toll plaza

 

The photo that I took couple of years back when this road was a 2 lane highway. Did miss those big trees forming a canopy over the road. The 4 lane does make the drive easy, but has robbed us of a scenic drive 😦

bangalore-to-ooty-3
The road was narrow, it was way more scenic with huge trees lined up on both sides of the road. 

 

You can read about my previous road trip to Ooty here

After crossing Nanjanagudu, the road became a 2 lane highway. Even though the road was 2 lane, it was pretty wide and overtaking was a breeze (It was practically a 3 lane, where one does not need to slow down when someone was overtaking).  Again, we were fortunate that the road was newly laid and in excellent condition.

 

Nanjanagudu to Bandipur highway.
Straight as an arrow. Highways like this is a pleasure to drive.

 

Nanganagudu to Bandipur highway
The newly laid road devoid of the markings. With traffic being thin, we were making good time.

 

It was around 8:45 AM when we stopped by the Cafe Coffee day before Bandipur. This has been one of our regular pitstops where we grab a hot coffee before continuing towards Bandipur.

Halt at Cafe Coffee Day
A quick halt at Cafe Coffee day before heading towards Masinagudi. Always refreshing to have a hot coffee after a long drive.

Below is photo that we took when we were driving to Ooty couple of years back. Not many changes over the 2 years 🙂

bangalore-to-ooty-5
Took this photo couple of years back (2015)

 

After grabbing a hot coffee, sandwiches and cookies for the little one, we continued our drive towards Bandipur. We hit couple of stretches where the road widening work was going on. The road had been leveled up, but you will have to drive through loose gravel and it would be advisable to take it easy.

Road heading to Bandipur
Patches of roads where the road widening is going on.

 

It was around 9:30 AM when we reached Bandipur. The arch that welcomes you to Bandipur tiger reserve has stood its time and brought back memories of our previous drives through this wonderful forest reserve

Bandipur National forward
Bandipur Tiger Reserve – The photo below was taken couple of years back. Spot the differences 🙂
bangalore-to-ooty-8
The photo that we took couple of years back

 

 

Driving through Bandipur during the month of February is not an ideal setting as the forest is devoid of all the greenery. The last time we saw greenery was when we were visiting Masinagudi around 6 years back during the Monsoons.

 

Bandipur Tiger reserve
Again we were lucky to be driving over newly laid roads. Took this photo just before we hit the invisible speed breaker.

 

Bandipur Tiger Reserve
The new arch that is being constructed.

 

Bandipur Tiger Reserve
Bandipur Finally!!! Thankfully, nothing much has changed here 🙂

 

The roads were not marked and after jumping over the invisible speed breaker (luckily, I was driving at around 40 Km/hr and escaped the anger of my wife and kiddo), started focusing on the road a bit more. The newly laid road meant that we did not have to navigate through any potholes and drive till Theppakadu was pretty uneventful.

 

Karnataka - Tamilnadu Border
The Arch where we cross Karnataka Border

 

Karnataka - TamilNadu Border
The bridge that connects Karnataka to TamilNadu.

 

Karnataka - TamilNadu Border
The Arch that welcomes you to Tamil Nadu. The Tiger reserve is called as Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu

 

Bandipur Tiger Reserve
The roads are in great condition. Trees devoid of their green canopy – something mystical about them

 

Bandipur Tiger Reserve
Finally spotted some wildlife

 

Bandipur Tiger Reserve
Picture perfect. Newly laid road and blue skies !!!

 

We reached Theppakadu at around 10:15 AM and took the left turn which would take you to Masinagudi. The narrow steel bridge still connects that road leading to Masinagudi to the National Highway.

Theppakadu junction
The junction where you need to take a left to head towards Masinagudi

 

Masinagudi
The bridge connecting the road to Masinagudi

 

From here the road is very narrow and hardly wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass by. Do not overspeed on this stretch of road as the shoulder of the roads are pretty high and you might end up damaging your suspension while getting off the road to let vehicles pass by. We were again lucky to see that the entire stretch was newly laid.

Masinagudi
The narrow road leading to Masinagudi. Notice that the shoulders of the roads are pretty high and the run off area by the roads have rocks and loose gravel. Do not overspeed and end up damaging your vehicle.

 

Masinagudi
Another 20 minutes drive through the scenic landscape and we were at Masinagudi.

 

We had planned to reach Masinagudi by 9AM – 9:30 AM, but considering that we started late and reached Masinagudi at around 10:30 AM, we decided to cut short our exploration at Masinagudi and head directly to Ooty. Following are the photos that we took while driving through the 36 hair pins to reach Ooty.

 

Masinagudi
After crossing Masinagudi, the roads are a bit wider and it was a beautiful drive through the jungle.

 

Cafe Coffee Day
Found another Cafe Coffee day after crossing Masinagudi. We did not stop here and continued our drive to Ooty

 

Masinagudi
The road becomes a 2 lane road as you approach the foot hills of Nilgiris.

 

Ooty
And within 20 minutes of crossing Masinagudi, we started the climb towards Ooty. Roads were in great condition, well marked but narrow.

 

Ooty
One of the 36 hair pin bends that you need to negotiate to reach Ooty

 

For tips on driving through Ghat roads please read my following blog

Ooty
The climb is very steep and you need to drive in 1st and 2nd gear to negotiate the hair pin bends. Drive cautiously as road is narrow.

 

Ooty
Picture perfect…

 

Ooty
After 45 minutes, we reached the outskirts of Ooty

 

I have been to Ooty multiple times, but the Nilgiris does not disappoint me. Over the past 15 years I have seen this beautiful hill station transform from being a quintessential quiet hill station to the now commercialized  weekend getaway people residing in Southern part of India.

 

 

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