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