Ooty Trip Route: Hyderabad – Bengaluru(Bangalore) – Mysuru(Mysore) – Bandipur National Park – Mudumalai National Park – Ooty – Mysore – Bangalore – Hyderabad
Distance Covered: 1800 km
Budget: INR 36,000 (INR 6,000 per person)
Car: Maruti Eeco
Duration: 5 days (13th Feb 2017 – 18th Feb 2017)
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The first and most difficult part of planning a trip is convincing your friends. They tend to back out the last minute leaving others stranded. This trip was no different.
For the first time, I was going to travel with my friends for a period of 5 days and I had no clue how I would manage it. I had it vaguely planned in my head to propose for approval. Unsurprisingly enough, the idea was rejected by the very first bunch of friends I had planned for except a few. The reasons given were that they couldn’t get permission. Whereas, some felt the budget was excessive. As time went by it looked like the trip was not going to happen with only 3 of us left – Arshad, Abdul Rab and I.
In a couple of days, Arshad managed to convince Junaid and Amaan. They were able to convince their parents by telling them that it was a place close by. Suddenly, Abdul Rab dropped out leaving the four of us. We went full force convincing each and everyone we could get our hands on to join us on the trip. Talking to classmates during class, calling up schoolmates, even cousins. What can I say, we were desperate to make it happen. Consequently, many people showed interest and now we had to arrange another car if we wanted to take them along. Now, we had the task of choosing the best candidates for the job of companionship on the journey.
Khadim and I used to speak about going on trips since the first year of college. Finally, in the fourth year, it happened.
The coolest and easiest affirmation was Laeq’s. We were making reservations when Junaid suggested calling Laeq. It was only 2 days before our Ooty trip and I was convinced that there was no way Laeq would say yes on such a short notice.
Junaid: We’re going to Mudumalai for 4 days in a couple of days. Budget is 6K. Should we make reservations for you?
Laeq: I’ll check at home and call you back.
(After a few minutes)
Laeq: I’m in.
The team was ready – Amaan, Arshad, Junaid, Khadim, Laeq and I(Ibrahim).
Ooty Trip: Hyderabad – Bangalore – Mysore (Day 1)
After an overnight travel between Hyderabad and Bangalore, the boys reached Bangalore early in the morning at 5 am. Freshening up at my relative’s gave us the boost to continue the journey.
Probably the most mouth-watering South Indian food one can have would be at Kamat on the Bangalore – Mysore highway. A sought-after restaurant by travelers that frequent the Mysore highway.
The Mude Idly is a must try. Meals are quite popular too. After the very palatable breakfast, we were back on the road. Crossed Mysore through its ring road and headed towards Bandipur.
Ooty Trip: Mysore – Bandipur – Masinagudi (Day 1)
Stopped for a coconut water break after Mysore.
Bandipur National Park
At the time, Bandipur was going through one of the worst dry spells in recent memory and the intensity of drought in 2017 was high. The national park had been suffering from 2 consecutive years of dry spell and it was the third year that aggravated the situation and made forest fires a rather common occurrence. After our return from the jungle(on 15th Feb 2017), on 18th Feb a large forest fire broke out that killed a forest guard.
After spotting only monkeys and deer on the way to our resort, we were left disappointed. Hence, decided to go on a safari to quench our thirst of watching wild animals in the wild. Since safari is scheduled twice daily, In the morning and evening for a few hours each, we went in the evening.
Mudumalai National Park
We crossed Bandipur and entered Mudumalai making a beeline to Masinagudi(one of five ranges in Mudumalai). Our stay was reserved at Wild Haven, mostly because it is a wonderful place to stay and partially because I get great discounts. Hit me up if you plan on going there and I might fix you a great deal. My late uncle was a good friend of the owner, Mr. John and would take the whole family there quite often.
We were allocated two cottages for a day that cost us INR 7,500 including lunch, dinner, and breakfast.
Watchtower at the resort offers an excellent view of the forest where we caught sights of Elephants, Sambar deer, and spotted deer.
After having lunch at the restaurant of the resort, we headed to hop on a safari bus that would take us inside the forest of Mudumalai where public vehicles are not allowed.
Bandipur National Park is in Karnataka and Mudumalai National Park is in Tamil Nadu. Both operate their own safari services and are not far from each other. Bandipur’s safari often has a large number of tourists competing for a seat on the safari bus. We chose the safari offered at Mudumalai because it was closer to where we were staying.
As the sun was setting, after the safari, we retreated to our cottages and came out later for the bonfire stories by Mr. John.
Khadim spoke to John about Hyderabad’s Nizam and John spoke to us about many things like his resort, history of India and also about the “conservation of forest/wildlife” organizations doing absolutely nothing fruitful for the forest. During the conversation, a topic came up related to things India needs to improve on. A French national hearing our conversation, asked John, “Do you like India?”. To which John exclaimed, “I love India!”. The French guy later took a selfie with us on his phone, leaving us bewildered. We excused ourselves for dinner and soon went to bed afterward.
Ooty Trip: Masinagudi – Ooty – Mysore (Day 2)
Check out our story when we returned a year later to Wild haven. This time the forest was luscious as ever.
Breakfast and packing up to continue the journey
After a toothsome breakfast, we got ready to continue the journey. Packed our bags, paid the bill and started to Ooty.
Masinagudi – Ooty [About 30 km (1hr 30min)]
There are 36 hairpin bends between Masinagudi and Ooty. An exhausting climb. We stopped for some Ooty tea.
As we entered Ooty, we were stopped by a local who claimed to be a guide. He wanted to take us to popular places in Ooty and help us find a place to stay overnight. So we asked him where he would take us and he replied, “Botanical gardens, Boat house,…”. We made a note of all the things he mentioned. Then, thanked him and politely declined his offer and set out for the first proposition of his- Botanical Gardens!
Government Botanical Gardens
We sent Junaid to get tickets to enter the botanical garden and he returned with 7 tickets for the six of us. His response was, “Black mei bech linge”(We’ll sell it off illegally). One thing we forgot was that it was 14th Feb. In short, we were subjected to imprudent stares.
Ooty Boat House
Also known as Ooty Honeymoon Boat House which we happened to visit on Valentine’s day. This time Arshad went to buy tickets and he got 12 tickets for the 6 of us. Thankfully he returned the surplus tickets and got a refund.
Fog appeared in the middle of the day for 20 mins and left. Typical Ooty.
After the scenic boating, we had lunch at Hyderabad Biryani House. Hyderabadis love their biryani and wouldn’t give it up even during vacation. Typical Hyderabadis.
Pine Forest Shooting Spot
Heading to Mysore
Vehicles are not allowed to enter the forest area in the night between 9 pm and 6 am. To avoid getting stuck outside the jungle, we left early on the Ooty to Masinagudi descent road. Vehicles, except Ooty registered, are not allowed anymore to descent because of lethal accidents that took place and continue to. There’s another path, although lengthy, that has a splendid view.
By the time we entered Masinagudi, it was 6 pm and got dark quickly. We drove through the jungle in pitch darkness. Eventually, we reached Mysore at 9 pm and headed to RRR to have dinner.
A relative was kind enough to lend their farmhouse for a couple of days which is where we stayed for the night.
Ooty Trip: Mysuru/Mysore (Day 3)
After a comfortable night’s sleep, we woke up to go explore Mysore. One thing our Hyderabadi way of life made us accustomed to was late breakfast. We reached a beautiful restaurant next to a river at 11 am. Unsurprisingly, we were told there was only bread and omelet. The view made up for the bland food after which we headed to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Situated next to river Kaveri with plenty of crocodiles. After spotting a plethora of birds, we went for boating where a good deal of crocodiles swam next to the boat.
Tipu Sultan’s tomb
We were not allowed to take pictures here. There were plenty of paintings, utensils, artifacts and some clothes of Tipu Sultan.
It was so dirty that we didn’t even stay for more than 10 mins there.
We had an issue with the DLSR for which we went to Mysore Mall. Got a refreshing, back twisting massage from a recliner massage sofa, bought some Ooty chocolates, snacks for the next day. We looked up restaurants in Mysore where we found a place that had rave reviews called Empire. So, went to Empire for dinner.
Dinner at Empire
The most affordable and probably the best item in the menu at Empire chain of restaurants is “Thali”. We saved a lot eating at Empire. We enjoyed the food so much that we didn’t move from the restaurant till 11 pm. The whole restaurant was empty by the time we were finished. Apparently, Mysore sleeps and wakes up early, something Hyderabad needs to learn from.
Ooty Trip: Mysore – Bangalore (Day 4)
Since Mysore palace was not open as we were early, we went to the zoo!
Photos/Videos and footwear are strictly not allowed inside. Our phones were snatched and checked for pics. We took some selfies outside. It is captivating and a must visit. Very well maintained and pretty crowded most of the time. The most enchanting view of the palace is probably when lights are switched on in the evening, giving Eifel Tower a run for its money.
Lunch at Empire
Ordered Thali again. Lunch and dinner for 6 at around INR 1000 each time.
Returning to Bangalore
After the lunch, we packed our bags and headed back to Bangalore where my grandmother lives. We stayed at her place for the night.
Ooty Trip: Bengaluru/Bangalore – Hyderabad (Day 5)
Started in the direction of home after a quick South Indian breakfast. Journey back home that took us about 9 hours because we stopped for dinner and tea. And also to take pictures 😛