I knew Ooty to be one of the busiest and most famous hill-stations in South India. But, I wanted to visit the place in real to know why it is that famous. Well, I had too many assumptions and imaginations about how the place might be in real. Feeding my curious thoughts to rest, my weekend trip started off to the coolest place in the nilgiris.
I departed from Bengaluru on a friday night. As the bus moved through mysore I was asleep. Later, I woke up subconsciously sensing the bus to be static in a place. I moved the curtains and stressed my eyes for the view out as it was still dark. Sudden thought: Oh god !. Don’t tel me now that the bus actually broke down and I will be arriving after a delay or something… Shhhitttttt… Noooo *fingers crossed*. As I peeped out in the dark, I found a huge entrance at a distance camouflaging with the shades of the dawn. Yes, it was as early as 04 am in the morning.
The entrance which stood there was the gate for the Bandipur National Park. Well, if you are travelling to Ooty via mysore, then the route is through Bandipur. As the rules made by the forest department, no vehicles are allowed inside the forest area from 9pm-6am so that the wild life doesn’t get disturbed. Cool, isn’t it !. So, now you know why my bus was not moving. As the clock struck 06:00AM, the gates flung open, my bus entered inside the forest.
The road was labyrinthine with multiple turns coming in the way. As it was just the time when the first rays of the sun were hitting the land, the environment was freezing with dew drops falling from trees and the mist blocking the far-away views. The thorny forest remained in silence as I tried to find a Tiger (I didn’t, unluky). Yet, within few seconds I spotted a huge group of spotted deer feeding on the fresh greens. The velvet brown skin of the deer with chrome-yellow spots added beauty to the animal. As I covered more parts of the forest on my way, I found a lot of deer in my way. I was still surfacing through the borders of Karnataka and I knew somewhere within the forest itself, I will be moving to the state of Tamilnadu.
As the bus moved through a turn, I saw a beautiful arch bridge coming on our way. As I was staring at the bridge, I also spotted forest monkeys jumping across trees. I was feeling happy about my trip, looking at the nature and then I saw Mudumalai Tiger Reserve entrance. So, this entrance from where Tamilnadu begins also has a check post and a gate to let vehicles pass-through. As we approached the gate, the bus suddenly halted. I guessed maybe the bus stopped because it is a check post and the officers do mind to check the vehicles for goods and let us pass on. Well, my guess went wrong and then the real scenario hit my mind.
Karnataka and Tamilnadu are neighbouring states in India and when it comes to the matter of Kaveri river and it’s water, the conflicts arising are too casual for either of the states. So, on the day I was stuck between the borders there was a strike happening in Karnataka which was against Tamilnadu (TN). Due to differences between the two states, the bus I was travelling in as it belonged to Karnataka State wasn’t allowed to enter Tamilnadu. For around 15 odd minutes I did not step out of the bus hoping that the bus would be allowed to get in. Sadly, the kick of excitement began to fade off as tension made room for itself in my mind. I got out of the bus hoping to try my best to let our bus go. Nothing was working. After procrastinating there for around 30 odd minutes we received the final hearing from the check post officer that the bus cannot be sent inside TN.
When I head out for traveling, I count on every single minute. A long delay in the middle of no-where in a tiger reserve spread out in a huge area divided between two states could easily damage my itinerary for the day. Quick plans had to be made to go to our destination. Fortunately there were TN jeeps who were ready to provide jeep service all the way to Ooty at a moderate price. After few solid quick decisions we left the bus and boarded the jeep.
My excitement hit my mind back again and I was very happy about whatever happened. Who wouldn’t love a jeep drive in the middle of a dense forest filled with wild habitat. So, the jeep took the shortest route to Ooty ditching off the long route which the bus was supposed to take. As the jeep took the Masinagudi route, I got to see herds of deer again from a very close distance. There was a lot of dry land with thorny shrubs growing everywhere. As the drive was only through the plains without any deviations the driver told us that we were about to get into a road with crazy hairpin bends. Yayyyy, I was excited. Finally, something good.. 🙂 🙂
The jeep started climbing the hill. There were a lot of bends in the road. With every bend higher, there was a better view. After few crazy twisted bends, at a distance the view turned out to be spectacular. I literally saw the thin clouds floating far away at the same height where I was. As the altitude increased, the climate turned out to be cooler. I feel this hairpin bend road is the one you definitely shouldn’t miss if you are driving to Ooty. It really gives you some adrenaline rush along with beautiful view points at every intervals.
We got onto the top a bit earlier actually as the jeep driver took a short route. Just because the bus was stopped and not allowed further, I got into this jeep which took me on an amazing drive in the morning through steep twisted roads and guess what even after all that drama, I reached my cottage earlier and I ended up with more time to tour around Ooty. If the bus itself had moved, I couldn’t have experienced all of this. Sadly, I would have reached Ooty almost by noon affecting the itinerary. Well, after this situation I somewhere started believing on the phrase ‘Everything that happens, happens for good’.