Ooty & Coonoor – A Short Monsoon Vacation – Part 2

I continue this post about our short monsoon trip to Ooty, Coonoor and Coimbatore. On our first day in Ooty we had gone to both the famous gardens in the hill station. (Please see Part 1 if you haven’t ) We had a electricity outage at night in the resort but since the weather was cool and pleasant it was not much of an inconvenience. We woke up to a misty rainy morning and the first thing I photographed was the high roof of the room.

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The simple and elegant hanging ceiling light in our room at Sherlock

As the weather was hazy and it was drizzling on and off we decided to give Doddabetta peak a miss as visibility would be almost zero. On a clear day the peak with its viewing gallery is a must visit place while in Ooty. Instead we spent the early rainy morning on our rooms porch and in the lawns enjoying a cup of hot black coffee ( Just me, the better half doesn’t enjoy the black gold as much as I do!) It stopped raining as the morning progressed and we had a nice hot South Indian breakfast of piping hot idlis with sambar and chutney. We took some photos in the lawns and said goodbye to the Sherlock.

 

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The Lawns at Sherlock provide a pleasing background for portraits
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A black bird feeds on the worms in the lawns

First on the agenda for the day was the Ooty lake. Though it is a crassly commercialised area and we are not avid boaters especially not on a rainy & windy day. It is a place you have to visit when in the town. As it was a public holiday there were teeming crowds at the lake. We walked the small promenade on one end of the lake took some photographs of the lake and the adventurous people boating in the rains (See featured photo) A common coot was enjoying the wake of the motor boats in the lake and though I have numerous photos of the bird I couldn’t resist taking one more since the bird seemed to be having so much fun riding the waves formed by the boats like a surfer.

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A common coot at the Ooty lake

We left the lake area and descended from Ooty down to Coonoor and its tea gardens. On the way were some pleasant views of the Nilgiris. We managed to stop the car at a place where the road was wider and took a few photos.

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The rolling hills of the Nilgiris 

Before reaching the town of Coonoor we went through Army land towards Sims park one of the attractions at Coonoor. The army zone is a no photography zone but it is very picturesque and our driver showed us the points where the movie Roja was shot apparently. We soon reached Sims park and the Sun made its grand appearance and from nowhere it was bright and sunny. We descended into the park towards a small man made lake at the centre and were greeted by a Pied Bush chat who was waiting for me and my 300mm.

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A pied bush chat says hi!

The park covers a huge area and we ventured into only a part of it since we were running short of time and I wanted to complete our descent before sunset. There were lots of red whiskered bulbuls flying all over the park and these birds were so used to human company that they allowed me to get real close for a good portrait.

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An inquisitive red whiskered bulbul at Sims Park

One cannot leave Sims park without noticing the sheer variety of beautiful flowers around. The one thing I noticed was that in Ooty and Coonoor the fine for breaking flowers was a measly 100 rupees. That is in no ways an adequate deterrent to prevent idiots from desecrating these beautiful places. Hope the authorities do something about it.

I had a great time photographing the flora on display at the park and thanks to the bright sunlight the colours just pop out. Please don’t ask me the names of the flowers though!!DSC_6051DSC_6054.jpgDSC_6060.jpgDSC_6061.jpg

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As we were leaving the park we saw a group of Cinereous tits begging for food!! These birds were literally eating of the hands of the tourists who were taking photos of them feeding birds in their hands. I don’t feed wildlife as it changes their behavioural pattern but that didn’t stop me from getting a good close photo of a tit who thought I wanted to feed it. That was my last bird photo of this trip but it had been an unusually good birding trip considering the weather.

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An almost pet like Cinereous tit 

Soon it was lunch time and we had walked a fair bit in Sims Park which made us all the more hungry. But the brief sunny interlude was something we didn’t want to spend indoors eating. So we suppressed our hunger and decided to visit a tea garden before the Sun went back into hiding. We reached a typical touristy tea factory, took the mandatory tour which showed the tea making process and took some photos in the  the beautifully laid out tea gardens.

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A not to be missed photo op in the tea gardens

After we were satisfied with the photos we left the tea gardens and went to have lunch. Sure enough it started raining again and I was glad that we visited the tea gardens before eating. After lunch we had a slow descent towards the Coimbatore plains.

Whenever I’m in Coimbatore I make it a point to go to the Marudhamalai Karthik temple just outside the city. The temple is on a hillside and is one of those temples which has a peaceful air about it. The temple seemed to have grown quite a bit since I was here last time and looked more impressive. We drove upto the base of the temple along steep serpentine curves and then climbed the stairs to the temple itself. The temple courtyard gives sweeping views of the city of Coimbatore but the weather was too dull for a good photo. So we had to be satisfied with just looking at it for a change.

 

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The entrance gates of the temple.

After a quick darshan we sat at the temple courtyard for a while and enjoyed the view before proceeding to Vengetesh’s house in Coimbatore. Each time the temple looks bigger and grander than the last and I’m sure this will be the case when I visit next time.

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Dramatic skies with the elegant Marudhamalai temple

We returned to Coimbatore where we were hosted by my friend Vengetesh and his family. We had a great home made meal with some amazing pongal and had a great time talking, reminiscing about our days in Lucknow. That was the end of this short vacation as from tomorrow I had a conference to attend and the better half would be flying back home.

Even though we had a short time in the Nilgiris, it had been memorable. The light rains ,the lack of tourists, a great hotel and meeting friends had made it a vacation to remember.

Till my next post.

Bye

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