We booked the Red Hills Nature resort for 1 day and the transportation from Ooty bus stand as well. We started from Bangalore at 10:30pm on a Friday. We reached Ooty at around 9am on Saturday morning and found the cab waiting for us at the bus stand. The Red hills nature resort is around 35kms from Ooty and the route leading to the resort is breathtaking with lush green countryside. On the way we come across names like Emerald and Avalanche which reflects the impressions left by the British. The roads till Emerald village are in a good condition but after that it takes a beating and our idea of not driving down from Bangalore to Red Hills turned out to be a good one.
We reached Red hills Nature resort at around 11am after taking breaks for taking pictures on the way through the villages of Appukodu and Emerald and the cabbage and carrot plantations all the way.
The resort overlooks the Emerald Lake and the first impression one would get on looking at the view is "WOW!" Built in 1875, there are 7 cottages in the resort, each having excellent facilities. The resort is run by the Vijayakumar family. Mr Vijay, who was born in this very place, fondly explained about the history of the place and how he manages the resort. Sitting on the bench, one can spend hours together admiring the pristine beauty if nature. Several activities can be taken up at the resort, like trekking into the wilderness, mountain biking, fishing, jungle safari.
We relaxed for most part of the day and decided to go for wildlife safari near Parson's valley in the evening. We were lucky enough to spot a peacock, Sāmbhar, Leopard and finally a herd of Bison on the way back. Not to mention a variety of birds of different colours pleasing our eyes. We then stopped at Porthimund which offered a spectacular view of the evening sun hiding behind the clouds. The place was very silent and one can hear only birds and there is very little sign of human presence in those areas.
These lakes receive water from the rainfall only a couple of times in a year between June to August that would suffice the entire year.
We returned back to the resort for a wonderful evening. The next day greeted us with a misty morning and we couldn't resist clicking the pictures of Emerald Lake again from different angles. After having a wonderful breakfast, we checked out of the resort in the afternoon towards Avalanche and the Toda tribal village.
On the way we stopped at the Avalanche Lake which was again a lovely sight and with its winding shape passing through the Nilgiris. There is a dam which is constructed on the Lake which we couldn't go as special permissions need to be obtained.
Next we went to the Toda tribal village, and we were greeted with a group of Toda children greeting us into one of their homes. The Todas are believed to be of ancient European origin, probably the Romans or Greeks who came with Alexander around 1600 years ago. Though they have pretty much become adaptive to our civilization, they still maintain their own culture and traditions religiously. We went into one of their houses which is an oval shaped hut built by bamboos fastened with ropes, and from the interior has walls with stones and mud. The exterior is also made of hard stone and the door entrance is very small probably designed to keep wild animals away. We had to really bend ourselves to get into their house. Inside were two elderly women and some small children who live nearby. The showed us their traditional shawl and explained about their culture. They showed us their family wedding album as well which had the bride and the groom in their traditional attire. The friendly welcome was really overwhelming. The elders mostly speak only the Toda language with a bit of Tamil but the children speak English as well as they go to school.
Learning about their living, we bid farewell to them. Outside we saw their temple where they worship their God. Also the scenic beauty was great. We could see the different colours of trees in the mountains.
From the Toda Village, we had a lot of time to spend before catching the bus back to Bangalore, so we asked the cab driver to drop us to the Ooty railway station to board the hill train to Coonoor. The fare to Coonoor was also quite encouraging (Rs 3 per head from Ooty to Coonoor). The Nilgiri Mountain rail also has an entry into the list of UNESCO World heritage sites. The route was very scenic and made way through the villages like Lovadale, Wellington which reflects the bygone British era. We covered the distance of 18kms from Ooty to Coonoor in 1 hour through green valleys, bridges and tunnels. We had our lunch at Coonoor and left for Ooty by the last train from Coonoor at 4:30pm.
How to reach: Bus: KSRTC and TNSTC serves direct buses from Bangalore and Mysore to Ooty regularly. For details please check KSRTC website.
Car/Bike: Head on SH17 towards Mysore, after crossing Mysore and Bandipur proceed to Ooty via Masinagudi. Alternate route is to enter via Mudumalai and Gudalur. From Ooty, continue on Avalanche road, after Emarald, a fork road towards right goes to Red Hills.
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