Kotagiri: Nilgiris’ hidden terrain
Overview: Tucked in the eastern end of the Nilgiris is the taluk of Kotagiri. The more popular ones among the tourists are Ooty and Coonoor. We started early morning from Bengaluru, and headed towards Mysore road. Avoiding all the traffic, we reached the TN border at Mudumalai forests at around 8am. We stopped at Pykara lake for a break and for some boating experience at the placid lake. The view was spectacular with the forests surrounding the lake from all sides. The boat ride took around 1 hour and we were back on the road.
Crossing the crowded town of Ooty, we reached Vanamala farms at Kotagiri. The farmstay is around 1o kms away from the Kotagiri town, and is completely isolated. One can hear just chirping of birds and feel lost in the midst of nature. The hospitality was not too great, and there was some confusion of our arrival time, but the staff managed to arrange dinner on time for us. Bonfire was also arranged post dinner. Next to the homestay is a small abandoned house which is used in severl Tamil movies, and has a vintage look to it. We managed to spot a few birds like Kingfisher and Woodpeckers and Hummingbirds. Around 14 kms from Vanamala farmstay is the Kodanad view point, which offers panoramic views of the needle hill, and is popular among people visiting this place.
We were at Kotagiri for just one night, so could manage to see only a few places. On the way back, we took the Mettupalayam, Bhavani route towards Bengaluru.
How to reach: Take the SH to Mysore, and take the Ooty route via Bandipur and Masinagudi. Kotagiri is around 30kms east of Ooty. No direct buses from Bangalore, however, transportation is available from Ooty and Coonoor and also buses ply from Metupalayam to Kotagiri.
Food/Accommodation: Being taluk headquarters, there should be no problem in getting accommodation, and also there are a few homestays and resorts within 15kms radius of Kotagiri town. Food is not a problem in the entire town. But if reaching in the evening, its better to inform the homestay beforehand on the food requirements. Avoid driving at night as the roads are narrow from Kotagiri towards Kodanad and have several hairpin bends.