One cannot ignore to put forward one of the spectacular road journies – Bangalore to the Nilgiris, in the list of must take road trips in India. You are going to experience all the serenity nature has to offer – abundant flora and fauna, forest trails with diverse wildlife, spice plantations and tea blankets, aromatic fresh air, lush grasslands, placid lakes and mountain views. The location commands the leading routes to be full of panoramic postcard views.
Bangalore is well connected to most of the locations in South India and a road trip from Bangalore to any of the offbeat places would be a great experience, provided you take the right route and devote the right time at each stunning destination. Read about our experience with An offbeat trip to the blue mountains during the pre-monsoons.
Here is a detailed itinerary including all the information you need to know for a week long trip to the Nilgiris from Bangalore.
Let’s Begin the Journey
Best month to visit: July to November
Our Roadtrip: 18th – 23rd July
Road Quality: 7/10
Onward : A slightly longer route Bangalore-Mysore-Nanjanagudu-Gundlupete-Bandipur-Mudumalai-Gudalur-Naduvattam-Pykara-Ooty-Coonoor. Longer by at least 40 Kms, the incline is not too steep with average road conditions. The drive in the surreal nature is amazing and worth every extra kilometre. The Nilgiris gracefully welcome you with the clouds drifting towards you as you drive through.
Return : How about travelling through 36 hairpin bends? The shortest route from Ooty-Kavaratty-Mavanalla-Masinagudi-Bandipur-Gundlupet-Nanjangudu-Mysore-Bangalore. The trail from Ooty to Masinagudi is a steep drive with 36 hairpin bends for 30 Kms. Perfect and ideal to make best memories of this journey. A bit of careful driving on this stretch is needed.
Both routes from Bangalore to Ooty converge at Gundlupet. From this point, the road has to go through a forest before arriving at Ooty. The forest saddles both Karnataka and Tamilnadu states across their borders. Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary inTamilnadu.
****Day Wise detailed Itinerary****
Day1: Bangalore to Gudalur
Hit the Bangalore-Mysore highway early morning and take the road leading towards Ooty at Mysore. From here on, it is just nature and wildlife in its entirety.
On the way, a must visit place is Himvad Gopalswamy Betta, called so because the hill with its peak kissing the clouds, is enveloped with dense fog all year round and has a temple dedicated to Gopalswamy. It is the highest peak in the neighbouring national park and is frequented by animals. Hence the entry is only from 8:30am – 4:00pm.
Get back to the highway to continue the journey. The drive through Bandipur forest is a pleasure, with good road conditions and greenery around. After crossing Bandipur and Madumalai, you reach Theppakadu, from where there are two routes to Ooty. Take diversion to the right – Coimbatore-Ooty-Gundlupet highway to reach Gudalur. The road to Gudalur, a beautiful small town surrounded by mountains on all sides has few amazing things to offer to you.
Overnight stay in Gudalur.
Where we stayed:
Velu’s Resort, Gudalur : The place amidst tea estate is enticingly beautiful and serene. Clean rooms, great location and excellent hospitality by the staff. They did their best to make our stay comfortable. Though they do not have a restaurant they arranged for decent food at all hours. They also arrange early morning short trek through the surrounding tea estates.
Day2: Gudalur – Needle Rock View Point – Pykara – Cinema Shooting Spot – Ooty- Coonoor
The route from Gudalur to Coonoor via Ooty is about 120km (4hrs drive) and very scenic. Driving into the woods is an awesome experience. A couple of viewpoints off the highway ahead – Needle Rock and Frog Hill present you astonishing views of the forest cover and make perfect photography destinations. Needle Rock – 8 km from Gudalur is a must visit place. Trek a while to reach the viewpoint all covered in clouds throughout the day. The feeling of staying above the clouds and fully covered by them at a point is unexplainable!
As you approach Ooty, lot of tourist attractions like Pykara lake-dam, Cinema Shooting Spot(Grass hills), etc fall on the way. After spending a pleasant time at these locations take a break at Ooty for a hot cup of coffee and snacks.
Reach Coonoor for lunch after a half-day drive. Places to visit in Coonoor – Lamb’s rock, Dolphin’s Nose, Tea factory. All these places were a few minutes drive from the place where we stayed. Lamb’s rock is a jagged cliff that drops down several hundred feet to the lush jungle below, providing you with an excellent view of the Coimbatore plains.
Overnight stay in Coonoor.
Where we stayed:
De ROCK- Jungle Living, Coonoor : It’s a beautiful place atop a hill covered with tea estate, away from the Coonoor town, avoiding the maddening chaos. Driving off from the highway towards this cottage, through a least travelled narrow trail, you will get the gist of nature and what preservation means. The food offered here is so lip-smacking that we had developed an unquenchable appetite. We had spent 2 blissful days of wandering around the mountainside studiously giving a wide berth to the offbeat viewpoints.
Day3: Tea factory, View points, at Coonoor and head to Ooty via Kotagiri
Head out in the morning to visit Dolphin’s nose and local tea and chocolate factories. We paid a visit to the Brooklands Tea factory which was close to our resort, riding through the small path between the tea plants with their tender leaves shining in the soft sunlight.
A few km ride through scenic vast tea plantations across silent roads will take you to the Dolphin’s Nose viewpoint. The protruding rock formation looks exactly like what it is named after, a dolphin’s nose. In one of the gigantic ravines on its either sides, you can clearly see the awe-inspiring Catherine Falls.
After having a pleasant morning trip, get back to the resort to check out. You can drive through the off beaten track, the Katabettu-Kotagiri road to reach Ooty. This drive of 50km takes 4hrs of your time and would be one of the most pleasing drives in your entire trip with lush green meadows and beautiful wildflowers on roadsides. From Katabettu, Ooty and Kotagiri are in opposite directions but we would suggest you to drive for few km on the Kotagiri road to witness some of the most picturesque landscapes. You can as well plan for one night stay at Kotagiri to experience some of the mesmerising views instead of heading to Ooty .
After an excellent ride, reach Ooty by early evening. Post lunch you can go for a local sightseeing – Botanical park, Rose garden, Doddabetta. It is better to avoid spending a full day at these places as a few km away from the town there are more surprising places to visit.
Overnight stay in Ooty.
Where we stayed
I-India Hotel & Heritage Centre, Ooty : This is an old British bungalow present outside the town giving its guests a taste of colonial stay, homely experience and good value for money. Located facing the valley and the view from this bungalow is very beautiful calming your soul down. The staff is very courteous. The icing on the cake is the excellent food they make. We would love to go back there just to have mouth-watering Idli, dosa & chutney.
Day4&5: Explore Ooty – Toy train, Emerald city, Avalanche lake
Ooty, the Queen of the Hills is also known for its pleasant climate and the gardens, valleys and other captivating attractions worth exploring. Shopping at Ooty for homemade chocolates and wooden artefacts is highly recommended.
Toy train – The ‘old world charm’ train ride is an added attraction for the tourists in Ooty. This mountain train journey on a ratchet and pinion track commences between Udagamandalam and Mettupalayam. It joyfully wends its way through many curves and tunnels and chugs along deep ravines full of verdant vegetation, gurgling streams and tea gardens.
Book tickets in advance via IRCTC from Udagamandalam(Ooty) to Mettupalayam (Train travel time: ~4hrs, 5 halts, Distance: 46 km, Avg Speed: 12 km/hr) If time permits do it full trail, else get down at Coonoor and reach back Ooty by bus.
On day 5, start early in the morning to get the right view of the most beautiful part of the entire journey. If you are looking for a place where you could feel closest to nature, then your search ends here. It takes around 7hrs to finish this day trip to the baffling Avalanche lake and surrounding places, a world far from city lights.
To reach Avalanche lake, you should take the shuttle which is operated by the forest department. The shuttle stops at two places on the route – Cauliflower sholas and Bhavani Amman temple valley view point. Driving along the Bhavani river running with poise and sobriety, you reach the destination – Avalanche lake. In awed silence, this place is very romantic and truly a heaven on earth. Explore the nearby Emerald city which has many beautiful lakes. Emerald lake being one of them, is an eye-catching beauty.
Culminate the wonderful journey of 5days. Stay at Ooty overnight and head back to Bangalore the next day.
Day6: Ooty to Bangalore via 36 hairpin bends
We left Ooty early morning. On our way back to Bangalore we drove through the heart of Mudumalai forest reserve. The lush green vegetation and the smell of eucalyptus wafted to us.
While you drive back, visit Theppakadu Elephant Camp at Theppakadu junction. If time permits and you plan your day properly, you can stop for wildlife Safari at any of these two places.
– Bandipur National Park
– Mudumalai National Park
Our journey was finally at an end after having spent 6 glorious days in the lap of nature and soaking up the unadulterated beauties. Every road-trip teaches us something, this time, we have experienced that the beauty is in the journey than in the destination.
Let us know your comments, if this helped you to plan your trip.
Tips to remember:
- Fill your fuel tank full before leaving Mysore, as you hardly find any petrol bunks on your way till Ooty.
- Driving through the curves and hairpins is better left for the experienced. It is very exciting. However, it is good to be reasonable and cautious.
- Stop and savour the fresh fruits and vegetables sold along the highway after Gudalur.
- Vehicular movement is restricted in the forest stretch between 21:00 and 06:00 hrs