As a nervous teenager I sat in the car that wound its way up the blue mountains – The Nilgiris. The name Ooty was, until then, a hazy story of a childhood vacation where our jeep was chased by an angry bull elephant. The stuff of legends. Or scary nightmares, whatever path your mind chooses to trudge. 11 years after the Great Elephant Chase, I was headed for another adventure that I never thought would materialize outside of my Enid Blyton induced fantasies. I was going to boarding school!
The hills were beautiful, I remember. There was a change in the air as soon as we left the plains, a pure quality, one that hinted at hot, steaming coffees and fireplaces. Though boarding school did not consist of these cozy scenarios, it was indeed a wonderful place to spend four years in. Now when I hear the word ‘Ooty’, warm memories are conjured up, along with smiles at childhood injustices that time has laid a soft fuzzy blanket over.
It has been over 16 years since I made that second trek up those hills. A lot has changed for sure, but what Ooty can still offer is an escape – from routine, from the heat, from just the ‘plain’-ness of it all. The prospect of a weekend in Ooty induces spontaneous smiles and hunts for sweaters that had been regretfully packed away for another 9 months. Because, yes, Ooty will welcome you any time of year.
Housing several international educational institutions, the town has always maintained a wide variety of accommodation options for discerning guests. From more budget-friendly options to luxurious resorts, everyone can afford a weekend in this idyllic hill station.
Don’t let the sweeping tendrils of mist tempt you into thinking Ooty is a sleepy town however, if it is activities you’re after, that’s what you’ll get. Trekking, a taste of mountaineering, an afternoon at a tea plantation, a guided tour through tribal history or even a round of golf – you are spoilt for choice here. The Botanical Gardens are always worth a visit, especially during the flower show that takes place in May every year.
But if you fancy doing nothing more than wrapping yourself in a plush blanket and forgetting about ‘real life’ for a few days, Ooty’s resorts have you sorted. Book yourself a room in a luxury resort and indulge in all that it has to offer. Start your morning with a yoga session, relax as you are served piping hot food, and enjoy the silence and ever present nip in the air.
Our recommendations for top ‘Ooty resorts’:
Taj Savoy Hotel: Think leisure, think Taj. With over 6 acres of prime land, let yourself sink into colonial style luxury at the 5 star property located close to the main city. With many nearby attractions and an entire host of relaxation options at the hotel. Sip your tea next to the roaring bonfire and let go of the tension in your shoulders with the world-class spa facilities.
Red House: Located in Fernhill, pick a room here and give yourself over to the opulence and royal treatment at the Red House. With individual bungalows, you can enjoy privacy and luxury as you take in the colonial decor and views.
Fortune Hotel Sullivan Court: Something of an Ooty institution, a stay at the Sullivan Court will keep even the kids happy, with a range of activities to keep them occupied. Family friendly, great food and beautiful views make this an excellent choice for a vacation in the hills.
Green Nest Resorts: Further away from the city, and tucked away amongst green hills, you can rest assured that no roar of traffic will reach your ears here. If peace and quiet is what you’re looking for at a more budget friendly hotel, then Green Nest Resorts is the answer.
Destiny The Farm Stay: 25 kilometers from Ooty is this farm stay where one can relax in the knowledge that they are in an eco-friendly environment. Enjoy food made from produce grown on the farm, make friends with the many animals that live here, from horses to cows, rabbits and guinea pigs. Beautiful lakes and verdant hills surround the farm.
Zostel Ooty: Travelling alone? Thanks to the changing times, even lone travelers can partake of the joys of Ooty. India’s pioneering hostel chain, Zostel offers you a plump slice of the pie. Alone or not, Ooty is for everyone, and Zostel welcomes you with open arms.
About the Author: Rekha is an architect, artist, designer and writer. She is passionate about traveling, but currently busy with her Master of Design studies at UNSW in Australia – her dream country to visit since 2007. Her life journey has taken her to several places and situations, all things she likes to write about. Find her stories at Oh! Fernweh and her art at Rekha Chithrampatt Art.