Thursday, 13 December 2012

Driving Holidays from Bangalore 5 - Hill Holiday in Coorg, Wayanad and Ooty

We are roadtrippers. We love the freedom road trips provide to stop, look and explore.

With Christmas holidays a month away, we thought of sharing the information on some of the great driving holidays one can do from Bangalore during the Christmas week.

These are comfortable drives, covering not more than 200 KMs in a day on the average. The plan is to cover for a week extendable for another two days.

We will be sharing details about ten lovely drives from Bangalore in this blog exploring heritage, western ghats, wild life, beaches etc....... 

Take a look, plan and go! This time on a hill holiday in Coorg, Wayanad and Ooty.

Read on.......

(Though this was written with Christmas Holidays in 2012 in mind, you can do these road trips it independently to suit your dates)

This is a classic road trippers dream holiday. Similar to the one we had posted on Malnad and Karavali. Distances are not much. Views are amazing. Food is great. Many options to stay. If you get bored of seeing the greenery through out, a day is kept for just lazing on the beach. You can do Ooty first and Coorg last if you wish to. Here we go.....

The Circuit

Bangalore - Srirangapatna - Belagola - Hunsur - Madikeri - Iruppu Falls - Thirunelli temple - Kalpetta (Wayanad) - Ooty - Masinagudi - Bangalore

Google Map - Google map of Circuit

Day 1 - 22 Dec 2012 - Saturday - Bangalore - Madikeri - 250 KMs
Road Condition - Excellent except for few KMs after Srirangapatna

Leave around 7 AM. Have breakfast on the way on Bangalore - Mysore road. You are spoilt for choices here. Depending on when you leave you can have breakfast of Kotte Kadubu in Kamat Loka Ruchi near Ramanagaram, Tatte Idlis in Bidadi, Iyengar cuisine of Pongal - Karnataka style - vada at Kadambam after Channapatna, Khara Bath/Masala Dosa at Shivalli Tiffin room after Channapatna or Assorted breakfast menu in reliable Adigas in Maddur, Maddur Vade and Masala Dosa in Maddur Tiffany's in Maddur. If you are coffee and doughnut kind of a person you can stop at Cafe Coffee day or McDonald's.

At Srirangapatna, look for deviation to Coorg highway via Belagola. Follow the sign boards of "Orange County" resort if confused! 

Stop at Bylakuppe to visit Tibetan Golden temple and monastery. The drive to Bylakuppe from the highway is beautiful flanked by miles and miles of maize fields. Savour the ambiance of the temple. If possible meet a monk and get to know more about the temple. Look for locally manufactured Tibetan handicrafts especially beautifully woven carpets with Tibetan motifs. 

The sanctum santorum of Golden temple
Drive on and stop at Kaveri Nisargadhama - a small island formed by Cauvery river. Walk over the suspension bridge. Enjoy a swim in the river - note for safety instructions  and follow them. 
Wire suspension bridge over Cauvery in Nisargadhama
Stop over at Amanvana Spa resort nest to Nisargadhama for a beer and Biryani for lunch. A beautiful resort, the restaurant is on the banks of Cauvery. If your wallet does not permit, then go for excellent South Indian Thali at Athitya in Kushal Nagar town.

Drive on to Madikeri or any home stay you have chosen in Coorg.

Relax for the day or if energy levels are high visit Raja Seat in Madikeri for sunset and serene Omkareshwara temple in the evening.
Omkareshwara temple
Day 2 - 23 Dec 2012 - Explore Coorg

Visit Dubare elephant camp before breakfast and follow it up with a rafting on the river if interested. 

After breakfast head to Talacauvery - 45 KMs - to see the place where river Cauvery takes its birth. The temple is small and nothing great. But the surroundings are beautiful. Nestled at the foot hills of Brahmagiri wild life sanctuary, it is a quiet and serene place. Return back for lunch. 

After lunch and rest, drive to Abbey falls. Walk down the steps to get a good look of water gushing down.

Morning sight from Raja seat
Abbey Falls
Return to Homestay for night stay.

Day 3 - 24 Dec 2012- Madikeri - Wayanad (Kalpetta) via Iruppu falls and Tirunelli - 167 KMs

After Breakfast drive to Iruppu falls. This is a beautiful falls.....higher than Abbey. Spend some time here and then proceed to Tirunelli to visit the ancient Vishnu temple nestled in the forests. After darshan, proceed to Kalpetta or your home stay in Wayanad for lunch.

Iruppu falls
Tirunelli temple
Rest and rejuvenated, drive down to Banasura dam - it closes at 6 PM - to savour beautiful vistas of backwaters. Go for boating experience. If weather is clear you will be lucky to see a beautiful sunset.

Return to Home stay for night stay.

Day 4 - 25 Dec 2012 - Explore Wayanad

I strongly recommend getting up early to drive to Pookat lake in the morning at sun rise and take a walk along the banks. The lake is of one of the most beautiful places in Wayanad which needs to be savoured when there are no tourists. Go for boating on the lake and return for break fast.
Pookat lake
After breakfast, take packed lunch and hike to Edakkal caves and Soochipara water falls.
After lunch, visit Meenmutty falls and return to home stay

Day 5 - 26 Dec 2012 - Wayanad - Calicut - 70 KMs
Road condition - Very Good

Get up in the morning and after an early breakfast drive to Kuruwa Dweep, the lovely bird sanctuary. Go in a boat to spot the birds. 

After Lunch, drive to Calicut. Enjoy the beautiful views of western ghats on the way. Drive to the beach. Enjoy the waters and lovely sunset. 

Lovely sands at Kappad beach
Return back to Wayanad to your Home stay for night.

Day 6 - 27 Dec 2012 - Wayanad - Ooty - 116 KMs
Road Condition - Very Good

After break fast, drive to Ooty via Gudalur. This is beautiful drive and reach Ooty for Lunch. After lunch, drive to boat house for a boat ride in the lake. Walk around in Ooty market and buy Ooty chocolates from the iconic place known as "King Star".

Tea Gardens on the way to Ooty
The Ooty lake
Day 7 - 28 Dec 2012 - Explore Ooty

After breakfast, hop on to the Nilgiris heritage train and enjoy the "Chayya Chayya" moments. You can either do the complete train journey and return back by either bus or go only up to Coonoor and catch a bus back to Ooty.

The train
Relax for the day. 

Day 8 - 29 Dec 2012 - Ooty - Coonoor - Kotagiri - 50 KMs

Get up early and after a cup of coffee take your car and drive to Avalanche and Emerald lake. The lake looks beautiful in the morning light and drive is a pleasant one. Stop over at any of the villages for nice cup of "boiler" tea. Drive up to Red Hills nature resort to get a view of Emerald lake.

Emerald lake in the morning
Emerald lake as seen from the peak behind Red Hills nature resort
Also look at this post on Ooty and Red hills in the blog - Ooty - Escape to red hills

After breakfast drive to Coonoor and Kotagiri to savour the view of Nilgiri ranges. At Coonoor and Kotagiri you can visit some view points like Lamb's rock and also Catherine falls.

Catherine Falls

Day - 9 - 30 Dec 2012 - Ooty - Bangalore via Mysore - 266 KMs
Road Condition - Very Good

Pls check out the following links on this blog realted to this post.

Ooty - Escape to Red Hills

Mango Range estate - Ideal location to explore Ooty and Wayanad

Stay options

Coorg - You are spoilt for options with newly opened fabulous Taj Vivanta and grand old bride of Coorg, Orange County to humble home stays. Unless you are a "resort type" we recommend staying in a home stay where you can get an of authentic "Kodava 
experience"Honeypot Homes and Polycad estate are our favourite home stays.

For more options on home stays in Coorg look at this nice webpage :- Coorg Homestays

Wayanad - Here too, you are spoilt for choices. Our choice is the remote and beautiful "Fringeford" and the nice home stay "Glenora".

Ooty - You should not stay in the city which gets crowded. The best options are "Destiny Farm Stay" and "Red Hills Nature Resort". Apart from these, also look at excellent properties "Kings Cliff" and "Sherlocks" by Littlearth group. If you have a fat wallet there is always  "Fern hill Palace", "Sullivan Court" and "Savoy Hotel".

Travel Tips

a) This is a quintessential driving holiday. The drive takes you through beautiful spots in Western ghats and Nilgiris biosphere. The drive is through the hills and recommended to drive safe.

b) If you are the "Trekker" kind, add another day in Wayanad and Coorg and also in Nilgiris. There are lot of trekking options.

c) Madikeri, Kalpetta and Ooty gets crowded during holidays. Be prepared for crowds and long queues for boating unless you reach there early.

d) Madikeri is still a small town and has still retained its charm. You can explore it by foot or by bicycle. Ask the place of your stay for it. While in Coorg don't forget to taste the Kodava cuisine.

e) If you are a golf enthusiast, both Madikeri and Ooty have excellent golf courses. Check it out with your host for details.

f) Coorg and Wayanad will get chilly at night. The temperature in Ooty may touch zero  degree. Woolens are a must in Ooty in winters.

g) Whether you are staying in Taj Vivanta or not in Coorg - it is expensive - do drop in for a lunch there. The place is awesome and the views just out of the world. Do this before Taj guys stop entry to non residential guests which they are notorious for!!

h) The drive to Wayanad via Iruppu gives you an opportunity to go through some lovely landscape. The temple in Tirunelli is serene and uncrowded. 

i) We are strong advocates of getting up in the morning and driving around in the hills when the sun is coming up and there is no traffic. Wayanad is best enjoyed by driving around.

j) Look out for locally made handicrafts - made by tribals - in and around Kalpetta. There is a nice shop near Pookat lake on the highway.

h) You can do boating both in Pookat and Banasura dam. Go there early.

i) The drive to Calicut is nice and views as one drives up and come down to coast is fabulous. The beach in Calicut is beautiful too. Don't forget to pick up the famous "Calicut halwa" from Ramana Bakery in the town.

j) The route to Ooty from Kalpetta is very picturesque and goes through beautiful tea gardens. On the way you can visit Meenmutty falls and Phantom rock as well.

k) While in Ooty, drive around. That is the mantra. Ooty town like any other hill station in the country is crowded. You get out of Ooty and you will see some fabulous vistas. Plan drives in Avalanche area and to Coonoor/Kotagiri. You will love it.

l) Go to Honeymoon boat house - not the main boat house - where the queues are smaller during season.

m) Ooty has some lovely churches built by British. If you have time do visit them.

n) While in Coorg, you can also take out some time to visit Fort, Nalknadu Palace. Coorg is also famous for its festivals and also the Hockey tournament played amongst the families.

n) On the way back from Ooty to Bangalore, you may stop over for a day in Masinagudi and do jungle safari. Our favourite place is the laid-back Jungle Retreat. But there are many options in Masinagudi. Another nice place is Inn the Wild

For other "Driving Holidays from Bangalore series" please click here

Driving Holidays from Bangalore 1 - Karnataka Heritage Trails

Driving Holidays from Bangalore 2 - Magical Malnad!

Driving Holidays from Bangalore 3 - A tryst with Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu

Driving Holidays from Bangalore 4 - Karavali and Koffee Combo!

Driving Holidays from Bangalore 5 - Exploring Enchanting Uttara Kannada!

You may also look at this link on this blog on what to do this summer in India

17 Cool Options to beat the heat in South India!

Ten Things to do in India this summer you haven't done before!

Some useful Links

On Coorg - Coorg Travel Guide

On Wayanad - Wayanad Travel Guide

On Ooty - Wikitravel Ooty

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