Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rediscovering Ooty (Part 1): Driver's Dream Roads - Calicut to Ooty


Ooty route

The adrenalin is rushing, not because of an adventurous ride, not because we are travelling at breath neck speeds, but due the prospect of the impending journey through one of the most beautiful and scenic roads of God's own country Kerala. A guy who is passionate about any road trips, be it his routine daily trips to office or through badly maintained roads, needs nothing more to feel excited.

Akin to the period of a blossoming love, everything around starts to look beautiful - the colorless cloudy sky brightened up by the rising sun and even the roads inside Kozhikkode city which has a deserted look. It is just ten minutes into the journey which started from Kozhikkode and Feroke Bridge, the southern exit to Kozhikkode city, is already in sight.

kozhikkode ooty route


The water underneath seemed to enjoying their stillness while we glided over them. Bridges, one of the major engineering feats, always has got a special charm and each one has got its own identity. Travelling through a bridge is sure a pleasant experience for all, coz it brings out a different experience from the tarmac laid on soil, add to it an unobstructed panoramic view of the surroundings too.

Feroke is always characterized by the umpteen number of lorries cris crossing the road, many of them parked in such a way that only a miniscule portion of the road is available for moving vehicles and the scenario is quite dangerous. It is just 15 minutes past 7 in the morning and the situation is no different. A level4 pass in the game of road rash is a must to qualify for driving in these roads.

The lorry dense Feroke is slowly giving way to the wide open roads of Ramanattukara. The junction roads are so wide that on a harthal day it is enough to set up a cricket match here. Even in this junction accidents are frequent, thanks to the maniac drivers who just cross the road to bus stand positioned in junction giving scant respect to the oncoming traffic without any signals whatsoever. All this happens with a traffic police as a witness, who never intereferes with the driving techniques of those who rule the road.

Immediately after the junction roads split into two and we have to take the straight one which is the Nilambur route. The road to the right takes us down south to Thrissur. Seems like Ramanattukara market has already started bustling with activity.


ramanattukara

Another junction is coming up. This is the place where the road inside the city intersects with the bypass. To the right is Thrissur and to the left is Kannur. We have to go straight, eastwards carefully crossing the bypass, where a similar intersection just 5 kms away claimed the life of 5 people when a private bus coming from the city, ignoring the read light stormed into the bypass hitting sideways a car which was going through the bypass. Thankfully here there are no traffic signal lights to jump.


Goodbye to Kozhikkode city and we are now in buttersmooth roads with the occasional twisties and to give company there are lot of taxis and cars laden with luggage a mini lorry can carry and occupancy in these five seater vehicles will be atleast seven. It is an easy guess to find out that an airport is around and typically the density of such vehicles increase near airports. Interestingly only one among them will be travelling and the rest are going to see them off. The irony is that in the airport no one other than the passenger can get inside even the lounge due to security reasons.

The kozhikkode airport is just before Kondotty and once the diversion to the airport is passed trafic seems to be reduced drastically. Kondotty town is still sleeping. There is a diversion here and we have to take the left turn to Nilambur.



Some more big twisties and itz a pleasure to just guide the vehicle through the extreme left, with the slight press of accelerator keeping it in the turbo range and just zooming off once the turn is completed.

Another town is approaching fast, Manjeri, the commercial capital of Malappuram. Before we enter the heart of this town situated right in the foot of Western Ghats we have to make a left turn. Yes the turn is in sight and the sign board shows the direction to Ooty.



Some more of the town roads is passing by, which houses almost all the government establishments of Malappuram.

One more junction is approaching and thankfully there is no sign boards, no GPS in vehicle means the only way to confirm the route is the good old method, just open your mouth and ask.



The good fellow in his Malabar accent not only specified that it is a left turn here, but also reminded that we have to take the next right turn.

A little ahead there is a small road to the right, but my better half, based on her intelligent thought process announced that we have to take the straight road. A little into this road and I am growing suspicious. Another direction query properly answered and we have to turn our vehicle back and the road which we early saw. Just after the eastward turn the geography suddenly changed. The hill roads were still not in sight, but the road was completely engulfed by the lush greenery on both sides with really tall trees on both sides.


The density of these tree folks is beginning to increase and the feeling is like we are getting lost in a jungle, even though the place is by no means a jungle.



Roads continue to be smooth and the gliding is continuing. Another scene change is in the offing. The density of trees has not gone down, but surely more light is coming through it, thanks to the less densely packed leaves of these big teak trees.


The appearance of teak trees signifies the approach of another popular tourist destination Nilambur. One of the most beautiful hamlets of Kerala with umpteen number of beautiful tourist spots. I have made an exclusive coverage of Nilambur in one of my earlier travelogues. (You can read it by clicking here).

Breakfast time is approaching and right after Manjeri we were looking for a Hotel, Nilambur approached and still no hotels in sight, some of them were closed. We are now in the heart of Nilambur town and most of the shops are closed, seems like this city comes to life very late, thanks to the population who will be mostly business oriented. At last one hotel with ample parking lot is visible. This hotel is jampacked with tourists who came in two buses having their breakfast. So we have to move out and look out for another. Nilambur town is now history and still no hotels in sight.

A board pointing to Vazhiyoram restaurant is visible. Vazhiyoram project is an initiative of Govt of Kerala jointly with some private partnership to offer quality restaurant and rest room facilities to tourists. The Vazhiyoram board is pointing to take a right turn from the road and with anticipation we follow suite.

The vazhiyoram restaurant is in sight, a neat little building.


But their seems to be zero activity here too. I could spot a homosapien moving around and he promptly told me. "Food is not ready saar. Breakfast will be ready only by 10am". The term Government seems to bring a lethargy to all the people involved just like the way the most of the Government workers are.

Our breakfast dreams seems to be over as we are now again cruising through the brilliant roads with the beautiful trees on the sides giving us company. A big bridge is appearing. Once on top of the bridge the view is awesome. Oh I am going to stop right after the bridge just to walk back and enjoy the scenery around. We are in for another surprise here. Right after the bridge amidst the big teak trees stood a colorful building and the board read - "KTDC Tamarind Hotel"



Within a minute we are inside the tamarind hotel and luckily the response of the reception to the food query is positive.



Ample time for me to walk back to the bridge and to have view of the beautiful landscape around. Isn't this beautiful


The distant view provided a moutain too in the backdrop.

The other side of the bridge is not too bad either. This tamarind hotel also have rooms facing this side of the river.

For those who want to explore Nilambur can very well stay in this beautiful hotel where room rents are in the range of 1000 to 1500 INR per day for AC rooms. A great bargain indeed.


I am not alone here as can see some beautiful cranes around too. They color were so contrasting to the surroundings.


The food in Tamarind hotel is typical Kerala food and everything is served neatly. A good one hour zoomed past inside this restaurant.

We are again back on track and beautiful roads starts again. It is dream to drive through these roads maintaining just enough speeds to twist and turn without applying brakes and keeping the vehicle on track.


Most of the trees on both sides are teak, but wait now we are in between a coconut farm. Watch the beautiful biggies from whose name Kerala got its name.



A forest checkpost is in sight. If the roads till now was superb, then what should I call the roads we are in now. It is superbly superb !! The big bamboos with the light green color was adding another dimension to the already beautiful surroundings.



This is the stretch which I was waiting for, the roads from Nilambur to Nadakani. It is just twisties and more twisties.


beautiful roads in Kerala


nilambur gudalur route

There is a rhythm in the movement of vehicle. Never do stop and accelerate kinds of turns here, just glide at the right speed. Enjoy the surroundings, open the windows and feel the fresh air. Watch the rich and diverser fauna. Some trees have there roots crafted like a complex neural network.


Nadugani churam

Sun's heat will never be intense in this part of the world. These roads should be experienced by the real passionate drivers atleast once in a life time and here being in God's own country I keep on coming back again and again to experience these roads and each time the passion just aggravates.

Here comes the first glimpse of coffee plantations



Even though the roads till now were not steep there was a regular upward ascent, something which justifies the kind of altitude we have gained when look to one side of the road. Big mountains are on sight now.



After around one hour of drive through these prestine environment, the vehicle was brought to a halt since my little daughter complained that shez feeling a little dizzy. But once outside all her dizziness went away.


It was just 2 days back that we decided to make a trip to Ooty, making use of the long weekend owing to the Vishu festival. Eventhough Ooty was least preferred, thanks to the highly dense hotel population making it not an adorable location, we chose it coz through a websearch, I had found a new resort much too far away from the hustle and bustle of Ooty. The anticipation of the unknown destination also is keeping us enthralled throughtout this journey.

The checkpost at Nadugani is visible now. We have to take the right turn from here.


The next town is Gudalloor, but before that the terrain ought to be more scenic as we are now amidst the western ghats.

Roads continue to be the same way as we saw earlier before Nadugani.



Only difference being that there were some population here which was completely absent before Nadugani. The plane twisties through forests are now paving their way out for the some steep climb to mountains and the postcardish scenaries is appearing one and after another in front of us.



The tea plantations is making the hill appear to be covered with green fur.

Another distance boards signalling that we are just 2km away from Gudaloor.




After Gudaloor it is just another 20km drive to the not so famous resort about which we have lots of expectations. As we are nearing by the excitment even gave way to some anxiety for if the resort is not so good then we are in for a real loss as we had 3 days at our perusal.

More buildings, most of then showing signs of age appear as Gudaloor town in sight. The left road takes one to Mudumalai, while the right one is to Ooty.


Gudaloor

Immediately after Gudalor, roads narrowed down, owing to the shops and some buildings which encroaches into the road.


The upward climb has started. The guy on the other end of the phone at Brookdale resort, confirmed that after 20km of travel through this road, we can see the sign board to the resort on the left side. The beautiful landscape is continuing. Watch how beautifully arranged these trees are.



The real twisties with upward climb is now on and I am completely turned on. The vehicle was surging ahead completely in agreement with the exhilaration and the excitement with which I am guiding it on. The enjoyement of keeping it in the turbo mode ensures that the upward climb is a cakewalk even with 7 passengers and their luggage on board.

As expected we are now in parallel with some mountain peaks.



Again we are descending and all of sudden we seem to be in the midst of a valley with really tall pine trees around. Oh boy this is some sight!!!


pine trees ooty


The sight of those trees seem to be etched in our minds, but the excitement of driving by the sidelines of high mountains is really special with deep trenches on one side and gigantic terrain on another side. This is hilly roads at its best.



Another sudden change in landscape. The tree covered mountains are history and ente the green veiled medows.



This journey is completely eventful for any nature enthusiast as the kind of scenery one gets to view keeps on changing. After each kind of terrain one begans to wonder what next. And here comes another change.
A beautiful lake is in sight, add to it the medows, the big moutains in the backdrop, the cattle's grazing, a location which brings out the artist in you.


woodbrook lake

This is the woodbrook lake and the resort guy had mentioned that their location is very near to the woodbrook lake. Naturally 14 eyes were on the prowl for that sign board showing - Brookdale and the search did not last long, just 1km after the woodbrook lake, the vehicle is swerving left to concrete laid tarmac, climbing really steeply into the resort's property



The first impression is really good as we could see some of the cottages facing the beautiful valleys. A sharp U turn followed suite and the parking lot is in sight. It was one of the most beautiful parking lots one could ever see, overlooking the beautiful moutains and paved with beautiful grass.


brookdale


The excitement grew manifold, as we unload the luggage, surveying the surroundings of the property which is spread out large, quite unlike other Ooty hotels. We sure made the right choice.


The journey from Kozhikkode (erstwhile Calicut) to Ooty via one of the most scenic roads in India, has surely lived upto the expectation. Now its time to check out this beautiful resort and the activities we can indulge here.

Lets enjoy this resort too after a small break !!

Click here to read the rest of the story
Part 2 - Brookdale Resort 
Part 3 - Woodbrook Lake
Part 4 - Ooty Kids Park, Film shooting point and a memorable camp fire



5 comments:

Krishna said...

Excellent trip

जाट देवता (संदीप पवाँर) said...

जबरदस्त फ़ोटो, देखो कब तक जा पायेंगे,
आपकी पोस्ट जोरदार लगी,

Sabol said...

Excellent photo stills. Your trip is very nice. http://www.sabolholidays.com

Shiju said...

very good write up. thnx for sharing some valuable info.

kabeer said...

Hi, found your blog while searching for interlocking bricks..!
would like to take a trip to Brookdale this summer vacation and not to mention: excellent snaps..!
and write-up.

keep shooting, keep riding.

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