Because this trip was sudden and not planned, it was a tough job finding a place to stay. We also had to do it during the time that the Capri cousin was planning his holiday in Ooty. As always we depended on TripAdvisor for our decision. After we sadly rejected the ones we chose that were fully booked, we hit jackpot with Hill Country Holiday Resorts, Lovedale. As you may already be aware, we went around Lovedale in circles but did not find the resort and had to be guided by someone from the resort.
The place is Ok. We have stayed in better places but the deal we had here was really good – 2 meals + stay option which was totally worth the while. The room in this lighting appears amazing but it is a far cry from various other resorts we have stayed in. The bathroom left a lot to be desired. I was surprised that some reviewers were referring to this place as a piece of Heaven on Earth – which was completely untrue. Well, everyone has a different idea of Heaven so lets leave it at that :)
We had the room on the first floor and the picture on the left displays the entrance to our room. As mentioned earlier, the pics look great but somehow it missed the mark.
The place is huge, almost sprawling and has multiple layers. We enter the resort at the lowest layer, accommodation is split into two layers, and parking is at the top-most layer.There is a lot of walking to be done within the premises. You cannot go from restaurant to your room in a couple of steps and older members may find it difficult especially since its not a straight line but a lot of climbing up and climbing down. There was also a chuntu play area for kids. I did not see a single kid during the entire stay. The weather of course must have played spoilsport.
The rooms were spacious and clean and so complaints in that regard. At the entrance to the resort, there is this rather quaint looking Well and a bucket which looks quite cute and is a perfect photo-op. The outside was a lot better than the inside.
An odd thing happened at the reception at the time of check-out. The assistant manager charged us less – we were not sure if it was a mistake or not and so we decided to leave. Half-way out of Lovedale, we received a call from the assistant manager and found out that it was his mistake and can we come back and pay the difference. So, we came back to pay the difference. After we paid the amount, the assistant manager thanked us for returning and said that since it was his mistake, that amount would have been cut from his salary if we had not come back.
We have visited Ooty so many times but we have not visited Pykara lake. It was on the other side and so we always keep it to the last day and then we change our minds and drive home in our usual route and so Pykara always got missed. This time, we were going to visit Pykara and drive home in that route instead of our usual route. We duly checked out of our resort and visited some of the places that we had not been to earlier. None of them were that good. We finally reached Pykara Lake. It was a sunny day, the place was not too crowded (or so we thought), and it was a fine day to go boating. The first shocker was the gazillion steps that lead to the boat. My aunt saw the steps and said she was not coming. We tried to convince her but honestly, even we would find the climbing up a killer. So, the rest of us went boating.
It was then that we saw the crowd – not too many but enough so we had to wait for the boat. The picture on the right is the boat we finally took. There was no one else accompanying us. If you are in the minority with respect to the number of people, it makes sense to join a bigger group of people and pay the difference fare instead of trying to book the entire boat for yourself and paying a higher fare. The breeze was cold even though the day was very sunny and the ride was calming.
The Arien was shooting pics, as always. This time, there were some pics of us as well but more of the candid variety and I am not a big fan of his candid snaps. I always have the most frightful expressions in them so I refuse to publish them anywhere.
The ride was fun and we enjoyed spotting birds which the Arien correctly named. Of course, the names stayed in our heads for exactly 1 minute :) He is the birder in the group. We tried speaking over the sound of the boat and then stopped for it seemed like we were shouting. The Capri cousin was busy answering his daughter’s queries which all started with “Appa..”.
Apart from the absolute calm that came from sitting in a moving boat staring at the water, I thought I would fall asleep.. it was kinda soporific as well. I hoped the Arien wouldn’t feel the same way as he was driving us home :)
We also snapped a picture of the Pykara boathouse from our boat. In the top right hand corner, you can almost make out a saree-clad person who is, of course, my aunt. From this snap it looks as if we climbed a million steps. Well, climbing down was easy – it was the climbing up that was really rough on the joints :D And then all too soon the ride was over. My aunt welcomed us back joyfully -it would have been quite boring sitting there all alone- and asked us to have Chai – which we did.
It was now goodbye time. The Capri cousin was here for another day but we preferred going home today so we could rest tomorrow and then get back to work the next day. We waved our byes at the Pykara lake.
The temple took up some time but suddenly we were eager to see what was beyond. I wondered if we would just drive in a circle and be back where we started. They call it a reserve but we hardly saw any animals. Maybe there was really nothing much to see. Well, We didn’t have to wait long to find out.
The final sight-seeing spot which seemed so lonely that I feared for our lives – but it was a cute little waterfall seen from a distance – it was beautiful. As usual, we all took snaps but we really wondered if we were any nearer to the end of the drive or if this was there was to the drive. I doubt we asked the driver and the guide this question which would have been easy enough but I guess we did not want to spoil the surprise or get disappointed. My Capri cousin was deep in conversation with the guide and finally replied that we were not far from “THE” spot.
When we reached the spot, the Sumo drove off – making us all feel a bit vulnerable but I guess he just wanted to park away from the crowd. We turned away from the Sumo to take in “THE” spot and it literally took our breath away. It was so beautiful that for a few minutes none of us spoke. And then we saw a photographer. We immediately decided to have at least 1 snap with all of us in the frame. After he showed us the snap, we ordered for another. Both were quite good and we all looked windswept and awed :)
And then, back to the most amazing view. The Arien was busy shooting the view and so was the capri cousin. The rest of us were walking, talking, and shivering because though it was sunny, it continued to be windy. It was totally worth the crazy wait and the irritation caused by the chaos.
We all took a number of snaps from different directions. From the snap on the right, you cannot really the depth of the waterfall. Well, just for that, I asked the Arien to take another snap that might give me a better idea of the view from the snap.
The snap on the left, shows a number of folks who are walking on a narrow ledge to actually be as close to the waterfall as possible. So, its actually quite far off and the water fall is actually quite huge. Its not a trickle of water as one may have imagined.
Some of the guides and drivers were yelling at the folks, who were walking towards the waterfall, that that was not allowed and were trying to signal to them but the ‘rahuls’ were having none of that. We commented on the foolishness of ‘rahuls’ in general and discussed specific ‘rahuls’ and then proceeded to take several snaps from various flattering angles and some unflattering angles.
We really didn’t want to leave but it was cold and it was a nature spot with no amenities and we had had no lunch. We should have packed a picnic lunch and had it here. It was so beautiful. Anyway, since we hadn’t done that and everyone very badly wanted to use the amenities, the return journey was a blur. On the right, is the single tourist friendly board that I mentioned in my last post. And, a whole bunch of happy tourists smiling away at our camera. Hmmmm..
After we reached the hatchery, we decided to go to our hotel as it was nearer. So, we drove ahead and that is when I saw this amazing house which I decided was my Ooty dream house. Of course, its not really my dream house but I liked the look of it so much, I took various shots of the place. The snap I have included is the one I like best. The Arien said it was OK but I needn’t go bonkers over it. So mean!
The trip ended with all of us eating well after 4 pm but having enjoyed the day very well. The next day we were leaving and I wanted to visit the Pykara lake as we have never been there. So, the plan was to visit the lake and proceed towards Bangalore on a slightly different route. The Arien was bound to get antsy on the day of travel so I hope all ends well.
This was one tourist spot that my SIL insisted on visiting. I was not so sure because we had come here before and they do not allow you beyond a particular point. Well, we started out late as usual. It was raining as well but surprisingly a lot had changed since our previous visit. One of the first things I noticed was that we could go beyond the point.
They had 1 number of tourist-friendly boards to let us know that we were entering the Reserve. We had to get tickets which turned out to be a big hassle. It was quite crowded and we didn’t know if we could go this trip or the next. There were so many vehicles and so many people and chaos reigned.
Because we were told that we would get the tickets after 1 hour, we proceeded to visit the trout hatchery that was close by and not as crowded.Well, we figured out why it was not crowded. The place had moss all over the place, was dinghy, and begged for maintenance. Instead of standing outside waiting for the ticket counter to open, we were inside an absolutely dark building that we all wanted to quickly get out of but we were taken all around and someone took the pains to explain the process while we listened (im)patiently.
When we got back, we found that chaos still reigned supreme and we doubted if we would visit the most talked about tourist spot in recent times. And all of us were hungry. We also noticed that folks who came after us were talking to some of the locals and getting their ride before us. That is when we realized that the trip may not happen and all our effort was for naught. SIL, who had left the whole trip in the hands of the men folk, jumped to action and in a few minutes we were off. Yes, that is exactly how it happened. The men folk were quite surprised.
The drive was in a Tata Sumo and we did not share the vehicle with anyone else. It was terribly cold and foggy. And the cold breeze all but threatened to kill us but we stayed warm in our sweaters and jackets. The guide who accompanied us, stopped at all the relevant places, a waterfall where we all did the obligatory pose – some snaps came out ok but most of the snaps had a bit of someone else who also wanted a photo – it got a bit irritating, of course.
It was a windy day so my hair was flying all over my face and most of my snaps have come out natural but hardly great :D The Arien was busy shooting pics irrespective of the state of my hair while I tried to control my hair. In fact, when I had my hair somewhat controlled, I found the Arien shooting some shrub :( Well, so no great snaps of me!
Apart from the regular snaps, the Arien was experimenting with Black and White pictures and so almost every one of the regular snap was also shot in black and white – except my snaps of course, to lend an effect to the snap. Well, it worked.. mostly :D The drive to the place was so interesting that we enjoyed the drive a lot though we were all shivering a bit. Winter had not officially started but there was quite a fog.
We also stopped near a bizarre looking tree opposite a temple. The Arien, of course, first shot a picture of the tree and then sauntered over to us. We were all on our way to the temple. Aunt refused to get off the Sumo so the rest of us decided to go. I am not a big fan of praying in public but for some reason I felt compelled to do so this time.
The temple was just another temple, it appeared at a turning and the Sumo was stopped after the turning. So, you kinda have to walk down to the temple and then climb a few steps to actually stand before the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Also, the guide and the driver both expected us to spend some time at this spot, praying or taking snaps and so they took a break. If my uncle was in the Sumo, he would have said “Aaah.. thats ok.. we have been to a lot of temples, Keep going.”
Anyway, those were some of the highlights of the travel to Avalanche. We all agreed that this trip was well worth the wait and thanked SIL profusely for pushing for this trip. Without her effort, we would have all headed back to the room for some eating and sleeping.
Nope, not over yet. One more post on Avalanchi with a few more pictures to follow. Also, since we went on this trip in 2012, it takes me a while to go over my meager notes, the pictures, and piece together a post.. be patient you all :)
We decided to drive down to Coonoor and meet my Capri cousin at SIM’s park. We started a bit later than planned but we reached SIM’s park before my cousin did. This gave the Arien an opportunity to start shooting pics. The flowers looked so lovely, bright, and colorful that I could totally understand why I was not getting any response to whatever I was jabbering on about. As I followed him and he followed the camera, or whatever was pulling him via the camera, we noticed a little sparrow that did not seem scared of us. It actually posed for pictures. Only two of them came out well. But, I could almost feel it saying – “Ok, you got some snaps – Now, can I go on with my work? Thank you.”
In all this, we almost missed my cousin and family walk in until they were almost upon us. After a bit of meet and greet and a few snaps of all of us together taken by the two male members via their camera or iphone, we started walking. As we walked, we came across this little boy selling these bubble makers. My niece wanted one. Soon, she was shooting bubbles in the air. Some of them did not come out too well and then my SIL showed her how to do it – it was fun. The Arien captured those moments too.
As we walked along, the Arien managed to take some really good shots of the flowers, of the bee atop a flower, etc. while I used the opportunity to chat with my SIL, my aunt, my niece, and of course, my cousin. After a bit, everyone was a bit tired of the walking, and we decided to move to the next touristy spot at Coonoor which was Dolphin’s Nose.
It was crowded and did not feel like there was anything much to do except gawk at the awesome view. Gawk we did :) We also took a few pictures of ourselves and the Catherine Falls as viewed from the Dolphin’s Nose. It was so far away that the snap does not do any justice to the view. The Arien took some amazing shots, yet again. All of us oohed and aaahed over the panorama shot he took of the Dolphin’s Nose.
My cousin was shifting to another hotel in Ooty that day and they were all packed and set. So, we stopped our touristy stuff for the day. After driving to Ooty, and saying Bye to my cousin and family, we drove back to Lovedale where we were put up. We were quite tired and it was good to hit the bed and forget everything. Nice day – not our hectic pace but enjoyable nevertheless.
We have done a number of trips to Ooty and so both of us were ok not to do our hectic touristy stuff and to just relax.