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Published: August 28th 2014
August 2008. I had gone to US (Seattle) for almost a month in May, a month after the Gokarna trip. So after a long lull of 4 months, we (Neelesh, Vivek, Rahul and me) set out for Ooty in Rahul's car. Rahul's new driver Manish too had gotten kind of friendly with us. The weather was nice as it mostly is in and around Bangalore. Within no time we had crossed Mysore after a forgettable lunch at a random dhaba somewhere on the highway. The road from Mysore onward is a 2 lane one but is flanked by endless sunflower fields on both sides for a long stretch making a wonderful sight.
Somewhere on the stretch between Mysore and Bandipur, we stopped at Mahalaxmi bakery for tea and had some legendary photographs. Our next stop was Bandipur. There wasn't too long in sunset and we could not have reached Ooty the same day so we decided to stay at Bandipur. Patel had contacted a lot of hotels before setting out for the trip and was angry on me for not helping him out in the hotel finding effort. Sadly all the resorts he had contacted were either full or non-existent.
Patel was on the verge of breaking down at the thoughts of having to spend the night in the car in the middle of a wildlife sanctuary. But then what's that trip which does not have an element of adventure in it. Then finally I took the charge, located a resort with exactly 2 rooms vacant, negotiated the rates and Patel took a sigh of relief. We dumped our bags in the room and set out for a tour of Bandipur sanctuary.
It was a place far off from city limits. The only human made things visible were the narrow roads and few vehicles. We were awestruck to spot massive herds of deer very close to the road. A little deeper into the jungle, we spotted bisons and elephants too, but the famous leopard remained elusive.
We gorged and guzzled at the resort and played cards in the night. Patel proved to be a sore loser at the game of cards. :-P
We set out for Ooty early in the morning. It was the day of Rakshabandhan too. Bandipur was the starting of the hills region. We crossed the border over to Tamil Nadu and reached the
town of Masinagudi where we expected to meet a local guide who eventually duped us of some money. But wasting no time we continued on our climb to Ooty. We chose the steeper route on the way up. The landscape was extremely serene all the way upto Ooty. The steep road was one of the most dangerous ones I had ever been too till that time. We took several stopovers on the way up where Patel kept finding some spots and props to pose with for some photographs. Those were our pre-SLR days, but mine and Rahul's interest in photography began from that time only.
Ooty was a nice hill station with a pleasant climate, though a bit too commercialized for our liking. We did some standard sight seeing. The botanical garden turned out to be a good place. Dodda-betta or 'the big hill' was another very nice place. We could see the entire valley from there. We finished sight seeing by lunch time and after having lunch set out for Bangalore. We chose the longer and less steep route this time. This too had extremely scenic views to offer. We passed through vast stretches of tea plantations and
forests of Chandan trees. This exactly was the area where the famous Veerappan once dwelt. It had started raining when we started the descent and continued that way for long. We could see clouds descending down on the mountains and turning into droplets of rain. There were some really nice villages and towns on this route where we stopped for tea and pakoras.
It was already dark by the time we reached Masinagudi and we weren't sure whether to continue traveling or not. But we decided to continue though it was still around 225 kms to Bangalore. We had dinner near Bandipur. We were too sleepy after that to even remember how we reached Bangalore. Thanks to Manish's swift driving we were in Bangalore much sooner than expected. We missed a lot of nice places around Ooty on this short trip and vowed to go there once again soon.
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