Munnar is known for its endless tea gardens and unparalleled green landscapes. But the city was a lot more than just picturesque views for me. Read about my experience and tips to tour the city in this extensive travel guide.
Tag: south india travel guide
The 5th stop of my South India travels was Coimbatore, one of the major cities of Tamil Nadu state. I made a stop here to take a break from a continuous two weeks of travel across tiny villages. Here is a detailed Coimbatore Travel Guide to help you spend your time in the city pleasantly, without worrying about the “big city” noise and pollution.
Ooty was the fourth stop of my South India travel spree in the months of June-July.
Nestled in the Nilgiri hills, Ooty is a famous hill station of South India. And despite it being touristy, the city is a sure treat to the eyes.
Ooty has welcomed tourists from all around the world for leisure and recreation for more than 50 years. And many people say it still looks the same - serene, quaint, and beautiful.
Use this travel guide to make the best of your time in Ooty.
How to reach Ooty?
I was in Wayanad before Ooty, so I had took a from there. Two buses go from Wayanad to Ooty in a day. These buses leave from Sultan Bathery KSRTC bus stand, one at 8:00 am and another one at 12:30 in the noon.
The nearest airport to Ooty is in Coimbatore (~88 km from Ooty). After flying in Coimbatore, you can either self-drive, take a taxi, bus or train to Ooty. You will find many TNSTC buses that commute between the two cities daily.
Where to stay in Ooty?
Ooty shares a border with another beautiful Niligiri town of Coonoor. Some people prefer to stay in Coonoor and drive to Ooty, but many others look for accommodations in Ooty itself.
If you have your vehicle, it doesn't matter where you stay of the two cities, Ooty or Coonoor. But if you don't have one, it is better if you stay in or near the Ooty city centre, since it is closer to the most points of interest, and you can also get a TukTuk(auto-rickshaw) from there conveniently.
I stayed in a BnB, Prabhu's Place, a 2-minute walk to the main road but in a quiet locality. The place was pretty basic but had a cozy and a homely vibe to it. There was a large organic farm as part of the property, which serves as a source of job for many local women.
Things to do in Ooty
Visit a tea factory
Ooty is well known for its tea plantations, and I can swear on the tea I had there. It was one of the best flavored teas I had.
There are two tea factories in Ooty that I know of, one is the Benchmark Tea factory which is famous among the tourists, and which is where I went. It was extremely crowded at that time, and although I was able to see the whole tea making process, there wasn't much guidance. In addition to this, the factory is commercialized so much so that it took its charm away.
The other one is on the way to Dodabetta Peak and seemed less crowded from outside.
PS: Don't miss to taste the tea of Ooty and also get some for home!
Ride through the Nilgiris in the Nilgiri Mountain Railway
If you are a Bollywood fan, you'd know the song "Chaiyan Chaiyan" has been shot on this train.
But if that does not interest you, I believe there are more reasons to take this ride. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is one of the most scenic rides in South India. The train passes through beautiful mountain ranges and inside the caves, that makes you want to take this ride.
PS: The seats get full soon, so buy the ticket from the counter at least 4 hours before the train departure, or book an online ticket in advance.
I missed the train twice, only because all the tickets were sold out.
See all of Ooty from Doddabetta Peak
I was in Ooty in June'19, and at that time the path up the peak was closed due to ongoing construction. The walk to the starting point was very scenic though. On the way, you will also see the tea factory that I mentioned above, so make sure to make a stop there as well.
Dodabetta Peak is not very far from the city center. It will take an hour and a half to reach the starting point of the peak, and another few minutes to climb up.
Spend time walking in the market
End your time in this beautiful touristy city by walking in its crowded yet impressive market. There is so much to see and buy from the market, varying from chocolates, to tea, to intricate craftwork, organic fruits and vegetables, masalas, and so much more.
Crazy greens, cozy homestay, lovely hosts, and scenic views – my experience in Wayanad was full of it. Explore the best of the city with me in 2 days.
I am currently touring across South India, and Coorg (or Kodagu) was the second stop I made after Mysore. Also known as the Scotland of India, Coorg is a perfect stop for nature lovers. It is a hilly district of the Karnataka state, which is why the temperature here is a little more cooler.
I met my friend from college, Ankita here and we spent two days exploring this beautiful town. Read the post to know how our experience was and also get tips to plan your trip to Coorg.
I have got accustomed to making plans at a whim and arranging accommodations and commute options at the last moment.
Having stayed in Bangalore for some time, I had heard a lot about the city of palaces from friends. Mysore had been in my "must-visit" list for a long time, but somehow I never made a deliberate plan to visit it.
I was in Hyderabad when at an impulse, I decided to do a South India tour before I returned home. I planned Mysore to be the first city that I'll visit as part of the "official" tour.
I spent two days in Mysore but toured the city for effectively one day. So, here's a complete personalized guide to help you plan your trip to the "City of Palaces", Mysore.
PS: Visit the Mysore city during Dussehra(Dasera) festival - the whole city is lit up and there are many ceremonies and festivities that happen during this time.
How to reach Mysore?
I took an overnight bus from Hyderabad to Mysore, and it took around 13 hours to reach the city.
From Bangalore, it takes 3 hours to reach Mysore, so you need not solely rely on the overnight bus. There are several buses which commute between the two cities throughout the day as well. Check RedBus, or official KSRTC websites for more information.
If you are coming from a more distant city, or another country, you can take a flight to Mysore. You can also fly till Bangalore, and then take a bus from Bangalore to Mysore.
Where to stay in Mysore?
There are many accommodation options in Mysore, including hostels, hotels, BnBs, and homestays.
I had plans to stay in a hostel in Mysore, but unfortunately, it got changed at the last moment. Luckily, I got in touch with Mr. Manu from Skyway Tours, and he helped me arrange accommodation at Kings Kourt hotel.
The hotel was conveniently located near the city center and major tourist sites.
The room that I got was quite spacious and faced the main road. Although the property seemed a little old, given the dismal lobby and restaurant, I was quite impressed by my brightly lit room. It was clean and nicely kept that I didn't really mind the shabby lobby.
As for the food, I ate basic meals like Dal with Rice and/or Chapati, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I'd recommend the hotel if you are looking for a comfortable stay near the city center and a very cordial and assisting staff.
PS: I forgot my WiFi dongle in my room, that they kept safely until I returned to pick it up.
Places to See in Mysore
Shuka Vana is home to around 465 different varieties of parrots. Here the injured parrots are tended to and taken care of. The place is for a good cause, and if you enjoy learning about different species of birds, it's the right place for you.
One thing that bothered me though was, the birds were caged. Reasons simply being, keeping them secure, but this is one thing that bothered me, and which is why I was not able to enjoy the place as much.
Just beside the Shuka Vana, is the Bonsai Garden, and a temple that you can visit on your way back.
Mysore Palace or the Amber Vilas Palace is the main highlight of the Mysore city. The royal families of Mysore ruled from this palace, and it still is their official residence.
The palace has morning and evening hours. In the morning, you are allowed inside the palace and the residential quarters. And in the evening, the entrance is restricted to the palace grounds only, from where you can see the light and sound show.
There are separate tickets for the palace entry(INR 70 for Indians), and residential quarters tour(INR 50 for Indians) in the morning, and for the light and sound show in the evening (INR 90 for Indians).
The palace architecture is royal and magnificent, and once you enter it, you'll be impressed by the little detailing done on every corner it.
The light and sound show was very average, and I would not recommend it. Although, when the palace lights up after the show, the visual is worth it.
The light and sound show runs in Kannada from Monday to Wednesday, and in English from Thursday to Saturday. On Sunday nights, however, all of the palace is lit up, and you are allowed to enter for free.
Situated just next to Mysore Zoo, Karanji Lake is a good spot for a leisure walk. The lake was a little dried up when I visited, but the surrounding greens were home to a large number of varieties of birds. There is also an aviary, with many peacocks inside the park premises.
Although the walk around the lake was pleasant, I'd only visit it if I extra time in the city.
Chamundi Hill - Chamundeshwari Temple and Viewpoint
Known for the Chamundeshwari Temple that sits atop the hill, Chamundi hills also gives the most splendid views of the Mysore city. You can either drive up the hill or take a 1000 step staircase. On your way, you can also stop at the Nandi temple.
The myth goes like, goddess Chamundeshwari killed the asura Mahishasura and freed the city of Mysore. The entry queue for the temple was long, so I didn't go inside, although there is a concept of priority entry for an additional fee.
As for the viewpoint, the Chamundi Hill viewpoint is quite famous amongst tourists. To skip the crowds, take the trail that goes beside the viewpoint, and enjoy the panoramic view of the city in quiet from here.
Ideated by MN Gowri, the Sand Museum is a real piece of marvel. The museum displays sculptures made in sand and water and based on different themes. Look closely, and you'll realize the art that had gone into creating the intricacies in each of these sculptures.
The sculptures are created based on different themes, which makes them all the more interesting.
St. Philomena's Church
Known to be Asia's second tallest Church, St. Philomena's church is a piece of architectural excellence. Apart from the prayer room, there is also a basement, where you can see the names of all the people who contributed to the making of the church inscribed on the walls.
PS: Photography is not allowed inside the church.
Apart from all the touristy spots, you can spend time walking around the city and explore the local hidden spots and food corners.