Kochi was not a part of my original South India travel itinerary. It was instead an impromptu plan that the volunteers made with the director of Poornodaya Vidyanikethan, Anish, on a Friday evening.
Kochi is most famous for Fort Kochi, the fortification that was built around the city a long time back. You do not see the fort anymore now, but most of the points of interest lie within its plausible boundaries.
You can see most of the city in one day on foot! Amazing right?
So if you are on a tight schedule, this is how you can plan your time to explore Kochi. Read the complete post to know more!
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 was 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 to take a bus 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 is pretty basic but has a cozy and a homely vibe to it. There is a large organic farm as part of the property, and it is also a source of a job for many local women.
Things to do in Ooty
Visit a tea factory
Ooty is well known for its tea plants, 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.
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. So here are the top things to do in Coorg – a 2-day itinerary.
How to reach Coorg?
If like me, you are coming from Mysore, catch a KSRTC bus from the city that takes you to Madikeri in around 4 hours. The ticket cost me around 110 INR.
In case you are coming from Bangalore, you can take an overnight sleeper bus to Madikeri that will take around 6-7 hours to reach the city.
If you are coming from a faraway city, you can take a flight to Bangalore or Mysore, and then take a bus from these cities to Madikeri.
PS: You can also rent a two-wheeler or a car from your city and drive to Madikeri. You’ll need to take extra care during monsoons since the roads are a little slippery during that time of the year.
Where to stay?
Coorg is full of tourists all around the year because of its beautiful weather, and especially during the weekends when most of the people from Bangalore visit it.
Coincidentally we were in Coorg on a Friday and a Saturday, and most of the accommodations were full during that time. So we switched our accommodations on these two days, both of which were pleasant and comfortable stays.
Our first stay was at the Mayura Valley View hotel by KSTDC, with literally the view of the green valley right from our wall-length window. The hotel is very close to the market, and yet a little secluded from all the noise. The rooms were spacious, and clean, but the food, however, I think they can improve. So you can have your meals either at some restaurant outside the hotel or just ask the chef their specialty.
The second night, however, we stayed at Kushalnagar (an hour drive from Madikeri) in an Oyo room. The room was basic as opposed to the first day, but I really loved the location of the property. It was situated in a village surrounded by tiny houses, and the market was just a 10-minute walk from here. Breakfast was included as part of the reservation, which they probably got from a restaurant, but it was good though.
View from our second accommodation
Day 1 – Spend time touring the attractions in Madikeri
We started the day with the very tourist Abbey Falls. It’s a little far from the main town of Madikeri, so you can either rent a two-wheeler from Royal Brothers (the only scooter rental in Coorg) or take an auto that takes you to the falls and bring you back to the town.
Since it was raining that day, we took an auto to the falls, and it cost us around 300 INR for the round trip.
Even on a Friday, the place was crowded with tourists, and you could hardly get enough place to stand. Find a corner for yourself, where you can stand leisurely for some time and enjoy the waters gushing down the rocks.
As a plus, you can also see the coffee plantations on one side as you walk to the falls.
This is my personal favorite for two reasons, one there were not many people here, and second, the view of the city and hills are astounding from this place.
There are three tombs, two of the kings, and one is of the priest of the royal Kodava kingdom. These tombs are surrounded by a garden on all sides that gives it a beautiful aesthetic touch. Climb atop a small cliff at the entrance, and you’ll get a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and the city below.
Once the leisure spot for the king to spend time at while they enjoyed the beautiful scenery in front, Raja’s seat has now become one of the most famous tourist attraction in the town.
With a view of the valley and hills, it is a perfect point to sunset from.
We were there on a clouded day, and although it looked beautiful then, I think it would have been even more stunning on a clear day.
Day 2 – Explore the nearby town of Kushalnagar
The next day we took a bus from Madikeri to Kushalnagar that cost us 33 INR per person. After checking into our stay, we rented a two-wheeler from the Royal Brothers and set off on exploring the place.
I love visiting peaceful monasteries nestled between the hills with beautiful scenery. The Namdroling monastery is around 5 km from Kushalnagar and located within the Tibetan settlement.
The day we visited, there was some performance happening, which we were lucky to witness – although I am not very sure of the story behind that weekly performance. I asked a few monks, but not many people knew about it.
After visiting the monastery, treat your tastebuds to authentic Tibetan food. We went to a tiny multi-cuisine restaurant in the market just outside the monastery, but if you walk a little further from the monastery, you’ll see many small Tibetan restaurants that serve only Tibetan food.
Located at a distance of around 10 km from Kushalnagar, the roads to the Harangi Dam passes through quaint villages and green pastures. The whole place is well maintained with manicured gardens around the dam. It is a great picnic spot, but if you walk further towards the dam and away from the gardens, you’ll see the secluded and the less crowded area, the pathway that leads you to the dam.
Although the dam gates were closed at the time, and there was not much water in the tributary, the whole place was quite scenic.
Apart from these places, you can also visit the Mandalpatti, Elephant Camp, Chiklihole Reservoir, Nisargadhama Deer Park, or trek to Thadiandamol Peakif you have more time in the city.
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. Here’s a complete personalized guide to help you plan your trip to the “City of Palaces”, Mysore.
The top places to see in Mysore.