December 9, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.264: Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Ooty.

Ride in a Toy Train - Amazing Experience.

Though we had driven to Ooty by car, we decided to take this joy ride in the Nilgiri Mountain Railway just for the thrill and fun we used to experience as children.

We parked our car in the station parking lot, and paid Rs.50 as parking charges. The train tickets were much cheaper at Rs.10 per head from Udagamandalam (Ooty) to Coonoor. Since it was a week day in the off-season we got seats easily in the general compartment. We had to stand in a queue till the train pulled in to the station, and everyone got into the bogies in a very orderly manner.

The engine pulling the train between Ooty and Coonoor is powered by diesel. I believe there is a steam locomotive pulling the train between Coonoor and Mettupalayam, and it takes 4 hours for the train to complete the journey from Mettupalayam to Ooty. Reserved tickets can be booked in advance for the train on the IRCTC website. Our journey started from Ooty at 12.15 pm and took just over an hour to reach Coonoor. In between we stopped for a few minutes at some pretty little stations namely; Lovedale, Ketti, Aravankadu and Wellington before reaching Coonoor.

We enjoyed the mountain scenery along the way, with many villages tucked away between the eucalyptus trees, tea estates, fields and forests. We passed through a number of tunnels with the kids in the train screaming to hear their own echoes, and we passed over some narrow bridges.

It was indeed an enjoyable and memorable train ride, albeit only for an hour. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was added by UNESCO to the World Heritage Site known as “Mountain Railways of India” in July 2005.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

December 8, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.263: Botanical Gardens, Ooty.

The botanical garden in Ooty is worth a visit. There are many flowering plants, shrubs and trees, and it a good place to take a leisurely stroll in the mornings and evenings. It does get crowded though after 11 am, and on weekends, since it is the top tourist spot in Ooty.

Well Laid Out, Neat and Clean Garden.


There are some privately managed parking lots around the garden, with their own stalls for shoppers around the parking area. We got parking in the Tibetan Market Parking Lot, which charged us Rs.80 (one time). There were a lot of stalls run by the Tibetans selling woollens, artifacts, curios and eatables. There are also a lot of fruit and vegetables vendors clustered around the Garden. Coffee, tea and snack shops are also within walking distance.

We had to pay an entry fee of Rs.30 per head. I left my camera behind in the car (and saved Rs.50) and carried my cell-phone in my pocket instead, for free. There are crowds of people visiting the park, especially on the weekends. The park itself is quite spacious and beautifully landscaped at different levels. As a result one has to climb steps for a bit to see the beauty at the higher levels, but it is worth it since you get a bird’s eye view of the garden from the terraces. However, not all the trees and plants have any boards with their botanical names as one would expect in such a garden.

There is a flower show every year in the month of May. It would probably be worth a visit if you are in Ooty at this time of the year. Personally I found the Sim’s Park in Coonoor more scenic and beatuful, though a bit smaller than the Ooty garden.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

December 7, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.262: Doddabetta Peak, Ooty.

Disappointing.

We went up to Doddabetta Peak with great hopes of a visual treat. It is the highest peak in the Nilgiri Hills. But we were sorely disappointed with what we saw and experienced.

Doddabetta is a 9 km drive from the Botanical Gardens of Ooty. It was a scenic drive up to the peak with tea gardens along the way. But from where the road branches off the Kotagiri Road, the road condition deteriorates and you have to negotiate some dangerous hair-pin bends with huge pot-holes. On top of that you have to pay a toll of Rs.20 to use this road. Then you have to pay Rs.7 per head as entry tax, and Rs.12 if you are carrying a camera (nothing for mobile camera!). Parking is haphazard and always crowded on weekends, and there are a lot of stalls and eateries around the parking lot with garbage all around.

The views from the peak were good, but not good enough to compensate for the negatives. I would give this place a miss the next time around. There are better places to see in and around Ooty.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

December 6, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.261: Zest Danish Villa Restaurant, Ooty.

Cosy Restaurant With Good Service.

Since we were staying at Zest Danish Villa we had occasion to dine at their restaurant quite often. It is a small cosy restaurant with about 6 or 7 tables. There is outdoor seating too. They have facility for buffet dining but only during season or weekends when there are enough guests staying over at the hotel. Otherwise they also serve a thali (meal platter) at lunch time for a reasonable rate of Rs.249.

We had dinner here every night, and preferred their ala-carte dishes. On different occasions we had their ‘Banarasi Dum Aloo’, ‘Fish Masala’, ‘Bhindi Dopyaza’ (Okra in onion gravy), ‘Gobi Manchurian’ with Veg Fried Rice, and ‘Aloo Gobi Adraki’ always accomapanied by ‘Lachha Parathas’ (an Indian Bread). They served complimentary snacks (appetisers) with the ala-carte order. The taste of the food was very good and the service always courteous.

Prices were on the higher side but we could avail of a member discount. We enjoyed dining at the restaurant.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

December 5, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.260: Club Mahindra Zest Danish Villa, Ooty.

Boutique Resort Away From The Madding Crowd.

We spent a very relaxed week at Club Mahindra’s Zest Danish Villa in Ooty in November. The resort is beautifully landscaped on the hillside, with cottages having sloping roofs covered with Mangalore tiles. The view from the sit-out outside the rooms is very beautiful as it overlooks the valley. Compared to the other Club Mahindra resort in Ooty, Derby Green, this one is smaller but better for people who prefer a quieter holiday.

This is a small boutique resort with only 15 rooms, located about 2.5 km from the Railway Station and about 3 km from the Ooty Bus Stand. All the rooms have wooden flooring, giving the rooms a very heritage look. There is a closet for keeping the bags and clothes, as well as a digital safe. Bathrooms are quite spacious. The flat screen TV is supported by Airtel dth, with all the SD channels. However there is no microwave oven, though there is an electric kettle for making your own tea/coffee. Free wi-fi is available in the lobby and restaurant.

There is a small playground for the kids, and a room for indoor games and a Spa. There is a common balcony for the rooms on the first and second floors, with chairs to sit out and enjoy the fresh cool air of the hill resort. There is sufficient parking space for about 10 cars.

The reception and staff are very helpful. Ramu and Shakespeare would give us very courteous service in the restaurant. Krishnamurthy and Ramalingam were prompt with Housekeeping and Room Service. Being a small resort, buffet dining was not always available, though they had an option of thali meals for Rs.249 at lunch time. We opted for the ala-carte at dinner.

We had a very pleasant and relaxed stay at the resort, enjoying nature’s beauty and bounty. We would definitely visit again.
Room Tip: Rooms on the 2nd floor have a better view from the common Balcony.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: November 2017, travelled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

December 4, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.259: Shinkow's Chinese Restaurant,Ooty.

Good Chinese Food.

Shinkow’s Chinese is centrally located near the Commissioner’s Office in Ooty. Limited parking is available in front of the restaurant, and you may have to walk a little on the weekends.

The restaurant is neat and clean and brightly decorated in the old style, with red checked tablecloths on wooden tables and chairs. There are some nice photo frames with Chinese motifs decorating the walls. Service is friendly and courteous.

We ordered ‘Fish Slices with Vegetables’ and ‘Soft Noodles with Vegetables’. Both the dishes were quite tasty. Prices of the dishes on the menu were quite reasonable. The only thing we found unreasonable was that they were not accepting credit cards for a bill value less than Rs.1000.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

November 13, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.258: Commercial Street, Bangalore.

Good Bargains in this Crowded Shopping Area.

Commercial Street is close to MG Road of Bangalore. But it is very different from MG Road as it is overcrowded with cars and shoppers. It is in a very narrow street and it is very difficult to find parking if you are coming in your own car. There is a dedicated parking lot managed by the army administration, but that is also generally full, and we had to wait about half an hour before we got to park. It is better to go by a two-wheeler.

However the market is very good for purchasing all kinds of furnishings, clothes, handbags, shoes and handicrafts. There are some local eateries where you get very tasty jalebi and rabri and other snacks. In short it is a shopping paradise for the women folk.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

November 10, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.257: The Druid Garden, Sahakar Nagar, Bengaluru.

Reserve Your Table for a Good Dining Experience.

We went here for dinner on a Wednesday evening and had to wait for half an hour before we got a table in the family section. Even the basement parking was full and we had to eventually park on the road. We were escorted to our table by the receptionist after we returned from a bout of shopping. This indicates the popularity this restaurant has gained in the Sahakar Nagar area of Bangalore.

The Druid Garden has its own microbrewery and they serve a good variety of beers. They also serve other spirits, cocktails and mocktails. The multi-cuisine food menu is also quite elaborate, with a huge variety of soups, salads, starters, main course and desserts. They have a very spacious seating area in different sections, including an outdoor section for smokers.

We tried their Beetroot Shammi Kababs, Chicken Tacos, Mangalore Prawn curry served with an appam, and a vegetarian pasta dish. The food was quite yummy and we enjoyed all the dishes. Prices were on the higher side.

Service was courteous but a bit erratic. There was more than one waiter attending to us, and we had to return one dish which we had not ordered. Service charges were added to the menu, with a note mentioning that it would be waived if we are not satisfied with the service.

We would like to dine here again, but we will remember to reserve a table before going.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

November 6, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.256: Kamat Upachar, Sira, Karnataka.

Good Stopover for Refreshments on the Highway.

Kamat Upachar is a good stop for refreshments on AH-47 (or NH4), just after the town of Sira while travelling from Pune to Bengaluru. It is about 50 km before Tumkur.

They serve pure vegetarian food, both North Indian and South Indian. Their South Indian snacks like Idli, Wada and Dosa are also very popular. We ordered a South Indian thali (platter) covered by a banana leaf, which consisted of a dry vegetables, two gravy vegetables, rasam, 2 chapattis (or puris), papad, rice and curd. Service was quick and courteous and the ambience was friendly. Prices are very reasonable and affordable.

There is sufficient parking space for about 20 vehicles and a clean washroom, like in all the Kamat Upachars along the highways in the state of Karnataka.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 17, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.255: Christ The King Church, Kodaikanal.

Ancient Gothic Church.

There are many churches in Kodaikanal built during the colonial era. Christ the King Church, built in the year 1895 by the American Madurai Mission, is one of the most beautiful. It is located at the junction of Noice Road and Club Road, very close to the entrances of Coaker’s Walk and Bryant Park.

There is a very nice image of Lord Jesus at the altar of the church. The church is open from 6.30 am to 12 noon and then again in the evening from 3 pm to 8.30 pm. The service is usually in Tamil for the local people. There are wooden benches for seating.

We got a sense of peace and serenity in the church.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 14, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.254: Pastry Corner, Kodaikanal.

They Sell Like Hot Cakes.

The pastry and cakes at Pastry Corner really sell like Hot Cakes! There is always a crowd hanging out besides this small shop in the Kodaikanal Bazaar, just next to Astoria Restaurant. Though there is no place to sit inside the shop, they have placed some chairs outside. It is basically a take-away eatery.

We managed to buy some of their chutney and egg sandwiches which were very tasty and priced very reasonably at Rs.15 each. The pizza slices were also very good, and the filter coffee better than anywhere else in the bazaar.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 13, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.253: Silver Cascade Falls, Kodaikanal, Dindigul.

Enchanting Waterfall as you enter Kodaikanal.

Silver Cascade is a medium sized waterfall on the way to Kodaikanal, right on the side of the main road going to the hill station. It is like an appetiser to the main attraction, Kodaikanal town, during the rainy season. There are many more waterfalls and lakes inside Kodaikanal, and Silver Cascade whets your appetite for more.

We stopped here for a while to admire the silvery water cascading down the rocks. There were a lot of cars and buses parked at the roadside, and a whole load of tourists taking snaps and selfies. There were some refreshment stalls and a small park nearby. Overall it is a beautiful spot, but marred by the noisy crowds.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 12, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.252: Moir Point, Kodaikanal.

Good View Point on a Clear Day.

Moir Point is about 10 km from Kodaikanal Bus Stand, on the route to Berijam Lake. It is about 3 km after the Pillar Rocks. The entrance gate to the forest areas and Berijam Lake is near Moir Point, but entry to these places is restricted beyond Moir Point. One has to pay a nominal entry fee to visit the point.

There is a lookout tower and a memorial pillar at the point, as well as a small park where we sat and relaxed for a while. It was cloudy and foggy on the day we visited, but we did get a very captivating view of the peaks and valleys when the fog cleared intermittently. There are also some snack and refreshment stalls nearby.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 10, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.251: Guna Caves, Kodaikanal.

The Caves are no longer Accessible.

These caves, earlier known as the ‘Devil’s Kitchen’, have now been fenced off due to the tragic deaths of some youngsters who went down into the cave chambers below, but never returned. They are now called Guna Caves, because a Tamil movie ‘Gunaa’ was filmed here. These caves are the chambers formed by the giant boulders of the Pillar Rocks.

We had to take a short walk of about half a km to reach the fenced off area. Due to the fog and mist we had to peer into the gaps formed by the boulders and forest trees, and the sight was indeed scary and spooky. As we were standing there we heard the alarm call of some langur monkeys, which scared us even more. Leopards are known to have been sighted in these forests. We were thankful that there was a crowd of about 20 tourists standing nearby so we did not panic and run.

It was a good experience of a walk in a pristine jungle, though with lots of other tourists around.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 9, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.250: Lake View Point, Kodaikanal.

Beautiful View of Kodaikanal Lake from a Height.

This view point is also called the Upper Lake View Point by the tour operators of Kodaikanal. It is at a height on a hill, and all the cabbies and tour buses stop here for a few minutes so that the tourists can get a beautiful panoramic view of the Kodai Lake.

There are a few benches and snack stalls nearby and it is good place to take a photograph or a selfie. One can see the famous Hotel Carlton at the other end of the lake.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 8, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.249: Pine Forest, Kodaikanal.

Walk Deeper Into the Forest for the Real Feel.

Actually this is more like a plantation of Pine Trees, and the tall trees are lined in neat rows as far as eye can see. It is one of the favourite halts for the tourist cabs and buses, and so the serenity and solitude of the forest is ruined by the hordes of people alighting here for a break and a snack. There are horses available for a ride. The trees are full of monkeys, and the ground is littered with garbage.

But if you walk a little deeper into the forest, and away from the crowds, you will get the true feel of the forest. Let the silence of the surroundings engulf you and you are transported into nature’s paradise. We did just that, and enjoyed the experience.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

October 7, 2017

My TripAdvisor Review No.248: Kurinji Andavar Temple, Kodaikanal.

Calm and Serene Temple on a Hilltop.

The Kurinji Andavar Temple is located on a hilltop about 3 km away from the Kodaikanal Lake, just beyond the Chettiar Park. It is a small and clean temple situated in peaceful and serene surroundings. It is dedicated to Lord Murugan (Karthik), son of Lord Shiva. You will also find an idol of Lord Ganesha (Murugan’s brother) in this temple. 

Kurinji is a small flower found in these hills which blooms once in 12 years, and Andavar means God in the local language, hence the name Kurinji Andavar. The view from the hill surrounding the temple is very beautiful. On one side you can see the Palani Hills in the distance and the other side overlooks the town of Kodaikanal. There are many shops nearby where you can buy local handicrafts and artifacts, mainly crafted in wood and metal.

This place is worth a visit, not only for the temple, but also for the sight-seeing and shopping experience.