Said that, all that glitters may not be gold! As I was travelling alone and had no prior camping experiences, I was a little anxious about my security. But I also knew that it was next to impossible to make my hard head go 180 degrees. So I reached the hilltop, which is approximately 4 kms from Ooty bus stand, while trying to bury those second thoughts that kept creeping back at intervals. The lush green property was under 24/7 cc tv cam surveillance – a sigh of relief! Also, the manager assured me to be there, along with his staff, on the property even post-midnight so as to keep an eye. His assurance made me feel safe and at home.
Apart from the starry night, the #campsite offered a breathtaking view of the neighboring hills, along with the golden first light and sundown. The property is also home to several bird species – you can find bird feeders at certain corners! They even have a mini book section – I wouldn’t call it a library though – for all the bookworms! You can take your favorite book to any of the seating arrangements and be lost in the characters while sipping your choice of beverage. If you don’t fancy books, you could try rifle shooting or archery. In fact, the trial sessions in archery made me take the game up as my new found interest. Besides these, you can indulge in board games and karaoke as well.
The #nightlife is equally happening! A bonfire is flamed up right at the center, where guests from far and wide jam up and bond. However, this is totally optional. For a more-is-less kind of a person like me, they can even set up other activities such as fishing, horse riding, trekking to name a few. Sounds good? It’s even better. So pack up and head to this all-in-one stay; trust me, you won’t regret.
All Photographs © Fiddle F00t [PS: Thanks to the staff who were extremely considerate while hosting me. It was an amazing stay!] Until Next Time! XOXO, Swechha
When I say Ooty, the first tourist attraction that may come to your mind is the age-old Botanical Garden. I was a fourth-grader when, in 1999, I got the opportunity to visit the enchanting hill station situated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Although I have a vague memory of the tour, I remember visiting the garden. Fast-forward to now … like most of you travel bugs, I get an urge to explore the town again. So, I set foot in Ooty with minimal baggage and a long to-do list. By the way, I chose to travel during off-season and to off-beat places, so it is only obvious that Botanical garden was nowhere on the list. However, with very little time in hand, I could drive through quite a few enchanting places that I have fond memories of now, which you may find handy should you visit the place.
1) Camping in Tiger Hills — While in Ooty, I wanted to spend maximum time outside, letting the aura of serenity seep in. And what better than camping in the hills, gazing up at the night sky while you dream away! I mean who wouldn’t want that! I was definitely up and excited for my first camping, and I don’t regret it; thanks to Aventura for making my stay worthwhile. Apart from camping, I indulged myself in a lot of other activities, which I will be sharing in my next blog post, while at the campside.
2) Ketti Valley – I couldn’t wait to spot all the goodies Ooty had to offer. So, the moment I freshened up, I hired a three-wheeler – lucky I got one without delay – and headed towards Ketti Valley. The mesmerizing Ketti Valley view is something you should not miss whilst you’re in town. Located some 4 kms from Ooty, the view point lies along NH 67 (Ooty-Coonoor road). The valley is said to be the 2nd largest in the world and often compared to the scenic beauty of Switzerland. The lush greenery surrounding the valley is just the icing on the cake.
3) Pykara Falls – I know I was hopping places only so I wouldn’t miss out on anything. I picked out the famous, yet less visited, Pykara Falls next. Approximately 23 kms from Ooty bus stand is the picturesque Pykara Falls. Some South Indian and Bollywood movies have portrayed on screen rosy pictures of the falls. So, I had to see this with my naked eyes to believe the on-screen portrayal. And what I found was an even more enchanting outlying area. The gush of water that squeezed through brick-red boulders looked just like the beads of a pearl neckpiece that have cut loose from the thread and scattered all over the floor. The water is used for hydro-power generation and also considered sacred by the locals.
4) Shooting Point – Now this place was on our way back to the town and was quite crowded by townsfolk and tourists. A five-minute walk uphill through the open trails, which looked like one long snake, and you could get a glimpse of the most pleasing view. As the name suggests, most Indian films of the 90’s were shot here. What allured me more was the sight of horses independently grazing in the open fields. A few of them were on display for the tourists to choose their rides. Just so you know, horses have always been very dear to me.
5) Kamaraja Sagar Dam – I’m glad I spotted the dam while heading back. It was secluded and looked like people only came occasionally for picnics. Here, you can actually see varied fish species right on the water surface, making it an ideal place for fishing. Although the place was not on my list, I ended up sitting there idle and lost in thoughts for almost an hour. If only I had bait with me!
6) Chocolate Factory Outlet – Are you truly, madly, deeply in love with chocolates as much as I am? This is the town where you would want to gift yourself a home for life after retirement. And the answer to all those raised brows is CHOCOLATES!!! Chocolates are easily accessible in this pint hill station due to the establishment of homemade chocolate factories. The chocolate factory in Avalanche being more notable, was marked in bold on my wishlist. Unfortunately, due to labor’s day off, I couldn’t witness the art of chocolate-making – until next time. Nevertheless, I bought myself boxes of chocolates from the factory outlet that could last for months and returned to my nest to retire for the day.
7) Doddabetta Trek – I woke up early and excited! The much awaited Doddabetta trek was to start in a while! Five minutes, and I was ready for the move! Now if you’re thrilled like me to climb hills or peaks and walk through the jungle, you know how fidgety I must have got. My guide and I started off the approx. 3-hour trek, including uphill and downhill, with a bottle of water. The difficulty level was moderate. The forest comprised three species of extremely lofty Eucalyptus trees, the sweet, woody aroma of which was spread across the area (avoid taking this route during the hours when wildlife is active).
8) Doddabetta View Point – Another kilometer from the main road and we were at the hilltop. I looked down and lo! What I saw was breathtakingly beautiful! The entire town, along with the forest, was framed with backdrops of equally mesmerizing mountains. My heart paused to what I saw. I stayed awhile appreciating the beauty before we headed back.
9) Boat House – It was time for me to say goodbye, and I was already missing this perky town. But before I bid adieu, I had one last thing to do – walk through the colorful streets of Ooty while picking up some traditional stuffs along the way. And what better place than Boat House! The house has several activities under its roof you could choose from – boating, toy-train ride, outdoor fun rides, 7-D cinemas, food court, and scary house to name a few — along with some charming handlooms and crafts on display.
Sadly, all good things come to an end and so did my solo tour. While the town may have its flaws, I would rather focus on the good stuff it has to offer. One such message in particular the townsfolk keenly follow, which I’m carrying back with me, is “Search the Bin, Put It In.”
I’m extremely grateful to all the ones who have helped make this trip a success. Cheers! Until Next Time, XOXO, Swechha
All photographs © Fiddle F00t
Someone once rightly said, “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.” Today as I look back, I see a close-knit group of women who have been the reason I reached so far and have still more to go. These ladies, who have not once failed to encourage and inspire me, are not big names on the silver screen, nor are they famous personalities in their respective fields. It starts right from home where my grannies, mother, aunts, and sisters have all been the core strength of my family and the society we live in. Not to forget, my equally uplifting girlfriends who are my pillars and my happy pills, supporting me in all the stupid decisions I made and still make. A big shout out to all these iron ladies in my life who place confidence in me and to the everyday ordinary women living extra-ordinary lives for making this world a better place to live in.
Women – they come in all shapes, colors, sizes, characters — have time and again proven their bravery, intelligence, excellence apart from running the house and carrying lives, who fill the shoes of their fathers’ legacy, in their wombs. In spite of all these, a woman has always been considered meek, timid, shy, subtle, and fragile since the very start of civilization. A reflection of what the society wants to portray her as; let it not fool you! That fragile frame you see is clothed in dignity and will so strong that even Kratos himself may be unable to break her spirit. The very fact that I have for myself not once in these 27 years encountered a “weak woman,” – label them if you must – has ever since, been a source of inspiration, a foundation of strength!
Correspondingly, all men are not domineering male chauvinists. I have come across men who believe in equality, whose ego is not easily bruised by the success of their female counterparts, and who are the real strength behind these fearless, unstoppable mortals. The kind who says, “Go for it,” the kind who pushes you further up. These men are self-sufficient, secure, and confident in themselves and their respective women. And the joy of sharing the world with such men is twofold. These are the kind of men who make life easier for us, the kind we, as women and humans, appreciate.
Not just today, but every single day, I’m grateful to all the strong beautiful women who have shown us how to seize power, since we aren’t given any, and to all those men who aren’t threatened by our achievements and have faith in the strength of a woman!
Happy Women’s Day!
(All Photographs © Fiddle F00t)
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