May 2007: A trip to the beautiful tea country of Wellington in Tamil Nadu along with my sister, Ree and her amma. A rather long but nice drive.
The hair pin bends of Ooty proved to be a bit of a challenge for my Zen, which I should have serviced before leaving. But except for one occasion when she had to negotiate a steep slope and stalled completely, she behaved quite decently.
- I much preferred Wellington to Ooty. Coonoor was not bad either but it was still quite crowded because of some festival going on.
- There were very few homestays and we would have much preferred to stay in one. The concept doesn’t seem to have picked up in these parts. We stayed at the Wellington Riga hotel from where you can get a glimpse of the rail station.
- Beulah Farms was quite a find. It was on the way to Kotagiri, a few kms from Wellington. We and bought heaps of home made wines and preservatives. Eapen Jacob, the sprightly 60+ year old proprietor insisted we try more than 20 different flavours he had on offer. I loved the peach and guava wines.
- We gate-crashed into a lovely villa and had a nice long chat with the inhabitants – a Bengali couple who had been settled there for a few years. The gentleman was in the tea gardens and had the hugest collection of books and rows of book shelves. He showed them off with great pride and we thoroughly enjoyed the tour of their beautiful home and garden.
- While my sister slept through almost the whole trip, Ree’s amma was really sporting and ready before us and raring to go. We took the toy train journey from Wellington to Ooty. It was delightful journey as the train makes its way through some beautiful countryside, green rolling hills as far as the eyes can see, tea gardens all around, and cosy little bungalows dotting the landscape. There’s the fresh smell of eucalyptus and pine in the air.
- Roaming around in Coonoor, we came across a beautiful villa, which I believe should be featured in a home/gardens magazine! It was picture perfect.
- We also enjoyed our lunch at the Taj Savoy at Coonoor and sat out in the garden till it started to pour. After a grand meal, we took some time for the food to settle and watched the rain for a while, before heading back on the long drive back to Bangalore.
Facts: Wellington and Coonoor are about 15kms away from Ooty. We stayed at the Wellington Riga. Lovely views, but bad service and food was just okay, nothing to write home about. If you prefer someplace with more humanity, then head for Coonoor. The drive by road will take you 7-8 hours at a decent pace or you can take the overnight bus into Ooty.