Ooty is ridden, in fact overtly so, with tourists and is completely stripped off its colonial charms during the season. Though things to do in Ooty are plenty, the crowd can be tad overwhelming if you are visiting the little hill station in the Nilgiris during say, March – May. Precisely for these reasons, Ooty has never held its charm for me. However, unpredictable showers and a broody sky notwithstanding, off season is the best time to visit – as I discovered on a recent trip. The roads are devoid of tourists and drives around the hills of the blue mountains are rewarding with sights of tiny village hamlets and dams securing water from the scant monsoon rains.
If you are still not convinced, here are 5 things to do in Ooty to keep you occupied during your visit.
1) Drive for the sights
The tiny hill town itself has only a handful of interesting sights but if you hire a taxi and take a ride around its windy roads, the real Ooty and its hillside villages will greet you with toothy smiles and hospitality. Sights like these will win you over.
2) Visit a mushroom factory
Button mushroom cultivation seems to be catching up big time in Ooty. So much so that a village in one of the hill’s valleys is dubbed ‘mushroom village’. Usually a trip is not difficult to arrange to visit the mushroom factory. Just ask your driver to talk to the security at the factory’s gate and he will take care of the rest.
3) Visit an organic farm
Extremely rich, fertile soil, conducive climate and good rains make the hills a good bet for vegetable cultivation. Organic farming is slowly being adopted in Nilgiris with organizations like The Earth Trust working with the farmers to convert their chemical farming methods into organic.
4) Visit the bee museum
There are about 20,000 types of bees in the world but only few of them produce honey, explains a documentary played at the bee museum. The bee museum is a place where you can learn about the bee extraction methods of tribals in the hills. There is also a display of honey related products in the museum. When you visit the bee museum, do not forget to take a look at the charming little organic shop located on the ground floor that sells produce. The bee museum is prominently located in the Hill Bunk area.
5) Visit the Willys
There is no other way to say it – options to eat out in Ooty are pretty dismal. There are indeed a couple of high-end restaurants but if you are looking for a quick grab, a sandwich or a coffee you will be left to walk for hours without any luck. But we found Willys and fell for it hook, line and sinker. Located in a nondescript building on the Walsham Road, this little eatery serves up sandwiches, coffee and other baked items at reasonable price. Try the banana cake for a measly twenty bucks (INR) with a cup of coffee.
Have you been to any of these places in Ooty? How was your experience? Have I missed anything on things to do in Ooty? Why not let me know by leaving a comment?