We waited in line until 6.30am which is when we was allowed to board the train and one of us had to run over the tracks to the ticket office to get our tickets which only cost 15 Rupees each! This allows 40 minutes to get prepared before the train leaves at 7:10am. Be warned that they cram 6 to a bench. It’s not the most comfiest of rides but the views make it worth while!
Our journey started at 4am. We was up this early so that we could queue to get our unreserved tickets for the famous Nilgiri railway. The Nilgiri railway was built-in 1908 and is the only rack railway in India due to it being the steepest track in Asia. It is a steam train which travels round 208 curves and over 250 bridges. There is only 1 train a day so if you’re not up early enough to get on it be prepared to pay for another nights accommodation to try again the following morning.
The steam train started chugging along and we reached our first tunnel where it is accustom for Indians to scream the whole way through! The train stops at 5 different stations along the way (Coonoor, Wellington, Araban Kadu, Ketti, Lovedale) where you can jump off the train, enjoy a drink, nibbles, views and naughty monkeys. After about 5 hours you reach Ooty which is also known as Udagamandalam. When we arrived we had to fish out our warmer clothing as it can be a little bit more colder than the rest of India that we visited.
For our first night we decided to stay near the Ooty lake at ‘Hotel Darshan’ which had great views from the hotel balcony, but was slightly out-of-town. Once settled we decided to walk down towards the lake where we enjoyed a pedal boat in the river, paintball shooting and for Harry a massage chair. They also had there a virtual reality room and horse riding area. If you decide to get a peddle boat out onto the river you have to decide whether you want the boat for 30 minutes or an hour and then leave a deposit. The deposit is in case you do not get your boat back within the time window which you asked for. They allow you 5 minutes on top but it is a lot harder to peddle the boat back than it is to peddle out. (Before entering Ooty Lake make sure to hide your camera as they charge extra for having one)
Due to being up so early to get the train the three of us were so knackered we decided to grab some food at the hotel restaurant and get an early night. The next day we checked out and wanted to stay a little bit more closer to the centre of town where we found a reasonably priced guesthouse called ‘2Seas Residency’, so decided to book in and get a tuk-tuk ride to it.
We went for a walk and found ourselves at the Botanical Gardens which we stumbled across about 5-10 minutes into our walk. These Botanical Gardens were created by Mr. W. G. McIvor from the royal Botanical Gardens Kew in 1848. The gardens took 10 years to complete and they still look amazing 169 years later. After being lost in the gardens for a few hours, we grabbed some food before heading back to the guesthouse to relax as we had to be up early for a long ride to Coorg.
TIP: Make sure you get to the railway station before 5am to guarantee yourself a seat!
TIP: Sit on the left side of the train by the window. This is the side the doors open when you stop and also where you get the best views from on the train.