Coonoor entices with lot of old world charm
The recently released Hindi film, ‘Kapoor and Sons’ with Rishi Kapoor, Fawad Khan and Siddharth Kapoor in the lead was well received by the audience. In addition to a good story line, what caught my attention were the beautiful locations that the film was shot at, in Coonoor.
This hill station, 1850m above sea level, tucked away in Nilgiris, second largest in the region with its picturesque tea estates gets especially busy during summer. Apart from the tea, (and the recently growing floriculture, strawberry farming and organic farming) tourism is the main industry here.
In Coonoor, among the various sights touted to be the best is the Dolphin Nose, a vantage view point from where you can see vast stretches of greenery – forests interspersed with tea estates. Your view will also include the beautiful waterfalls dotting the green stretch. The sounds of the birds, gentle rustling of leaves and the distant waterfall – make up for the scenary at Dolphin Nose. Even though there are other viewpoints in the hill station, this one is by far the best and just 12km away from Coonoor railway station.
While there are hotels and homestays at Coonoor as well, the regular practice is to stay in Ooty (which is 19km) away and visit tourist spots in the surroundings, in which case one must surely make it a point to travel from Ooty to Coonoor in train. The ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ is one of the oldest railways in India and has been declared as World Heritage Sight by UNESCO. And enroute, in addition to being treated to the best of greenery Nilgiris has to offer, you will see sights from the bygone era of Indian Railway; you also see steam engines ply regularly on the route. It is advised to book for your train tickets in advance. The first class too is extremely affordable for a little over one hour journey.
The other interesting places to visit in Coonoor are Sim’s Park, a Japanese-style botanical garden. In May, there is an annual vegetable and fruit show held for two days at the botanical garden, which is quite popular. Trekkers can try trekking the distance from Lady Canning’s seat to Dolphin Nose – quite an exhilarating experience this one is. There is also an 18th century fort for history lovers, 13 km from Coonoor, which belonged to Tipu Sultan and tourists usually hike through the tea estates to reach here. One can also visit the St George’s church. And ofcourse there are the scenic waterfalls like Hidden Valley, Law’s Falls and Katary Falls, a few kilometres away from the main town.
Now, for a word of caution – like every nook and corner of India that is assaulted by gross urbanisation, Coonoor has had its share too, especially the down town. Yet, the silver lining is the old world bungalows and cottages in the upper stretches that have retained their charm, and most of them have been turned into hotels and home stays.
While this is not exactly a foodie place, the hill station does have decent restaurants serving South Indian, Punjabi and Chinese cuisines to feed the hunger pangs.
The ideal way to reach Coonoor is from Ooty by road or train. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway service between Ooty and Mettupalayam has a stopover here. Coimbatore is the other nearest airport 75km away.
Have splendid time at Coonoor
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