A bike ride to Coonoor

It was the middle of the night and the silence of my room in Bangalore was shattered by the ring of my mobile. It was my girl friend from Coimbatore. I wondered why she was calling me at such an odd hour of the night.

“Hello,” I said sleepily over the phone.

“Sorry to be disturbing you at this hour. But I really need to talk this out to someone,” she said.

Her voice quivered over the phone and I knew this was something important.

“Give me a minute,” I said. I got up washed my face in cold water and went out to the garage so that I could speak with her without disturbing my room mates.

“Tell me. What is it? What’s troubling you?”

“I think I’m going to quit my job. I couldn’t stand the pressure at the office. It's driving me crazy. I'm completely stressed out. I really wish I had you near me now,” she said.

"Just relax, ok? Go to sleep and be ready with your bags packed. We're going to take an off and go some place where you'll feel good".

"Really! Are you coming down?", she sounded all perked up at once.

"Why not? You said you wanted me to be there, right? Or, did I hear it wrong?"

"But... Where are we going?"

"I don't know. I haven't thought yet. But you needn't worry about that. Just leave it to me and pack your bag and be ready in the morning. I'll give you a call when I reach there and be ready for a surprise. Now, just go to sleep dear", I said and kissed her "good night" over the phone.

Now, you might be wondering whether this is the beginning of one ‘Mills and Boons’ tale. Well, it might sound like one, but no. This is about how a bike ride, the mist laden breeze and the intoxicating aroma of the Coonoor tea gardens helped my girl de-stress.

A few minutes in front of the internet and figured out where we'd be going - Coonoor. I looked for a descent hotel for the us to stay over the weekend, took down the phone number, freshened up and by 4.30 in the morning I filled the tank of my bike and set off to Coimbatore. Coimbatore is around 400 km from Bangalore and I reached there by half past nine. My idea of giving her a surprise flopped as she very well expected me to turn up on my bike knowing my passion for long rides. She was thrilled, all the same, at the idea of a long ride with me.

Coonoor, located at the head of the Hulikal ravine at an altitude of 1,800 meter above sea level, is a quaint little hill station in the Nilgiris, 75 km from Coimbatore en route Ooty. Ooty is another 19 km from Coonoor. It took us 4 and odd hours of leisurely ride to climb all the way up with pit stops for refreshment at the little tea stalls on the way. We reached Coonoor at around 2.30 in the noon and checked into the hotel where I had booked a room. I could see that the ride and the cool air of the Nilgiris has already begun to do good for my girl’s nerves. I noticed an air of peace about her as she stood at the balcony of our room, gazing at the lush greenery stretching all around us. I was obviously tired after the long ride and I drifted into a deep dreamless slumber.

A good 3 hours sleep and I was wide awake, refreshed and at the very best of my spirits. It made me happier to find my girl all freshened up after a wash and smelling pleasant of the bath soap and shampoo that she use. She was sitting by my side, lost in ’11 minutes’ by Paulo Coelho. She has always been an avid reader and never forgets to carry around some books to read.

A good long bath, making benevolent use of her shampoo made me presentable enough to go out with her. We went out for a stroll in the town. We walked around aimlessly visiting a Ganesh temple and spending few quite minutes at one of the churches. Later in the evening we visited the local market place, all bustling with life and munched on fresh-baked pop corns and chilly bhajjis and vadas. The freshly brewed Nilgiri tea at a local tea stall is something, the taste of which will linger in my taste buds for a long time. A pleasing dinner at a local restaurant and we returned to our room.

We woke up rather late the next day and after washing up and a modest breakfast of toasted breads and omelets, we set off for the site seeing. Well, the site seeing was not a part of our agenda as the prime aim of this trip was to be away from the regular mundane routine and to relax at leisure and pleasure.

We first visited the all popular Sim’s park, walking all the 2 km from our hotel to that spot. A CafĂ© Coffee Day on the way bid us in and my girl being a coffee aficionado, we spent a good one hour there over cold coffees and a Black Forest pastry. Now, here is something - have you ever tried cold coffee sitting at a place where the temperature outside is close to 10 degree celsius? If not, try it once. I bet it would be an experience unparalleled.

Spread over 12 hectares, the Sim’s park was more than any other parks I’ve visited before. It had lush green grass spread all over and the lawn mowed to perfection. The winding paved walk-along through the woods is another attraction of the Sim’s Park. There is also a little play area with swings and see-saws for kids and a lake with a boating facility. Does it sound like a very big place? Well, it is not. As I told you, it is only a 12 hectare plot and is only large enough to house a hundred varieties of trees, plants and flowers and small enough for a comfortable walk around. Sitting at one of the park benches, humming an old Hindi song, “Tum ko dekha, to ye khayal aya…” and my girl gazing at the little kids on the swings is a picture-perfect that will remain etched in my memory.

We then visited the Lamb’s Rock which is a trekking spot around 3 km from Sim’s Park. The view of the valley from atop the Lamb’s Rock is breath taking. Other classical view points in and around Coonoor are Dolphine’s Nose and Lady Canning’s Seat. We didn’t visit all the spots as we were not in any sight seeing expedition. After ambling along a tea garden, hand in hand and love in the air, we returned to our hotel room.

Another major attraction of Coonoor is the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. The toy train ride along the winding hills is something that had captured the imagination of many movie makers all around the globe. The “Kasto maza…” song sequence with Saif Ali Khan, a guitar in hand, in a train full of kids in the movie ‘Parineeta’ is the one that comes to my mind when I think about the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (I’m not too sure the song was shot here). The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in July 2005. This railway links Coonoor to the town of Mettupalayam at the foot hills. Coonoor was the original termination point of this railway, before the line was extended to Ooty.

Anyways… we started our ride back at 6 in the evening and reached Coimbatore by 11 at night.

“You’d never know how good you made me feel…,” she said on reaching back.

Now, tell me dear readers, isn’t this a wonderful way to de-stress on a weekend? Well, she forgot her idea of quitting her job and said she just realized the need for a change when life gets too routine and tiring.

Original post:
©
'Motorcycle Diaries' compilation in MSN India by the same author

Coonoor Factfile:

Nearest airport: Coimbatore (80 km), Tamil Nadu, India
Nearest railwaystation: Mettupalayam (46km), Coimbatore (80 km); Tamil Nadu, India
By road: Regular buses from major cities like Bangalore (Karnataka), Mysore (Karnataka), Calicut (Kerala), Kochi (Kerala), Tanjavur (Tamil Nadu), Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu)
Accommodation: From home stays to luxury hotels (economy, budget and luxury)
Activities: Bird watching, tea plantation visits, sight seeing, hiking etc.

8 comments:

  1. I am relaxed just reading this. It is true peace to be encapsulated in the natural beauty of our world.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I liked everything i read.And really it's a truly wonderful way to de-strees somebody.
    congrats to you.so sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your blog is very nice... i like your blog ....

    Madurai Hotels

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey I too am from Bangalore and my girl friend is in Coimbatore..Her birthday is coming up and I plan to ride to Coimbatore on my bike and give her a surprise, spend some time with her and return the same day..
    Please advise on the shortest and safest route..
    Thanks..

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Aamir: Bangalore to Coimbatore is around 400 km. Being the adventurous kind that I'm I always prefer the route via Kollegala, Satyamangalam but it'd take you nearly 6 to 7 hours to reach Coimbatore. Well, you always have the highway to speed to your destination, that is via. Krishnagiri, Salem etc. You can make it in 4.5 to 5 hours if you can average a speed of 50 km/hr.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice and informative blog. Me and my hubbie are also planning to hire a kinetic honda/activa when we visit ooty and conoor. It's something we would like to explore ourselves. I was wondering if the ride was safe along ghat roads as I would be riding in parts. Did you switch off the engine while going downhill? Just need some tips and wondering if there are many female riders on the there? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry I did not see your comment till now. Did you people already visit Ooty and Connoor? It's perfectly ok for women to ride bikes in these areas. You may not find too many women riding bikes there but it's ok. But I'd suggest you ride along the Ghats only if you're confident and experienced at riding two wheelers because there are many blind curves along the road. And never switch of the engine while going downhill. Your bike is in better control with the engine on. If you switch off and just let it go, it'll be free wheeling and it's never safe. Hope you guys enjoy a good time there.

      Delete