Travelling South India and looking to beat the heat? Board the next bus to Ooty, and retreat into a little mountain cool. Perched 7,347 above sea level, the weather here is refreshingly pleasant, and the crisp mountain atmosphere is literally a breath of fresh air after the heat and bustle of the cities below. Even its most famous products speak of an atmosphere of relaxation; Ooty is known for its high quality teas and chocolates. While it’s possible to arrive by bus or train, getting around tends to be most successful by taxi so you can explore the captivating countryside. Just don’t choose drivers offering to take you to shops or restaurants – the places will likely be overpriced, and the driver is collecting a commission, not just making a recommendation.
Tea lovers especially will want to stop at the Tea Factory, though strolling through this straightforward museum is interesting to anyone who likes to see the behind the scenes of things. After a brief introduction, stroll through to see how tea leaves are sorted, dried and processed – finishing with a sample of the results to sip. On your way out, you can pick up some of the area’s local leaves, as well as oils and other goods.
Follow the signs on your exit to the adjacent chocolate factory. After passing demonstrations of the chocolate-making process, sidle up to one of the many counters and get yourself some of Ooty’s signature indulgence. With so many delicious varieties, we challenge you to stop at just a little (not really – go crazy!)
Lush, green, and artistically arrayed, the (relative) space and quiet in these picturesque gardens will be refreshing for any traveller coming from the cities below. Give yourself time to explore the terraced 22 hectares – and to linger in the grasses and people watch. On your way out, stop to browse the Tibetan market just outside. While much of what you’ll find there is souvenir kitsch and cheap clothing, it’s worth picking up some of the cooler clime’s delicious produce, including apples that will remind those from the Western World of the delights of fall.
Visitors to Doddabetta Peak should be sure to bring their camera. This 2,623 perch has stunning views of Ooty and beyond. While there are gorgeous views everywhere you turn here, don’t miss a chance to snap a picture from the stairs of the observatory. When you’re done exploring, sip on some piping hot chai, green tea, or lemon tea, and pick up some fresh carrots and other produce from the vendors lining the path to the top. There’s also delicious chaana chaat on offer; this spicy snack of hot chickpeas, onions, and spices is sure to warm you up on particularly chilly mountain days.