Ooty, Tamil Nadu- Oct. 30, 2011
We left Isha this morning and drove the three hours from Coimbatore to Ooty. The drive was anything but languid, as I sat enraptured by the beautiful scenery that was waiting around every bend. Luckily the sun was shining as we climbed the foothills of the Nilgiris (Hindi for blue mountains). We made hairpin turns through lush foliage, many cascading waterfalls, and the towering cliffs with their tops shrouded in cloud. Gangs of mischievous mountain monkeys were stationed all along the side of the road, greeting the trucks and tourists on their way.
A cool respite from the hot plain lands of Tamil Nadu, Ooty’s main industry is tourism, with hotels, attractions, and restaurants everywhere. This began during the British colonization, who turned Ooty into a vacation playground, building the botanical garden, the boating lake, a horse racing track, mansions, and hotels. Rows of brightly colored square houses are nestled into the lush hills. We arrived in town to a light drizzle. After lunch we meandered through the botanical garden and then made a stop by the lake, a lovely spot for walking and boating.
Ooty really reminds me of Oregon. The climate is essentially the same, with rain year round. The air smells fresh and clear; there are even large cedar and pine trees! As I have been drinking the well water of Pondy for months, I was happy to discover that the mountain water of Ooty is just as sweet as it is in Portland. The climate is conducive to many varieties of fruits, vegetables, roses, and (unlike Oregon) lots of tea. Bini and her family kept asking me if I was feeling cold. It was amusing to watch tourists and locals alike bundle up in earmuffs, scarves, umbrellas, hats, and waterproof jackets. Bini and her family have a whole program lined up for the next few days, thus many more discoveries await me in the land of Ooty.