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Things To Do In Coonoor
Coonoor is all about nature, so you get lots of opportunities to indulge in things that would be so rare in a city. Go for long treks to some beautiful places in a great weather, get off to boat rides or photo shoot wild flowers. Visit tribal hamlets, picnic in the parks or revive the childhood delight of a joyful train ride in a mountain train. There are so many off beat things you can do in Coonoor for a great holiday. We will also tell you about the festivals of Coonoor, souvenirs to buy, the best places to stay in, the cuisine of the hill station and about the night life of Coonoor.
The slopes of Coonoor are a trekkers’ delight. You can hike up the roads to Upper Coonoor where most of the sights are, take a trip to Ketti Hills or Katary Falls or to the Tiger Hills or Droog Fort through tribal villages and plantations. Trodden pathways crisscross the dewy grasslands on the slopes and the plantations where the fresh aroma of tea leaves waft through the breeze.
Coonoor is all about the view, looking over and beyond at the misty cloud-hugging peaks and below at the dales of tea plantations and flowers. Take a trip to Ketti Vieepoint, the Kodanadu Point near Kotagiri town or the Dolphin’s Nose and Lamb’s Rock, the most touristy places from where you can see the deep ravines under your feet and the hills stretch out far and wide; with the roary Catherine Falls at the distance.
Cheese and Tea
Explore the Highfields Tea Factory that is actually a plantation, watch the process of tea making till it hits the shelf, sample a variety of flavourful teas and buy herbal oils, tea and homemade chocolates at their store. The Estate that is about 2 km away from Upper Coonoor has its plantations open for tourists all days, but the factory is closed on Mondays.
The cool climes of Coonoor promise the best temperature for excellent cheese making and places like Acres Wild homestay will conduct courses on the best gourmet cheese making techniques while you are there. You could also buy their cheese from retail outlets in Coonoor and Ooty.
Rangaswamy Peak and Pillar
According to legends, Vishnu as Lord Rangaswamy who lived in Karamadai in Coimbatore with his consort, quarrelled with her and marched off to live in these peaks. The peak is a sacred spot for the Kurumba, Irula and Badaga tribes of Nilgiris. On the north-western area of the peak is the 400 ft high Rangaswamy pillar also considered a sacred one. Rangaswamy Peak is near Kotagiri, at about 37 km from Coonoor. The pillar that juts out from the peak looks enchanting from far away and tourists would love to photoshoot the pillar from the Kodanadu view point.
Take a day’s trip on the Toy Train to Wellington, which is a small town about 3 km from Coonoor. It was a British cantonment area and you can still see British styled homes nestled among the rolling plains and tea estates. The Wellington Barracks built in the year 1860 is occupied by the Madras Regiment Centre. Check out the historic Black Bridge of 1858, that was built of Burmese teak wood and painted in black. Years of reconstructions later the iconic bridge stands solid, renamed as Manekshaw Bridge, after Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. Go boating on the beautiful Wellington Lake.
If you’re staying in homestays, most of them would have tea plantations and you’ll get the bonus opportunity to explore the estates, learn about tea leaf harvesting and taste the different flavours of fresh home brewed teas. There are several resorts that get you the feel and essence of the tribal people of yore. Most of the resorts sit snug in the midst of tea plantations and are remodelled mansions and colonial bungalows of the 18th-19th centuries. You will find several options for stay depending on funds. Apart from budget accommodations, you can choose from cottages, airbnb homes, hotels and villas.
Shop for organic farm produce like spices and honey, fragrant oils like eucalyptus and lavender, homemade wines and passion fruit, peach and plum jams and beeswax, chocolates and cheese, special flaky crisp Ooty Varkey, scarves, jumpers, shawls and shoes, shadow worked bedcovers, handlooms and woodwork of Ireland and Belgium. Handmade antiques, tribal jewellery and handicrafts are a must buy.
Coonoor’s festivals are mostly associated with nature and the traditional background of the town. There are annual shows that celebrate what makes Coonoor a grand tourist town. There are fruit and vegetable shows, tea and tourism festivals, spices, roses and flower shows that highlight the charm of the hill station. Tribal festivals like the Badagas’ Hethai Habba for their deity Hethe also enliven the cultural atmosphere of Coonoor.
There are ample places for a relaxing unwind after a day of exploring the townside. Most of the hotels serve drinks and the commercial market places retain their business till late at night, with shoppers bustling around with their shopping bags. There are roadside musical programmes that could also keep you entertained. Coonoor offers some great places where you can go on a trek with a camping kit thrown in. Resorts that you stay in might arrange for a camp along with a grand barbeque dinner and a campfire.
Coonoor's cuisine is a blend of different flavours. We get south and north Indian meals as well as Italian, Chinese and Continental food. There are bakeries that have existed from the 19th century, so you find a whole lot of English and European influences in the bread and baked food here. If you are looking for the local delicacies of Coonoor, try dishes made of Rajma and Avare bean. Some of the best gastronomical delights you could ever enjoy in Coonoor are pink coconut burfis, parotta with mutton gravy and a cup of Coonoor’s own tea with piping hot puffs, cakes and biscuits on a cold winter evening.