Trip Start Nov 07, 2004
Trip End May 20, 2005

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Flag of India  ,
Thursday, January 13, 2005

Our second trip into the hills reminded us how pleasant the north of India was, and it was great to be back in the cleaner air and clear blue skies. Cleaner is of course a relative term, the town centre is a bustling place and the traffic pollution is disappointing, Shimla had the right idea in banning motor vehicles. Ooty was built to house the government from Madras during the oppresive summer months, but is now a busy holiday town. The altitude of 2200m produces a temperate climate which was sunny and warm during the day but distinctly chilly once the sun set.

One of the best attractions are the Ooty Botanical Gardens. Set on the outskirts of town they are an immaculately landscaped and manicured series of lawns, pools and gardens. We hadn't realised quite how much we'd missed trees until getting here (coconut and banana trees excepted). At the other end of town is the boating lake (which one of us had missed more than the trees). Unfortunately all the double sculls were taken, so we made do with a fetching swan shaped peddalo. We cruised the pea-green waters, periodically being cut-up by an armarda of motor-launches crammed to the gunwales (just like the tideway). After an all too brief 30 minutes, our swan was recalled and we crawled back onto terra firma.

The recreational highlight of our trip so far has to be Ooty's aptly named theme park, "Jolly World". Sadly Jolly World was suffering from a power-cut at the time of our visit. This fact didn't seem to trouble the park attendants, and they felt it unneccesary to advise us of this when we paid our hefty 5 rupees for admission. The unforseen closure of the shooting gallery, and the absence of any bottles in the 'hoop-a-bottle' stall did little to dampen our enthusiasm. Being too big to go on the inflatable ship, and at risk of serious lacerations and tetanus from the antique slide, it really was a fun-packed three minutes. The day was rescued however when on leaving we stumbled upon 'Kart-Attack', with the surprising bonus of Go-Karts that actually went.

We had a genuine treat to look forward to today as we were booked on the narrow gauge train to take us down the mountain en route to Kerala. The train ride was everything we had romantically hoped an Indian train journey would be, right down to the steam engine. The views of tea plantations clinging to the hill sides and mist-shrouded waterfalls cutting through the valleys was magical. Our trip to Ooty was worth it for the train ride alone.

Caroline and Mark
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