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India - Tamil Nadu - Day 9: 14 Magical Days in India: #6

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

The monsoons started. We stopped at Ooty Lake for about 45 minutes during which time we purchased some heavy sweatshirts, and despite our protective clothing, looked like we fell into the lake by the time we got back to the car. We had rain on and off for the past few days but this rain was torrential and non-stop. Thankfully I had rain-gear which helped somewhat and a small waterproof camera. After visiting the lake and many detours and many many switchbacks(there were 36, they number them) up steep mountains and approximately 5 hours in the car, we finally reached our hotel in Ooty. We were surprised to find the temperature was 9 degrees Celsius (approximately 48 degrees Fahrenheit ). Remember that I mentioned it could get cold in India and no one told us. Well, they did sort of. “It can get cool at night in the mountains.” Look, it’s India. It was like 104 in Delhi. Cool sounded good, but 48 and rainy without heat is beyond cool. We were not prepared for this. When we entered the hotel some windows were opened which we closed and we found that our room was almost as cold as it was outside. No wonder we were the only ones staying there in August. We asked for heat and they brought us a small space heater. By small, we mean like a tiny toaster oven size for a 250 sq. ft. room. We grabbed whatever dry clothes we had and wore them all. Our dinner was delivered to our room since the restaurant was in another building, which was nice. Ooty is incredibly beautiful so adaptability is the key when faced with the unrelenting nature of a monsoon that forces one to yield to the whims of mother nature. If you are not in the least bit adventurous, think twice before going during monsoon season as the roads are almost impassable. During our short stay we became aware of fatal mudslides, falling trees, overflowing streams and street flooding all in that general area.

Our next destination was Coimbatore

The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast and headed on the road to the “Coonoor toy train” station. We purchased our tickets for an afternoon toy train ride and headed to the Ooty Botanical Garden before our departure.

Photograph of authors at the botanical garden in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India
Here we are at the Ooty Botanical Garden

Okay so we thought it was raining a lot the day we arrived at Ooty, little did we know...

One of the things you should do, it's imperative, if you visit South India, is to take a Little Toy train ride. So we went to the Coonoor Toy Train Station where we boarded a train on the only rack railway in India. Going through the rugged mountainous terrain we could only marvel at the engineering that went behind the construction of this marvelous railroad system.

You get to see places that you could not in the car and trust me the scenery is breathtaking. While we did not take the train below, we took one that looked a lot like it, maybe its twin or its clone.

No escape from the rain falling sideways at this train station

While the rain makes travel “interesting” it also brings out the lush colors of the environment and there is a special beauty to it.

For a country of 1.4 billion people we traveled distances without seeing evidence of this enormous population. One has to realize that India is geographically huge and each state is as big as a European country.

At the Toy train station in Coimbatore we were picked up by our driver/guide Anthony and headed towards our hotel.

After an overnight in Coimbatore and delicious meals that included Indian fast food stations that allowed us another chance to safely sample the tasty Indian Street Food as well as fancier meals. It was then to the longest car ride of our trip, to Munnar. To travel the normal 120 miles, we had many detours and deviations, which probably doubled the distance, and took twelve hours because of road closures due to flooding.

Good news, he was saved from the flood. Bad news, he’s heading to the market.

During a break in the rain, we stopped at this temple leaving our footwear outside. The floors were a bit slick as those windows are all open to the air. Here we met a monk who followed the footsteps of Lord Mahavir, the founder of Jainism, and walked thousands of miles, within the Indian subcontinent - BAREFOOT! As we were leaving, we reasoned that he probably got tired of emptying the water from his shoes.

Street Closure -  Kothamangalam, Kerala, India
Street Closure - Kothamangalam, Kerala, India

Reveling in the rain - despite the torrential rain and flooding the attitude of the people was very positive. This was the road that we were supposed to take to Munnar. We had to find a “diversion” or a detour. Travel became very interesting.

Evening was quickly approaching, and we still had a long ride to Munnar ahead of us. On the road, literally on the road, we pulled over and stopped to photograph the Neriamangalam, Kerala Cheeyappara Waterfalls. Located on the Kochi-Madurai Highway between Neriamangalam and Adimal, the impressive seven-step Cheeyappara Waterfallls can be seen cascading down the mountain

My husband photographing the Neriamangalam, Kerala Cheeyappara Waterfalls that cross under the highway (at least usually).

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