Ooty is one of the most famous hill stations in India. It is among those “Go to” destinations in India since the British era. Ooty was also the favourite summer retreat in South India for the British which is pretty much evident from their English style colonial architecture, which remains intact even after a century or so. What attracts people here is its pleasant weather all year round and most of all, the stunning Nilgiri Hills which charm its visitors with its evergreen beauty.
Camping amidst the blissful Nilgiri Hills at Ooty was on my bucket list for a long time and I finally made it last week. It was something to cherish my whole lifetime. Unlike my college days when I used to camp with my friends, this time I planned it alone. I must say it was a one of kind travel experience for me. Something which helped me connect more with my inner self. Everything at Ooty, the hills, the weather, the people, made my trip memorable.
I arrived at the Ooty town on the 25th of March this year. I was already excited, being entertained by the lush green Nilgiri Mountains on the way to Ooty from Mettupalayam [down hill town]. Nearly a 50 km journey uphill from Mettupalayam is one of the highlights of a trip to Ooty. Though the town has now become a bit commercialised and crowded, there are numerous sweet spots in and around Ooty where you can enjoy your time of your own.
As I decided to ditch my normal travel routine, I reserved a tent this time over the phone rather than a hotel. This campsite I booked is located in the Tiger Hills which is 5km away from the Ooty town. A 15 minutes fun filled Tuk-Tuk ride along the serpentine hill roads of Ooty took me to this campsite. At first glance itself, I fall in love with the place.
Mr Jerome, the manager of this very campsite greeted me with a warm smile. A very generous and hospitable person, he first gave me a tour of his campsite and got me a cup of Coffee to relax. He accompanied me to the tent I am allotted for the night. There are more than 20 tents pitched at the campsite, overlooking a spectacular scene of the Nilgiri hills lined up at a distance.
I finished my Coffee and moved to the small living area they have for guests. One could spend time watching TV, play indoor games or have some refreshments and relax. They also serve meals here. Chairs are laid outside with a Bonfire area which is a great place to socialize with the other campers at the site. I spend time chatting with Mr Jerome and an Israeli couple who were about to check out from the site. The couple spoke highly of Mr Jerome’s kind nature and the wonderful experience they had the previous night.
I asked Mr. Jerome to arrange dinner for me and i moved onto my tent to change my clothes and have some time of my own. Inside the tent they have provided a sleeping bag and a pillow as well. I zipped close the tent and sat for a while. I learned it is a good feeling indeed sitting inside a tent in a world of your own. I switched on my favourite track by Bahramji and grabbed a copy of “The Windfall by Diksha Basu”. Probably an hour later when I was done reading, I unzipped my tent and to my surprise I was exposed to a splendid scenery. An hour before it was clear sunny sky and now the clouds flew to pay a visit to the Nilgiris. Check this out-
A feeling of bliss filled in. I could see the mighty yet gorgeous hills of Nilgiris stand high, gently kissing the clouds that skim pass them as if both are lost in eternal love for each other. I realised I am literally connected to nature. In fact, everything is connected. I felt like everything around, the trees, the birds, everything, was speaking to me in the universal language of nature engraved on each one of us inside. I kept my tent open ignoring the spine-chilling weather. For hours I was enchanted by this delightful scene. I was lost in the harmony of the Mother Nature who pampered me with her unconditional love.
Mr Jerome rang me for tea. A hot cup of Nilgiri Tea along with crispy Onion Pakoras. Ah! Perfect mix for the cool weather and setting then. While I was enjoying my tea, my eyes fall upon a flock of birds battling for food on the fence post. I asked Mr Jerome what was that all about?? Mr Jerome is a bird lover and he always makes sure no food is wasted. Whatever remains he feed the birds. He has a great fan following of birds far and near. The interesting part was when I asked him about it, he got so excited full of energy and started giving me a bird tour. He has 3 spots where he feeds the birds. He directed me to all those feeding places and named all varieties of birds that visit him every day.
It was getting dark as the sun hid behind the clouds and ready to set. Mr Jerome along with 2 other camp boys was busy setting a campfire for me and 3 other campers from France. Again the love story between the Nilgiri hills and the clouds continued. This time, the setting sun offered them a perfect romantic moment by lifting up the ambience.
Post-dusk, me, Mr Jerome and the 3 French guys enjoyed some quality time sitting around the campfire. Just when I wished for a drink, one among the French named Paul offered me and Mr Jerome a glass of wine. I turned on some chill out music and all of us got lost living the moment. Mr Jerome narrated his whole life journey to us starting from his first marketing job in Bangalore to how he ended up falling in love with Ooty. Paul and his friends started talking about their life in France and then of course followed by their respective breakup stories etc. All of us shared our life experiences. It was indeed a great feeling to have met and spent some fun time with unknown people living in different parts of the country.
The camp boys bought us dinner and we all enjoyed the Tamilnadu special Vegetable Biriyani [Though I am a meat lover, I compromised this time]. Mr Jerome told us we could go for a short trek in the morning if we wish to. By 11 pm all of us got back to our respective tents. It was freaking cold and it felt as if I won’t be able to sleep. I got into my sleeping bag and it really helped. Within minutes I fell asleep. Morning 7 am we all set off for a trek to nearby hills and tea plantations. I enjoyed every bit of it. Mr Jerome is the perfect guy to take you for a walk through the woods in Ooty. He took us to various viewpoints which are unknown to many. The walk through the tea plantation walk was my favourite. Imagine 100’s of acres of sprawling tea plantation and you are standing right at its centre. Seems good right? It was indeed my best moment.
After a 3-hour nature walk, we returned to our campsite and the breakfast was ready. Pillow soft Idly [South Indian dish made of rice batter] served with smoking hot Sambhar [another famous South Indian dish] and crispy Vadas. A hot cup of filter Coffee completed a sumptuous South Indian breakfast.
By 12 am, I checked out of the Campsite and waved Mr Jerome a goodbye. I have been to Ooty during my school days, but this was completely different. I saw a different face of the Nilgiri Mountains. Ever blissful and charming she is that I am sure I will pay a visit to her every year at least once.
I am also sure I will have an even warmer welcome by Mr Jerome the next time I visit him. My camping experience at Ooty is something to cherish my whole life and it definitely holds a special page in my travel diary.
Are planning for a camping tour with your friends?
Leave us your enquiry @ South Tourism and we can help you plan your perfect camping tour all across India.