Coonoor in Tamil Nadu is perfect for an understated break for those who love the hills but want to keep away from more touristy locations; a great alternative to popular Ooty. Gentle slopes covered in moss looking tea bushes are easy on the eyes and the weather just helps to put you in a good mood right away.
One of the three key destinations of the British Raj, the vast lineage of the British occupation is evident throughout Coonoor, much of it can be seen in the architecture of old bungalows. While the British left some of the colonial remnants, there is much to celebrate locally with a thriving tribal culture. Though modernised in many ways, some of the tribes still live in the jungles with little access.
There are plenty of sightseeing options and places in Coonoor to visit during your stay. Here are our top seven favourites.
1. Sim’s Park
Join the morning walkers and awe struck visitors at this vast expanse of botanical wonder at the main square. Started by J.D Smith, the park also has some benches where you can sit and absorb nature. An annual fruit and flower festival is held every May.
2. Lamb’s Rock
Amongst many, Lamb’s rock is one of the famous viewing points of Coonoor. Head here early in the morning to avoid the crowds and get a great view of the Coimbatore plains and a large mountain on the opposite side. Watch the clouds fill the valley as you sip on a hot cup of tea.
3. Dolphin’s Nose
They say that this is the best spot to view the Catherine Falls in Kotagiri, and is seen marvellously from the same falls on the opposite side. A splendid scene of tea pickers and early morning shop keepers unfolds amidst the misty tea clad mountains. Again, start early to avoid the tourist crowds.
4. Lady Canning’s Seat
Named after Lord Viceroy’s wife, the viewing spot provides a vantage point between a thicket, of the green expanse of tea gardens and mountains.
Entry Fee: Free
Opening Times: Open Through the Day
5. The Droog
This is one is great for trekking enthusiasts! An fort built by Tipu Sultan, the place does not have much historical value, but is now transformed into a wonderful picnic spot. Be prepared for a more than mild trek of about 4-5 kms before you hit that picnic basket.
6. Tea Estate Visit
One of the few estates that provide a chance for you to see the entire tea making process, the Highfield Tea Estate is a good option. You can spend an hour here with a guide and also taste or buy some of the produce at a small outlet in the same campus.
7. Toy Train
The UNESCO approved World Heritage site, the Nilgiris Toy train has entertained people for years. The train plies from Ooty to Mettupalayam, crossing Coonoor in the middle. The good part is that the Coonoor – Mettupalayam stretch is run by steam locomotive engines and is prettier. Deep gorges, pitch black tunnels, raw green mountain scapes and lush tea gardens make a fantastic view as this small cabined train chugs along slowly. It is recommended to book tickets on www.irctc.com well ahead of time.
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