Kotagiri is a small hill station in the Nilgiris in South India. We were there during the Easter weekend.
When the mercury level go up in Bangalore, we escape to the hills for few days. It is rejuvenating to be in the hills amidst nature in cool and salubrious climate. We did not want to go to Ooty fearing mad rush. “Where else” was the next question? We had been to Red Hills few years back. A beautiful place on the outskirts of Ooty. This time the options were either Coonoor or Kotagiri. Having been to Coonoor earlier, we zeroed in on Kotagiri.
When we spoke to Mr Shastri of Sunshine bungalow in Kotagiri, the answer was on expected line “No room sir”. But Mr Shastri was gracious enough to suggest an alternative – Windy Gap cottage. Managed by the same group. The caveat was that we had to take the whole bungalow. He confirmed that it was a lovely bungalow with good views. Since we were five, it made sense to take the bungalow. We were sceptical but wanted to give a try. Confirmation done, we were set to go.
A lovely morning drive through Kanakapura and Chamarajanagar brought us to Kotagiri by noon. A good breakfast in Vasu Hotel in Kanakapura kept us in good stead. The drive through Satyamangalam forests was a pleasure. Excellent road and lovely landscape makes this stretch a great driving experience. After Mettupalyam, we started climbing up to Kotagiri. A nice road with great vistas made this small drive up the hill a sheer joy.
As we reached Kotagiri, we could feel the distinct change in climate. It was cool & pleasant. Kotagiri at first sight gives one a feeling of a laid back town. You don’t see the milling crowds you encounter in Ooty. No traffic jams either.
Rakesh, our guide takes us to Windy Gap cottage. Two kilometres from town centre but secluded. A steep road from the gate leads us to the cottage. We fall in love at first sight!
This is not a big bungalow like Kadamane Estate or the Sinnadorai in Valparai. This is a small and cute cottage at the edge of the valley. The view from the cottage is spectacular. A typical British bungalow with a living room, dining hall and three large bedrooms. The second surprise was the lunch. Raghavan, the cook had prepared excellent meal. After meal, we just sat on the lawn and had a laid back afternoon.
We went for an evening stroll in the town and settled down for a lovely evening. It was chilly and windy outside and we shifted to cozy surroundings around the fireplace inside.
We were woken up by the calls of different birds. We put on our shoes to go for the morning walk. It is pleasantly chilly. Not cold. Ideal weather for a good jog. Since we were in group, we opt for a nice walk. We come out of the cottage and head towards Longwood, away from the town square. Longwood is a small patch of evergreen shola forests in the middle of tea country. A mile of walking and we stop. A herd of bison in the middle of a tea garden! One of them on the road! We stop numbed.
They look at us unbothered. They had strayed from Longwood forests. They seemed to be comfortable in familiar surroundings. On seeing one of them on the road we didn’t dare continue our walk on the road and turned back towards town.
Everyone was keen for a hot cup of tea. What else could be better than a good boiler tea? We found the place – Sreejith tea Stall. Made in aluminium boiler instead of traditional copper boilers, tea was tasty and refreshing.
After sipping glasses of tea, we head back to the cottage for a sumptuous breakfast cooked by Raghavan. We shelve our initial plan of driving to Avalanche near Ooty fearing the crowd and traffic in the city. Instead we opt to drive around the Kotagiri. The roads were excellent. Sceneries outstanding. The drives were a delight indeed. Here is glimpse of what we saw.
We return for lunch. Some rest and we head for a drive towards Longwood forest. We go off the main road and hit a mud track. There is nothing on this road except for a Christian seminary. On the one side of the road, we could see the thick shola forests. We meet a local family who say that they have seen bison, leopard, barking deer and sloth bear. We don’t see any.
We return back and on the way stop at Sreejit tea stall for an another round of of tea session. Evening is spent next to fireplace.
We leave next day after another trademark breakfast by Raghavan. It was a laid back holiday in salubrious environs rejuvenating the mind and body.
By air – Coimbatore is the nearest air terminal. It is connected to all major cities in India. One can hire a taxi to reach the cottage from airport.
By Train – Coimbatore is a better option as it is well connected. Otherwise Mettupalyam is the nearest railway station.
By Bus – Kotagiri may not have a direct bus from any major city in South India. The option is to reach Coimbatore and then take a bus from there. Alternately one can come to Ooty and then come to Kotagiri
By Road – Kotagiri is well connected by road. If you are driving from Bangalore, you have three route options
Our recommendation – Come by Route (a) and go back by Route (c).
We loved Windy Gap cottage. A lovely place. Sunshine Bungalow which belongs to same group offers individual rooms. Apart from these there are few options which can be checked on Trip advisor.
a) Kotagiri is a sleepy and laid back town. Don’t come here expecting action.
b) This place is for someone who enjoy being part of nature. Go for leisurely walk. Take out your bicycle and go for a ride amidst tea gardens. Take a book and read.
c) Kotagiri and surroundings are excellent for drives. Take out your car and go for leisurely drives.
d) There are some nice places to visit – Kodanadu view-point, Catherine waterfalls, Longwood forest, Rangaswamy peak etc
e) Those who are interested to trek can explore Rangaswamy Peak or Longwood forest.
f) Windy gap as name suggests is windy. Carry light wollens in summer months and heavy ones in winter.
g) Ooty can be covered as day trip from here comfortably. Leave after an early breakfast. Explore Ooty. Have lunch in city and return back in the evening. Same goes for Coonoor which can be explored as a day trip.
Finally, we loved the place as it a secluded and private place unlike Ooty which gets crowded in season. Go to Windy Gap if you love good views, good food and a lovely place to unwind!