Hiking - Destination

Nilgiri Trekking: Trek to the Blue Mountains of Tamil Nadu

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What do you look for while planning for a leisurely trek? Perhaps, you seek for a good weather and beautiful landscapes. The Nilgiri Trekking trail is one of a kind; it might not be as pristinely white as those of the Himalayas but it has so much more to offer. Who would not fall in love with the sapphire blue lakes and the trail that is rimmed with colossal eucalyptus trees? We all would. Besides, it also has huge dams and reservoirs along with cascading waterfalls, spread across a verdant green and grassy meadow. Again, if you are very like you can come across the quintessential natives of the forests like bison, tigers, langoors and lion-tailed macaque.

If you are one of those trekkers who is looking for a different trekking experience all together, then you are surely looking for Nilgiri Mountains India and also the Nilgiri national park. You may use a Nilgiri hills map for your convenience. Make sure to visit the highest peak of the Nilgiri hills, the Nilgiri forests, Nilgiri National Park and the Nilgiri Waterfalls to satiate you wanderlust soul.

Know more here:

Nilgiri Hills: An Overview

Nilgiri hills
The Blue Mountains of Western Ghats (source)

Where it is Located: Tamilnadu
Number of Trekking Days: 6 days
Total Trekking Distance: 15 to 16 km
Max Altitude: 2600 ft. (approx)
Trekking Grade: Easy to Moderate
Best Season: March to June and September to February 
Trail Type: A mix of mud trail and jungle trail
Livingit Rank: Beginner- Enthusiast

About Nilgiri Hills

Nilgiri literally means Blue Mountains (Nil - blue and Giri - mountains) because of the Kurinji flowers. Every 12 years, the Kurinji or the Neelkurinji flowers bloom and paint the entire hills to azure blue shade. Some kurinji flowers bloom in every 7 years and easily decorate the hills with its colour. This is the reason why the mountains always appear blue and soothing to the eyes. 

Best Time to Enjoy Nilgiri Trekking

The area around Ooty and Nilgiri Hills have a very pleasant weather and ideally, the best time to visit the place is from March to June. Avoid the monsoon months- August and July and then you can plan your trip to one of the best trekking places in Tamilnadu again from September to February.

Average temperature:

Summer: Max 25ºC, Min 10ºC.
Winter: Max 21ºC, Min 5ºC.

How to Reach Nilgiri Hills 

Nilgiri Hills or Nilgiris Hills trekking starts and ends in Ooty. Reaching Ooty is really not difficult as you will have a wide range of commute options to choose from. Ooty, also known as Udhgamandalam, is a quaint and beautiful hill station in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. Numerous travellers and visitors, both from India and abroad, come and visit Ooty for its natural grandeur. However, not many are aware of the trail through Nilgiris Hills.

Again, a handful of people, who are aware, often are unable to enjoy the piquancy of this exquisite trail as getting permission is difficult. Again, it is not absolutely impossible to get the permission, hence, do not be upset but try and apply to get it through. 

how to reach nilgiri hills
Toy Train in Ooty- Nilgiri Mountain Railway

By Air

Ooty does not have an airport, henceforth you can book a flight to Coimbatore and then take a bus or taxi to Ooty. The distance between Coimbatore and Ooty is 105 km. 

By Rail

If you are travelling by train then take a train to Mettupalayam and then use the famous toy train from there to Ooty. The distance between Ooty and Mettupalayam is 47 km. 

By Road

The roadways are well connected to Ooty. You can self-drive, take a taxi or use the bus transport from major cities such as Coimbatore, Trichy, Bangalore, Mysore, Calicut.

Brief Itinerary for Nilgiri Trekking

Day 1: Journey between Ooty Bus stand and Parson’s Valley
Altitude: 2,240 m - 2,250 m 
Time taken is about 4-5 hours to traverse 12 km 

Day 2:  Journey between Parsons Valley to Porthimund Lake or Parsons Dam and Mukurthi Dam 
Altitude: 2,250 m - 2,130 m 
Time taken is about 5 hours to cover 10 km

Day 3:  Trek between Mukurthi Dam and Pandiar Hills
Altitude: 2,130 m - 2,300 m 
Time taken is 6 hours to cover 12 km 

Day 4: Trek between Pandiar Hills and Pykara Waterfalls
Altitude: 2,300 m - 2,140 m 
Time taken is about 10 hours for covering 16 km

Day 5: Journey between Pykara Waterfalls and Madumalai National Park and then towards Masinagudi 
Altitude: 2,140 m
Time taken is about 5 hours to traverse 12 km and then there is a half an hour drive to cover 6 km

Day 6: Journey between Masinagudi and Ooty 
Time taken is 1 hour for traversing 30 km

Detailed Itinerary for Nilgiri Trekking

Day 1: Trek from Sandynulla Reservoir to Parson Valley

The base of this trek is the Ooty golf course where you may reach easily by a public transport or a privately reserved vehicle. The trek starts from Sandynulla reservoir which is about 6km away from the Ooty bus stand. As you start your trek, you would come across a very dense growth of eucalyptus within about a minute after starting. Walking for about 20 minutes on a mud route you would reach a cart route and eventually a tar trail. This tar road leads you to a small bridge with a stream flowing beneath within half an hour. Walking further, you will again come to a cart trail which leads you to a beautiful Sandynulla reservoir, which is an eye-pleasing catchment area that will inspire you to absorb in thoughts.

It is encircled by green thickets and eucalyptus growth. It takes about 2 hours to reach the edge of the reservoir through the green ambush of plants and trees. The edge of the reservoir again leads to a lake within a quarter of an hour which you need to cross. Be extremely cautious while crossing the lake as it usually remains marshy and slippery. You would not want fall down at the very onset of the trek. Crossing the lake, you would be coming to a hilly tract with electrical poles that will lead you to a terrace like a field with innumerable huts.  Walking past this region, for about 45 minutes you will come across the Parsons Valley Trekking shed with several dormitories. You can camp here for the night.

Day 2: Parson's Valley to Mukurthi Dam via Parson Dam 

Today we would be venturing out for a very leisurely trek and thus you may start your day at ease, without much hurry. As the Parsons dam is just a kilometre away, you would take no more than an hour go to the dam and return to the shed. Reaching the dam is not a Herculean task and you would be guided by the signboard outside the shed about the direction of the dam. On reaching the dam, you would be mesmerized to observe the preserved and untouched clarity of the clear water and the aura of the place. After taking a stroll around the dam, march back to the shed.

Parson Valley dam
Parson Valley Dam (source)

After this short trek to Parsons Dam, we would carry our water bottles for the next trek to Mukurthi Dam which can be reached if you follow the trail on the left, outside the shed. Beware of the slippery grassland that you step into next as it remains too muddy especially during the monsoons. Walking for about 20 minutes you will cross a cart road, crossing which again, you will come to a bridge. Crossing the bridge and following the trail you would notice that the road would gradually gain in height and the road becomes a bit crude. Walking for about another half an hour you will finally reach another bridge. Here, you may rest and take your lunch. It takes about one and a half hours to reach this spot.

After your lunch break, take the bridge and move over to the other side. Continue on this trail for roughly about 15 minutes till you reach the bank of Mukurthi Lake, which again leads to the Mukurthi Dam. It takes about three and a half hours to reach this Dam.

Day 3: Trek from Mukurthi Dam to the Pandiar Hills

The third day starts from the very exquisite Mukurthi Dam to the Pandiar Hills. Just like you have come across several lakes and rivers as well as bridges, here too, you will do the same. Trekking on a tar trail you will come across a stream that is formed with the water released from the dam. You would be glancing at the great and wide beautiful dam from this spot from where your trail meanders adhering with the hills through a dense growth of Pines. Through the roads, you would again arrive at a trail where there has been set up facilities for electricity transmission.

As you proceed through the trail the lake would be playing a game of peek- a – boo with you and you will be coming across numerous grasslands, muddy trails, and tar trails, one after the other. Continuing on the trekking trail for about 45 minutes, you will notice a few broken and old mansions along with a handful of beautifully maintained cottages. Besides, you can also overlook a tea estate below, from above and several herds of cattle ringing their bells while grazing in glee. You need not hurry as you have more than enough time at your disposal for this leisurely trekking experience. Continue walking through the terrace of the estate till you arrive at the forest house where you would halt for the night.

Day 4: Trek from Pandiar Falls to Pykara Hills

Today we would be covering the farthest of all distances in this trekking program for reaching the Pykara Hills from the Pandiar Falls. The trail gradually descends past the rest house though numerous tea estates on either side and it gradually gains in its breadth. Due to the long duration of today’s trek, it is imperative that you start early. You will notice long stretches of tea gardens as far as you would be able to see. On the way you would come across two small yet significant landmarks; one being a hut and the other, a bridge. The landscapes and the trail would change very often and after walking for about half an hour you will arrive at the door of a beautiful doorway of a cottage.

Pykara lake during nilgiri trekking
Pykara Lake (source)

Walking past it, a mountainous range would come to your notice along with a cascading waterfall that would seize your words. Trekking for about 15 minutes or so you would arrive at a small quaint village, popularly known as the Terrace Village. Have a short break of tea and refreshment at the Terrace Estate and then carry on with the day’s plan. As you proceed you will notice large stretches of plantation farming under the supervision of “United Plantation Limited Terrace Estate”. Take the path on the left of the signboard reading aloud the same and walk till you reach a Shiva Mandir adorned and covered in garlands. Walking past, you will come to a place having numerous huts where you can take lunch. After lunch, walk on the trail to reach NH 67 and cross over a certain distance till you arrive at the banks of the Pykara River.

Day 5: Pykara Falls to Masinagudi via Mudumalai National Park

On the fifth day, we will cover a short trek to reach Masinagudi from Pykara Falls via Mudumalai National Park. Hit the road, getting out of the rest houses and proceed towards the surfed cascading flow of the Pykara Falls lined by eucalyptus trees, all around.  Following the trail past the falls, you will come at the Pykara Dam through the Pykara forests. Here, you will come across several huts preparing with fragrant Nilgiri oil being prepared from the dry leaves. You will cross many forests and grasslands till you reach a watchtower and a hilly tract.

Walking away towards the destination you will come across several huts of the Toda tribal groups. It takes about 15 minutes to reach Masinagudi as well the southeastern entrance to the Mudumalai forests. You trek is complete for the day after you reach popular tourist posts there.

Mudumalai National Park
Mudumalai National Park (source)

Day 6: Drive from Masinagudi to Ooty 

Today is the last day of the trek and you have to avail a vehicular option get back to Ooty. You can trek to the highest or Dodabetta peak of the Nilgiri Hills. The Dodabetta height is 2637 metres. If you have time in hand, then do visit the now-famous Upper Bhavani, which is a surreal hilltop where the Bhavani river first flows in before flowing to the plains. 

Essentials for the Trek

Since Nilgiri trek is a 6-day trek, you need to carry all these essentials with you:

Basics

Others

Summing Up

The Nilgiri mountains India is one of the chief trekking places in Tamil Nadu; be it the highest peak of Nilgiri or the Nilgiri forests or the Nilgiri National Forest or even the Nilgiri Waterfalls, this trekking trail, south of the Deccan region definitely adds to the variety of the dynamic natural beauty of the southern plains. It is not only easy on the pocket to invest for this trek but also can be opted for anyone, novice or otherwise.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your rucksacks and book your tickets and rush to enjoy the exuberance of the Nilgiri Trekking.

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Hiking - Beginner
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