Ooty, known as the Queen of the Hill Stations always tends to get crowded throughout the year. But 5kms away from the main town of Ooty is a quaint little town that not many have yet discovered – “Lovedale”. The tourist traffic nearly thins out here and this town serves as the best place for honeymooners ,nature lovers and non-commercial offbeat travelers.
Lovedale gained its attention after the Nilgiri Mountain train operations began in full swing. The toy train ride from Metupalayam to Lovedale is an ideal way to start the vacation. The travel duration is 3-4 hours. The Nilgiri mountain railway’s train is on UNESCO’s worldheritage list. The train still runs on steam locomotive engines and puffs through 200+ bridges and 16 tunnels offering countless breathtaking views and it is an experience like none other. It is suggested to make prior booking through the IRCTC website to avoid last minute hassle.
All the way from Metupalayam to Ooty, the train stops at small village stations and you cannot be satisfied with the scenic pictures you get to click. Wellington, Rennymade, Hillgrove are only a few among the number of intermediate stations with beauty in the raw and pure form. The cute little railway station in Lovedale town is never to be missed.
An ideal spot to frame your memories with tall pine and eucalyptus trees and curvy roads as the back drop.
Lovedale is also the home for the much famed Lawrence International School established in the 19th century.
If you are lucky enough to get in the campus, you will be awed. The buildings speak of the colonial English architecture and makes you feel Hogwart-ish. A good chunk of a recent Mani Ratnam movie was shot here.
Things to do in Lovedale:
Lovedale is quiet and filled with natural spots. You may take a leisure walk along the Granduff Road to reach the mountain railway tracks, pass through a couple of tunnels and reach up to the Ketty station for a splendid view of the Ketty Valley. The track route from Lovedale to Ketty is approx. 5-6 kms.
Valley views, liberally grown wild flowers, towering Eucalyptus trees emanating the medicinal fragrance, grazing cattle feeds are a few calming scenery along the mountain railway route.
Hiking up the Elk hill(~6-7kms) or the Dodabetta(10-11kms) is an option for people seeking adventure. It is recommended to hire a guide.
Where to Stay :There are a too few accommodations in Lovedale. KindleandKompass recommends: I-India, a colonial bungalow refurbished as a home stay.
If you want to sleep in a tent and live in the lap of nature, camp at Aventura.
Where to eat: There are not any outlets or restaurants in Lovedale. You will have to rely on the in-house restaurant for your food requirements.
Best Season to visit : October- February(off-season) when it is super cold and April- June(season)
The home sick Brits, who nestled in the hill stations for their holidays after their business in the plains have given the elite status to these hillside towns. The tiny towns like Lovedale, Ketty, Wellington retains the colonial style with a few old-fashioned houses and cottages, medieval styled churches and the names native to the British. As you sink in the beauty of the lush hills carpeted with tea plantations where the clouds kiss the slopes, the chuck-chuck sound of the mountain train and the church bell ringing at a distance will be the only interruptions.