The fragrance of tea gardens, peace from the mountains, the sound of clean flowing waters so calm you can hear your own thoughts…No, we are not describing the opening shot of a dramatic movie. Instead, we are talking about the beautiful and quaint hill station of Coonoor that is nestled among the breathtaking Nigrili Hills. Coonoor is located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and can be described as the peaceful and underrated relative of the now-crowded Ooty.
You love traveling and India has ample places for you to visit and explore. However, if you are tired of the more popular hill stations that are now becoming a crowd-favorite rather than a much-needed escape and want to go somewhere offbeat and peaceful, Coonoor has all the qualities you are looking for. In this comprehensive travel guide, we hope to cover all the information that you will need before you book your tickets to the spectacular Coonoor.
Coonoor has an interesting history and is said to have gained its popularity way back in the 19th century when the British made Udhagamandalam a popular hill resort. It was discovered by John Sullivan who first visited the eastern plateau for three weeks with a noted French naturalist pompously named Jean-Baptiste Louis Claude Theodore Leschenault de la Tour. A mouthful, we know!
Like all other undiscovered Indian regions, Coonoor had existed and was popular even before the Britishers felt the need to formally announce its existence to the world. It is believed that the tribes of Danayakas included the talukas of Kotagiri and Coonoor and held the country adjoining the Coimbatore region. The Toda tribe is said to have been living in the parts of Coonoor even before the existence of any kind of recorded history. You can still look for some of their old tribal homes in the outskirts of the town. In present times, the main inhabitants of Coonoor are known as the people of the Coon tribe.
One of the most appealing things about a hill station is the simplicity of the natives which is true in the case of the people of Coonoor too. As stated, tea plantations are a major source of income for the locals, thus, the majority spend most of their lives either picking tea leaves or working in tea factories or other related activities. The majority of Coonoor’s population follows the Hindu religion and speaks in either Badaga or Tamil language. However, the localites are quite well-versed in the English language too because of the tourism industry. You are most likely to return from Coonoor with amazing food memories and a camera roll filled with stunning pictures.
All the attractions and appeal aside, getting to a hill station in India can be a bit of a hassle sometimes and that's where Coonoor becomes a star. It is very easy to get to Coonoor from any part of the world and here are some of the popular ways to do so:
The town of Coonoor doesn't have an airport of its own like many other hill stations but you can still reach Coimbatore through a flight to the nearest airport to Coonoor. The Coimbatore International Airport is just around 71 kilometers away from the hill station from where you can easily get a taxi to the town.
Ooty is the major hill station in the state of Tamil Nadu. Coonoor is the only available rail stop for the Nilgiri Mountain Railway service between Ooty and Mettupalayam. Coonoor is connected to the city of Mettupalayam by meter gauge train. The nearest broad gauge station is Mettupalayam and the major railway junction is located in the city of Coimbatore
Because of its location and sheer beauty, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway has gained the status of classic mountain railways in India. The tourist train is a must experience if it is available. The total time taken on the return trip back to Mettupalayam is about 3½ hours and it is an unforgettable experience. Just know that this train service isn't the most reliable one because it is often disrupted during the heavy monsoon season.
Reaching Coonoor is very easy if you want to travel by road. That long road trip or local bus ride is not only budget-friendly but is also going to be full of ups and downs and oh so fun! National Highway 67 connects Coonoor to Ooty and other Indian cities and you can opt for the state-owned buses that are available from Ooty, Coimbatore, and other cities in Tamil Nadu. If you want more comfort and privacy, there are various private tourist bus operators too that you could avail of to reach Coonoor.
The best time to visit any place, realistically, is when you have the time and funds. Like any other hill station, the typical winter months in these regions can be extremely cold and may carry with it a possibility of landslides, so we would recommend you be cautious of it. The summer season typically begins in March and remains till May and the temperature of the season ranges from 22°C to 37°C. Summers are an ideal time to visit Coonoor because not only you will be able to experience an incomparable view of the place during pleasant weather but you will also get a much-needed respite from the regular heat of the city, as even the summer temperatures are quite comfortable.
Also read: Find The Best Hotels In Coonoor
Hill stations are generally small and tourists prefer to go around either by walking, trekking, or calling a cab. Owing to its closeness to Ooty, Coonoor is neither small nor underdeveloped and because there aren't many hill stations in Tamil Nadu, it gets the attention it deserves for the most part. Roaming in and around Coonoor will be a lot easier for you because there is no dearth of local transportation services in the region.
The trick to having a wholesome experience of any hill station is by getting in touch with the locals and using local transportation as much as you can. Local transportation and buses are the safest and most budget-friendly options for you to get around Coonoor. They are heavily depended upon by the residents so just be aware of the fact that they are going to be crowded for the most part. There are both Tamil Nadu state buses as well as tourist buses that you can avail of to explore Coonoor.
Auto rickshaws are the most commonly used and preferred mode of transportation which can be seen on the roads of Coonoor. The only downside is that rickshaw fares are seldom fixed and are usually charged as per the whims of the drivers. In order to escape being overcharged (as you are not a native), we would suggest you get a fair idea from the local people about the rates. Do not forget to haggle if you can!
If you are a sucker for comfort and prefer luxury over money, then taxis should be your go-to mode of transportation. Though slightly expensive, taxis can be ideal for you if you want to spend an entire day exploring. There are many public and private taxi service providers that can offer you services that are generally charged per kilometer or you could always get a package deal if you plan to keep it for over a day. Since you cannot avail of OLA or Uber services in the hill station, you would have to stick to local taxicab services.
“Coonoor is located in the interiors of Tamil Nadu and is, therefore, largely inaccessible.”
There are various sad stereotypes attached to hill stations and one of them is the fact that they aren't too accessible because of their distance from the mainland. This is very untrue in the case of Coonoor because, in spite of being a peaceful and serene place, it is also very easily accessible due to its proximity to the main city of Ooty. Even in terms of language, people assume that the residents can seem shut off and not know how to communicate in English which is also untrue as most of the tribals can communicate well in English owing to the expansion of tourism in the region.
Now that we have been raving on and on about Coonoor, we are sure you want to know our top recommendations for you to visit and explore in the town and here goes:
Tell us that you’re not intrigued by the name of this place and we won’t believe you. If the name isn't reason enough for you to actually visit it, we’ll tell you something that might make you want to: Dolphin’s Nose is a hill that is located just 12 kilometers from the main town of Coonoor. The peak of the hill is known as Dolphin’s Nose because its shape from the top resembles the nose of a dolphin. It is over 1,550 meters above sea level so keep your water bottles and snacks handy.
Sim’s Park is a must-visit spot because it offers you something unusual and we all deserve unforgettable, unusual experiences. Sim’s Park isn't your regular park, instead, it is a park-cum-botanical garden. It is easy to reach and is at a distance of 4 kilometers from the Coonoor Railway Station. It was developed around a hundred years ago to highlight the natural contours of the land.
Sim’s Park is a sight to cherish because you will see ethnic varieties of trees, shrubs, creepers, and many unusual species of foliage which are not just rare in India but are also exotic and one-of-a-kind in nature itself because they are brought in from various parts of the world. You can visit the park from 8.30 am - 6:00 pm with an entry fee; Rs. 30 for Adults and Rs 15 for Children. You will need to pay Rs. 50 to allow your camera in and an additional Rs. 100 if you want to shoot a video of the place.
Not all cemeteries are creepy or meant to be a horror movie setting and Tiger Hill Cemetery in Coonoor is one such gorgeous site that dispels this belief that you should visit to experience. Tiger Hill Cemetery is a 19th-century graveyard that was majorly used by the British for their war burials. It’s also located amidst a tea plantation so you get the appeal, right? Your sight of the cemetery will begin with a stone gate that has an arched gateway and a steeple. History buffs are most likely to have the time of their lives here because many tourists visit Tiger Hill Cemetery to find their ancestors' burial sites and to trace their family roots. Just keep in mind that you will need to take prior permission to visit the cemetery but it is surely going to be worth it.
What Is Special About Coonoor?
The most special thing about Coonoor is the fact that it is different from your typical range of hill stations, the likes of which are found in the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Coonoor is in the state of Tamil Nadu which is in the south of the country and is the second-largest hill station located in the range of Nilgiri hills. It is an offbeat hill station famous for its wildlife, beauty, and wildflowers along with fun adventurous activities like trekking and hiking and - not to forget - its world-famous tea plantations and festivals.
How Many Days Do You Need In Coonoor?
You can stay in any place for however long you wish if you like the vibe and have the required budget and time for it but if you are someone who plans out everything in advance and needs an exact number, then we would suggest that you set aside at least have 3-5 days to experience the whole town of Coonoor. This would be sufficient to give you a wholesome tour of all the special spots in the city. All the places in Coonoor are located close to each other so you are more likely to be able to see everything that is there to see within this short span.
What Should I Buy In Coonoor?
This is Coonoor we’re talking about and we’ve mentioned tea so many times now - for good reason! If you plan to buy something while in Coonoor, you should certainly take some Nilgiri tea leaves home with you so that the taste of the mountains linger in your life long after the trip is over. Other than that, you could also check out local chocolates, gourmet cheese, local jewelry, and clothes from the Tibetan markets. Do visit the local antique stores too as you might end up finding something special for your house.
How Do You Travel Around Coonoor?
Since Coonoor is after all a hill station, perhaps the best way to explore this scenic gem is on foot, as many of the spots are accessible this way. But since this is not always possible, you could board one of the local buses that ply here, catch and auto rickshaw or even hail a taxi.
Does Coonoor Have Airport?
While Coonoor is too small a town to have an airport of its own, you could always catch a flight to the Coimbatore International Airport that is located 71.7 kilometers away in Coimbatore. You could reach Coonoor by road from the airport via NH181.
What District Is Coonoor In?
The hill station Coonoor is situated in the Nilgiris district.
Who Is The Founder Of Coonoor?
The founder of Coonoor is General Richard Hamilton.
Where Is Coonoor Situated?
Coonoor is situated in Tamil Nadu.