We did Malpe and Ooty this year in south India and both were big hits with my kids. Here is a review.
Malpe is a sleepy coastal area near Mangalore, which we visited last summer. The journey to mangalore and near by areas itself is adventurous whether you do it by road on the Ghat section or by the sleeper buses. Contrary to what I believed, the double beds on these buses are quite comfortable and a hit with my kids. We stayed at Paradise Isle resort on Malpe beach, which is in an awesome location, facing the sea and away by just a few metres. Rooms are comfortable, food is ok and they have some amenities like pool, park, badminton court, etc. The hotel also arranges some sea rides in the evenings.
But what is really a hit is the proximity to the beach – the kids love to take a long walk on the beach collecting shells, hang around the ship building yard and still go further to take a look at the boats offloading their marine catch of the day in the harbour. Though the place is far from clean and you may need to tie your nose (!), the sight is quite transfixing and worth a visit.
Another place close by is St Mary’s island – it is a small island but a geographic wonder. You can take a boat from the harbour and spend a few hours here.
For the religious minded, there is the famous Udupi temple and many churches and of course, don’t miss the famous Udupi masala dosa and paper dosa.
The drive on the road along the coast further up, can take you to interesting places like Murudeshwar, Gokarna, Karwar and finally to Goa.
Rains are very heavy in this area but the whole place apparently transforms magically in rains! Summers are hot and humid but not so bad!
We recently did a drive to ooty and coonoor and stayed at Holiday Inn. You can read my review on the hotel here
The drive from Bangalore takes your breath away, especially after you enter Bandipur and Mudumalai. We spotted deers, sambhar, lion-tailed macaques and ofcourse, the king of mudumalai – tuskers and elephants. The roads are surrounded by the shola forest with water bodies here and there and has all the charm of a forest. And again, the hair pin bends to reach Ooty is thrilling as we do the count-down (36 hair-pins bends to tackle before you reach Ooty). Actually there are 2 routes to Ooty after bandipur – one goes through the hair-pin bends, is shorter with good roads; the other route is at least 30km longer (translates to at least 1 – 11/2 hour delay), with bad patches of road but more scenic and a gradual climbing (no hair pin bends). You should allocate 7-8 hours for the drive from Bangalore to Ooty depending on the route you want to take.
Once in Ooty, the first thing that strikes you is the ‘plastic free environment’ – the city is really clean! The weather in November is superb – tolerably cold if you are dressed well. But many view points are so clouded that you just can’t make out anything. The famous train drive from Ooty to metupalayam transports you to a different age! The botanical garden in Ooty is a green carpet, maintained very well and rich in flora. There is a section at the end with old trees, which we missed, but supposed to be a ‘must see’. We had an equally good time at the smaller ‘Sims park’ in Coonoor. In such a small place, you see so many varieties of trees, from various regions of the world. The most striking one was a tree whose stem looked just like an elephant’s leg! The Ooty lake itself is small but has interesting options like horse ride, a toy train, boat rides, etc. Don’t miss the home made chocolates (we picked them from King’s stall and bowled over by the taste and feel). There are also some shops selling antiques (Big Shop, on Commercial Road) which stock interesting tribal ware.