Best driving roads: Ooty to Mysore via Masinagudi
India is infamous for its shabby roads but at the same time, there are many fantastic driving roads spread through the length and width of our beautiful country. OVERDRIVE has been fortunate enough to experience quite a few of these roads, and we want to share the joy with a weekly feature of a fantastic road that you should aspire to experience someday.
The winding roads can be a little tricky for the inexperienced. However, the view is simply beautiful
This week we nominate the road from Ooty to Mysore via Masinagudi. Although this is the shortest route to Mysore, most people would recommend taking the alternate route via Gudalur. This is mostly because the ghat section right outside Ooty can be a quite tricky. It's just a 12km stretch with 36 hairpin bends, but it's a very steep descent down a narrow and very curvy road.
Bison Point, which is at the end of the ghat section, offers a stunning view of a large valley
It takes a driver with a decent amount experience driving in the hills to navigate this road safely. What's most important is to leave your car in a low gear (second, third and sometimes even first) and use your brakes only when necessary. You'll have to watch out for oncoming traffic with clueless people on bike, cars, vans and buses. However, all that said, if you enjoy winding roads, this one is pretty fun and very beautiful.
After this ghat section, you'll end up in Masinagudi where you should make a quick stop and grab a bite to eat. Soon after you'll enter the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, which continues to become the Bandipur Tiger Reserve once you cross into Karnataka. Now the smooth winding roads might make it tempting to step on the gas, but there are two reasons why you shouldn't. Firstly, it's a wildlife reserve and there are animals, which you're bound to see and could be crossing the road. Secondly, there are speed breakers scattered all over the road, which will not allow you to get past third gear. So instead of getting worked up, sit back, roll down your windows and enjoy the view.
Once you're in the reserve, you're bound to see some wild animals like bisons or deer
Once you get past the Bandipur Reserve, you'll hit the plains where you'll pass by some quaint villages until you hit the main highway leading towards Mysore. This is where the road work and traffic will slow your progress down. So if you're in Ooty, we'd suggest that you leave from your stay at around 5.45am. That way, you'll be allowed to enter the reserve (which is otherwise closed from 10.00pm to 6.00am), you'll catch the sunrise along the way and you'll avoid a lot of traffic.
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