Stop and Smell the Roses
The first park that we visited in Ooty was the one closest to our hotel: the Centenary Rose Park. We walked for about fifteen minutes to the base of the hill (on which the rose garden is located). Once there, we were encouraged by several rickshaw drivers to take a ride. When we refused and started walking, one of them called from behind us, “It’s a long 2 km walk uphill!”
There were two main reasons why we decided to walk: save a hundred rupees for a mere five-minute ride, and to treat our joints and muscles to some exercise.
But our legs – who equate walking into and out of the elevator to hard work – began to feel the strain as we slowly made our way up the hill. Almost half way into our climb, with our determination dampened by the fact that nobody else was waking the same path, we contemplated walking back down and riding a rickshaw. But in the end, we remained strong in our resolve and made it up on our own.
Tickets cost 15 rupees per person, 30 for a still camera, and 75 for a video camera. Everywhere we went, I took both Nikon and Kodak (P & S), but paid for only one camera. People saw only Nikon and paid no attention to the smaller Kodak.
The Rose Park was established in May 1995. Today this garden has the largest collections of roses (around 3,000 types) in the country like Hybrid Tea Roses. The Rose Garden is situated in slopes of the Elk Hill.
This garden is maintained by Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department, and has received the award of Excellence for the best rose garden in entire south Asia from the World Federation of Rose Societies in 2006.
The place was filled with young, newly wed couples – men in nicely-pressed shirts and pants, and women in colorful clothes, glass bangles, and flowers in their hair. The women pressed their faces against every bunch of rose in the park while their husbands take pictures. Meanwhile, in another busy corner of the park, a family of eight prepare themselves for a group photo by standing right in front a batch of bright, red roses. When they see the picture later, I am sure they will realize that the roses are nowhere to be seen.
I was supposed to take a lot of macro shots, but the light was too bright and despite adjusting the exposure in the camera, I couldn’t get the shots the way I’d like them to. I should’ve tried shooting in RAW, but don’t remember why I didn’t. Also, the place was crowded. With the constant movement of people around us, I didn’t have enough space to set up the tripod. And I don’t like rushing photography.
The park extends over 4 hectares in 5 terraces, and is at an elevation of 2200m above sea level. It’s really beautiful up there, and our lungs were grateful for the healthy dose of fresh air.
Green roses, but not in full bloom yet. I didn’t find them pretty.
Later, we had some mango ice cream and charcoal-grilled corn.
That’s a shortcut that we discovered when climbing down the hill. It feels like walking through a forest. I loved it!