Red Hills

Red Hills is a hidden jewel in the Nilgiris. It is a beautiful mountain range located at 25 km from Ooty. Red Hills has several places to explore. You can explore Emeral Dam/Lake, Avalanche Lake, and Upper Bhavani. If not the destinations, just a drive around these areas will be something you will remember for a long time.

Being less explored places, the roads at times, are not in that great condition. As you proceed from Ooty, the first place you will find is Emerald Dam. To reach Emerald Dam, you have to take a 2 km deviation from the Ooty – Upper Bhavani Road (There is a sign board at the deviation, but is very easy to miss noticing it). The entry to Emerald Dam is closed to visitors. However, a few steps ahead of the gate, you can get a glimpse of the dam and the surrounding area, partially covered by the trees around. If you drive ahead on that route for some distance (about 2-3 km), you can get a full view of the Emerald Lake Backwaters, surrounded by the green hills, and spot the dam at a distance. You can very rarely find people or vehicles on this road, so you can imagine the peace and tranquility you can attain by just sitting and gazing the surroundings here.

Emarald Dam from a distance

View of the dam, from the road

As you proceed further on the Ooty – Upper Bhavani Road, you need to take another 6 km deviation to reach Avalanche Lake. There is a forest checkpost at about 1 km after you take the deviation where you need to make an entry of the vehicle (and show your id card too). You can then drive through until you reach the forest office. The forest office organizes bus safari, that will take you on a one hour safari to interior of the jungles and covers several places (including Upper Bhavani Dam). The number of buses are very less (one or two), and hence there will be a long waiting time if there are high number of visitors (especially during long weekends). At the opposite side of the forest office, you can just walk around next to a stream of water, which will eventually join Avalanche Lake. You can walk and explore until you reach the lake.

Avalanche Dam / Lake

The land around the water is too marshy. However, if you are careful, and walk through the hardened land, you can have some amazing views of the lake, skirted by the thick green hills.

If you wander around this place, make sure you do not get into water. Though there are no warning signs, the soil in this place is too soft, and it gets even softer when there is water around.

If you drive further along in the Ooty – Upper Bhavani road, you will realize that the route is the most peaceful drive that you will ever drive! With hardly any person to be spotted here, you will be completely on your own (sometimes thinking if you are lost, or even if it is worth driving around). However, at the end of a completely refreshing drive against the backdrop of tea gardens, at Upper Bhavani you will be playing with the mist and fog all round. If you reach here by around noon, the skies may clear, and you can get the glimpse of the dam and the lake.

Tea gardens enroute to Upper Bhavani

Very scenic drive!

Other places around this place:

  • Porthimund Lake: Yet another jewel.
  • Parsons Valley Lake


Emerald Lake


Upper Bhavani

Where to stay?

  • Coonoor
  • Ooty

Distance Chart

From Distance (in km)
Ooty 25
Coimbatore 105
Mysore 145
Calicut 175
Bangalore 300