The Tamil Nadu and Karnataka state bus companies have reservation offices at Ooty's busy bus station. For Kochi take a bus to Palakkad (₹96, six hours, 7am, 8am and 2pm) and change.
Buses from Ooty (Udhagamandalam)
Volvo 7 daily
4.30pm, 5.45pm, 6.30pm
every 20min 5.50am-8.40pm
every 10min 5.30am-10pm
every 30min 6.30am-7pm, 7.40pm, 8.20pm
Express/Volvo 12/6 daily
The miniature ('toy') train from Mettupalayam to Ooty – one of the Mountain Railways of India given World Heritage status by Unesco – is the best way to get here. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway requires special cog wheels on the locomotive, meshing with a third, 'toothed' rail on the ground, to manage the exceptionally steep gradients. There are wonderful forest, waterfall, mountainside and tea-plantation views along the way. The section between Mettupalayam and Coonoor uses steam engines, which push, rather than pull, the train up the hill.
For high season, book several weeks ahead; at other times a few days ahead is advisable (though not always essential). The train departs Mettupalayam for Ooty at 7.10am daily (1st/2nd class ₹205/30, 4¾ hours). From Ooty to Mettupalayam the train leaves at 2pm (3½ hours). There are also three daily trains each way just between Ooty and Coonoor (₹150/25, 1¼ hours). Departures and arrivals at Mettupalayam connect with the Nilgiri Express to/from Chennai Central (sleeper/3AC/2AC ₹340/895/1255, 9¼ hours).
Ooty is often listed as Udhagamandalam in train timetables. Mettupalayam is listed as Metupalaiyam (MTP).
Miniature Train Mettupalayam–Ooty
The commercial town of Mettupalayam, 40km north of Coimbatore, is the starting point for the 7.10am miniature train to Ooty (1st/2nd class ₹205/30, 4¾ hours). The train travels back down from Ooty at 2pm (3½ hours). There are frequent buses between Mettupalayam and Ooty, Coonoor, Kotagiri and Coimbatore.
If you need to stay the night in Mettupalayam before catching the 7.10am Ooty train, there's plenty of accommodation, including the clean, bland midrange Hotel EMS Mayura. It has a decent restaurant, and is just 500m from Mettupalayam's bus station and 1km from the train station for Ooty.