Ooty, the Nilgiris District: Kalhatti Ghat Road, 36 Hairpin Bends

Ooty, the Nilgiris District: Kalhatti Ghat Road, 36 Hairpin Bends

Ooty, the Queen of Hills in the Indian subcontinent, in the Nilgiris district is connected through five ghat roads. Most of the Nilgiris district is located in the Nilgiri Hills, which is part of the Western Ghats. The ghats roads to the district pass through forests and steep slopes and contain a number of sharp hair-pin bends. The major five ghat roads to the district are: Ooty-Kotagiri Ghat Road, Coonoor Ghat Road, Gudalur Ghat Road, Sigur Ghat Road, and Manjur Ghat Road.

Kalhatti Ghat Road is one of the roads that leads to the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu from Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Bandipur Tiger Reserve in southern India. It is one of most dangerous roads in the Nilgiris district: infamous for fatal road accidents. Bandipur National Park and the Tiger Reserve is in contiguous stretch in the state of Karnataka in southern India borders with Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.

Kalhatti Road, or Steep Ghat Road, or Sigur Ghat (State Highway 67: Mudumalai – Kalhatti – Ooty) is part of the National Highway 67 terminates in Gudulur where it joins onto National Highway 212 towards Gundlupet. There is a short cut-branch off the Gudalur ghat at Theppakadu in Mudumalai, this route via Kalhatty on the Masinagudi Road saves about 30 km and has 36 hairpin bends, and it is the shortest and quickest route from Ooty to Mudumalai National Park.

At Theppakudi in the Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, the tar road forks out in two directions, the one to the left is Kalhatti Ghat Road and the one to right leads to Gudalur. Kalhatti Ghat Road is also known as the Steep Ghat Road, Sigur Ghat, Seegur Ghat, Masinagudi route, Masinagudi – Kalhatti – Ooty Road. In total the ghat road has 36 hairpin bends, which are sharp and steep. Mysuru-Ooty Road

The Tamil Nadu government has installed special barriers: roller-crash resistant barriers to prevent fatal accidents of motorists. In order to prevent such accidents, the roller-crash resistant barriers absorb the impact of the crashed vehicle, and deflect the energy of the uncontrollable vehicle that crashed into them. The roller-crash barriers rotate upon being hit by the car or jeep and those rotations of the barrier rotate the bar back to the road.

The barriers are erected in addition to the stone slabs of hard shoulders and metal-frames in the form of curves and other iron barriers on the steep ghat road.

The barriers are erected in the 19 km stretch on the ghat road: from Thalakundah in Ooty to the Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary.

According to the locals, most of the accidents happen on the hairpin bends between 20 and 36. The roller-crash resistant barriers are installed at eight locations, and more are to be installed.

The ghat road is closed to the vehicular traffic in the nigh times, those who travel to Ooty from Mysuru or Bengaluru in Karnataka. Traffic to descent on the road is allowed only to the locals residing in that area and to some government vehicles of the forest and wildlife departments.

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