The Queen of hill stations, Udhagmandalam or Ooty is a gift of nature, in the picturesque Nilgiris (Blue Mountains), with its rolling green downs for hunting, misty mornings and mild evenings, making it reminiscent of the English countryside.
The ambient beauty of this hill station lies in its peaceful ranges, surrounded by a misty blue haze. Known for its salubrious climate and scenic beauty, it is a delightful place to escape to, from the oppressive summer heat, for the South Indians and in the winters for North Indians, wanting to avoid the cold.
It is really surprising how this paradise remained unknown to the powerful rulers of the South. Although the first inhabitants of this place were TODAS, a tribe that still continue to live there, though their population is only about 3000, the place remained unknown to the outside world till early 19th century.
The real credit for modernizing Ooty and making it accessible goes to the British who constructed the first railway line in the area and made it the summer capital of the Madras Presidency. They constructed various bungalows, buildings and lakes to give it a present look.
Both Indian and Western style accommodation and food are available. Prior booking is advisable, especially during the summer months.
Go for some antique Toda jewellery sold in the main bazaar and also at the Savoy Hotel. Ooty also has lovely embroidered Toda shawls, a variety of teas (eucalyptus, geranium, lemon grass, camphor) and Nilgiri honey. Maps and guidebooks can be purchased at the Higginbothams bookshop. Also try out the cheddar, Wenleydale cheese and Planter's Special cigars made of Indian tobacco, at Spencer's Store.
In January, Ooty celebrates Pongal. The Annual Flower and Dog shows are held in May at the Botanical Gardens.
Situated at an altitude of 2,268 m in the Nilgiri mountain ranges of Tamil Nadu.
IA and Jet have daily flights to Coimbatore from Mumbai. Airport: The nearest airport is at Coimbatore, 105 km away.
The narrow gauge service connects Ooty to adjoining areas. The Swiss Vintage Hill train runs from Mettupalayam via Coonoor. It leaves at 7.45 am and arrives in Ooty at 12 pm. The ride is definitely a must if you want to enjoy a stunning view of the region. Nilgiri Express comes in from Chennai. Railway station: Mettupalayam serves as a lowland railhead for Ooty, while Coimbatore is the major rail junction. The narrow gauge service connects Ooty to adjoining areas.
Most state bus services operate from the Central Bus Stand, Dr Nanjappa Road, Gandhipura. There is a good bus service from Ooty to Bangalore (298 km) via Mysore and the tea growing area of Gudalur-Naduvattam-Pykara, or via the steeper yet prettier route via Masinagudi-Kathati. Private bus services also operate from Charing Cross.
Temperatures range from 25?C in summers to 5?C in the winters.
The botanical gardens established in 1847, presents a variety of exotic and ornamental plants. Detailed observation and study of these enable research scholars and students alike, to pursue their studies and record the findings. A unique feature of this garden, right in the midst of all the greenery and jus t below the Mini Lake, is a fossil tree trunk, which is 20 million years old. Both the annual Flower show of the Agri-Horticulture department and the Dog show of the South Indian Kennel Club are held here.
Colonel Ross Thompson, an Englishman, when transferred from Bangalore to Ooty brought Golf with him to the Nilgiris. The Club started in 1889, grew into the present 18-hole course of international fame. The course itself is unique and playing on it, is certainly an exceptional experience. Climbing up, the view is quiet spectacular, straight out of a picture post-card. The rolling fairway below, slopes steeply down to a valley and then, as though tired of lying low, slopes upward, rather reluctantly, only to find the effort too much and slopes down again. To the left, the imposing eucalyptus trees hide the terrain beyond and the ground falls away rather abruptly.
Other sights in the vicinity include Dodabetta - the highest peak in the Nilgiris, about 2623 meters high - 10 kilometers on the Kotagiri Road. Accessible by car, it offers visitors a beautiful view of hill ranges, plateaus and plains around. In clear weather, Ooty, Coonoor and sometimes even the far off Coimbatore plain and distant Mysore plateau, can be seen. A micro telescope is functional here and the place is well connected by bus ervices from Ooty.
Lying in the Nilgiris District, adjoining Kerala and Karnataka State, it is situated at an elevation of 1000 meters. A variety of habitats, ranging from tropical evergreen forest, moist deciduous forest, moist teak forest, dry teak forest, secondary grasslands and swamps are found. The wildlife includes Elephant, Gaur, Tiger, Panther, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Mouse, Wild Boar, and Porcupine etc. The avifauna is varied with minivets, Hornbills, fairy Blue Birds, Jungle Fowls etc. Python, Monitor Lizard, and flying lizard etc represent the Reptilians. Picturesque scenic spots in the sanctuary, include the Moyar Waterfalls, the Chief Ministers watch tower, Ombetta Swamp, Theppakad elephant camp etc.
AVALANCHE - The ever-popular Avalanche, which derived its name, from an avalanche here in 1823, is just 24 kilometers from Ooty. It has some interesting treks and the streams are extremely productive for trout fishes.
BOAT HOUSE - Mr. Silvan made an artificial lake here in 1842. The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) maintains the boathouse and keeps it open from 8 am. - 6 pm. throughout the week. Boating facilities and pony rides along the lakeside are also available.