Wednesday, February 18, 2009


At 7440 ft., Ooty or Udhagamandalam (recent official Tamil name) in the Nilgiris (the Blue Mountains), is a sheer beauty and pride of the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Miles and miles of plush tea gardens, plummeting orchards, streets lined with green pine and eucalyptus trees and multi-colored floral diaspora give Ooty its sliced-out-of-paradise vista. The ersthwile Ootacamund (an obscure name for the sylvan beauty, isn't it?), is inhabited by the Toda tribes and the forested areas have a legion of wildlife, including the endangered Nilgiri mountain goat. What the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (Toy train) is to Darjeeling, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is to Ooty - indespensable and inherent part of the Blue Mountains.


Botanical Garden: The 55 Acre Botanical Garden on the Dodabetta Peak - the highest point in Ooty, was founded by John Sullivan, the collector from Coimbatore, who is known to have first discovered Ooty for his summer dwelling. The diverse flora, including some 30 varieties of eucalyptus, and the colorful avian metropolis, attract tourists and passers-by alike. The Summer Festival held every May makes Ooty a bee-hive of various activities like flower shows, dog-shows, cultural programs and adventure sports like trekking.

Government Museum: Located on the Mysore Road, the museum houses a collection of tribal arts and crafts, the district's ecological details - and was set up with a view to educate the tourists about the Nilgiri purlieu. (Open: 10 am-5pm/Closed on Fridays, second Saturday, national holiday)

Ootacamund Club: This one the best preserved of all colonial clubs in the nation. You can go golfing or hunting or pick up one of the many activities offered by the club to soothe those worries away.

St Stephen's Church: Situated on Club Road, this gothic-style church is said to be the oldest in the Nilgiris. Its huge wooden beam came from the palace of Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatnam, carried all the 120 km by a herd of elephants. The attached cemetery contains the grave of John Sullivan, the founder of Ooty.

Rose Garden: About 3 km from Charring Cross is a 10 acre spread with 2000 variety of roses and lie on the way to the boathouse.

Ooty Lake: This 2.5km long lake is another John Sullivan construction and one of the most beatific spots in Ooty. There is a mini-train that takes you around the park or you can go boating. Fishing can also be done but with prior permission from the fisheries department. A tall pillar shooting out of the graveyard of William Patrick Adam, the Governor of Madras Presidency, overlooks the lake and on a quiet wintery evening, it creates a strange eerie feeling. Just 1 km away is the Deer Park.

Tribal Research Centre: This museum exhibits models of homes of the various Nilgiri hill tribes as well as a section on the tribes of the Andaman Islands. Toda researchers are available to give visitors a guided tour of the museum for that close insight into the way of life in the hills.

Kandal Cross Shrine: This Roman Catholic Shrine is the Nilgiri Catholics' "Calvary of Tamilnadu". The relic of the true cross here is said to cure the sick, bestow heavenly blessings, peace and joy on visiting pilgrims and tourists. Every 3rd May an annual feast is held.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR): Declared a World Heritage Site in 2005, this curio covers a 46 km of treacherous trail in the Nilgiri Hills passing through 208 curves, 16 tunnels, and 250 bridges to reach Ooty. The uphill journey begins at Mettupalayum (1069ft.) and takes around 290 minutes to reach Ooty (at 7,440 ft.) and the downhill journey 215 minutes.

Adventure escapades: Hang-Gliding, Angling and Trekking are the activities to opt for if you want to tango your tour with some rush of the adrenaline.


Toda jewelery, embroideries, shawls and a variety of endemic Nilgiri products like teas (eucalyptus, geranium, lemon grass, camphor), fruits, natural oils like Eucalyptas, honey are what to look out for in the ooty bazaars. The Taj Group's Savoy Hotel shop has a good collection of souvenirs. Also try out the cheddar, Wenleydale cheese and Planter's Special cigars made of Indian tobacco, at Spencer's Store.


The localite's taste bud is tuned in to favor typical South Indian cuisine. Go to Dashprakas located within the Hotel Dashprakash, south of the racecourse for some delectable South Indian cuisine and North Indian snacks. Shinkows, situated at 42 Commissioners Road, serve good Chinese food. Try Irani, on Commercial Road, for some scrumptious non-vegetarian cuisine (the menu's heavy on mutton and liver).


Coonoor (10 km): It was the first of the three Nilgiri hill stations. Another 10 km away is the Dolphin's Nose Viewpoint which commands a majestic view of the St. Catherine Falls. The sprawling 12 hectares of Sim's Park here is one of the oldest and developed on the pattern of Japanese Garden. Some of the best camera shots can be had from its pristine heights.

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary (67 km): At an altitude of 1,140 m up in the Nilgiri Hills is the home to one of the largest populations of elephants in India, along with wild dogs, gaur (Indian bison), Nilgiri langur, bonnet macaque, jackal, hyena, and sloth bear, it even has a few tigers and panthers.

Avalanche (26 km): Best known for trout fishing escapades, and about 7 km away is the MacIvor's Bund and further away is the Mukurti Peak.

Mukurti (36 km): The 8,031 ft peak, the 6 km lake and a plethora of wildlife make thus place a sheer beauty to douse all tiredness. Check out Nilgiri Tahrs or the mountain goats in the Sanctuary flanking this locale.

Pykara (21 km): Go there for the well-protected fenced sholas, Toda settlements, undisturbed grassy meadows and some sudden, but regular wildlife pop-outs from the dense jungles. The Pykara Dam and the Pykara Falls add to the exotic aura of the place.

Kalhatty Falls (12 km): The 131 ft. drop of cascading water and the various wildlife on the Kalhatty-Masinagudi slopes draw nature lovers for some enchanting eye-feasting.

Location :
At 7440 ft, in Nilgiri hills, Tamil Nadu

Go there for :
Tea Gardens, Replenishing vistas

Climate :
25°C (Sum); 5°C (Win)

When to Go:

Local Tongue:

STD Code :
+91 - 423

No comments:

Post a Comment