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Ooty colonial delights

by on March 11, 2008

ooty.jpgOoty is a part of our daily lives because every carrot and cabbage in the market, every packet of cardamom is said to come from here. Films are on the tongue in Ooty. Many travel companies offer a Filmi Chakkar, a tour of places in which scenes have been shot, the guide slips into this mode pointing out the Ketty Valley, as visitors catch sight of the train track emerging from the slopes, he murmured chayya chayya song was shot here. 

The town in the valley is a mess of muddy roads in the rains. ooty-lake.jpgA lake with wooded banks lies to the west of the town, artificially created in 1824 by John Sullivan, Collector of Coimbatore, who dammed up some streams to ensure a water supply for the hill station

ooty-botanical-garden.jpgAn abiding delight is the Botanical Garden on the slopes just north of charming Cross. Alarming crowds mill about the ticket counters, but the grounds inside are spacious. At 65 acres the gardens are large enough for amateur botanists to peer at specimens as long as they like. Species of a temperate climate, maple, oak, laurel and azalea, are planted here alongside fleshier tropicals and rich collections of climbing, creeping and pendant flowers. 

The colonial remnants of Ooty are well assimilated now into daily life. Mansions have been absorbed into college campuses and Spencer’s & Co is now an NIIT centre. 19th century architecture persists in clusters, notably near the Collector’s office where the Union Church, the State bank of India and the Oriental building housing Higginbotham’s bookshop from a good circuit for those who like to look at old buildings. ooty-st-thomas-church.jpgThe most picturesque of these is st Stephan’s church, the oldest church in Ooty, with modest Gothic arches, yielding cane paws, and pretty windows. The churchyard rises in steps behind the building, offering distant views and atmosphere in spades. Tiny tombs are inscribed with sorrowful verses. 

Ooty has moved on. The 100 year old cordite factory is still active, along with other industries and agriculture, and the economy is robust, with or without tourists. Walks and rides around the hills are probably the best way to enjoy a holiday here. On the easy climb up Elk Hill, blue spike, orange dots of lantana, hanging trumpets of datura are enchanting with or without wildflower book in hand. Although the rumble of busses floats up from the town, views in many directions are entirely rural, blue green swathes of cabbages alternating with terraces of freshly turned soil. 

ooty-doddabetta-peak.jpgDoddabetta peak drew plains people so far from home in the 19th century. In clear weather you can see Ooty town, Ketty Valley, Coonoor and the cantonment of Wellington, Avalanche dam and Mukuruthi. If the mist is unremitting, the walk up to the peak has its own charms, warmed with a paper cone of boiled peanuts or hot mixture. Horse riders get a superb meander through the roads around town, under dark, mossy trees and meadows. Along some lanes women gather eucalyptus leaves to make aromatic oils. The scent of eucalyptus and pine is sharp in the morning air, especially where branches have broken off. Some of these rides skirt villages that are home to the Nilgiri tribal communities, the best known of which are the Toda. 

The Muthanadu Mund, the mother of all Toda villages, lies on the Ooty Gudalur Road. Tucked into the slope are a few houses, one of them in the traditional arch style and half hidden temples are open for only two months in the year and the tribes people allow visitors to see them from outside. The museum in the Tribal Research centre in Muthori Paladi, which displays a large collection of ancient and currently used items of work, worship and play used by the Toda, Kota, Irula and other tribes. Cane raincoats, claw like butter churns, bamboo milk measures is guide to explain what they are.

ooty-ketty-valley.jpgThe Ketty Valley viewpoint is a favourite stop on the Coonoor route. When not crowded, it is a fine spot fitted with a telescope and an obliging guide to train it on landmarks such as red tiled school or a 100 year old church.

The low season is far from desolate in Ooty. Every comfort is still on offer, with the blessed addition of elbow room, quite and slow pace. Visitors are sporting about the mist and the rain and all it takes is an umbrella. 

Find driving directions from Bangalore to Ooty here..

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9 Comments
  1. muthulakshmi permalink

    i proved otty is in the tamilnadu

  2. muthu permalink

    ooty is a beatiful place

  3. very nice and super

  4. aparna permalink

    OOti is my dramland So, i want to spend my precious moments with my husband in ooti, so, god give me chance as early as possible.

  5. Geetha permalink

    Iam at Coimbatore. But I love Ooty and to be at ooty.I saw the photos. It is really lovely. Can I get House for rent there?

  6. sonali permalink

    How to get to OOty by toy train

  7. sandhya rani gouda` permalink

    well i have visited ooty in the year 1999. after seeing this pic i want to visit ooty again. well i just get married so wanna visit this place with my hubby.

  8. We have details of the Tombs in OOTY as well as in the Nilgiris in the above website – Tombs in Ooty. Interested people can contact us. Incidentally, in the above webpage, no doubt St.Stephen’s Church is the oldest (built in 1830) but the picture is that of St.Thomas Church, which was completed in 1879. A correction will give a true picture. Ooty is a wonderful place for any one at any time.
    (www.serveif.net)

  9. my native is ooty. iam now doing my higher studies in thiruvanamalai.
    the pics i saw here was very beautiful.
    i want to be a partner to this site.iam very much intrested.
    you mail me about my intrest.

    waiting 4 ur favourable reply

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