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Ooty: Queen of South India

by on April 19, 2011

OotyUdhagamandalam- doesn’t it sound like some tongue twister? Named as Ootacamund during British rule and later was renamed as Udhagamandalam by the Tamil government, still everyone prefers its short n sweet nickname, Ooty.

Settled amongst the Nilgiri mountain range running between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Ooty served as home to Toda tribes in the beginning. In 19th century, two of the British Collectors happened to land upon this place. The salubrious climate and lush beauty cast was enough to cast a spell. After buying up land from the Toda tribe people (really cheap, at Rs.1 per acre), the colonials made Ooty the summer capital of Madras. The British colonials also built a sanatorium for their troops here so as to relax from India’s scorching heat, humidity and a lot of tropical diseases.

Finally, with the efforts of John Sullivan, a British Collector of Coimbatore, Ooty received a firm position on the map of India in nineteenth century. Since then, millions and millions of travellers have relished Ooty’s delight. Nicknamed as “Snooty Ooty” by free India’s educated class, Ooty is magical in every single bit. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru showered upon it, the gracious nickname, “Queen of the Nilgiris”. Unfortunately, in current times, Ooty’s tremendous charm isn’t as pristine as it used to be, all hats off to commercialization, excess of construction and of course the killing pollution. Luckily, the awareness towards environment, eco-sensitivity and concerns about tourism has helped to curb the gloomy trends to some level.

Well, that’s certainly a part of the whole fun. The road route either from Mettupalayam (Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu) or from Bangalore, Karnataka is all full of twists and turns, thoroughly exhilarating if you aren’t prone to motion sickness. A better romantic option is the miniature train journey from Mettupalayam which is a 46 kilometres ride and rakes about 4 to 5 hours on a ‘rack and pinion’ track. On the way, sometimes the speed is so slow that you can easily hop off your seat and take a walk alongside train and again get right back! A total of 16 tunnels, lustrous streams, bottomless ravines and verdant tea plantations, will all be your company and make you feel pleased with their pleasing charm. Don’t miss such a ride, therefore, book tickets well in advance. The higher you will go the fragrance of blue gums – the eucalyptus trees are all ready to cast a spell on you.
The colonial heritage of Ooty is definitely the quaint stone cottages, intimate lanes portraying both traditional and modern architecture and gardens filled with flowers. One can easily see the imprints of Collector John Sullivan today too, which exists in every nook and cranny here.

Don’t miss to check out the Stone House which was built by Sullivan in the year 1822 and now lies inside the Government Arts College. The house is called “Kal Bangla” by the locals. Sullivan played a vital role in upbringing this scenic hill station. Ooty Lake was built under his supervision. Boating on this lake is quite a fun activity with natural greeneries surrounding you. He also played a vital role in uplifting the economy of ooty and introduced tea, vegetable and fruits cultivation.

A visit to the famous Botanical Garden is highly recommended. Fully crowded in its peak season which is from April to May, its main attraction is lovely old trees, which are ages old. One of the species is reported to be almost some twenty million years old! Then the golf course, situated at an altitude of 7,400 feet is both exquisite as well as challenging.
Some of the best spots of Ooty lie away from the town centre. A drive to Doddabetta Lookout, one of the highest peaks of Nilgiris (2,633 metres) or Valley Views at Ketty can be a great option to spend some time alone in nature’s arm. Coonoor, about 17 kilometres away, is a small, quiet version of Ooty. A walk amongst colorful Sims Park, or visit to a tea plantation, can be a rewarding experience. Birdwatchers can enjoy the sights of Nilgiri verditer, parakeets, thrushes, pipits, skylarks and cormorants.

A visit to Pykara Falls with a picnic brunch can be a great family time. From here, a drive down to mudumalai, a national park that falls in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, can be quite a learning session for kids. The park is home to about 600 elephants, tigers, panthers, wild boar and spotted deer. See the tiny, quaint hamlets of Thoodalai or Manimandhu, about 1000 tribal’s survive today.

You call it Queen of the Nilgiris or Queen of South, Ooty still stands majestic and bears that charming grace. When visiting Ooty, remember to pack light!

  1. Thanks for putting up this information…can you drop me a mail for further discussion on various destinations….looking forward to catch up…

  2. Shekhar singh permalink

    Hi ,

    I am planing to go Ooty . Can you suggest me some good travel agent
    who can customise my package for ooty and kerla

    My contact number is

  3. Hotels in ooty permalink

    Ooty is the one of the best tourist place in Tamil Nadu.

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