Ooty- The Queen of Indian Hill-stations!
Originally a tribal land occupied by an aboriginal tribe called 'Todas', it was not before 1603, when Ooty first came into the eyes of the east India British company. Rev. Jacome Forico was the first documented foreigner who traveled to this pristine hill-station in 1603.
Located within the deep recess of the 'Nilgiri' mountain range or the 'Blue hIlls' (The name's origin owing to the never-ending stretch of the Eucalyptus Tress lined along her slopes), Ooty and it's surrounding Hills were the prized possession of the powerful Muslim ruler Tipu Sultan till 1799, when it came into the possession of the East India Company by the treaty of Srirangapatna.
It was in the year 1818, when a couple of British surveyors on visiting this heavenly abode and submitting a report of the same, caught the attention of John Sullivan'- collector of Coimbatore.
Jon Sullivan visited the place with his entourage and compared the land and it's beauty to Switzerland and took it on himself to let this secretly guarded hill-station known to the people. So enthralled was John Sullivan with Ooty that he built himself a bungalow (The first by any foreigner on this land) in 1819. Sullivan started construction of a road from Sirumugai (Near Mettupalayam) in 1819 and completed all the way till Ooty by 1832.
Once accessible by road, Ooty became the 'Summer Capital' of the Madras presidency and the preferred destination of almost all British officials residing in south of India during the summer months. Most of the present official buildings of Ooty are a glorious reminder of the grandeur of the British Raj.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, built in 1908 (and part of the UNESCO Heritage site) made Ooty further accessible to not just the British but anyone who had the power and money to spend the summer months away from the scorching heat of the plains!
The gorgeous valleys, the pristine grasslands, the towering beauty of the surrounding Nilgiri Hills, and it's delightful climate made the Britishers dub Ooty as the 'Queen of Indian Hill stations'.
It was the British who first set-up the sprawling Tea plantations of which Ooty is famous to this day!
Ooty- In Photos
Tourist Destinations- Ooty and around
A lot has changed since the British left India in 1947. Ooty has developed into a bustling hill-station with an estimated 50 Lakh tourists visiting each year. The number increases during the peak summer months as thousands of Indians and foreign tourists alike, flock to Ooty to beat the sweltering hills of the plains down below. But what has not changed ever since her discovery is the beauty and the quaint architecture and ambiance of the land, of which Ooty has always been known for.
For tourists visiting Ooty, the below mentioned places are a 'Must-see':
1. Botanical Gardens: Laid out in 1847, the 22 acre garden is a visitor's delight. The star attraction of the garden is the 20 million year old fossilized tree. With over a thousand species of indigenous and exotic plans and trees, the botanical garden leaves an impression on the visitor's mind, to be lingered for years to come.
2. Ooty lake: No trip to Ooty is complete without a fascinating boat ride in the Ooty Lake. Covering an area of 65 acres, the magnificent boat house constructed by John Sullivan in 1824, offers boat rides of various kinds in the lake. The surrounding hills of the lake are lined with a magnificent growth of natural eucalyptus tress. A recently opened deer park on an island in the lake, adds further zest to the boat ride.
3. Toda Huts: The original settlers of this region, the huts built by these aboriginal tribes are a sight to behold. Do take a little time off and visit these dwellings which can still be found on the hills above the botanical garden as well as in 'Kandal Mund' near Old Ooty.
4. St. Stephen's church: Built and consecrated in 1830, the church is an absolute splendor to this day. Set amongst the magnificent backdrop of the wooded hills, the church puts oneself at peace the moment it's premises are entered.
5. Nilgiri Mountain Railway: A unesco World heritage site, the narrow gauge railway connects Ooty to Mettupalayam (Near Coimbatore) in the plains. Visit the Ooty railway station to have glimpse of the railway's history and also the locomotives and the coaches. For Train enthusiasts, the train ride is a journey to remember for life. Passing through the valleys, hills and innumerable tunnels, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is an experience to be cherished for life.
6. Doddabetta Peak: About 10 kms from Ooty lies the highest peak of the Nilgiri mountain range. The road travel to the peak itself is a delight. The Telescope house located at the the peak gives an awesome view of the hill-station and the surrounding hills and valleys.
7. Pykara: Located at a distance of 19 kms from Ooty, is the Pykara river. The rivers cascades into numerous waterfalls through the hills and can be viewed from the bridge on the main road. The pykara dam, boat house are other attractions. The pykara is surrounded by pristine undisturbed grass meadows and are still inhabited by the ancient tribes of the 'Sholas' and 'Todas'. The valley surrounding the Pykara river is also a protected wildlife sanctuary called as the 'Mukurthi National Park'.
8. Coonoor: At a distance of 35 kms from Ooty is the bustling town of Coonoor (1850 m above sea-level). Coonoor is accessible by road as well as the Nilgiri mountain railway. Coonoor is renowned for it's Tea industry and the slopes of the surrounding hills are met with huge acres of tea plantations. Coonoor is also famous for it's well-defined trek routes thus providing the visitor with an adventure seldom seen elsewhere. Dolphin's Nook (One of the highest points in Coonoor) offers a splendid view of the valleys, hills, waterfalls and even Mettupalayam in the plains below on a clear day.
9. Kotagiri: Once dubbed by John Sullivan as a 'Heavenly abode', Kotagiri is connected to Ooty via the Doddabetta Peak. The distance of Kotagiri from the Doddabetta Peak is around 22 kms thus making it at a total distance of 32 Kms from Ooty. A visit to Kotagiri is incomplete without undertaking one of the numerous trekking trails. 'Kodanad view-point' is a must-visit in Kotagiri owing to it's magnificent view of the hills and valleys. The Tea Gardens, orchid farming and numerous green-houses are a sight to remember! Also, do remember to visit John Sullivan's Bungalow (One of the first by a foreigner in these parts of the land). St. Catherine Waterfalls is beautiful- more so because of the 3 km trek route required to reach her.
10. Lakes: The Emerald Lake, Avalanche lake, Porthimund Lake, and Upper Bhavani are some lesser known lakes of interest nevertheless offer views which cannot be fathomed till seen. Most of these lakes are located in the reserved forest and have thus remained virtually untouched by civilizations. Prior permission from the forest and wildlife departments are required to visit these lakes.
Sight seeing in Coonoor
Ooty- India- Road Map
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Best time to visit!
Though most of the websites would mention March to July being the best time to visit Ooty, it's actually a misnomer.
Ooty has it's own charm and beauty during all seasons of the year. Though the summer months from March-July would definitely give you a fresh respite from the scorching summer heat, you would also find yourself surrounded by hoards of tourists during this peak season.
July- October would find you amidst mist, fog and rain-clouds sweeping your face, yet the season offers a spectacle of Ooty rarely seen or experienced by the summer tourists. Not to mention the peace and tranquility due to lesser tourists during the Indian Monsoon.
October- February is cold in Ooty and if you are looking for a holiday of chills & thrills, this is the season.
Ideally Ooty is best visited during the non-peak rush of the summer season tourism!
Things to remember!
Carry woolens during all seasons!
Purchase the famous 'Niligiri Oil' from authorised government stores!
For travel enthusiasts, take the 6 hour toy train ride from the twin of Mettupalayam to Ooty!.
Try making prior online reservation for accommodation!
Visits to adjoining wildlife sanctuaries and treks requires prior forest department permission!
The Nilgiri mountain railway is an UNESCO Heritage site!
Give yourself-3-4 days to enjoy Ooty in all it's splendour!
Do not forget to purchase the famous 'Ooty Chocolates'. They are delicious!
Travel to Pykara Lake and Coonoor should be a must in your itenary!
Accommodation & Dining!
Hotels & Restaurants in Ooty!
Though Ooty is flooded with numerous hotels, cottages, rest-houses and restaurants suiting everyone's taste and budget, a few note-worthy ones with their corresponding prices are as mentioned below:
1. Fortune Resort Sullivan Court (Rs. 4587/Twin-sharing/day)
2. Savoy Hotel (Rs. 4984/Twin-sharing/day)
3. Nahar's Nilgiris Hotel (Rs. 2940/Twin-sharing/day)
4. Hotel Kluney manor (Rs. 2758/Twin-sharing/day)
5. Sagar Holiday Resorts (Rs. 2597/Twin-sharing/day)
6. Mithun Hotels (Earlier known by the name of The Monarch) (Rs. 4000/Twin-sharing/day)
7. The Gateway Hotel Church Road (Rs. 4829/Twin-sharing/day)
8. Sterling Fern-hill (Rs. 4398/Twin-sharing/day)
9. Kings Cliff (Rs. 7164/Twin-sharing/day)
10. Hotel Sherlock (Rs. 1975-5775/Twin-sharing/day)
The prices indicated above are approximate and subjected to change according to seasons. Apart from the few luxury hotels listed above, innumerable cottages, budget hotels, and Restaurants are available and can be easily booked online through their respective websites or the travel portals.
India's Queen of Hill-stations- Ooty
Ooty- Kalhatty Waterfalls
Ooty- Major Events & Festivals
Following are the major events and festivals held at Ooty and worth visiting!
1. Tea & Tourism Festival: Held in the month of January, tourists can enjoy sampling a large variety of teas.
2. Ooty Flower Festival: Held in the month of May during the peak tourist season, this festival offers a spectacular glimpse of numerous varieties of flowers and orchids combined with a wide array of cultural events!
A short Video on Ooty from Holiday IQ!
Ooty Satellite hybrid map
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