The state of Tamil Nadu has something to offer to its every visitor. Whether you are a culture seeker, a pilgrim making his steady progress, an adventure buff or a history lover, you will surely find something about this unique land that will catch your fancy. The picturesque, green Udhagamandalam better known as Ooty, is the most popular hill station of not just Tamil Nadu, but the whole of South.
Located in the Western ghats at a height of 2240m, Udhagamandalam is the headquarters of the Nilgiri (meaning blue hill) district where the two ghats ranges meet. Conoor (19 km) and Wellington, two sleepy towns, are close to it and comprise the other hill stations of the Nilgiri District. It is also the starting point of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, built in 1908 by Britishers, which is an engineering marvel. The ride to the plains on the hundred year old mini-train never fails to bring out the child in every adult!
Located 89 kms from Coimbatore, Ooty deservedly earns its reputation as the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ for its extensive tea plantations, lakes and other natural splendours. Nature has been generous with this region, which is by far the most beautiful in the state. Apart from coffee and tea plantations, trees like conifers, eucalyptus, pine and wattle dot the hillside in Udhagamandalam and its environs. Uprooting the common belief that Ooty’s economy thrives on tourism, it is still largely dependent on agriculture, notable for the cultivation of ‘English Fruits and Vegetables’ grown locally.
It has a subtropical highland climate with the summer temperature rarely going higher than 25°c and lower than 10°c and winter is distinctly cooler with a high of 21°c and a low 5°c. Curiously enough, this slice of paradise remained unknown to the great southern dynasties and it took the British to discover it in the early 1800s. They were, however, not the first inhabitants of this land as a tribe called Todas had been living there long before the British came, claiming that the Nilgiris had been their home since time immemorial. Later, the Todas handed over the land to the then Governor of Coimbatore, John Sullivan. But the credit for modernising Udhagamandalam 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.
Nilgiri is India’s first biosphere. It has been declared as one of the 14 ‘hotspots’ of the world because of its unique bio-diversity. Nilgiri presents a truly breath taking kaleidoscope of visual treats and soul stirring experience with its rolling grasslands, dense sholas, waterfalls, streams, lakes, vast expanse of tea plantations, interspersed with vegetable gardens, spectacular view points, an amazing variety of flora and fauna, fabulous trekking trails, innumerable heritage sites, spell binding sunrises and sunsets, magical light, pollution free atmosphere, mist, clouds, fog, star studded skies, serenity etc. It is one of the oldest mountain ranges, located at the tri-junction of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
Ooty is a best place to know the culture and tradition of India and tribal people. Government Rose Garden and the Ooty Botanical Garden remain to be the spots cherry-picked by all tourists. Ooty lake boating is a remarkable spot which highly entertains the tourist. On the hills above the Botanical Garden are a few Toda huts where Todas still dwell. The huts are a remarkable structure and a must see. Stone House, St. Stephen’s Church, Wax World, Golg Course, Tribal Museum, Lamb’s rock and Dobabetta peak, Kalhatty falls kandal, cross shrine, mini garden, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park are some of the other tourist spots of Ooty. To feel the touch of nature, Ooty is a right spot for the lover of nature.