The picturesque and green Udhamandalam, also known as Ooty, is the most popular hill station in South India. Located in the Western Ghats at a height of 2240m, Udhagamandalam is the headquarters of the Nilgiris district. Apart from coffee and tea plantations, trees like conifers, eucalyptus, pine and wattle dot the hillside in Udhagamandalam and its environs. The temperature varies from 25c to 10c during summer and between 21c and 0c during winter. The best time to visit is April to June and September to November.
The Todas are the original inhabitants of Ooty, a colourful pastoral tribe. The records of Ponisia, General of king Vishnu Vardhana of Hoysala dynasty mentioned Nilgiris and Todas. Though Ooty was owned by many Southern dynasties, the British discovered it in the early 19th century. The credit for modernising Ooty and making it accessible goes to the British.
The Nilgiris came to the possession of the British as part of ceded lands held by Tipu Sultan by the treaty of Srirangapatnam in 1799. In 1819 the collector of Coimbatore, Mr. John Sullivan, built the first British dwelling, north of Kotagiri. Roads were laid to Dambhatti and Coonoor.
In 1821 a batch of British soldiers discovered Ooty. The gusty evenings, the cold nights, the grassy downs, the hills and dales gripped the imagination of the British. They surveyed and mapped the hills and started filling in what they felt as missing parts of the landscape. Thus spacious Victorian houses, country-style churches and spruced gardens came into being. They even brought the English vegetation like cabbages, cauliflower, strawberries, raspberries and flowers like buttercups and rhododendrons. They built the first railway line in this area and made Ooty the summer capital of Madras Presidency.
Settlement in Udhagamandalam began in 1822 with the construction of the Stone House by John Sullivan. The structure, which is locally called Kal Bangla, is one of the landmarks of Udhagamandalam. Currently it is the Chamber of the Principal of the Government Arts College. Soon after the construction of the Stone House, several other English cottages with pretty gardens, large bungalows of top officials in the Government were built.
How to Reach
Rail: Nearest broad gauge railway head is Mettupalayam (46 kms). Major broad gauge railway junction is Coimbatore. It is connected with all major cities. A Mountain Railway that takes 4 hours for journey connects Mettupalayam to Ooty.
Road: Ooty is connected to other parts of the country with good roads. Regular bus services from and to Ooty are operated by public and private transport organisations.
Air: The nearest airport is at Coimbatore, 100km from Ooty. Coimbatore is connected to Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai.
Places of Interest
Botanical Gardens: The Government Botanical Gardens, laid out in 1847, is the most beautiful jewel on the crown of the Queen of Hill Stations. Well over 650 species of plants are in the garden and the fossil of a tree trunk believed to be 20 million years old is preserved here. The garden spread over 22 hectares has lush green lawns, six sections comprising varieties of tree species, variety of ferns, fashioned beds, an Italian formal garden, flowering plants, house ferns, orchids and nurseries.
Lake View: The lake is another attraction and boating is very popular. The artificial lake, shimmering under the gentle sun is a popular spot for the tourist. Pony rides are available along the road skirting of the lake.
Mini Garden: Tourists can visit this mini garden which is on the way to Boathouse. There is also a Children's amusement park. A snack bar is also available. Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation Limited maintains it.
Art Gallery: It is situated about 2km from Udhagamandalam on the Mysore road. The Art Gallery has various collections of contemporary paintings, items of tribal objects, district's ecological details and representative sculptural arts and crafts of Tamilnadu.
Rose Garden: Located less than a km from Charring Cross, the rose garden is laid on 10 acres of land. The garden has a collection of more than 1000 varieties of roses.
Doddabetta: It is a much-frequented peak located 10km from Ooty.This highest peak in Nilgiri Range at an altitude of 2619m gives a grand view of Ooty, Gundalpet, Coonoor, Wellington and Mysore on clear days. There is a telescope that gives a closer view of them all.
Coonoor is the second largest hill station in the Nilgiris. It stands on a lower ridge of the main plateau at an altitude of 1839 metres. It has a milder climate than that of Ooty. Surrounding the town are many picturesque picnic spots.
Sim's Park: The park is situated in a deep ravine on the north side of Coonoor Railway Station. The elevation of the park varies from1768 to 1798m. The natural shola with winding footpaths all over the higher slopes of the park is the most distinctive and picturesque feature of this park.
Pomological Station: This is one of the three experimental fruit gardens in the Nilgris maintained by the Horticultural Department. The other two are Burliar and Kallar on the Coonoor - Mettupalayam ghat road. Apples, Plums, Peaches, Lemons, Apricots Pomegranates etc., are grown here for the purpose of research
Pasteur Institute: Located opposite to the Sim's Park, Pasteur institute was established in 1907. It is a famous Institute doing research on rabies and developing antidotes. One of the most important projects of this Institute is the manufacture of polio vaccine.
Law's falls: This place is a beautiful picnic spot, situated at Coonoor-Mettupalayam Road at a distance of 7km from Coonoor. The fall originates from a height of 180 feet.
Dolphin's Nose is a viewpoint located at a distance of 10km from Coonoor.
Kotagiri is the oldest hill station in the Nilgiris. The climate of Kotagiri is one of the best in the country. Kotagiri is 28k from Ooty and 20km from Coonoor. Good Paved roads connect other regions of the state to Kotagiri.
St. Catherine's Fall, the second largest waterfall (250ft high) in the district is 8km from Kotagiri. The Elk Waterfalls is 6km away. 18km from Kotagiri at Kodanad Viewpoint, one can have a panoramic view of the plains and Mysore plateau.
Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary (67km from Ooty): The most prominent of the wildlife sanctuaries in the state, as well as one of the most important in the southern region, thickly forested Mudumalai is continuation of the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and the Wyanad Sanctuary in Kerala. Apart from the wide range of animal and bird life, the rich fauna of this sanctuary has made Mudumalai very popular with wildlife enthusiasts. More...
The Mukkurthi Peak and Mukkurthi National Park: Mukurthi Peak is about 40km from Ooty. The Mukurthi National Park is located on the south east corner of the Nilgiris. The area contains a viable population of Nilgiri Thar(Hamitragus hilocrius). The silent valley is located on the western side of these ranges. Fascinating feature of the Mukurthi Sanctuary is its variety and similarities to Himalayan Flora and Fauna.
Pykara: Pykara is situated about 21kms on the Ooty-Mysore Road. It boasts of well-protected fenced Sholas, Toda settlements, undisturbed grassy meadows and a good wildlife habitat. The Pykara Dam, Pykara falls and the reservoir attracts many tourists. A boathouse and Restaurant is maintained by T.T.D.C.
Avalanche: Located at a distance of 28kms from Ooty, it is beautiful lake surrounded by a thick shola where even sunlight cannot penetrate. It is an ideal spot for fishing. One should obtain a fishing permit from the Asst. Director of Fisheries in Ooty.