Nestled in the brilliant green hills of the Nilgiris, Ooty or Udhagamandalam, is one of the favourite summer retreats of people in South India.Orchards of peaches and plums, terraced tea plantations, and eucalyptus, pine and wattle lining the landscape. a typical hill station in many ways. It is situated at a distance of 105 km away from Coimbatore. The height of the hills in the Nilgiri range varies between 2280 and 2290 metres, the highest peak being Doddabetta at a height of 2623 metres.
Founded by the British in the early part of the 19th century, Ooty is home to many Britishers who have fallen in love with this hill station where they discovered a little bit of England. “.such beautiful English rain, such delicious English mud” is how Lord Lytton-Viceroy of India from 1876-1880 described Ooty to his wife! The British influence is visible in the handrolled cigars, chocolate and cheese one enjoys here. You also have the popular derby, and ‘hunt’ held annually. A hill station with a landscape perpetually enveloped in mist, Ooty’s beauty has a timeless appeal. Ooty is situated at an altitude of 2,268 m in the Nilgiri mountain ranges of Tamil Nadu.
Udhagamandalam, The “Queen of hill station” is the capital of Nilgiri district. It is one of the best tourist resorts.Nilgiris is called as “Blue Mountains”.The name Nila, we know to have been used over 800 years ago since,the King of the Hoysalas Vishnu Vardhana, who ruled from 1104 to 1141 A.D. seized the Nilgiris Plateau.His general Ponisia recorded this fact in 1117 A.D. with mention of Todas. The name Nilgiri was due to the blue haze which envelopes the range with most distant hills of considerable size.
This Nilgiri territory came into possession of East India Company as part at the ceded lands, held by Tipu Sultan, by the treaty of Srirangapatnam in 1799. Rev. Jacome Forico, a priest was the first European who visited Nilgiris in 1603 and released his notes about the place and people of Nilgiris. In1812 surveyor William Keys and Macmohan visited the top of the plateau. In1818,Wish and Kindersley,Assistant and Second Assistant to Collector of Coimbatore visited this spot and submitted their experience report to the Collector of Coimbatore Mr. John Sullivan. Collector Mr.John Sullivan with his party proceeded to Nilgiri Mountain and made camp at Dimbhatti, just north of Kotagiri in 1819 in January. Again in May 1819 he came to the Hill of Ooty and began the construction of his bungalow at Dimbhatti (near Kotagiri), The first European dwelling on the hills. Then the Collector John Sullivan laid path from Sirumugai (near-Mattupalayam) to Dimbhatti in 1829 and the work was completed in May 1823. The Best route up to Coonoor was laid in 1830-32. Ootacamund remained still undiscovered.
The first mention of the place occurs in a letter of March 1821 to the Madras Gazette by an unknown correspondent as “WOTOKYMUND”. The first house was build at Ootacamund was undoubtedly the ‘Stone House’ by John Sullivan in April 1822. John Sullivan already started flower and kitchen garden at his Dimbhatti bungalow (Kotagiri). Also he had began at Stone House of Ooty with Scottish Gardener Johnstone to take care of it. In 1821-22 Caption B.S. Ward surveyed and mapped the hills. Mr Ward said in his writing that travellers temporary bungalows were put up at Kodapamund,Nanjanna, Killur and Yellanhali and European vegetables had been tried including Strawberries and apple.In 1827 Sullivan sums up the progress of Ooty including laiding of Ooty lake. 17 European houses had been build and five more at Kotagiri. Then later on by several Englishmen Ooty, Coonoor and Kotagiri were developed. After 1947. the free Indian people administrators made all developments works of hill station and made popular health and hill tourism resort.
Places to see :
Government Botanical Garden (2 Kms) This garden was laid out earlier by Marquis of Tweedale, the then governor of Madras in 1847. This garden covers an area of 22 acres. A fossil tree trunk of 20 million years is preserved here. The flora of the garden consist of six section comprising varieties of tree species, grass carpet, variety of ferns, fashioned beds laid beds laid out in an Italian style, multi coloured flowering plants, house ferns and orchids and nurseries. This garden will create tourist’s mind a memorable one.
Lake View￼ About one Km. distance, an artificial lake can be seen with a charming look, which was formed in 1824 by Mr. John Sullivan,the then Collector of Coimbatore. Tamil Nadu tourism Development Corporation provided the following facilities to the tourists.
Mini Garden Tourists can visit this mini garden which is on the way to the Boat House. The children amusement park is housed here. A snack bar is also available. It is maintained by
Doddabetta It is the highest peak (2623 meters) in the Nilgiris and is about 10 Kms from Ooty. It lies at the junction of the Western & Eastern Ghats and offer beautiful vistas of the Nilgiri Hill ranges. It is surrounded by dense sholas. One can have a panoramic view of the landscape.
The Mukkurthi Peak & National Park Mukkurthi Peak is about 40 Kms. form Ooty. The Mukkurthi National Park is located on the Southern corner of the Nilgiris Plateau. The area contains a viable population of Nilgiri Thar (Hamitragus hilocrius). The Kollaribetta and Nilgiris Peak are other major peaks around. The area is chained by innumberable beautiful and perennial little streams,which fall into Bhavani Puzha. The Silent Vally in the Western Ghat is located on the Western side of these ranges. A fascinating feature of the Mukkurthi Sanctuary is its endemism and relationship with Himalayan Flora and fauna.
Hindustan Photo Films The HPF, one of the major industrial units ot the district, is a public sector enterprise. This unit is located (about 5 Km away from Ooty railway station) over a sprawling area of over 300 acres, near the Ooty golf-links on the Ooty- Mysore road. The HPF was inaugurated by Mrs. Indra Gandhi, Prime Minister, in January, 1967. This industrial unit is currently producing Indu roll films which are used for taking photographs; Indu X-ray films, the quality of which is acknowledged to be among the best in the world; Indu bromide paper on which photographs are printed; and Induaerographic for geological and defence mapping, industrial X – ray film, laser recording film, CAT film, special film for space photography, oscilloscope direct print paper, photo typesetting paper and range of chemicals for the film processing.
Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary This Sanctuary lies at an elevation of 1140 mts in the junction point of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and extends over and area of 321 sq.kms. A variety of habitats ranging from tropical ever green forest, moist teak forest, secondary grass lands and swamps are found. Panther, Sambar, spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Wild boar,Porcupine etc. The avifauna is varied with Minivets. Hornbills, Fairy Blue Birds, Jungle Fowls etc.
Pykara It is situated about 21 kms from Ooty, on the Ooty-Mysore Road. The tourist attraction are well protected fenced sholas, Toda settlements, undisturbed grassy meadows and also a good wildlife habitat.The Pykara Dam,Pykara falls and the reservoir attracts many tourists.There is a forest Rest House at Pykara. a boat House with Restaurant is available.
Deer Park It is located at a distance of one Km. on lake road which has Sambar, Chital and Hares besides water birds.
The Narrow Trail This is a journey nobody should miss. A journey where you jostle with unimaginable crowds and squeeze into tiny coaches, a journey where you feel you can actually reach out and touch the elusive Nilgiris. It starts at Mettupalayam, 46 km southeast of Ooty, where you board the Blue Mountain Express that gets pushed by an engine instead of being pulled!
When you hear frequent references to the Ooty mountain train, you would somehow conjure up Lilliputian images of people sitting in orderly, storybook fashion. That’ s sure mistake, for this small train of the Nilgiris couldn’ t be more full, with human forms oozing from every pore! And if you still harbor rosy images, try clambering on from Coonoor where it stops en route to Mettupalayam. This is a precious travel tip, mind you. But once you are on, it’ s heaven. The overpowering Nilgiri landscape has the ability to make you oblivious of the human ocean around you and the greenery is bliss. It’ s a memorable 4. 5-hour journey, so don’ t miss it for anything.
The temperatures range from 25°C in summers to 5°C in the winters. The best time to visit this place is between November and March, avoiding high-season crowds (April-June and September-October).
The region is a treasure of wildlife, with some animals even native to these southern mountain ranges. There is that deep-voiced Nilgiri langur (Presbytis johnii) with its shiny black body and yellow-brown crown. The Nilgiri langur happens to be one of the five langur species found in India and Sri Lanka. These langurs of the Nilgiris are often found in the sholas, which are amongst their favourite haunts. It’ s in the sholas that you can also see the lion-tailed macaque.
The shy, timid and hard-to-spot Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius) also has its home in these blue mountains. This animal has pride of place in being the only wild goat to inhabit any region south of the Himalayas. It has a short coat, dark yellow brown in color, and prefers to inhabit craggy regions above forest level. The Nilgiris are home to a great variety of carnivorous animals like tigers, panthers, jackals and hyenas. Elephants, wildcats, civet cats, giant squirrels and mongoose are also part of Nilgiri fauna. The Nilgiri marten, nightjar, hill mynah, and golden oriole are some of the region’ s avifauna. In essence, this range of mountains harbors a massive diversity of animal life.