Location: Niligiri District, Tamil Nadu
Discovered By: British In 1800
Highest Peak: Doddabetta
Famous Festivals: Summer Festival And The Tea And Tourism Festival
Udhagamandalam (Ooty), the capital of Nilgiri district, is popularly known as the "Queen of hill stations' among the tourist circuits. 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 meters, the highest peak being Doddabetta at a height of 2623 meters.
History Of This Beautiful Hill Resort: It is believed that the name Nila, has been in use for over 800 years since, the King of the Hoysalas Vishnu Vardhana, who ruled from 1104 to 1141 AD seized the Nilgiris Plateau. His general Ponisia recorded this fact in 1117 AD with mention of Todas. The name Nilgiri was due to the blue haze, which envelops the range with most distant hills of considerable size.
This Nilgiri territory came into possession of the East India Company as part of 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. In 1812 surveyor William Keys and Macmohan visited the top of the plateau.
In 1818, Wishand 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. Settlement in Udhagamandalam began in 1822 with the construction of the Stone House by John Sullivan, the then Collector of Coimbatore. The bungalow, which is locally called "Kal Bangla", is one of the landmarks of Udhagamandalam and is now the Chamber of the Principal of the Government Arts College.
The Tea: The establishment of numerous tea estates made Ooty famous. Lofty mountains, dense forest, sprawling grasslands and miles and miles of tea gardens greet the passengers on most routes. The annual Tea and Tourism Festival attracts crowds in huge numbers. Visit Ooty during this festival, when tea lovers from all over the world converge.
Botanical Gardens: Botanical gardens are a major tourist attraction for those who visit Ooty, one of the most popular hill stations of India. They sprawl over 50-acre and lie on the lower slopes of Doddabetta peak, which is the highest point in Ooty. Marquis of Tweeddale established these gardens in the year 1848.
The gardens are formally laid out with lily ponds, and there are clipped bushes in the form of elephants, with raised trunks. One can find a thousand different species of plants including some thirty types of eucalyptus in these gardens. There is also a fossilized tree trunk, which is said to be 20 million years old. Towards the eastern part of the garden there is a wooden house made of logs known as "Toda Mund", which provides an excellent view.
Rose Garden: Rose Garden is situated about 3 to 4-km away from Charring Cross. They are spread over an area of 10 acres of land with 2000 variety of roses. Rose Gardens lie on the way to the boathouse.
Mini Garden: Mini garden is also situated on the way to the boathouse where the children amusement park is housed. A snack bar is also available. Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation Limited maintains these gardens.
Ooty Lake: About 1-km distance there is an artificial lake with a charming look, which was formed in 1824 by Mr. John Sullivan, the then Collector of Coimbatore.
St Stephens Church: Situated in the hilly area on Club Road, St Stephens Church is said to be the oldest in the Nilgiris. The church was built in 1829 and consecrated in 1830. The beam of the church was taken from the palace of Tipu Sultan at Srirangapatnam. The cemetery close by houses the grave of John Sullivan, the founder of Ooty.
Doddabetta: Doddabetta is the highest peak (2623 meters) in the Nilgiris, which is about 10-km from Ooty. It is a beautiful place lying between the junction of the Western and Eastern Ghats and offers a beautiful view of the Nilgiri hill ranges. It is surrounded by dense Sholas.
Deer Park: At a distance of 1-km from the Lake there is a Deer Park, which is worth visiting.
Government Museum: The government museum, Mysore Road, Ooty has items of tribal objects, district's ecological details and representative sculptural arts and crafts of Tamil Nadu. It was set up in 1989, with a view to provide education benefits to the residing and visiting population of Nilgiris district.
Hindustan Photo Films: The Hindustan Photo Films, one of the major industrial units of the district, 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 Mukkurthi Peak And National Park: About 40-km from Ooty, is a beautiful peak called "Mukkurthi". The Mukkurthi National Park is located on the Southern corner of the Nilgiri Plateau. The Kollaribetta and Nilgiris Peak are other major peaks around. A number of little perennial streams flow between these peaks, which fall into Bhavani Puzha. Silent Vally is located on the Western side in the Western Ghat, which is a feast to the visitor's eye.
Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary: This sanctuary is located where the Nilgiri Hills, the offshoot of the Western Ghats meet the Eastern Ghats. The Mudumalai Wildlife sanctuary has varied mixture of flat land, open grassland, swamp, valley and nullas.
Pykara: Pykara is situated about 21-km from Ooty. Some of the tourist attractions of this place 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. A boathouse with restaurant and a rest house are available at Pykara.
Best Time To Visit: The climate of Ooty is pleasant throughout the year. The best time to visit is between February to May and September to November.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: Coimbatore, 105 km from Ooty, is the nearest airport.
Rail: Ooty is on the narrow gauge railway, connected to Mettupalayam (47 km), which is directly connected to Coimbatore and Chennai. The famous toy train connects Ooty with Mettupalayam and Coonoor.
Road: A good network of roads and national highways connect Ooty with all major towns and cities. There are regular bus services to and from Coimbatore, Trichy, Bangalore, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Mysore, Palghat, Calicut, Tirupati and other important destinations in South India. Ooty is also well connected with major cities of Kerala and Karnataka.
Local Transport: Taxis, tourist cabs, auto rickshaws are available in plenty. There are no standard rates except tourist cabs. Town buses are also available to all-important places. Conducted sight seeing the private operators and the Government Tourism Development Corporation arrange tours.
ENTERTAINMENT IN OOTY
Trekking: The Nilgiris are a trekker's paradise. Landscaped by nature, the hills abound in trek for lovers of nature. There are treks and treks in whichever direction you turn and from whichever point you start. A trek can be full of thrill, excitement and adventure and a way of seeing and enjoying nature in all its beauty and splendour.
Udhagamandalam (Ooty) offers several trek routes, which vary in distance, altitudes and terrain. There is a base camp at Parsons valley, from where one can start trekking to various points within Western Ghats. The down hills of Western Ghats on the North ends up with meeting the extensions of Eastern Ghats, where the sprawling Mudumalai Sanctuary lies which opens vistas for adventure tourists.
Trekking pamphlets are available with the Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association (NWLEA). There are guides who have sound knowledge of certain areas. If necessary, their services may be hired. And for further details contact the Tourist Information Office at Charring Cross, Ooty.
Hang-Gliding: Hang-gliding courses are also organized during March to May every year, with the assistance of the Department of Tourism. Contact the Tourist Officer, Ooty for assistance.
Angling: Goad Trout, Carp and mixed water fishing is possible in various streams and lakes of Ooty. The Assistance Director of Fisheries issues the fishing license.
Summer Festivals: A summer festival is held each year during the month of May in the Botanical Gardens, which is an added attraction for tourists. The Flower Show is the pride of the festival. Cultural programs are organized for those interested in traditional classical arts. Adventure spots like trekking also form part of the festival.
Tea And Tourism Festival: The annual "Tea and Tourism Festival" celebrated in the month of January is a draw for tourists.
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