Located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Ooty is one of the most famous hill stations in India and is situated amidst the blue misty mountains of the Nilgiris. The hill town was known to be the dwelling place of the pastoral community of the Todas, but was captured by the British East India Company by the later 18th century. The British officers were enchanted by the surroundings and the cooler climate and developed it into a colonial summer retreat for the Madras presidency. The architecture of the buildings was more of a recreation of the buildings in old England and provided a pleasant escape from the tropical heat of Southern India. Today, Ooty remains as a highly frequented hill station and has several attractions that make your trip a memorable one. Let us take a look at some of the best attractions that Ooty has to offer.
Mudumalai National Park
If you want to explore the lush green hills and the inhibited wildlife of the Nilgiris in detail, then you should not miss visiting Mudumalai National Park. The protected forests of Mudumalai are located at the foothills of the Nilgiris and are spread across an area of 321 Sq kilometres. Mudumalai National Park forms a continuous chain of protected wildlife reserves in Southern India including Bandipur National Park and Nagarahole Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka along with the Wayanad district in Kerala. The wildlife reserve is famous for its population of the Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Slot Bear, Golden Jackal, Indian Elephants, Gaur, Sambhar deer, Chital, the Indian giant squirrel and the Red giant flying squirrel etc. along with a wide variety of endemic and migratory birds.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The steam locomotive powered mountain railway was established in 1908 by the British and now is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites under the category, Mountain Railways of India. The trains are also nicknamed as the Nilgiri toy trains due to their Meter gauge track system and provide some of the best views of the Nilgiri Mountains as the train transverses through a series of spirals, tunnels and long railway bridges. The train despite of its slow speed of just around 10 kilometres per hour is one of the best ways to reach the picturesque hill station and has 208 curves and 13 mountain tunnels. It is a major attraction for the nature lovers and the shutterbugs as the slow speed of the train allows you to get some really awe inspiring photographs.
Also known as the Government Rose Garden, the botanical garden is the largest rose garden in India located at an altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level. Maintained by the Tamil Nadu horticulture department, the garden has a collection of over 20,000 varieties of roses. The climate of Ooty is tropical in essence but stays pleasant and cool due to the high elevation. This provides an ideal ground for breeding various species of roses and other flowering plants. The best time to visit the place is during the summers when the roses are in full bloom, but due to the cool climate and enchanting surroundings, the rose garden remains visited by tourists even during the winters. The garden also won the Garden of Excellence award as the best rose garden in South Asia in 2006, and is among the 35 other places to win this award around the globe.
Located at the nucleus of the picturesque hill station, the Ooty Lake is an artificial lake constructed by the British officer, John Sullivan in 1824. The lake was formed with the help of the water flowing from the Nilgiri Mountains, which was redirected with the help of a dam to fill the lake. The L shaped lake is also the centre of tourist activities in Ooty and is famous for its boat rides, races and boat pageantry. Ooty Lake spans across an area of around 65 acres and is surrounded by eucalyptus trees and is also seen while travelling by the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. There is also a boat house from where boats of various types can be rented along with a deer park and children’s park which makes it a great place for a family vacation.
Standing at a massive altitude of 2,637 meters above sea level, Doddabetta Peak is the highest peak in the Nilgiris. The name ‘Doddabetta’ translates to ‘Big Mountain’ in the local language and is surrounded mainly by protected forest reserves. The road access to the top of the mountain makes it one of the most frequented peaks in the Western Ghats and from the top, one can get a panoramic view of the surrounding vegetation and views of other peaks like Hecuba, Kulkudi and Kattadadu. The hill itself is covered in thick vegetation with trees like Sholas, rhododendron, thick grass and flowering shrubs and several rare herbs. The peak is one of the favourite spots for the photography enthusiasts who enjoy the several vantage points that allow some great clicks of the surrounding valleys.
Known by the nickname, the Queen of Hill stations, Ooty is indeed a tropical paradise in the humid heat of southern India. Ooty is also known by its local names Udhagamandalam and Ootacamund and remains as one of the most visited hill stations in India. Strangely, the paradise was never found by the various southern kingdoms and only after the British ascension, was the beauty of this place brought forth to the people.
Rohit is a nature lover who likes to visit places that are rich in flora and fauna. He is also a musician who likes to explore places that are un-commercialised and unspoilt to get in touch with his inner artist. He shares his travel stories on Transindiatravels.com and other websites related to Indian tourism.