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Ooty

 

Ooty - The Queen
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Ooty History
 
Ooty or Udagamandalam (the Tamil version of the original name) rightly described as "Queen of Hill Stations" by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, now sprawls over an area of 36 sq km with a number of tall buildings cluttering its hill slopes. It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. Ooty still woos people from all over India as well as foreign countries right through summer, and sometimes in the winter months too. An added attraction for the tourists to Udagamandalam is the mountain train journey on a ratchet and pinion track which commences from Kallar, near Mettupalayam and wends its way through many hair-raising curves and fearful tunnels and chugs along beside deep ravines full of verdant vegetation, gurgling streams and tea gardens.

The scenery, as it unfolds during the trip, is breathtaking, awe-inspiring and fantastic. One can notice a marvellous change in vegetation, as one goes from Kallar to Coonoor. At Kallar it is tropical and at Burliar-the next bus-stop as one proceeds from Mettupalayam-it is sub-tropical. Near Coonoor, it is humid with pines, blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and cypress trees. As we go from Ooty to Gudalur, the change in vegetation is striking. What a splendid interaction between climate and vegetation ! It is therefore very appropriate that Mount Stuart called the whole road leading to Ooty from Mettupalayam, "One long botanical debauch."

his beautiful Botanical Paradise was first brought to the public eye by John Sullivan, Collector of Coimbatore district in 1819. But prior to this in 1812, the first Englishmen who were sent up the Nilgris by the Collector of Coimbatore, were Mr. Keys, Assistant Revenue Surveyor, and his Assistant, McMahon. They made their way via Dananayakan Kottai to Aracad and the existing village of Denad, and penetrated as far as Kallatti, the lower level of North Ooty, but never set their eyes on the beautiful valley in which Ooty lay. After Keys' visit there was no further expedition until 1818 when J.C.Whish and N.W.Kindersly (Asst. and second Asst. to the Collector of Coimbatore respectively) went up by the Dananayakan Kottai-Denad route, crossed the plateau in a south-western direction and descended by the Sundapatti pass from Manjakombai to the Bhavani valley and then went back to Coimbatore. The purpose of their visit is not known.

n March 1819, John Sullivan obtained Rs 1,100 (Rupees of those days not to be compared with the present-day rupee) from the Board of Revenue for laying a bridle path up the hill from Sirumugai to Kotagiri and its neighboring village, Dhimatti. The work was executed by McPherson in a period of 2 years starting 1821. This was the only route to the Nilgris from Coimbatore until 1832, when the first Coonoor ghat road was laid, thanks to the then Governor, S.R. Lushington, who got the work executed by Lehardy and Capt. Murray. The present metalled ghat road from Kallar to Coonoor, a distance of 25 km which has 14 hair-pin bends and a gradient of one 18 ft, which facilitated carriage traffic from Madras to Ooty, was mainly constructed by Colonel G.V. Law in 1871. It is gratifying to note that the cascade of the Coonoor river near Wenlock bridge on the Coonoor-Mettupalayam road named after Law, continues to bear the same name.

The Coonoor-Mettupalayam road was extended to Udagamandalam, covering a distance of about 15 km. The Kotagiri-Mettupalayam road (about 34 km long) which was 8 ft wide to begin with, was widened to 17 ft in 1872-75 with a gradient of one in 17 by the Dist. Engineer, Major Morant R.E. and handed over to the District Board in 1881. During the period from 1819 to 1830, John Sullivan's contribution was, apart from laying the route to Ooty, that he built the first house called Stone House in this place. This formed the nucleus of Government offices. Further, at his own expense, he conducted experiments on agricultural and horticultural crops and in animal husbandry to find the most suitable crops and breeds of milch animals for future settlers.Next to the magnificent task of laying the road to Ooty, the British took up, around 1880, the stupendous task of connecting Mettupalayam to Ooty by rail. A Swiss engineer, M. Riggenback and Major Morant of Kotagiri road fame prepared an estimate of 1,32,000 pounds (currency) for laying the rack railway and floated a company called The Rigi Railway & Co Ltd. Since capital was not forthcoming, Mr. Richard Wolley of Coonoor came forward to advance money on the condition that the contract would be entrusted to Mr. Wolley by the Government of Chennai.

The agreement between the 2 was signed in 1886, and the company called The Nilgri Railway & Company came into being with a capital of Rs 25 lakhs. The work on the line was started in August 1891 by Lord Wenlock, Governor or Madras, but the company was liquidated in 1894. Later, a new company was formed in 1894, and the work was completed in 1899. The line was worked by Madras Railway, to start with. Though the Nilgris formed part of Coimbatore district, it was separated into an independent district in 1868. For a period of 13 years from 1830, it remained part of Malabar district. This was to prevent tobacco smuggling from Coimbatore. From John Sullivan's days to this date, more than 170 years have rolled by. Udagamandalam considered a sanatorium and hill resort by the Europeans, has come to be like any other district. The devastation was so much that a ban on fresh construction was belatedly imposed by the Government.
 
Tourist Attraction
 
Ooty Rose Garden
ooty1.pngOoty has always been known for its flora. Apart from the famous botanical Gardens which has become synonymous with Ooty, The Rose Garden is also a must see sight in Ooty. It’s a divine site as you see stretches and stretches of vibrant colors of roses.

The Rose Garden of Ooty or the Centenary Rose Garden is spread across six acres of land in the slopes of Elk hills, located in the Vijayanagaram farms; Needless to say, it is the largest rose garden in the country. There are large varieties of roses including some rare species as well. There are about 17000 varieties of rose plants. The important feature of the Rose Garden is that, it has been recognized by the world federation of rose societies. Another distinction is that it is the first Rose Garden in India that has been recognized as the “Garden of Excellence”. Truly a must see place in Ooty.

The Rose Garden of Ooty is maintained by the Department of horticulture of the Government of Tamilnadu. It is in the form of five terraces where these beautiful rose plants are grown. There is a small entry fee. It’s a great place to click some amazing photos. The walk down the pavement undoubtedly would be a memorable experience.

Ooty Lake
ooty2.pngIf you have been to Ooty and not seen the Ooty Lake, then you have seen nothing at all. The Lake is synonymous with Ooty itself. This is an artificial lake that was initiated as ling back as 1823 by the then collector of Coimbatore Mr. John Sullivan. The lake has been formed by throwing a dam through a narrow outlet of the valley. The Origin of the Lake is as old as the discovery of Ooty by Mr. Sullivan.

The Ooty Lake has a lot of aquatic vehicles in its stock by which the tourists can indulge in their trip across the lake. Row boats, paddle boats or motor boats can be hired and proves to be very exciting. The big boat jetty here is very attractive to children. A mention of the Ooty Lake is incomplete without the mention of boat house that is maintained by the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation. This is also a major attraction of the lake.

The lake is about 2km in length and is in an irregular L shape. The mini train and the pony rides near the lake is a major attraction here. During summer, boat races and boat pageantry are held which are great crowd pullers. The Lake has however over the years shrunk from its original size. The lake is very accessible as it is located at a convenient distance from the bus stop and the railway station. This lake is a great place to visit for people who love to be outdoors. Definitely among the must see places of Ooty.

Ooty Botanical Garden
ooty3.pngThe Botanical Garden of Ooty is the backbone of Ooty tourism. The Botanical Garden dates back to 1847 and was laid out by the Marquis of Tweedale. This garden is spread out over 55 acres. The garden has such a spectacular collection of flora that it is a delight for any Botanist. The Botanical Garden of Ooty is maintained by the Department of Horticulture of the Government of Tamilnadu.

The highlights of the Botanical Garden are the well maintained lawns, a 20 million year old fossiled tree, rare species of trees, fern house with a vast range of ferns and orchids, a colorful collection of flowering bushes and shrubs. Another attraction is the Italian-style garden bordering a clear pool. The botanical garden is famous for its summer festival where the flower show is held. It is held usually during the months of May. The Garden is also famous for the Toda hill called the Toda mund. This place is important in that it gives us a great insight into the lives of the original tribals of Ooty called the Todas.

You could spend hours and hours in this magnificent garden and still not be bored. The Botanical Garden also has a large variety of medicinal plants. This must see place of Ooty is a visual treat to the tourists.

Ooty is famous for its beautiful peaks, hills and valleys. Ooty is often referred to as the Queen of hill stations - a title given by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru himself. Among the peaks, the Dodabetta peak is specially important as it’s the tallest peak in the Nilgiris. It is situated about 10 km for Ooty and is as high as 2623 meters.

Doddabetta is the second highest mountain in the Western Ghats. On a clear day, one can see as far as the plains of Coimbatore and the Mysore plateau. The chamundi hills can be viewed from the peak. The Dodabetta peak can be approached off the Kotagiri Road. There is road access up to the summit. An important attraction is the reserved forest around the peak. The name Dodda Betta is derived from the Kannada language- Dodda meaning big and Betta meaning mountain.

The Dodabetta peak is remarkable for its flattened curve for its summit. An important attraction of Dodabetta is the observatory at the top of Doddabetta with two telescopes available for the public to enjoy the panoramic view of the whole District.

Pykara Falls Ooty
ooty4.pngOoty is known for its natural splendor in the form of lakes, rivers, waterfalls and Gardens. Among the must see places of Ooty is the Pykara waterfalls. This is a popular tourist destination, famous for its natural beauty.

Pykara waterfalls are on the path from Ooty to Bangalore. The Pykara Lake is a beautiful lake with an abundance of natural beauty. The Pykara Lake is a great place for boating. It falls across in the form of waterfalls in two places which are known as the Pykara falls. It’s a great place for photography. Truly a nature lover's delight. As it’s not too far from Ooty, it is easy to access by road. The bridge here allows one to take great shots of these falls.

The frothing water from the falls, settles into clear water. This is a must visit place on a trip to Ooty. The Pykara Falls and the reservoir attracts a huge number of tourists. There is a beautiful boathouse, which houses a restaurant. This is maintained by the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation. July is the best month to visit the place

Upper Bhavani Lake Ooty
ooty5.pngOoty is a place drenched with natural beauty. The place is popular for its beautiful, hills, valleys, gardens and lakes. Out of the lakes, the Upper Bhavani Lake and the sanctuary are extremely popular. It has a mesmerizing effect on the tourists who visit it.

The Upper Bhavani Lake is characterized by water throughout the year. There has been a dam constructed here named the Upper Bhavani Dam which provides water for irrigation and to nearby settlements. This dam has been responsible for most of the successful agricultural activities around the place. The Upper Bhavani sanctuary is spread over 70 sq km of land. The Nilgiri Tahr can be found here. The sanctuary also is home to such animals like includes tigers, jackals, jungle cats, wild dogs, Sambhar, giant squirrels, Nilgiri langurs, and leopards.

The Upper Bhavani is ideal for trekking, hiking and for walks. There is a guest house here, for those who wish to spend the night here. The upper Bhavani reservoir remains as the beautiful backdrop for this. The rest house lies amidst a mushy forest land. This place is an amazing treat to tourists and nature re lovers. It’s a must see place on a visit to Ooty and is an unforgettable travel experience.

Avalanche
Located at a distance of 25 km from ooty. A place that should not be missed. An exotic experience of mountain trekking could be realized in this place.

Emerald Lake
Located at a distance of 25 km from ooty. A place that should not be missed. Emerald lake is a wonderful lake in the upper plateau region of the Nilgiri hills. It is a part of the silent valley and is beside the Red hill nature resort which is a best picnic place of the region. The site of the lake is wonderful and one would definitely love being at that place. The chirping birds and ducks and other swimming creatures add beauty to the place and the sun set and sun rise is also spectacular here.

6th Mile (Shooting Spot)
Just 6miles from the Ooty city you can reach this spot. Its green & lengthy shooting spot which is surrounded by forest. You can see this spot in most of Indian movies

9th Mile (Shooting Spot)
It takes 9miles from the Ooty city you can reach this spot. Its green & very lengthy shooting spot which is surrounded by forest & mountains. This place is called as "Shooting Medu". Very calm place and very good for picnics. Dont miss to take your family to Shooting medu.

Glenmorgan
The beautiful countryside with tea and eucalyptus plantations. undisturbed sholas and fine views is ideal for drives and picnics. The beautiful countryside with tea and eucalyptus plantations. undisturbed sholas and fine views is ideal for drives and picnics.

HPF (Hindustan Photo Film)
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.

Kalhatty water falls
The picturesque waterfalls come down a 36 m drop. A popular spot for picnics and treks. his water falls could be seen in ooty mysore route at a distance of 13 km from ooty. The road runs via the Kalhatty Ghats. It is situated 2,000m above main sea level and with many water falls and rivulets. Situated on the slopes of Kalhatty, the magnanimous Kalhatty Waterfall stands pretty amidst picturesque landscapes. But falls could be seen in a particular season from September to November. The height of this falls is 40m.

Ketti Valley view
Situated on the coonoor Road This valley is the second largest valley in the world. This region is a seen with larger constellations of villages, that forms the parts of coimbatore and mysore. Home to the Badagas and tribes such as the Todas, Ketti represents a way of life that revolves around caring for livestock and cultivation of vegetables and potatoes.

The Mukkurthi Peak And National Park
Mukkurthi is a beautiful peak while programming your Excursions in Ooty, which is located at a distance of 40-km from Ooty. Ideally located on the Southern corner of the Nilgiri Plateau, this peal attracts tourists from distinct corners.

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
An ideal adventurous place, located in Nilgiri Hills, where the offshoot of the Western Ghats meet the Eastern Ghats. Area :32,155 hectares. Along side the adventures of the sanctuary, you will also find a varied mixture of flat land, open grassland, swamp, valley and nullas at this place.

The Famous Mudumalai wild life Sanctuary is situated at an elevation of 1000 metres and extending over an area of 321 sq.mts lies this sanctuary between Kerala and Karnataka states. Langur, bonnet macaque, tiger, leopard, wild dog, hyena, jackal, sloth bear, elephants, gaur, sambar, spotted deer, Indian muntjac, mouse deer, wild boar, rodent and flying squirrel are part of the wildlife in Mudumalai. This is one of India's best sanctuaries.

Mudumalai wildlife reserve was the first sanctuary in south India. Within the sanctuary is an elephant camp called "Theppakkadu", where there is a rest house. Accommodation is also available at TTDC's Youth Hostel and rest houses in Masinagudi, Abhayaranayam and Kargudi and the Bamboo Banks Farm that is 18-km away.

Sims park - Coonoor
Sim’s Park is a 12-hectare park in Coonoor, which exhibits over 1000 species of plants. The park is situated in a deep ravine on the Northern side of Coonoor Railway Station at an elevation of 1768 to 1798 mts.

Kodanad View Point - Kotagiri
It is about 16 kms. from Kotagiri on the eastern edges of the Nilgiris. On either side of the road one can see the panoramic view of the tea estates and the river Moyar is breath taking. A watch tower is there to view the panoramic view of Rangasamy peak and pillar. From Kotagiri bus services are available.

Dolphin Nose
Dolphin’s Nose around 10 km. away from Coonoor is an excellent viewpoint. It encompasses the Catherine Falls. Lambs nose is another point on the way to Dolphins Nose

St. Catherine Water Falls
From Dolphin's Nose of Coonoor one can have a magnificent view of St. Catherine Water falls which is about 250 feet height. But it can be reached from Kotagiri at a distance of 8 kms. To reach the top of the hills tourist should take a diversion at Aravenu on Kotagiri - Mettupalayam road.
Ooty toy train history
 
Our experience
This toy train service was first started between Coonoor and Metupalyam during 1899. But the line was ooty6.pngextended upto Ooty during 1908. The passenger service was started on 15.10.1908 from Ooty to Coonoor. This is the only heritage train and runs at the highest elevated place in Southern India. The service comes under Niligiri Mountain Railway (NMR) and is a major tourist attraction. Approximately 5lakh people travel every year in this toy train. Below are few of our experience during this journey by the train.

We left Mettupalayam at 7.30 AM and the train started traveling at a speed of not more than 12 KM/hour. This train covers a distance of 46Km in a five hours journey passing through Hilligrove, Coonoor, Wellington, Aravankadu, Keeti, Lovedale stations and finally ends at Udagamandalam or Ooty. At the starting of the journey for nearly half hour the train traveled through Jungle but plain area. The hills started after that and temperature started falling as we climbed up. During every start in the hill slopes the engine gives a jerk in trying to push the train from behind. After traveling three or four KM in the hills, train stopped as one tree has fallen and cutting and removing work was going on. After a brief stop of 10 minutes train started climbing again. Lights inside the compartments were switched on as the train started moving inside the dark tunnels. There were few long tunnels and most of the tunnels were short in length. There were water in the small rivers and water falls even during the month of pick summer (month of May). During the journey most of the time the valley was in the left side of the train. The road from Mettupalayam to Ooty was visible from the train and was crossing the train line in many places

One can flick flowers through open windows of the compartments at unscheduled stops of the train. Steam engine was stopping after every one hour of journey to take water in small stations during its journey of 19Km up to Coonoor. This opportunity was utilized by all travelers to jump out and take photo of the train and the surrounding hills. At Coonoor steam engine was replaced with a diesel engine for the last part of the journey ending at Ooty.

As we moved towards Ooty, there were tea gardens; valleys with pine trees were visible through open window of the compartments. There were very brief stops after Coonoor but enough to take a cup of coffee. Finally we reached Ooty at 1 PM delayed due to tree cutting and late starting at Mettupalayam. The platform at Ooty was already full with tourist waiting for this train to board its return journey to Mettupalayam.

During five hours of journey the train has passed through 16 tunnels and 250 bridges
 
Train Timings in The Nilgiris District ( Railway Time )
Departure
From
To
     09.15 hrs      Ooty      Coonoor
     12.15 hrs      Ooty      Coonoor
     13.30 hrs ( During Seasons Time Only )      Ooty      Coonoor
     15.00 hrs ( Connecting Blue Mountain Express to      Chennai (6606)      Ooty      Mettupalayam
     18.00 hrs      Ooty      Coonoor
     07.45 hrs      Coonoor      Ooty
     07.10 hrs ( Connecting Blue Mountain Express from      Chennai (6605)      Mettupalayam      Ooty
     13.30 hrs      Coonoor      Ooty
     16.30 hrs      Coonoor      Ooty
     09.30 hrs ( During Seasons Time Only )      Mettupalayam      Ooty
 
 
Festivals
 
Important Festivals

Thaipoosam in Elk Hill Murugan Temple (February), Bookkapuram Mariamman Annual Festival (February), Ooty Mariamman Temple Festival (April), Coonoor Mariamman Temple Festival (April), Boat Races and Boat Pageantry in Ooty (May), Flower show in Ooty (May) and Fruit show in Coonoor (May).

Summer Festival

In summer, regular cultural programmes, fashion parade, flower and fruit shows are arranged. During summer festival Boat races, Boat pageantry, dog show etc., add more festivity to the celebration. All these are jointly organised by the Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu and Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. There is also a Tea and Tourism Festival Ooty in January.

Important Telephone Numbers :

Railway Enquiry - 2442246
Bus Enquiry - 2443970
Government Hospital - 2442212
Tourist Officer - 2443977
Fire Service Station - 2442999
TTDC Youth Hostel- 2443665

 

 

 

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