Called the Queen of Hill Stations picturesque, green Udhagamandalam better known as Ooty is the most popular hill station in the South.ooty Located in the Western ghats at a height of 2240m, Udhagamandalam is the headquarters of the Nilgiris district where the two ghats ranges meet. Nature has been generous with this region, which is by far the most beautiful in the state.
Apart from coffee and tea plantations, trees like confiers, eucalptus, pine and wattle dot the hillside in Udhagamandalam and its encirons. Summer temperature is rarely higher than 25°c with a minimum of 10°c and winter is are distinctly cooler with a high of 21°c and a low 5°c. Curiously enough, this slice of paradise remained unknown to the great southern dynasties and it took the British to discover it in the early 1800s. They were, however, not the first inhabitants of this land as a tribe called Todas had been living there long before the British came, claiming that the Nilgiris had been their home since time immemorial. But the credit for modernising Udhagamandalam and making it accessible goes to the British who constructed the first railway line in the area and made it the summer capital of the Madras Presidency.
Ooty with smaller hill stations of Coonoor – 19 kms and Kothagiri 31 kms from Ooty are the other hill stations of this district. Nilgiri is India’s first biosphere. It has been declared as one of the 14 ‘hotspots’ of the world because of its unique bio-diversity. Nilgiri presents a truly breath taking kaleidoscope of visual treats and soul stirring experience.
[quote_box_center]NILGIRI MOUNTAIN RAILWAY[/quote_box_center]
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway built by the British in 1908 is a World Heritage Site. It’s a 46-kilometre beautiful toy train journey that starts from Mettupalayam and goes through tunnels, curves, bridges and beautiful scenery to reach Ooty in five hours. From 300 feet to 7200 feet, the Ooty toy train is definitely a ride to cherish. Here’s a tip – try to sit on the side that looks out in to the valley for the best views on the way up.
Ooty Lake is a popular destination for picnicking, paddle boating and enjoying Ooty leisurely. Built in 1825, it is a 2.5-kilometre long lake meandering through the scenic beauty of the Nilgiris.
Ooty Botanical Garden, spread over a huge area of 22 hectares and with more than 650 species of flowers and trees, is a horticulturist’s delight. The highlight of the garden is a fossil tree that is believed to be 20 million years old. Another attraction here is the Toda tribe settlement towards the top of the garden. Be privy in to the lifestyle and culture of this tribe during your visit.
HOW TO REACH OOTY
Ooty’s colonial charm and innate splendor attracts tourists from all over the world every year. Ooty has a well linked network of Air, Rail and Road ways.
The nearest airport to Ooty is located in Coimbatore. The hill station is at a distance of about 98 kilometers from the Coimbatore Airport. The airport is connected to Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Cochin by Indian Airlines flights. In order to reach Ooty from the airport, one has to hire a taxi or a bus to reach Ooty.
The hill station of Ooty has a railway station of its own. It is called the Udhagamandalam railway station and can be reached by The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (a.k.a. Toy Train) from Mettupalayam. Though the toy train isn’t very fast but the scenic beauty of this route attracts many tourists. Mettupalayam is the nearest major railway station to Ooty. One can also hire a private taxi to reach Ooty here. The distance of Ooty from Mettupalayam is about 52 km.
Ooty is also connected to all the nearby towns and cities by good roads. The hill station connects to various other important cities of South India like Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore, Coimbatore, etc. The road to Ooty from Coimbatore is popular for its scenic beauty. As Ooty is located on NH 67 several tourist buses and taxis commute here without any hassle.
SHOPPING IN OOTY
Shopping in Ooty is one of the most exciting and thrilling experience for tourists who love to go on a shopping spree. Endowed with sprawling tea gardens and luxuriant green forest, Ooty is known for its fine flavored and aromatic tea leaves, delicious honey, eucalyptus oil and several fruits.
The shopping malls of Ooty are flooded with natural products of forests. Ooty is a paradise for those who love shopping. Surrounded by tea gardens, the tourists can smell the enchanting scent of fresh tea leaves while taking a stroll in the long winding paths of Ooty. The fresh tea leaves are purchased by the tourists as a relic of the beautiful place of Ooty. Another prominent itinerary in the list of items while shopping in Ooty is the pure and sweet honey which is available in all the stores and shopping centers of the place. The natural oil of Eucalyptus has a great demand among the shoppers because of its medicinal value. The markets of Ooty are full of fresh fruits that impart a colorful look to the place.
The exquisite piece of the embroidered items by the tribal community of Toda represents the rich traditional art and craft of South India. The delicately designed jewelry of Silver is another attraction for the tourists who purchase such items as souvenirs for their near and dear ones.