Monday, 23 May 2011

Ooty, Ootacamund, Udagamandalam, Udhagai

Ootacamund, Udagamandalam, Udhagai, Ooty, is a town, a municipality and the district capital of the Nilgiri district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Ooty or Ootacamund is a popular hill station located in the Nilgiri Hills. Originally occupied by theTodas, the area came under the rule of the East India Company at the end of the eighteenth century. Today the town's economy is based on tourism and agriculture, with manufacturing of medicines and photographic film also present.

The town is connected to the rest of India by road and rail, and its historic sites and natural beauty attract tourists.

Ooty, which is deep within the Nilgiri hills, is also known as The Blue Mountains. It is unknown whether this name comes from the blue smoky haze given off by the eucalyptus trees that cover the area, or because of the kurunji flower, which blooms every twelve years giving the slopes a bluish tinge Unlike any other region in the country, no historical proof is found to state that Ooty was a part of any kingdoms or empires.Tippu Sultan was the first to extend his border by constructing a hideout cave like structure.

It was originally a tribal land and was occupied by the Todas along with other tribes who coexisted through specialisation and trade. Frederick price in his book Ootacamund, A History states that the area which is now called as the 'Old Ooty' was originally occupied by the Todas. The Todas then handed over that part of the town to John Sullivan, the then Governor of Coimbatore. He later developed the town, and encouraged the establishment of tea, chinchona, and teak trees. Like many of the settlers, Sullivan was highly impressed by the way the tribes cooperated, and sought to maintain this balance. He later campaigned tirelessly to ensure land rights and cultural recognition for these tribes and was financially and socially punished for this by the British Government.

The Nilgiri territory came into possession of 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 the people of Nilgiris. In 1812 surveyor William Keys and Macmohan visited the top of the plateau. In 1818, Wish and Kindersley, Assistant and Second Assistant to Collector of Coimbatore visited this spot and submitted their experience report to the Collector of Coimbatore John Sullivan. John Sullivan with his party proceeded to Nilgiri Mountain and camped at Dimbhatti, just north of Kotagiri in January 1819. 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. John Sullivan laid the path from Sirumugai (near-Mattupalayam) to Dimbhatti in 1829 and the work was completed in May 1823. The route up to Coonoor was laid in 1830-32. Ooty served as the summer capital of the Madras Presidency and other small kingdoms, much visited by British during the colonial days, and as today, a popular summer and weekend resort. Soldiers were also sent here and to nearby Wellington (The home of the Madras regiment to this day) to recuperate. Its stunning beauty and splendid green deep valleys inspired the British to name it Queen of Hill Stations.

It is reached via winding hill roads or a complicated rack railway system, known as the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, built in 1908 by impassioned and enterprising British citizens with venture capital from the Madras government.

Ooty is visited by many tourists from around the world and was once seen on television for 'Indian Hill Railways'.


Places to See:

Located in the Blue Mountains of the Western Ghats, Ooty draws a large number of tourists every year. Lofty mountains, great lakes, dense forests, sprawling grasslands, miles of tea gardens and eucalyptus trees greet the visitors en route to Ooty. The hill station itself is a land of picturesque picnic spots. It used to be popular summer and weekend getaway for the British during the colonial days, later it was made into a summer administrative town. It is situated at an altitude of 2,286 meters above sea level.

Government Rose Garden

The Government Rose Garden (formerly known as the Centerary Rose Park) is situated in Vijayanagaram of Ooty town, on the slopes of the Elk Hill. Today this garden has the largest collection of roses in the country like Hybrid Tea Roses, miniature rose, Floribunda, Ramblers, roses of unusual colours like black and green are some of the more than 17,000 varieties of roses that are planted in the park. The rose varieties planted in this park were assembled from different sources. The 'Nila Maadam' is located in a spot from where viewers can see the entire rose garden.

Ooty Botanical Gardens

The 22-acre Ooty Botanical Gardens was laid out in 1847 and is maintained by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The original purpose of the Botanical Gardens was purely academic: to promote and study the various flora in and around Nilgiris. Now, it is open to the public as a park. The Botanical Garden is lush, green, and well-maintained. A flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant species is held every May. The garden has a 20-million-year-old fossilized tree. One can find a diverse variety of flora, ranging from rare trees (like the cork tree, the paper bark tree, and the monkey puzzle tree), flowering bushes and plants, ferns and orchids. Another major attraction is an Italian-style garden bordering a pool.

Ooty Lake

Ooty Lake is an artificial lake built by John Sullivan. It used to be much larger than its present size of 4 km2. It is 2.5 km long and encompassed the present bus stand and race course as well as much of the present market. Boating is the major attraction at the lake. The boat ride allows visitors to enjoy the serene environment at a laid-back pace. The lake is bound by groves of eucalyptus trees which augment the scenic beauty of the area. Next to the lake there is a Mini Garden with an amusement park for children.

Stone House

Stone House was the first properly built house in Ooty (at the area called old Ooty), built by John Sullivan. It is inside the premises of the Government Arts College. It now houses government offices.

Toda huts

There are a few Toda huts on the hills above Botanical Garden, where Todas still dwell. There are other Toda settlements in the area, notably Kandal Mund near Old Ooty.

Ooty Mountain Railway

The railhead of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. The station is part of the World Heritage Site. Ooty Railway station offers a unique glimpse of the British raj built railways. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is one of the oldest mountain railways in India. Under consideration in 1845, the line was finally opened by the British in 1908 and was initially operated by the Madras Railway Company. The railway is one of the few in the world that is dependent on steam locomotives.

St. Stephen's Church

St. Stephen's Church is one of the oldest churches in the town and is a local landmark. Its architecture is essentially early Gothic revival with stained glass typical of the era. It differs from British churches of the same time as it has simplifed buttresses and a stucco exterior. The churchyard is full of colonial headstones, and it remains an active place of worship.

Wax World, Ooty

A wax museum that houses life-size look-alike wax statues of personalities of Indian history, culture and heritage housed in a 142-year-old bungalow.

Ooty Golf Links

A forested and grassy area, mainly home to the Ooty Golf Course.

Tribal Museum

The Tribal Museum is part of the campus of Tribal Research Centre which is in Muthorai Palada (10 km from Ooty town). It is home to rare artifacts and photographs of tribal groups of Tamil Nadu as well as Andaman and Nicobar Islands and anthropological and archaeological primitive human culture and heritage. The Tribal Museum also displays houses belongs to Toda, Kota, Paniya, Kurumba and Kanikaran.


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