Ooty, short for Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam stands at a height of 2,600m and is called the Queen of Hill Stations. Most people have heard about Ooty and seen it in movies but to experience Ooty you have to visit it and see for yourself.
The many gardens of Ooty, the lakes, and the Nilgiri forests are famed for their beauty and have formed the backdrop for many a movie in India. That is before Switzerland became the hot spot film location.
The town of Ooty itself has many buildings which are very British in appearance. The popular Derby Race and the English Hunt is held here annually. Because of its cool misty climate and scenic beauty it is a very popular tourist destination for all. The Summer Festival and the Tea and Tourism Festival are also seasonally held in Ooty.
The Botanical Garden has a wide variety of plants and flowers especially different rare varieties that are not found anywhere else. It is maintained by the Horticulture Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The gardens are sprawled over 50 acres and lie on the slopes of Dodabetta peak.
The fossil tree trunk displayed is from 20 million year old rocks.
This is also the highest point in Ooty. Some rare trees like the cork tree are found here. There is also a 20 million year old fossilized tree that attracts a lot of attention. The Flower Show which is a part of the Summer Festival is held in the Botanical Garden.
The Rose Garden is situated in the heart of the town and has the largest collection of roses in India. More than 2,000 varieties of roses are found here and they include hybrid varieties, creepers, miniature roses and black and green roses. Truly a visual delight.
The Ooty Lake is another favorite place for tourists. It is an artificial lake and was originally constructed as an irrigation tank by John Sullivan the first collector of Ooty. Boating on this lake is very popular and there are different kinds of boats to suit everyone?s budget. A mini garden has also been constructed here and it has an amusement park for children too.
The Nilgiri Forests are found at the foot of the Nilgiri Mountains or Blue Mountains. They are famous for the large scale production of Tea and Eucalyptus or Nilgiri oil. Apart from Ooty the other neighboring towns in the Nilgiris are Coonoor, Kotagiri and Gudalur.
The Nilgiris are known as the blue mountains because of seasonal blue flowers that grow on the mountains giving it a bluish appearance.
One of the tribes that live in the Nilgiris are known as the Todas. They are basically shepherds. Toda shawls and antique Toda jewelery can be purchased in the markets. The Nilgiri Forests are home to the Asian Elephants and the Tiger. But much of the Nilgiri Forests that lie in Ooty have been cleared by the government to make way for Tea plantations, Eucalyptus, Acacia and for fruit orchards. Some of the fruits found in plenty are Plums and Apples.
The journey in the Nilgiri Mountain Train also known as the Toy Train is something that cannot be forgotten. The view through the forests and plantations is breathtaking. The train passes through 16 tunnels and connects Ooty to Mettupalayam at the foot of the Nilgiris.
From Ooty it is very easy to go to Coonoor another delightful hill station. It is 18 kilometres from Ooty and it takes about half and hour to get there in a vehicle. You can even go there in the Mountain Train as it passes through Coonoor on its journey from Mettupalayam to Ooty.
Author: Rosanne DSouza- USA