Rightly called the “Queen of Hill Stations”, Ooty is one of the most renowned hill stations in India. Situated in the state of Tamil Nadu, Ooty is also known as Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam. Udhagamandalam is the anglicized version and is said to have been derived from the term “othakal mund” which stands for “house in mountains”. With the Nilgiri hills forming the perfect natural background, Ooty has always been an all time favorite among the tourists. Standing at an altitude of 7,347 meters, Ooty came into being under the rule of the British in the 19th century. It was formed to serve as the summer capital of the Madras Presidency; Ooty still continues to be the traveler’s top pick.
Apart from the thick forests, mighty mountains, lakes and grasslands, sprawling tea gardens are a predominant feature of Ooty. They are what make Ooty famous more than anything else. Nilgiri Tea is one of the best quality teas in the whole world and the Tea and Tourism Festival held annually is one of the prime highlights of this hill station.
Eating joints and lodging places are available in plenty in Ooty and shopping here is fun. Apart from the Nilgiri tea, visitors can take back other things like natural oils, fruits, delicious baked cakes and sweet items and Toda embroideries. There are two big shopping places to check which includes Municipal Market and Super Market. For handicrafts items Kairali and Poompuhar are best places. The shops, the first one belonging to Kerala Handicrafts and the latter to Tamil Nadu Handicrafts are located near the Super Market Buildings at Charring Cross.
A great summer destination, Ooty is ideal for a family holiday as well as a romantic getaway.
How to reach Ooty?
Ooty being one of the favorite haunts of the honeymooners and holiday seekers is well connected by air, road and rail services. Reaching this destination therefore is of no concern for the traveler.
Two airports serve Ooty. One is the Coimbatore airport and the other is the Mysore airport (which for reasons has been shut down). The Coimbatore airport is the nearest airport to the hill station and can be reached within 3 and 1/2 hours. Coimbatore handles domestic flights from important cities across the country. Carriers like Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Go Air and Air Deccan operate between Mumbai and Coimbatore. Between Chennai and Coimbatore Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Air Deccan flights operate. Ooty can also be reached from Bangalore.
A night train operates between Chennai and Ooty. Tourists desiring a train journey to the hill station can take the Nilgiri Express which leaves for Ooty from Chennai in the night and reaches a small town named Mettupalayam early in the morning. From here, tourists can either opt for a bus or a hired car to reach Ooty within two hours. Otherwise, for a scenic and memorable journey down the tracks, tourists can also take the small coal train which takes around 5 hours to reach the hill station. Trains are available from Chennai to Coimbatore from where tourists can reach Ooty within 3 and 1/2 hours.
If you choose to travel by car then follow the Coimbatore Mettupalayam Coonoor Ooty Road to reach your destination conveniently. Regular busses ply between Trichy, Bangalore, Kanyakumari, Calicut, Mysore, Madurai and Tirupati.
What to see in Ooty?
A hill station whose beauty is known to everybody in the world is Ooty. The inspiration of many painters, Ooty can very rightfully be designated as paradise. With the highest peak Dodabetta of the Nilgiri Mountain range peeping out of the clouds, a holiday in Ooty is what you can really die for. Visitors to this tranquil hill station will find many places to visit. The first among which is the Botanical Gardens. Spread over 50 acres of sprawling land, a tour of this gardens are a must.
The Mini Garden and the Rose Garden ranks second in prominence with the Government Museum coming right after it. Housing important relics and artifacts belonging to the tribal communities, ecological information of the district and various sculptures and arts and crafts items of Tamil Nadu, the Museum is an integral part of the hill station. Ooty Lake is the geographical heart of the hill station. Founded in 1825 by Mr. John Sullivan as an irrigation tank, this lake is what gives Ooty its true identity.
Kalhatty Falls is located on the Udhagamandalam Mysore Kalhatty Ghat Road at a distance of 13 kilometers from Ooty and is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in this hill station.
The Kandal Cross Shrine is one of the renowned holy shrines belonging to the Roman Catholics of Nilgiri. Also known as the “Calvary of Tamil Nadu,” this also attracts a considerable crowd.
For wildlife enthusiasts, the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is a real treat. The Tea and Tourism Festival and the Summer Festival are the added attractions that draw a considerable amount of tourists here every year.