Ooty, the colloquial of Ootacamund, is a popular hill station of South India in the Nilgiri District of Tamil Nadu. Also known as Udhagamandalam, it is a municipality and the district capital. The town lies at an altitude of 2286 m and has been remarked as the ‘queen of hill stations’ by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
The natural surroundings of Ooty include landscapes, dense forest reserves and national parks. This hill station is popular for its tea farming as well as oil extraction industry, wherein the oil is obtained from its eucalyptus trees, lemon grass, geranium, clove and camphor.
History of Ooty
Ooty covers an area of 36 sq km and contains the highest point of Southern India, the Doddabetta Peak. The name of the place was derived from the Toda word ‘othakal-mund’ that means ‘the house of single stone.’
It is believed that the part of Ooty was handed to Mr John Sullivan, the tenth Governor of Coimbatore by Todas to develop the city. Before independence, British army was sent to Ooty to rest and recover after the war. There is no such historical data that talks about Ooty being ruled by some dynasty. The Old Ooty has some historical connections with the Toda tribes.
Ooty has also been named as the summer capital of the Madras Presidency and used to be a popular summer retreat of Britishers during the colonial days. The beauty and significance of the Nilgiri Hills was covered in a book written by Jacome Forico, who was the first European to visit the place, in 1603.
People & Culture in Ooty
The destination also experiences a wide array of festivals and events all year long that depict its cultural identity and history. Most of the popular festivals of India including the Buddhist and Hindu ones are celebrated in Ooty.
The significant festivals include the Summer Flower Festival held at the Botanical Garden that remains the main highlight of the place, during the season. In addition, the Tea and Tourism festival held in January every year also attracts thousands of tourists.
Things to do in Ooty
A major attraction is the mountain train journey to Ooty on a ratchet and pinion track. The journey covers 46 km and the train starts from Kallar, near Mettupalayam and passes through steep curves and long tunnels along deep ravines full of green vegetation, streams and tea gardens.
The Ooty Lake
is a major attraction of the hill station and is popular for boating. Another famous attraction includes the Government Museum
, which contains the history of the Nilgiri District. Other popular tourist attractions of Ooty include the Deer Park, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
, the Rose Garden
, Ooty Botanical Garden
, the Stone House, etc.
Travelling to Ooty
Ooty can be easily accessed by major cities of Karnataka and other parts of Tamil Nadu. Peelamedu Airport, Coimbatore serves as the closest airport to reach Ooty
, which is at a distance of about 104 kms. From Coimbatore, tourists can hire taxi to Ooty which would cost about Rs. 2500. Also, there are regular bus services from Coimbatore to Ooty.
Other Airports close to Ooty are Bengaluru International Airport, which is at about 310 kms away and Chennai International Airport at a distance of about 560 kms.
The main railway station to reach Ooty
is Mettupalayam, a small town at the foothills of the Niligiris. There are regular train services from Chennai and Coimbatore to Mettupalayam. A train called 'Niligiris Express' starts at night from Chennai and reaches Mettupalayam the next morning around 6.30. From here, tourists can hire taxi or board a bus to reach Ooty.
Ooty is well connected with most of the South Indian cities by bus. There are regular bus services from Mysore, Bangalore, Madurai, Kanyakumari and from some cities of Kerala. The over-night Volvo buses and state owned buses serve to Ooty from cities of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Travelling within Ooty
Within Ooty, its best to hire taxis or cabs to visit surrounding areas and they cost around Rs. 500 - Rs.750 for a day trip.
Accommodation Options in Ooty
Ooty offers an array of accommodation options to the tourists. Hotels in Ooty
range from luxuries hotels to budget hotels.