Ooty, also known as Udhagamandalam is the Queen of hill stations. It is the capital of the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu and one of the most popular tourist resorts in India. Nilgiris means the Blue Mountains. It is a land of picturesque picnic spots which used to be popular summer and weekend getaway for the Britishers during the colonial days. It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. With cool temperatures all through the year, it’s inviting set amidst verdant green hills has rightfully earned Ooty the moniker, ‘Queen of the Hills’. Quaint bungalows and heritage buildings reflect Ooty’s colonial past and make it an ever-growing and popular holiday destination in southern India.
Here is a quick handy guide to Ooty:
Take a Toy Train Ride:
The Nilgiris Mountain Railway was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Covering a distance of 26 kilometers from Mettupayalam to Ooty, the ‘toy train’, as it’s called, makes its way through 16 tunnels and 250 bridges. With over 200 mountainous curves to navigate, the views throughout the entire journey are absolutely spectacular.
The mountain train journey on a ratchet and pinion track commences from Kallar, near Mettupalayam and wends its way through many hair-raising curves and fearful tunnels and chugs along beside deep ravines full of verdant vegetation, gurgling streams, and tea gardens.
Embark on a Tea Plantation Tour:
The hillsides of Ooty are prolific tea country. A variety of teas flourish on the plantations scattered around Ooty and taking a tour of these tea plantations makes for an enlightening experience. Depending on the time of year, you can see tea buds being cultivated and harvested. Sampling tea at the town’s tea plantations is a year-round activity!
The highest mountain at over 2.600 meters in the Nilgiris Hills, Doddabetta Peak is ensconced by dense forests of eucalyptus and rhododendron trees. The observatory atop the peak offers 360-degree panoramic views of the pristine surroundings.
It is situated near the center of the town and has lots of activities around for kids and adults alike. We headed over to the paddle boat here just after the rain and could see mist floating over the water and icing the tips of our noses. We also chanced upon some ducks swimming around our boats and spotted dears peeping their heads out of the surrounding thickets! Our inner child came out when we went for some thrilling rides on the lakefront, and it was worth every penny spent. A lazy stroll around the lake is a must-try!
Pykara Lake and Falls:
Located about 20km from the town center, this lake is a scenic spot with forest all around and turns into tumbling waterfalls as you head ahead. The waterfalls don’t have a ‘majestic’ drop, but the sheer volume of flow and the trickling sound of water makes this a special place. The clear blue sky and white clouds in the backdrop make it a very photogenic location as well. We headed over to a hill next to the falls and instantly drowned into a siesta only to be woken up by the serene sound of the falls.
Another attraction of this trip is the Pine Forest. It is a semi-dense forest of pine trees. A part of the forest is opened for the visitors. You will get fresh honey being sold outside the forest. The famous Hindi movie Raaz (2001) was shooting in this forest.
Another famous place of this trip is Pei mund (commonly known as the ninth mile) situated on the way to Pykara. This is nothing but a vast expanse of a grassy meadow. This is also an ideal location for picnics. Some songs from the movie Sajan had been shot here.
- Handmade Chocolates: Handmade chocolates are a sweet and popular indulgence in Ooty. Sold by weight, choose from a wide selection of locally made chocolates from King Star Confectioners or Modern Stores in town.
- Tea: While in Ooty, your choice beverage will most likely be a hot cup of tea. Made using locally grown tea, varieties of tea available include green, spice, and black. A tea sampler from Nilgiri Tea makes for great gifts!
1. Woolens and a warm jacket are needed all through the year in Ooty. While the days are relatively warmer, the nights are breezy and cold.
2. An umbrella or raincoat to shield you from the rain. You don’t want to be caught by surprise during an unexpected drizzle.
3. Motion sickness medication is recommended for those who are prone to sickness on winding roads. Whether getting to Ooty by road or train, the curves can be a stomach churner for some.
Ooty is THE place for you to head to in South India throughout the year. With pleasant summers, it serves as a perfect retreat for those looking to seek shelter from the burning heat. Ooty captivates your attention right from the moment you step into the town and gives you memories that last a lifetime.
The cool serene landscape of Ooty is movie-like; winding, country lanes, and colonial architecture breathe a sigh of fresh air into the weary traveler. It is a great escape for those wanting respite from the scorching Indian sun. Whilst the town center is somewhat chaotic, a short journey up into the hills reveals a world of greenery, infused with bright gardens, Hindu Temples, and a wealth of astounding views.
So here is your quick guide to the queen of hill stations- Ooty.
Till then- KEEP TRAVELING. KEEP WANDERING.