Lofty mountains, dense forest, sprawling grasslands and miles and miles of tea garden estates greet passengers when they arrive into Ooty. The queen of hill stations and the capital of the Nilgiris district, Ooty, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. It is especially known for being a honeymooner’s paradise. Officially called Ootacamund, this tourist hub in Southern India, is better known by its nickname, Ooty, given by the British. Be it Bollywood directors, honeymooners, family or adventure travellers, Ooty has touched everyone’s heart and imagination. Mountains, lakes, gardens, waterfalls, wildlife and scenic beauty; Ooty is simply paradise on earth.
It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above the sea level. One can notice a marvelous change in the vegetation, as one goes from Kallar to Coonoor. Ooty is also known as the Blue Mountains owing to the indigo cover of the beautiful kurinji flower that blooms on the slopes of the Nilgiris once every 12 years. During the blossom, Ooty looks absolutely spectacular; reaffirming the wonders of nature.
The fun of an Ooty trip begins even before entering the hill town. The famous toy train, Nilgiri Mountain Railway that connects Mettupalayam and Ooty is a heritage route that breathes excitement in every minute. The uphill journey crosses bridges, tunnels and maneuvers steep curves taking you on a journey of a lifetime.
How to reach Ooty?
- Ooty by Flight
Coimbatore is the nearest airport at a distance of 100 kilometres from Ooty. It offers domestic flights to various cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru and Calicut and also has international flights to Singapore and few other places.
- Ooty by Road
Ooty is 90 kilometres from Coimbatore by road and 105 km from Tiruppur. Bus services and even taxis are available for hire easily from these places.
- Ooty by Train
Coimbatore and Tiruppur are the 2 nearest stations, which have connectivity to Mettupalayam from where you can get Ooty Toy Train which is an exclusive train service from Mettupalayam to Ooty and few other minor stations. Coimbatore is also very well connected to all the other major cities of parts of the country.
Best Time to Visit Ooty-
Ooty is alluring all throughout the year. Winters can be quite chilly due to snow fall. However, flower shows during February and March attract many tourists. Ooty’s celebration of New Year is quite famous, especially in hotels. The place can be visited all through the year keeping off the heavy rainy days in monsoon. Monsoon brings greenery and what is better than a hill station with scenic green views. Winters are relatively cold and would make you enjoy the shivers. The annual Tea and Tourism Festival attracts crowds in huge numbers to visit the place and have a great time in this wonderful place.
Winter (October – March): Winter in Ooty is quite pleasant. The temperature usually stays lower than 15-degree celsius and it touches 0-degree occasionally.
Monsoon ( July – September) People who love rainfall and pouring thunders with amazing green grass beds laid over mountains can pack their bags and head straight to Ooty. Though weather won’t be bright in monsoon, it is still lovable.
Summer (March – June): Summers are beautiful in Ooty and there is nothing that can stop you from endeavouring the beauty of Ooty. The lush green mountains, the toy train rides; the enticing views are all an add-on to the trip.
Places to Visit in Ooty-
Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway built by the British in 1908 is a World Heritage Site. It’s a 46-kilometre beautiful toy train journey that starts from Mettupalayam and goes through tunnels, curves, bridges and beautiful scenery to reach Ooty in five hours. From 300 feet to 7200 feet, the Ooty toy train is amust visit for anybody who is planning to come to Ooty in the near future. The Nilgiri rail system is the steepest rail system in Asia. It was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005. Another fascinating feature of the train is that its youngest X class loco is over 50 years old and the oldest is 80 years old.
Ooty Lake is a popular destination for picnicking, paddle boating and enjoying Ooty leisurely. Built in 1825, it is a 2.5-kilometre long lake meandering through the scenic beauty of the Nilgiris. Many famous movies have been shot in this lake which makes it an exciting prospect for the tourists. The lake originally extended to the present day market area and ferries were used to travel from one side to the other. Eventually, the lake shrunk in size leaving behind an open space which is now used at the bus stand and the mini garden.
Ooty Botanical Garden, spread over a huge area of 22 hectares and with more than 650 species of flowers and trees, is a horticulturist’s delight. The highlight of the garden is a fossil tree that is believed to be 20 million years old. Another attraction here is the Toda tribe settlement towards the top of the garden. Be privy in to the lifestyle and culture of this tribe during your visit.
A must-visit for history buffs, Stone House is the first bungalow of Ooty built by John Sullivan in 1822. Today, it is the Government Arts College of Ooty and displays amazing architecture and some great relics. It is quite popular with those tourists whose interests are inclined towards the architectural beauty of old monuments.
Fernhill Palace, built in 1844 was the summer bungalow of the Maharaja of Mysore. The grandeur of the palace transports you to the bygone era of the colonial past of the Maharajas. The palace grounds accentuate the alpine look of the place with its manicured gardens, firs and cedars. There is an interesting church like indoor badminton court on the grounds. The Palace is spread out over 50 acres (200,000 m2) of green lawns, stylized gardens and dense woods with spectacular views of terraced tea gardens and lush verdant valleys.
St. Stephen’s Church
St. Stephen’s Church, built in 1829, is the oldest church in this region. The stained glass windows are a visual delight. The large wooden beams used to construct the church were carried by elephants from a distance of 120 kilometres from Tipu Sultan’s Palace in Mysore. The church dates back to the 19th century. Stephen Rumbold Lushington, the then Governor of Madras, who keenly felt the need for a church in Ooty exclusively for the British, laid the foundation for the church on April 23, 1829.