Udhagamandalam also popularly known as Ooty is hailed as the only hill station of southern India. Hailed as the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’, Ooty is the capital of Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu. Besides being well-known for its tea plantations, lofty mountains, vibrant blossoming flora, rippling water bodies, relaxing boat rides, Ooty also has glistening markets where one can buy tribal Toda handicrafts and jewelry.
Also there are petite bakeries and book stores which are a part of the city’s colonial legacy. The attractions of Ooty do not end here. The place is also blessed with rich fauna preserved by the thick forests and wildlife sanctuaries. And the ride in the toy train which begins from Kallar near Mettupalayam, passes through thrilling curves, lush tea gardens, ravines filled with vegetation and giggling streams is truly the cherry on top.
Major Attractions in Ooty
- Ooty Lake – The 2.75 km long artificial lake was formed by the founder of Ooty John Sullivan in 1825. The naturally enchanting surroundings are a visual treat for the visitors of this lake. Ooty lake is a popular picnic spot and a must visit place for all those traveling to Ooty. At the end of the lake is the Boat house where all sorts of boats can be hired. Close to it is a children’s park which also offers a ride in a toy train.
- Botanical Garden – Enticing tourists from not only India but all over the world, Botanical Garden Ooty is one of the best tourist places of Delhi. Kept up by the Horticulture Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, the garden has a large variety of flora comprising flowers, plants, flowering bushes, ferns & orchids, roses, rare species of flowers, imported shrubs, etc.
- Doddabetta Peak – At an altitude of 2623m, this peak is the highest point of Ooty district, 10kms away from the main city of Ooty. There is a Telescopic house at the peak which gives an amazing view of the place. One can also enjoy the adventure of trekking to this highest point of Nilgiri Mountains.
- Stone House – Built by John Sullivan in 1822, Stone House is the first bungalow of Ooty. A must visit heritage site for all the lovers of history, now this place serves as the residence of Principal of Government Arts College of Ooty. It has also been known as Sullivan’s Oak and Kal Bangala.
- Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary – Spread across an area of over 32,000 hectares, this famous wildlife sanctuary is located amidst the Nilgiri Hills. It is a house to jackal, elephants, langur, tiger, leopard, mouse deer, flying squirrel, spotted dear, wild boar, tiger and many more animals.
Other prime destinations of tourist interest in and around Ooty include –
- Rose Garden
- Pykara Lake
- Emerald Lake
- 6th Mile
- 9th Mile
- Kalhatty Waterfalls
- Ketti Valley View
- The Mukurthi Peak and National Park
- Dolphin Nose
- Sim’s Park
- St. Catherine Waterfalls
- Elk Hill Murugan Temple
- St. Stephen’s Church
Festivals and fairs
Thick plantations of tea, fruits and flowers surround the land of Ooty. Various festivals are organized by the state and central govt. to boost the tourism of Ooty. Some of the festivals are as follows –
- Boat Races and Boat Pageantry
- Dog shows
- Ooty Mariamman Temple Festival
- Fruit Show in Conoor
- Bookkapuram Mariamman Temple Festival
- Thaipoosam in Elk Hill Murugan Temple
The city of Ooty becomes all the more vivacious and alluring during the celebration of these festivals. A festival which is a major attraction of Ooty is the Summer Festival organized every year in the month of May by the Tourism Department of the district. Many flower shows, boat races and other cultural programs are a part of the festival. A large number of people from all over the country tour to Ooty at this time.
Best time to visit
Ooty is the favorite south Indian hill station among tourists all the year round. With every season bringing a new charisma, Ooty can be visited at almost anytime of the year except for the months of monsoon (July-August-September) as the city experiences heavy rainfall during these months. Such heavy rains might disrupt sightseeing excursions and photography of travelers. October to February are the months of winters with pleasant days and rather chilling nights. From March begins the season of summers which are pleasant and perfect for sightseeing.
How to reach
By air – The nearest domestic airport is at Coimbatore which is well connected with all the major cities of the country and is at a distance of 88 km from Ooty. Closest international airport is Bangalore airport which is 295 km away from Ooty and has flights to and from most of the cities around the world.
By Road – Regular state and private transport buses are available for Ooty from Bangalore, Mysore and Chennai. Besides, if you wish to self-drive, then that too is surely going to be a great experience. Roads to Ooty are surrounded by gorgeous backdrop of thick forest area.
By train – Mettupalyam is the nearest railway station at a distance of 40 km from Ooty. After reaching Mettupalyam, you can enjoy a ride in the famous heritage train – the Nilgiri Mountain train which will take you to your destination through the way of hills. Else you can also hire a taxi from the railway station.