Ooty Information - Explore Ooty

Ooty is one of the important and Interesting Tourist spots of Tamil Nadu.  This place has very cool and chill climate in summer season so it one of the best known hill resorts of India.  The other name of Ooty is Udagamandalam.  It is also called as the “Queen of Hills Stations”.  It is located at the tri junction of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. It is about 7500 feet above the sea level.   Ooty is endowed with extraordinary scenic beauty in the midst of Nilgiris. Nilgiris is also called as Blue Mountain because of its misty blue clouds with peaceful ranges.

Nilgris is a beautiful mountain range which is a part of Western Ghats. Totally there are three places to visit namely Kothagiri, Coonoor and Ooty. Among these three Ooty is given the primal importance because of its scenic beauty and excellent climate conditions. Nilgri Hills are older than the Great Himalayas. Like Icing on a cake Ooty adds Pride to this mountain range.

Ooty was first discovered in 1819 by John Sullivan. He was the Collector of Coimbatore and it was later named as Ootacamund or Ooty derived from the word Ottakkalmandu, which means the ‘village of a single stone’. Udagamandalam is the Tamil name proposed by the government.  The entire region was previously inhabited by the Toda tribal’s.

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The climb to Ooty from the plain used to be a treacherous journey on a ghat road in bullock carts, ponies and palanquins aided by the Nilgiri carrying company's Mail and Express Tonga Service.  British engineers proposed a mountain railway as early as 1854 but it was not until 1891 that Lord Wenlock, the Governor of Madras, laid the foundation of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.  in 1899, the first train chugged up the slopes from Mettupalayam (36m/1,069ft)to Coonoor (1,712/5,617ft), before the rail link was extended to Ooty(2,203m/7,228ft) in 1903.

Though not as old or lengthy as the other mountain railway at Darjeeling and Shimla, the 46km train journey is the steepest in Asia, with a maximum gradient of 1:12 (8.33 percent).  The railway link was not just an engineering marvel; it also revolutionized the Nilgiri tea industry with swift transportation from the estates to the plains and back to Britain.  Using a rack and pinion Alternate Biting Teeth (ABT) system, it takes nearly 5hr for the ascent with the engine pushing the train from behind.  The scenic terrain past hills, valleys, forests and plantations changes with every mile as the train negotiates 16 tunnels, 27 viaducts and 208 curves.  From Mettupalaiyam station, the train climbs 7km past betelnut, palm and coconut plantations to Kallar, an elevation of 405m/1,329ft. The train crosses Kallar Bridge over the Bhavani River, Adderley Viaduct, Burliar Bridge and 14 tunnels as it crosses tropical jungles via Hill Grove to Coonoor (Adderley, Runnymede and Kateri are no longer stops).

Long before Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora danced to Chhaiyya Chhaiyya on a moving train, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway was depicted in David Lean's 1984 film A Passage to India.  Coonoor railway station, a beautiful Colonial structure built in 1897, was one of the scenic locales.  A steam locomotive, x37390, constructed by Swiss Locomotive Works in 1922 and retired after chugging 7.5km, stands outside! From Coonoor, the train climbs via Wellington, Aruvankadu, Ketti, Lovedale and Fernhill (the highest point) to Ooty.  The train leaves daily from Mettupalayam at 7.10am to Ooty and returns at 3pm, completing the downhill journey in 3.5hr.  There are also four daily trains each way between Ooty and Coonoor.  In 2005, UNESCO added the Nilgiri Mountain Railway to its list of World Heritage Sites.  Despite having computerized ticketing systems, the NMR still issues manually stamped Edmondson railway tickets, retaining its old-world charm.

Ooty Tourism Information

Ooty is about 89km via Mettupalayam (54km southeast) and Coonoor (19km).  Sent to investigate the 'fabulous tales' surrounding the Blue Mountains or 'Neilgherries', John Sullivan, the Collector of Coimbatore set up a bungalow at Kotagiri in 1819 and came to Ooty in 1822.  After his departure, the commandant of Ooty moved into Sullivan's house in 1846, which was later occupied by three European schools (including Lawrence, which sifted to Lovedale).  The large patch of green set up to grow 'English vegetables at reasonable cost' was converted into a Botanical Garden in 1848.  The Stone House served as the Summer Secretariat of the Governor of Madras Presidency till 1937 and Ooty eventually became what Sullivan had envisioned it to be the Queen of Hill Stations, Scotland of the East.  The 'sweet half-English air of Neilgherry' drew poet Lord Alfred Tennyson while Lord Lytoon, Viceroy of India, raved about Ooty's Hertfordshire lanes, Devonshire down, Westmoreland lakes, Scotch trout streams and Lusitanian views'.

Ooty Tour Information

Located in an amphitheatre of hills stretching over 3km in a northwesterly direction, one of the hill station's most famous sights, the airtifical Ooty Lake, it can be found to the south-west of town.  The Boat House is the hub of all activities with boating horse rides, gardens, eateries and touristy amusement parks.  Motorboats are available for 20min at Rs.485 (10-seater) and pedal boats for 30min at 90 (2-seater, Rs. 100 deposit).  Besides horse riding (Rs50 for a full round, double for a white horse), ornamental plants and seeds are also available near the lake exit.  Thread Garden is a bizarre collection of 15 species of plants recreated out of thread. On the road back towards town, the TTDC run Jolly World Lake Park has slides and go-karting and is popular with families.

To the south is Fern Hill while east f the lake beyond the racecourse is Elk Hill on whose lower northwestern slope lies India's largest rose garden.  Set up in 1955 to commemorate the Centenary flower Festival, the Rose Garden is spread over 4 ha/10 acres in 5 terraces and boats 2,241 rose varieties (best enjoyed in early summer).  In 2006, it was the best rose garden in South Asia, winning the Garden of Excellence Award at Osaka.

Etiennes Road, skirts north of the garden, joins Charing Cross, Ooty's main junction. Due east and spreading around Sulivan's original Stone House is the Government Arts College.  Just across the bust SH-15 is Lawley Institute, a club formed in 1911 for upper-class Indians in response to the snobbish attitude of the Ooty and Gymkhana clubs.  Ironically, Sri Arthur Lawley, Governor of Madras laid the foundation stone.

North of it, opposite the Tibetan Market off Woodhouse Road, is another famous sight of Ooty, the Botanical Garden Occupying a deep ravine below Raj Bhavan, the summer residence of the Governor.  Designed in 1848 with the help of W.G. Mclvor from the Kew Royal Botanical Garden in England, the 26ha/65-acre garden has various nurseries, terraces and conservatories.  Its chief attractions are a 20 million-year-old fossil tree trunk, the unusual dragon tree, a Toda mund (tribal village), an Italian garden laid by Italian POWs and the kikuyu grass imported from East Africa, on which many a film song has been picturised. Adjacent to the garden is the Hebron School, established in 1899, one of the many historic institutions in the hills.

To the north of town is St Stephens Church with exquisite stained glass windows and the graves of John Sullivan's wife and daughter. Just south of the church, the administrative complex is a clutch of colonial buildings the District Court, Head Post Office and Collector's Office, with iconic shops like Mohans and Higginbotham's in the Oriental Building nearby.  Breeks memorial School, named after James Wilkinson Breeks, the first District Collector of the Nilgiris, was started in a heritage building, was started in a heritage building (now part of the Nilgiris District Court complex), until it was relocated to Charing Cross near Adams Fountain in 1886.  It was here Lord Macaulay coined the syllabus of the modern education system for India.  South of Hospital Road, half-hidden in a grove of eucalyptus, is another institution.  Nilgiri Library, built in 1858. On an adjoining 1.6ha/4-acre plot is the main branch of the State Bank of India, opened in 1866 as the Bank of Madras.

Ooty Botanical Garden

The English styled terraced gardens were founded in 1847, by Marquis of Tweed-Dale. He took the services of W. G. Ivor, a well known horticulturist form the famous Kew garden of England.  The garden sprawls across an area of about 22 hectares and has the most colourful collection of flora in Southern India.  There are about 1000 varieties of plants, shrubs and trees.  The beautifully maintained garden also has exotic varieties of orchids, ferns, ornamental and floral plants, alpines, coniferous trees, rock plants, bulbous plants and several species of medicinal plants.  The ‘fern House’ built here is one of the most attractive features of the garden.

Children’s Park Ootacamund

At the eastern end of the lake we find a children’s park. Already the climate and natural green carpet, adding pride to Ooty, this children’s park is also an important place.

Ooty Boat House Lake

The picturesque lake set amidst the blue hills was built between 1823, by John Sullivan.  It has fine boating facilities with row boats, paddle boats and motor boats available on hire.  The lake garden and toy train rides are other attractions.

Thread Garden Udhagamandalam

This unique garden full of colourful flowers made from threads is perhaps one of the most amazing sites one could come across.  The plants and flowers are entirely woven by hand without any help from machines; even needles have not been used in creating these wonders.

Government Museum Udhagamandalam

Government Museum is located on the Mysore Road exhibiting various tribal objects, representative sculptural arts and crafts of Tamil Nadu and the ecological details of the Nilgiri district.

Raj Bhavan

It lies on the Dodabetta Ridge, near the famous Botanical Garden.  The majestic building was built in 1877, by the Duke of Buckingham and is now used only for official entertaining, while the grounds are open to visitors.

Kandal Cross Ootacamund

The Roman Catholic Church is believed to enshrine a relic of the ‘True Cross’ on which Jesus Christ was crucified.  It is said to have been brought to India by an Apostle’s delegate.  Special Novena Prayers and Holy Masses are held her on every Friday and an annual feast is organised on May 3rd.

Ooty Club

This exquisite relic of the colonial past was built in the 1820’s.  The architecture and lush lawns are quite impressive.  The club still sticks on to the rules and regulations set during the British era.

Rose Garden Udhagamandalam

This largest Rose Garden of India is perched on the lower slopes of Elk Hill at Vijayanagaram Farms.  It was designed to commemorate the centenary flower festival covering an area of 6 hectares with over terraces.  The initial collections of 17526 rose plants from 1919 varieties include floribundas, hybrid teas, polyanthus, miniatures and creepers.  It is planned to increase the varieties to 5000 by introducing new strains from different centres in India and abroad.

Recently, it has become the first rose garden in the country to be recognised as a ‘Garden of Excellence’ by the World Federation of Rose Societies.

Stone House

This first bungalow of Ooty was built by John Sullivan and was called as ‘Kal Bangala’ by the tribals (Kal means stone in Tamil).  Today, it is the official residence for the principal of the Govt. Art College.

St. Stephen’s Church

The castle like structure built in Gothic style is the first church of Ooty.  There is an old cemetery near the church.

The Nilgiris Library

This excellent library was set up in 1868.  It is well stocked with rich and rare collection of documents, biographies and old books.

The Museum Ootacamund

It was established in 1989 and has a fine collection of art facts related to the Nilgiri district.  This museum exhibits   timber, Kurinji flower, insects, butterflies, rocks and wood carvings.  Stone sculptures, bronze works, model of Toda hut and coins can also be seen here.  The museum is under the control of a Curator of Museums.

Ooty Trip Information

Coonoor Tourism

At an altitude of 1858m, Coonoor, a scruffy bazaar and tea-planters’ town on the Nilgiri Blue Mountain Railway lies at the head of the Hulikal ravine, on the south-eastern side of the Dodabetta mountains, 27km north of Mettupalayam and 19km south of Ooty, Often considered second best to its more famous neighbour, Coonoor has luckily avoided Ooty’s over commercialization, and can make a pleasant place for a short stop.  In addition to an atmospheric little hill market specializing in leaf tea and fragrant essential oils, there are also plenty of rejuvenating strolls to be taken in the outlying hills and valleys.

Udhagamandalam Palaces

Ooty is also dotted with some fine palaces and stately mansions, which were built by various rulers as their summer palaces.  The most important buildings are of the famous kings of Mysore, Vadodara, Jodhpur and Hyderabad.

Wenlock Downs

This stretch has 20,000 acres of grassland with Sholas or ‘Gallery forest’ on the Gudalur road.  It is about 8 km from the station.  It is the most popular picnic spot of Ooty.  The undulating landscape is blessed with splendid scenic beauty and rich vegetation.  The Gymkhana Club, the Govt.  Sheep Farm and Hindustan Photo Films Company are located here.

Ooty Summer Festival

The annual tourist festivals are jointly organised by the Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu and Minister of Tourism, Government of India in the month of May, which is reared as the peak tourist season. Colourful cultural programmes, fashion parade, flower and fruit shows are held here during this time.  Boat races, boat pageantry and dog show etc., are other attractions of this grand event.

Ooty General Information

Ooty Season

April to May and September to November

Ooty Height 7,500 feet
Ooty Area 36 sq. km
Ooty Rainfall 121 cms
Ooty Railway Enquiry 0423-2442246
Ooty Bus Enquiry 0423-2443970
Ooty to Chennai 539 km
Ooty Government Hospital 0423-2442212
Ooty Tourist Officer 0423-2443977
Ootacamund Fire Service Station 0423-2442999

Ooty Photo Gallery

Ooty Garden Photo Udhagamandalam Tour Photo
Botanical Garden Ooty Tour Botanical Garden
Ooty Botanical Garden Botanical Garden
Boat House Udhagamandalam Rose Garden
Ootacamund Boat House Ootacamund Rose Garden
Udhagamandalam Tea Estae Udhagamandalam Tea Estae
Ooty Tea Estae Tea Estae
Sims Park Coonoor Udhagamandalam Thread Garden
Sims Park Thread Garden