Ooty Travel Guide
Places to visit
places to visit
Ooty is situated in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Many of the forested areas and water bodies are off limits to most visitors in order to protect this fragile ecosystem. Some areas of the Biosphere Reserve have been earmarked for Tourism Development, and steps are being undertaken to open these areas to visitors whilst conserving the area. Much of Ooty has already been damaged by rampant commercialisation as a result of tourism. Some of the most prominent tourist spots around Ooty are as follows:
* Doddabetta Peak
The highest point in the Nilgiri Hills, offering spectacular views over the town and district. There is road access to the summit. There is a reserved forest area around the peak.
* Tea Plantations
Tea plantations are present at a lower altitude and attract a large number of tourists by their picturuesque nature.
* Ketti Valley
This valley is referred to as the 'Switzerland of Southern India' due to the year-round pleasant climatic conditions. There is a view point called "Valley View" on the main Ooty to Coonoor road.
* Pykara Lake Boat House and Pykara falls
This is the most accessible of all the nearby lakes. A boathouse and picnic area has been developed to provide access to this area. Most of the remainder of the lake is within a reserved forest and off limits to visitors.
* Pine Forest
Situated between Ooty and Thalakunda. This tourist destination known as pine forest (locally also known as pinus forest) was once featured in the Tamil movie song "Deena". It is a small downhill region where pine trees are arranged in an orderly fashion.
* Wenlock Downs
This is a grassland area typical of the original bio scape of the Nilgiris. It has gently undulating hills, and is often compared with areas in the British isles such as the Yorkshire Dales. This is a popular film shooting area, particularly two areas situated approximately six and nine miles (14 km) out of Ooty on the main Ooty to Pykara road (also known as Mysore Road). These locations are accordingly named "Sixth Mile" and "Ninth Mile".
* Kamraj Sagar Lake
This lake is situated on the way to Pykara lake.
* Mudumalai National Park
Situated at a lower altitude and easily accessible to visitors. It borders the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka. It is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.
* Mukurthi National Park
A large protected area generally not accessible to visitors. It also contains a lake and peak of the same name.
* Needle hill view point
A viewpoint situated between Gudalaur and Pykara.
* Parsons Valley Reservoir
This is the primary water source for the town and is mainly in a reserved forest and is thus largely off-limits to visitors.
* Emerald Lake
This lake is situated near the town of the same name. There is a view point near the dam. The rest of the are is mainly in a reserved forest and is largely off-limits to visitors
* Avalanche Lake
Adjacent to the Emerald lake, this picturesque lake is mainly situated in a reserved forest and is largely off-limits to visitors
* Porthimund Lake
This is mostly situated in a reserved forest and is largely off-limits to visitors
* Upper Bhavani Lake
This lake is within the Mukurthi National Park and also largely off limits to visitors
Get there and Around
get there and around
Ooty is well connected by good roads. It is 535 km from Chennai (via Salem), 98 km from Coimbatore, 18 km from Coonoor (via Gudalur), 155 km from Mysore, 187 km from Calicut, 290 km from Bangalore, 281 km from Kochi (via Coimbatore and Palakkad), 236 km from Kodaikanal (via Coimbatore and Palani) Ooty is situated on National Highway 67. It is connected by road to travelers from the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka via the five main accepted Nilgiri Ghat Roads. There is also a road from Karamadai (Coimbatore District) to Ooty via Kotagiri. This road does not pass through Coonoor.
Ooty, being the district capital, has frequent bus connections from nearby towns in the district such as Coonoor, Kotagiri and Gudalur. There are bus connections to most villages in the district via one of these three towns. There are also frequent bus connections to the nearby mainline railway stations of Mettupalayam and Coimbatore. The town also has direct bus services to various cities and towns of Tamil Nadu, namely Tirupur, Erode, Salem, Sathyamangalam, Karur, Dindigul, Chennai, Thiruchirapalli, Madurai, Thanjavur and Kanyakumari. There are several bus services to and from the nearby cities of Mysore and Kozhikode (in the two bordering states). Direct buses can be boarded for Ooty from many other parts of Karnataka and Kerala, including local connections to Palghat, Nilambur and Sulthan Bathery in Kerala, as well as Gundlupet in Karnataka. The capital cities of these two states (Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram respectively) as well as Puducherry (Pondicherry) are also connected via direct bus links.
The Nilagiri passenger train (NMR) on the rack section
Ooty is connected to Chennai (formerly Madras) by a nightly connecting train service. Mettupalayam provides the interchange between 'The Nilagiri Passenger' NMR metre gauge service and the Nilgiri Express broad gauge service. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) is one of the oldest mountain railways in India. The NMR was declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in July 2005. This connects Ootacamund with the town of Mettupalayam, at the foothills of the Nilgiri Mountains. It is the only rack railway in India, and uses the Abt system.
Ooty does not have a civilian airport and is not connected by air. The nearest airport is at Coimbatore which has domestic flights to several major Indian cities and has international flights direct services to Singapore, Sharjah and Colombo. The next nearest airport to Ooty is Calicut Airport which is at a road distance of 146 km west of Ooty.
Steps are being undertaken to start a helicopter shuttle service from the nearest airport to Ooty for fixed wing aircraft which is in Coimbatore. It will initially be serviced by a Bell 407 marketed and run by J.B.Aviation with the aircraft leased from the air service provider Pawan Hans
The Nilgiri Hills were part of Chera Empire in ancient times. Later it fell into the hands of the Ganga dynasty and then Hoysala empire under king Vishnuvardhana in the 12th century. They then became part of the Kingdom of Mysore of Tipu Sultan who later surrendered them to the British in the 18th century.
John Sullivan, the British governor of neighbouring Coimbatore province, liked the climate of this forested land, and occupied it by securing land from the native tribes (Kota/Kotas, Toda, Krumba and Badaga); often buying up many square kilometres in a day for the price of a few meals. Sullivan later worked to ensure land rights and cultural recognition for these tribes and was financially and socially punished for this by the British Government.
The hills were developed rapidly under the British Raj because they were almost entirely owned by private British citizens, unlike the rest of India. Ooty served as the summer capital of the Madras Presidency, and had winding hill roads and a complicated rack railway system built by influential and enterprising British citizens with venture capital from the Madras government. It was a popular summer and weekend resort for the British during the colonial days, and soldiers were also sent here and to nearby Wellington to recuperate. It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. Its stunning beauty and splendid green deep valleys made the British name it "Queen of Hill Stations