Ooty: The Queen of Hills
Ooty: The Queen of Hills

Ooty: The Queen of Hills

Ooty, India’s Switzerland, is the capital of Nilgiri’s district in Tamil Nadu. Ootacamund, Udagamandalam, or Udhagai are TODA names that mean ‘a house in the mountains.’ Ooty is a famous hill station in South India and welcomes all types of tourists.

Brief History

  • Ooty had a rich history of Kings and dynasties. However, it got recognition after the British Empire took over.
  • Rashtrakutas, Gangas, Kadambas, and Rajas of the Vijayanagar Empire were some of the prominent ruling dynasties.
  • In the 18th century, Tipu Sultan established his reign in Nilgiris under the expansionist agenda.
  • He had constructed a hide-out cave-like structure to extend the boundaries of his kingdom.
  • However, the British East India Company created its dominion over the region soon afterwards.
  • John Sullivan’s assistants J. C. Whish and N. W. Kindersley loved the charms of Ooty. Sullivan was the first person who noticed and described the resemblance with Switzerland.
  • Ooty had a special place in Sullivan’s heart. As a result, he became the founder of British settlements in Ooty in 1819.
  • Later on, the renowned Aranmore Palace today became the summer capital of the Madras Presidency.
  • During the colonial times, British officials visited this summer resort quite frequently.
  • The British rule played a major role in giving Ooty the status and recognition it has today.

State/ District/ Capital

  • The town of Ooty is under the municipal administration of the Nilgiris district.
  • It is located in the northern part of Tamil Nadu near the Karnataka boundary.
  • Chennai is the capital of the state Ooty is located in.

How to reach Ooty?

Ooty being a prime tourist destination is easily accessible from different parts of the country.

By air

Coimbatore Airport
  • Coimbatore airport is the nearest airport from the hills of Ooty although it’s a three-hour drive. It’s a domestic as well as international flights going up to Singapore, Sharjah and Colombo.
  • Flights associated with Jet Airways, Indian Airlines, Kingfisher, Paramount airlines and Go Air are providing to-and-fro flights.
  • Apart from this, Mysore airport is at a four-hour drive by road to the north of Ooty. The approximate distance is 127km.
  • It’s an ideal route for a long road trip with wonderful scenic spots along the way.

By Train

Nilgiri Railway
  • A night-long train journey connects Ooty with Chennai. And this train goes by the name the Blue Mountain Express or the Nilgiris Express.
  • To-and-fro trains from the railway network of Ooty can connect it with other Indian cities and states.
  • Toy train called the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is the most exciting part. It departs from a town named Mettupayalam at 7:10 am every day. Due to its smaller size, accommodation of only a few passengers is possible. However, the toy train is a tourist attraction and many locals prefer to hail a cab or hop onto a bus from Mettupayalam.
  • The toy train connects with Ooty’s own railway station known as the Udhagamandhalam railway station. Although it isn’t comparatively fast, it ensures that the tourists enjoy and savour the scenic beauty.
  • The journey on the toy train calls for a separate booking. One can log on to the IRCTC website and book online.

By Road

  • The road distances between Ooty and Coonoor, Mettupayalam, Coimbatore and Mysore are short and sensible with good quality of roads.
  • Since Ooty is located on the highway NH67 tourist buses, cabs and taxis make it a hassle-free means of transportation.
  • Most of these buses leave sometime around noon. If the tourists don’t wish to wake up early to get on the train, they can get onto these buses.
  • Some other buses after night journeys use Mettupayalam as a breakfast break spot.
  • Government buses from Kozhikode and Kannur also provide a great service but they leave at dawn.

When to visit in Ooty?

  • Being a hill station, Ooty is cool and pleasant almost throughout the year.
  • Hence there is no specific best time, the temperature ranges between 5-15 degrees accompanied by cold nights.
  • However, tourism is at its peak between October to June when the climate is slightly warm, it’s good for outdoor activities.

Official language

As Ooty is a part of Tamil Nadu, its official language is certainly Tamil. But apart from Tamil, Paniya, Kurumba, and Badagu are also the native languages in Nilgiris. Many people also speak English, Kannada, and Malayalam.

Weather

  • Winter season: October to February
  • Average temperature: 10°C
  • Summer season: March to May
  • Average temperature: 28°C 
  • Monsoon temperature: June to September
  • Average temperature: 22.0 °C

Fairs and Festivals in Ooty

Ooty is a diverse amalgamation of different cultures, languages and social mood like other parts of India. Although festivals in Ooty are spaced throughout the year, most of them are in Summer. That is why tourists plan a trip here to enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Tea and tourism fest

Tea and tourism fest

Starting with January, Tea and Tourism Festival takes place in Nilgiris. Ooty has been a home to beautiful tea plantations since the colonial era. As this magical tea attracts tourists, the department of tourism came up with the idea of this festival.

Thaipoosam

Thaipoosam

Moving on, the Thaipoosam festival usually takes place in February at Elk Hill Murugan Temple of Ooty. This festival honours the deity Balamurugar.

Mariamman temple festival

April showcases the Mariamman Temple festival and car festival. It is the temple of the Mariamman goddess who appears in the form of Kali. Some hardcore devotees celebrate by walking barefoot over flaming coal to prove their devotion.

Summer fest

Later in May, Ooty hosts India’s most famous summer festival, which is a series of different events. Flower show, spice show, fruit show, and rose show are significant enjoyable events of the festival. The flower show happens at the renowned botanical garden and portrays the best flower designs by talented floral craftsmen. The spice show displays the spectrum of spices derived from Ooty’s variety of plantations. The fruit show is indeed the epitome of creativity. Innovative artisans use different colourful fruits to create sculptures. Similarly, the rose show exhibits a creative and wonderful arrangement of roses and rangolis made with rose petals.

The tickets for these fests are affordable for normal tourists.

Transportation/ Stay to prefer

Transportation

Ooty is one of the most visited hill stations in India. Hence it has developed and maintained a well-functioning transportation system. In order to observe and relish the intricacies of nature, don’t use a fast vehicle. Basically, the local transportation in Ooty consists of auto-rickshaws, rented tourist cabs, taxis and buses.

Nilgiri Buses

If one wants a bit of adventure, travel by the buses which drive through the winding roads across an amazing landscape at fixed rates. This way, the tourists get a glimpse of the local life of Ooty. These bus ventures are mostly made for someone who is an extrovert and likes to talk to people coming from different backgrounds. However, auto-rickshaws are a great option as they are swift and easy to get. Rented cabs are ideal for first-time tourists since they know their way around the town. These cabs know all the locations and they can take you there using the fastest route.

Stay to prefer

If a trip to Ooty is on your cards, make it at least three to four days long. Ooty has been developed for tourists and there are many things to see and do in this town. Thus, it would also be great if one could spend five days, it’d be a wholesome experience.

Ooty has a whole bundle of sightseeing places and a ton of things a tourist in the town can do. There are several travel companies and planners who can design this wonderful trip according to your purposes. Plus, itineraries and travel guides are available online.

Places to visit in Ooty

Ooty is a jargon of places which could be considered as the ‘must visit at least once in a lifetime places.’ Some of them are:

Heritage

Tea Museum

It showcases extravagant varieties of tea and knicks. The visitor is also given a glimpse of the tea-making process and is allowed to taste tea samples too.

Wax world museum
World Wax Museum

Kids enjoy the atmosphere and layout of this wax museum, making it a must-visit. They are mesmerized by the fantastically crafted wax statues of celebrities.

Stone House

It’s an ideal place for people who enjoy the intricacies of architecture. Explorers say that the Stone House is beyond its structure, it talks about the ancient coins and postal stamps too.

Tribal Research Centr
Tribal Research Centre, Ooty

A place designed for cultured art lovers. It portrays the tribal art of not only Ooty but also the whole Tamil Nadu. Rare plants and trees, ancient artifacts and art pieces are some of the aspects.

Droog Fort
Droog Fort, Ooty

Dates back to the 18th century, it was a post used by Tipu Sultan. It’s known as a residence of migratory birds and a nice hiking spot.

Government museum

One of the best places for history lessons, research, study of art, crafts and structures.

Willy’s Coffee Pub

A place too good to be true for all coffee lovers. You can order a strong cup of coffee, sit leisurely and enjoy the aesthetic view.

Natural

Botanical Garden

The most famous landmark in Ooty known for its extraordinarily beautiful scenery. An exotic collection of plants, shrubs, ferns and orchids. A trip to Ooty is incomplete without a picture taken at this picturesque place.

Ooty lake
Ooty Lake, Ooty

The breathtakingly beautiful lake is located among lush green hills. It is also known for the boat races.

Doddabetta Peak

The peak gives an excellent postcard view of Ooty. This is the highest peak of Nilgiris known for its Telescope House and stunning view.

Mudumalai National Park

It’s a house for more than 50 tigers, a declared tiger reserve. It is famous for different species which can be spotted near river Moyar.

Tea Park

Renowned for the tea picking activity and cultural guided tour.

Needle View Hill point

Tourists are attracted by its charms, this point is known for trekking.

Kalhatty Waterfalls
Kalhatty Waterfalls, Ooty

Key attractions are the lush green surroundings and black panthers. Tourists enjoy hiking or trekking here.

Spiritual

St. Stephen’s Church
St. Stephen Church, Ooty

It’s the oldest Church in Nilgiris known for its wonderful architecture.

Elk Hill Murugan Temple

To see to dazzling spot, the tourists have to climb over 108 steps. Tranquil environment and natural beauty are its characteristics.

Kandal Cross Shrine

It’s a catholic church in Ooty known for the annual fest.

Maraimman Temple

This holy temple is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess of Rain. It’s located near the market so the tourists can find it easily.

Annamalai Temple

Attracts many devotees during the popular Lord Murugan festival. It is also named as the 7th hill house of the Lord.

Nasiyan Jain Temple

It dates back to the 19th century when it was finally opened for public. Tourists also come here to learn its history apart from praying.

Holy Trinity Church

Gothic vibe with recolored glass windows and unpredictably cut seats makes it stand out. It used to be a Sunday school but transformed into a committed Church in 1858.

Cuisines to taste in Ooty

  • Ooty’s local cuisine might surprise its tourists with its delightful dishes.
  • This cuisine is so inclusive that it’s a collection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food items.
  • Even if you walk into a very simple restaurant in this town, it offers a lot of variety.
  • As Ooty earns good profits through tourism, maintaining a good local cuisine is necessary.
  • Especially, the tourists who are foodies, food bloggers or vloggers hunt down and explore the local food of the town.
  • Along with the local food, there are many places offering Ooty’s versions of fast foods and beverages.

Popular foods to taste in Ooty

Dosas

Masala Dosa

Delights of South Indian Dosa- several types of dosas like masala dosa, ghee dosa or egg dosa are available in the menus of most of the restaurants.

Idli

Idli Sambar

Other South Indian preparations like Idli, Wada sambar and Pongal are also enjoyed by the locals and tourists. Idlis and Dosas are conventionally consumed as a part of breakfast. For lunch, people usually eat North Indian or South Indian thalis.

Fish preparations

People coming from the Kerala state eat at least one meal with fish every day. Hence these preparations are all time favorites for them.

Chicken

It is a significant part of Ooty’s typical local cuisine. As Ooty shares borders with Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, its cuisine is multi-cultured.

Chicken Chettinad and Kozhi Varutharachathu

They are tasty mouth-watering chicken delicacies which stimulate the spicy tastebuds on the tongue.

Avial

A strictly vegetarian dish made by mixing seven to eight veggies, it is highly nutritious.

Pastries, bread

The locals make these items by adding their own flavor to them. The coconut burfi, a delicious sweet is very famous. It is found in many bakeries.

Tea

The grandeur of tea in Ooty can’t be put into words, the town is known for its varieties of tea and tea-picking.

Coffee

Coffee in the Mountain

A freshly brewed cup of coffee is everything a tourist needs after a long hectic day of sight-seeing.

Fruits

The climate of Ooty is favourable for the horticulture of pears, peaches, and strawberries.

Things to do in Ooty

Ooty is a paradise made for nature lovers and foodies, this town is never monotonous. While sight-seeing is the most common activity, tourists also love to visit the cafes here. The food cafes and even book cafes set up in front of the aesthetic background are very photogenic. Here is a list of things a tourist can do on the first trip to Ooty.

  • Getting on the Nilgiris Toy train.
  • Visiting the Botanical Gardens and witnessing the flora and fauna variety.
  • Going to the Dolphin’s nose and viewing the tea plantations.
  • Seeing the historical TODA huts.
  • Climbing up to the highest point of Dodabetta Peak.
  • Going to some of the country’s best pubs and bars.
  • Taking the kids to the world wax museum.
  • Camping near the Emerald Dam.
  • Buying Homemade chocolates at the flea market.
  • Enjoying the mesmerizing beauty of Catherine Waterfalls.
  • Checking out the Higginbothams Book Store for some amazing books and travel stuff.
  • Birdwatching for patient nature lovers.
  • Cycling through the winding roads of the hill station.
  • Boating on the Ooty Boathouse.
  • Attending the tea and tourism fest.

Souvenirs to buy in Ooty

Tea

A true tourist would always end the trip by shopping for some tea and taking it home. The people back home would really enjoy the exotic varieties of teas.

Chocolates

Chocolate lovers enjoy relishing the wonderful flavors of chocolate found in Ooty’s local markets.

Gourmet cheese

Almost every local store in the town sells special gourmet cheese.

Tibetan artefacts

Tibetan Handicrafts

The cultured Tibetan market is the best place to buy wonderfully and intricately designed handicrafts. They also sell some rare antique goods.

Main Bazar

A place for all ornament lovers who visit Ooty.

Aromatic oils

Ooty is known for sweet-smelling oils like eucalyptus, camphor, and citronella.

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About Pranoti Abhyankar

A creative writer turned blogger, always open to new learning opportunities. Loves to pen down every event experienced.

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