Ooty is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. This hill station is an ideal tourist spot owing to its soothing climate and serene surroundings. Also known as Udhagamandalam, this travel hotspot attracts tourists not only from within the country but has its share of admirers from across the globe. Lush with green all around, this mountain marvel has a lot to offer tourists with its enchanting and exciting places to visit like the botanical gardens, lakes, museum, Lady Canning’s Seat, Tribal Research Center, wildlife sanctuary, and most importantly the history of settlements in the area before independence.
The overflowing terrain, blooming vegetation, astonishing tea gardens and fine pine are a plus to this “Queen of Hill Stations.” The blue mountains situated at the Nilgiri hills is considered the best attraction that gathers crowd in huge numbers. Besides tourism, the city’s major sources of economy comes from agriculture, photographic film and medicine manufacturing. Now let’s have a look on the attractions in and around Ooty.
Doddabetta, meaning Big Mountain in Baduga language is situated 9km from Ooty. It is the 4th highest peak in South India and the highest in the Ooty district. It is 8650 feet tall and is surrounded by reserved forest area. You can grab amazing pictures of the valley and the peak. Not just this, you are also have the privilege of seeing far off areas like the plains of Coimbatore and the flat highlands of Mysore hese garden. The rose gardens that are spread over an area of 10 acres are situated just 3-4 kms from the Charring Cross, a junction that intersects the commercial road and the Ooty-Coonoor road.
Ooty Botanical Gardens:
The government Botanical Gardens, established in 1848 now covers an area of 22 hectares. Situated near the Doddabetta peak, this garden comprises both exotic and indigenous plants, shrubs, ferns, trees, herbs and bonsai plants. The garden is filled with flowering plants, ponds, lilies and medicinal plants. The nature lovers who visit the garden have 6 sections to see and enjoy; those include the Lower Garden, the New Garden, Italian Garden, Conservatory, Fountain Terrace and the Nursery. The amazingly cool weather, the greens and flowers attracts viewers all throughout the year except in monsoon.
The tea factory is spread over an area of one acre and perched at an altitude of 1893 metres. For tea lovers, this tea museum gives them a chance to enjoy the aroma of tea leaves besides giving them a chance to learn about different varieties of tea leaves available across the globe. Not just this, you can visit the factory and see how tea is processed right from the freshly plucked green leaves to its packaging. Tea cup and plates engraved with the museum logo are sold here for tourists visiting the museum. Besides tea, the factory is also known for the different varieties of homemade chocolates it manufactures which include sugar free varieties as well.
If you are looking for a place to enjoy for one day, this lake is the best. Avalanche Lake is located just 28kms from the heart of the city. The rolling landscape with blooming flowers is mesmerizing. Flowers like the magnolias, orchids and rhododendrons attract our attention all throughout the place. You can also take a peaceful and undisturbed walk around the lake and participate in trout fishing if interested. All the accessories required for trout fishing are available at the trout hatchery present near the lake. You also have an option to pitch tents, trek, raft across the lake and enjoy the pleasant climate and its beauty.
The artificial lake developed by John Sullivan, the founder of Ooty during 1823-25 is situated just behind the central bus stop. The lake is spread across an area of 65 acres with an irregular ‘L’ shape. It is surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees with huge number of water birds along with the Nilgiri mountain ranges in the backdrop. Various streams that drift through the hills is a source to this lake. You can hire rowing boats, paddle boats and motor boats from the boat house and take a ride in the lake. If you are a nature lover, then no can ever stop you from clicking beautiful pictures of the water birds, lakes and streams that flow down the hills. Besides this, there is an amusement park with a mini train for kids to play and enjoy. Boat racing and other events are other interesting things that attract us during the month of May. One important thing to be noted here is that this event is held only for 2 days. So, let’s participate and take the pleasure of participating in this exciting event.
Pykara Lake, Dam and Waterfalls:
This placid lake is located 21km from Ooty on the Ooty-Mysore road. The lake is surrounded by dense forests and is renowned for its boat house that includes a restaurant and a rest house for tourists. The place is not over crowded as it is far from the city so tourists visiting this place can enjoy the beauty in peace. There is a boathouse near the lake which takes the you down the lake in their motor boats and speed boats. The motor boats available here are six seated and eight seated. Not just this, the lake has a dam, a power plant and waterfalls as well. The river falls down from two different heights towards the end, one from 55 metres and the other from 61 metres. These two falls are known as Pykara falls and are located at a distance of 1.5kms from the lake.
The best time to visit Pykara waterfall is between August to January.
Mudumalai National Park:
Mudumalai National Park, the first sanctuary in southern India is an exciting scenic attraction located near the Nilgiri Hills. This Tiger Reserve is 150kms from Coimbatore city and covers an area of 32,155 hectares. The sanctuary resides very close to a large number of wild life sanctuaries like the Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Mukurthi National Park and Silent Valley National Park. All these reserves cover an area of 3,300sq.kms and is a home for a variety of animals and birds.
Barking deer, Mouse Deer, spotted deer, gaur, wild boar, elephants, tigers and panthers, peacock, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Grey Jungle Fowl, The Magpie-robin, Brown Dove, Bulbuls, Mynahs and some migratory water birds.
Besides Wildlife, you can also visit and enjoy the Mayar waterfalls and Theppakadu Elephant camp as well. Elephant lovers can take a chance of feeding the elephants during their lunch hour and take a ride round the sanctuary with prior permission from the Forest Department.
Mudumalai National Park offers 3 types of rides for its tourists; Jungle Safari, Road Safari and Elephant Safari.
Other attractions include the Moyar River, Mudumalai Museum and Kalhatti falls. Besides this, you can also watch birds, have camping sites, stay at the tree house, take a village tour and also swim in the natural pools. Unlike the multiple luxury suites that are booked in advance by tourists from all over, there are luxury suites and hotels available in the vicinity.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway:
Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Nilgiri’s Toy train is the only train that takes visitors through several tunnels, bridges, forests, waterfalls, tea estates and forested hills. The blue and cream color of the toy train reminds us of the toy trains that we have at home for kids. Unlike that, this toy train that runs on steam engine has wooden coaches and large windows and takes tourists from Mettupalayam to Ooty and back, with its stops at Coonoor, Wellington, Lovedale and Ketty. It has both first class and second class seating facilities for tourists. The first class ticket costs 142 rupees and the second class ticket costs 24 rupees. The train starts at 7.45 am in Mettupalayam and reaches Ooty in the afternoon. The train runs at a speed of 10.4kms per hour and covers a track with 208 curves and 13 tunnels. You will be overwhelmed with the beauty of the natural surroundings. The 46 km ride through the tunnels, curves is no less than a roller coaster ride and believe me you will definitely have a memorable and exciting trip in this toy train.
Upper Bhavani Lake:
For any of you who want to enjoy the rawness of nature, Upper Bhavani Lake is one place to visit. It is situated 24kms downhill from Ooty town with another 30 minute drive in forest department vehicles. In order to enjoy the beauty, you need to head fast and be in the place before 10:00 am. The safari lasts for about 2 hours and the ticket cost for bus is Rs150 per person and Rs1200 for a jeep for 8 members. The safari will take us to Sholas, a steep valley filled with lush green trees that look like Cauliflower from the hilltop. There is also a small water falls that runs down the valley. The bus stops here for 10 minutes for you to get down and enjoy the beautiful picturesque. You can observe that the water flowing is bluish green in color. There is also a dam located close to this place. This is the source to various nearby regions involved in agriculture. This place is not to be missed if you go to Ooty. Since the place has no restaurants available nearby. Tourists need to carry their food along with them.
The temple of Lord Murugan is located 20kms from Ooty and is popularly known as Annamalai Murugan Temple. The word Annamalai means ‘Food Hill.’ The temple supplies free food to thousands of devotees from 30 years till date. This place is quite significant for the worshippers of Lord Muruga. The temple attracts a large number of devotees during Lord Murugan Festival who visit the temple to offer prayers and it is believed that the god will bless them and fulfil all their wishes making them happy and contented.
The atmosphere in and around the temple is very quiet and serene. The surroundings down the temple is quite scenic with verdant tea plantations and dotted with dense Silver Oak trees that add a countryside frame to the region. For people with hypertension and stressful work life, this place gives them relaxation. You can pray, meditate and breathe fresh mountain air. This will help you maintain your health as you are kept away the daily routines and busy schedules. There are a large number of buses from the Ooty central stop and if you wish to travel by other transportations, cabs will be available at the same place.
Catherine Falls is a two-Step waterfall which falls from 76metres height. It is located near Conoor and can be clearly seen from the top of the Dolphin’s Nose. To reach the top from where the waterfall starts, you need to take diversion at the Aravenu on Kotagiri – Mettupalayam road. It is the major tourist spot in Kotagiri which comprises lower and upper water falls. The upper waterfalls touches the ground and is known to be the second highest waterfalls in the mountains. The waterfalls which was previously called the Geddhehaada Halla, meaning “Foothills Dale River” is renamed after Catherine, the wife of M.D. Cockburn, the person who introduced the coffee plantation in Kotagiri.
If you want to stay and enjoy the falls, there are cottages available for them near the falls at the Catherine Greens. During the stay, you can also have a look at the other attractions like the Uyilatty Falls or Elk Falls situated 8 km from Kotagiri; and Rangaswamy, a 1785 metres high peak is renowned as the sacred hill of the residents of Nilgiris. The visiting hours of the lake is between 6:00 am to 6:00 pm and there is no entry fee.
You will be surprised to know that there are 1919 varieties of roses found in this garden. It is the largest in the country. There’s an observation platform built in the garden as well from where you can have a quick look of the entire rose garden.
Traditional Toda Huts:
From about 30 KM from Ooty, near the Avalanche lake situated a small Toda village having traditional Toda. You can buy the shawls embroidered by the tribal community of Toda. Todas are religious people with simple living style.
To wind up:
Picking up Ooty as an ideal break from your bustling city life allows you to rejuvenate amid the fresh nature. Ooty dwells a pleasant climate throughout the year that attracts leisure tourists. Peace to mind, treat to the eyes and content to the heart-all these could be guaranteed at Ooty. It is the one place that heads among the top priority for couples to enjoy their Honeymoon. The place is also known for its meditation centers that cure illness through natural therapy. The city is blessed with the beautiful creations gives us a heavenly atmosphere throughout the stay. So if you are planning for a trip, visit Ooty and you will certainly admire it. Apart from the above mentioned places, there are many other attractions for you to stay, enjoy, admire and relish.