Ooty – The Queen of Hill Stations

Ooty is officially known as Udhagamandalam and is called the “Queen of hill stations” and it is also the capital of Nilgiris. Nilgiris means “Blue Mountains”. The name perhaps comes from the blue smoky haze cast by the eucalyptus trees that cover the area or because of the kurunji flowers, which blooms every twelve years giving the slopes a bluish tinge. It is a land of picturesque picnic spots, which are visited by tourists from all over the world throughout the year but especially in the summers as it rescues you from the scorching summer heat. It is located at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. An added attraction for the tourists is the mountain train journey which commences from Kallar and makes its way through many hair-raising curves and dangerous tunnels running along deep ravines full of varied vegetation, gurgling streams and tea gardens. The scenic beauty from the hill top is like a value added pack. The hill top known as Dodabetta has a suicide point which sends chills down the traveler’s spine.

The sharp rocks and the depth bring an alienated sensation. Just a look down is enough to feel the adrenaline rush. One can notice a marvelous change in vegetation, as one goes from Kallar to Konor. The establishment of numerous tea estates, cinchona plantation and teak forests made Ooty famous. Lofty mountains, dense forests, sprawling grasslands including the famous tea gardens greet passengers. Ooty is well connected by good roads. It is 535 km from Chennai and can be reached by taking tourist buses or hailing a cab. Ooty is situated on National Highway 67and being the capital it is connected by road to the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka via the five main accepted Nilgiris Ghat Roads. Ooty is connected by a nightly connecting train, having the attraction of being a steam locomotive but roadways are always preferred so as to enjoy the natural beauty. It has no airports thus air travel is not an option.

Ooty inhabits various landmarks like the famous rose garden, botanical garden, the Pykara Lake and the falls lay back in a serene and peaceful environment.

The cuisine in Ooty comprises of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. It mainly constitutes of idly, dosa, uttapam, vada, pongal and uppuma. Most of these dishes are served with coconut chutney, sambhar and a mouth watering powder called mulaga podi.

Ooty always welcomes its visitors with a cool climate. It has its own quintessential traditional culture mainly comprising of south Indian culture but also has a strong Christianity influence. The hill station has a fairly busy social calendar and celebrates many festivals. The annual tea and tourism festival is another attraction which is celebrated with much merriment.

There are various hotels and resorts that offer a comfortable stay in Ooty. There are places near Ooty that are as famous, Mysore for instance is immensely charming and has its own beauty. Then there is the Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary, which is famous amongst animal enthusiasts. All this makes Ooty a must visit on a tourist route.

Cherry Agarwal