Ooty also known as Udhagamandalam is the “Queen of hill stations” and the capital of Nilgiris district. It is one of the most popular tourist resorts in India. Nilgiris means “Blue Mountains”. It is a land of picturesque picnic spots. Used to be popular summer and weekend getaway for the Britishers during the colonial days. It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level.
This beautiful botanical paradise was first brought to the public eye by John Sullivan, Collector of Coimbatore district in 1819. But prior to this in 1812, the first Englishmen who were sent up the Nilgris by the Collector of Coimbatore, were Mr. Keys, Assistant Revenue Surveyor, and his Assistant, McMahon. They made their way via Dananayakan Kottai to Aracad and the existing village of Denad, and penetrated as far as Kallatti, the lower level of North Ooty, but never set their eyes on the beautiful valley in which Ooty lay. After Keys’ visit there was no further expedition until 1818 when J.C.Whish and N.W.Kindersly (Asst. and second Asst. to the Collector of Coimbatore respectively) went up by the Dananayakan Kottai-Denad route, crossed the plateau in a south-western direction and descended by the Sundapatti pass from Manjakombai to the Bhavani valley and then went back to Coimbatore. The purpose of their visit is not known.
Locations to visit
The places of tourist importance in Ooty are the Avalanche, the Western Catchment, the Government Botanical Garden, St Stephen’s Church, Elk Hill, Doddabetta (2,592 meters above sea level), Snowden peak on the Kotagiri road that commands a view of Mysore, the lake (formed in 1824 by Sullivan) and the boat-house, Wenlock Downs, Parson’s Valley, Kalhatty Falls and Glenmorgan. The Mudhumalai sanctuary lies at a distance of 36 km from Ooty. Of these, Avalanche located at a distance of 28 km from Ooty is a nature lover’s paradise. It is a lake surrounded by thick sholas which abound in avi-fauna. The Western Catchment is about 20 km from Parson’s Valley, and it is a rolling grassy down, interspersed with temperate sholas in valleys and depressions. Glenmorgan lies about 17 km from Ooty and there is a winch of the Electricity Board to transport staff to the Singara power house. As the winch glides along the slopes, the sight of thick sholas unravels itself. The Kundah hydroelectric project executed in 1956, is also worth a visit.