Popularly called The Queen of Hill Stations, Ooty, short for Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam, is a pleasant hill station with a salubrious climate, located in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu in South India. The beautiful scenery on the way to this hill station located at an altitude of 2286 m includes deep ravines, running streams, several large tea gardens, pristine lakes, towering mountains, thick forests, green grasslands and tall eucalyptus trees.
Ooty is blessed with pleasant weather all through the year with average temperatures of 15°C to 20° C. When you visit Ooty, don’t forget to visit the other 2 nearby places – Kothagiri and Coonoor.
Here are some of the attractions of Ooty you can’t afford to miss:
1. Ooty Botanical Gardens
The Ooty Botanical Gardens were laid out in 1847. Attractions in the garden include more than 650 species of plants and trees, an ancient tree fossil believed to be 20 million years old and rare trees, ferns and shrubs. Cork tree, paper bark tree and the monkey puzzle tree are some of the rare trees found here.
2. Thread Gardens
Thread Gardens contain hand woven flowers made of threads. The flowers are very attractive to look at.
3. Dodabetta Mountain Peak
Situated at an altitude of 2623 m, the Dodabetta Mountain Peak is the highest point in the district. It is at a distance of 10 km from Ooty. A bird’s-eye view of the plains of Coimbatore and the flat highlands of Mysore can be had from here on a clear day.
4. Ooty Lake and Boat House
Pretty Ooty Lake is an artificial lake surrounded by the bus stand and race course. One can boat in the lake for a peaceful and calming experience. A children’s amusement park and a toy train are found near the lake.
5. Pykara Lake
Pykara Lake is another beautiful lake, located about 21 km from Ooty. It is the largest lake in the district. There is a boathouse for people who love boating and picnickers will find Pykara Lake the most ideal place.
6. Kamraj Sagar Lake
This lake is situated on the way to Pykara Lake.
7. Parsons Valley Reservoir
Situated in a reserved forest, Parsons Valley Reservoir is the main source of drinking water for the town of Ooty.
8. Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake is found near Emerald village. There are bus services to this village.
9. Avalanche Lake
Located at a distance of 28 km from Ooty, Avalanche Lake is another beautiful lake near Emerald Lake.
10. Pykara Falls
Pykara Falls is near Pykara Dam and is also an ideal place for picnic.
11. Kalhatti Falls
Kalhatti Falls is located at a distance of 13 km from Ooty on the Sigur Ghat Road. One can reach Kalhatti village by bus and walk 2 miles to the falls or go to the falls directly by car. There is awe inspiring scenery on the way to the falls from Ooty. The falls plunge from a height of about 120 ft.
12. Katery Falls
Katery Falls is located off the Mettupalayam road to Coonoor. Falling from a height of 60 m, it is one of the highest falls in the Nilgiri Hills.
13. Stone House
This is the first ‘pucca’ building built in Ooty. The principal of the Government Arts College lives here.
14. Toda Huts
Toda Huts are found on the hills of the Botanical Garden. These windowless huts are barrel shaped and constructed of grass, bamboo and cane.
15. The Fernhill Palace
Fernhill Palace, now converted into a hotel is at a distance of 1 km from the Ooty bus stand.
16. Railway Station
The railway station is part of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) which is a World Heritage Site. This is a historical railway station built during the British Raj with its own charming architecture.
17. St. Stephen’s Church
Situated near the District Court house building, St. Stephen’s Church is one of the oldest churches in Ooty. Its old world architecture with towering spires is awe inspiring.
18. Wax World, Ooty
Wax World is a museum of look alike, life size wax statues of famous people in Indian heritage, culture and history. The museum building is more than a century old.
19. Ooty Golf Links
Covered with green forest and grass, Ooty Golf Links is a haven for golf lovers.
20. Tea Plantations
Several pretty tea plantations are present lower down the Nilgiris and are well worth a visit.
21. Ketti Valley
Ketti Valley is popularly called ‘Switzerland of Southern India’ for its pleasant weather all through the year. With a spectacular view of the surroundings, ‘Ketti Valley View’ is found on the main Ooty to Coonoor road.
22. Pine Forest
Pine Forest is located between Ooty and Thalakunda. As the name indicates rows of pine trees are found here. The Tamil movie song “Deena” was shot here.
23. Wenlock Downs
Wenlock Downs features grasslands and hills. Its topography is similar to the Yorkshire Dales in England. Two locations in Wenlock Downs called ‘Sixth Mile’ and ‘Ninth Mile’ are often used for film shooting.
24. Mudumalai National Park
Bordering the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and lying on the northwestern side of the Nilgiri Hills, Mudumalai National Park features several varieties of flora and fauna. The vegetation includes tropical moist deciduous forests, tropical dry deciduous forests and southern tropical dry thorn forests. Mammals such as deer, gaur, pigs, primates, elephants, tigers, leopards, sloth bears, bats and ant eaters are found here.
25. Mukurthi National Park
Part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and located in the south eastern corner of the Nilgiris Plateau west of Ooty hill station is scenic Mukurthi National Park. The high mountain peaks include Mukurthi, Nilgiri and Pichalbetta. The protected animal species found are the Nilgiri Tahr, the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger and the awesome Asian Elephant among others.
26. Centenary Rose Park
Centenary Rose Park is in the very center of Ooty on the slopes of Elk Hill, with aesthetically laid out terraces, pergolas and bowers with rose creepers and rose tunnels. The park features more than 3000 varieties of rose such as miniature rose, hybrid tea rose, Floribunda, ramblers, black rose and green rose.
27. Needle Hill View Point
Needle Hill View Point is found between Gudalaur and Pykara hidden dense eucalyptus trees. A panoramic 360 degree view of the surroundings can be had from this place.
28. Glenmorgan Tea Estate
Glenmorgan Tea Estate is situated about 25 km North West of Ooty. It is a picturesque place and attracts many picnic makers. The Pykara power plant at Singara is nearby. There is a haulage way or mechanical rope way for going up to the power house. Pykara power house at Singara, the Moyar valley, the Mudumalai Wild life Sanctuary and the city of Mysore can be seen from Glenmorgan.
29. Pykara Power Plant
At an altitude of 938.78 m, the Pykara power plant in Singara is the highest power plant in Asia. Singara is another idyllic picnic spot.
30. The Ootacamand Club
The Ootacamand Club is situated about 1 km from the Ooty railway station, on the Ooty – Gudalur road. An apocryphal story goes that this club was the originator of snooker.
31. Government House (Raj Bhavan)
Government House (Raj Bhavan) nestles on a ridge of the western slopes of Doddabetta Peak on the outskirts of Ooty. There is a beautiful ballroom, a nicely maintained lawn and several pretty gardens in Raj Bhavan.
32. Adam’s Fountain
Adam’s Fountain is a memorial to a former Governor.
33. Honey & Bee Museum
The Honey & Bee Museum offers information on local honey bees and the traditional tribal people who harvest them. There is also a children’s activity room and live demo units. The museum showcases old and new practices of bee keeping and honey gathering.
34. The Ooty Radio Telescope
The largest radio telescope in Asia, the radio telescope at Ooty is situated at Muthorai on the Ooty – Avalanche road.
35. Tribal Research Centre & Tribal Museum
The Tribal Research Centre is about 10 km from Ooty town at Muthorai Palada. The Tribal Museum is located on its campus on a hillock. The Tribal Museum displays rare artifacts and photographs of tribal groups of Tamil Nadu and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Open air tribal houses of the Todas, Kotas, Paniyas, Kurumbas and Kanikarans give one an experience of tribal life. Life size models of Todas, Kotas and Paniyas are also kept in the Tribal Museum.
36. Religious Places
There are several temples and churches and a mosque to visit in Ooty for the religious minded. The Big Mosque is located in Lower Bazaar.
Location: The Nilgiris District, Tamil Nadu, South India
Altitude: 2,240 m
Temperature: 5° C to 25°C
Best time to travel:April to June; September to November
Accommodation: There are several hotels and inns to suit different budgets.
The nearest airports to Ooty is Coimbatore Airport and Calicut Airport. Coimbatore Airport is well connected to several major cities in India.