Referred as the "Queen of Hill Stations", Ooty is a very popular hill station that is situated in the Nilgiris. It offers spectacular scenic beauty and bracing climate. Places of interest in Ooty are botanical gardens, boat club, golf course etc.
The Todas are the original inhabitants of Ooty, a colourful pastoral tribe. The records of Ponisia, General of king Vishnu Vardhana of Hoysala dynasty mentioned Nilgiris and Todas. Though Ooty was owned by many Southern dynasties, the British discovered it in the early 19th century. The credit for modernising Ooty and making it accessible goes to the British.
The Nilgiris came to the possession of the British as part of ceded lands held by Tipu Sultan by the treaty of Srirangapatnam in 1799. In 1819 the collector of Coimbatore, Mr. John Sullivan, built the first British dwelling, north of Kotagiri. Roads were laid to Dambhatti and Coonoor.
In 1821 a batch of British soldiers discovered Ooty. The gusty evenings, the cold nights, the grassy downs, the hills and dales gripped the imagination of the British. They surveyed and mapped the hills and started filling in what they felt as missing parts of the landscape. Thus spacious Victorian houses, country-style churches and spruced gardens came into being. They even brought the English vegetation like cabbages, cauliflower, strawberries, raspberries and flowers like buttercups and rhododendrons. They built the first railway line in this area and made Ooty the summer capital of Madras Presidency.
Settlement in Udhagamandalam began in 1822 with the construction of the Stone House by John Sullivan. The structure, which is locally called Kal Bangla, is one of the landmarks of Udhagamandalam. Currently it is the Chamber of the Principal of the Government Arts College. Soon after the construction of the Stone House, several other English cottages with pretty gardens, large bungalows of top officials in the Government were built.
Places of Interest
The Government Botanical Gardens, laid out in 1847, is the most beautiful jewel on the crown of the "Queen of Hill Stations". Well over 650 species of plants are in the garden and the fossil of a tree trunk believed to be 20 million years old is preserved here. The garden spread over 22 hectares has lush green lawns, six sections comprising varieties of tree species, variety of ferns, fashioned beds, an Italian formal garden, flowering plants, house ferns, orchids and nurseries.
The lake is another attraction and boating is very popular. The artificial lake, shimmering under the gentle sun is a popular spot for the tourist. Pony rides are available along the road skirting of the lake.
Tourists can visit this mini garden which is on the way to Boathouse. There is also a Children's amusement park. A snack bar is also available. Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation Limited maintains it.
It is situated about 2km from Udhagamandalam on the Mysore road. The Art Gallery has various collections of contemporary paintings, items of tribal objects, district's ecological details and representative sculptural arts and crafts of Tamilnadu.
Located less than a km from Charring Cross, the rose garden is laid on 10 acres of land. The garden has a collection of more than 1000 varieties of roses.
It is a much-frequented peak located 10km from Ooty.This highest peak in Nilgiri Range at an altitude of 2619m gives a grand view of Ooty, Gundalpet, Coonoor, Wellington and Mysore on clear days. There is a telescope that gives a closer view of them all.
Ooty provides various facilities of recreation for the enthusiast. Gymkhana Club has one of the best courses in Ooty. They conduct a golf tournament every year. Pony riding is a regular event and ponies can also be hired around the lake. Those who are interested in horse racing can enjoy the twice a weekly horse racing during April-June. Interested in movies? There are many movie theatres in Ooty, Coonoor and Kotagiri. The 104 year old theatre, "Assembly Rooms", owned by the Government under a trust shows English movies.
Summer Festival: The summer festival is a major tourist attraction conducted in May. Regular Cultural Programmes, fashion parades and Flower shows are arranged during Summer Festival at Anna Stadium or Breek's ground near Charing Cross. Boat races, Boat pageantry, dog shows etc, are also conducted during the festival time. All these festivals are jointly organised by the Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu & Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.