Ooty Travel Guide: Tourist attractions, Places and Weather
Also known as Udagamandalam and Ootacamund, Ooty is a marvellous hill station with some terrific views, amazing lakes, beautiful waterfalls and much more. I took a tour of this city along with my family some of the years ago where I collected uncountable memories.
It is a town in the state of Tamil Nadu, surrounded by Nilgiri Hills. It is located 80 km north of Coimbatore. Tourism plays the biggest part in the economy of the district, followed by agriculture. The town is connected by the Nilgiri Ghat roads and Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Its natural environment attracts thousands of tourists every year and it is a popular summer destination.
Filled with vast tea estates, it features rather mild conditions throughout the year despite its location in tropics. The rainy season in Ooty is generally very cold and windy with high humidity. The wind chill may fall to as low as 5 °C (41 °F) during the day time. The Wind is always high throughout the year.
This city is famous for the fantastic Nilgiri hills, its climate, the beautiful sights, picturesque shooting locations and tea estates. All these things make it a perfect destination for honeymooners as well as solo travellers or family vacationers.
Many people travel just to have some good food and relax their appetite. This place, situated in the Southern part of the country, serves some delicious things on the table.
The list of things to try in the town will be incomplete without TEA. This town serves different varieties of chai. I am sure the chai lovers are gonna love it. A hot cup of masala or herbal tea will calm your nerves and you will relax. There are various local stalls and specialized shops where you may go and have it.
If you are a foodie or even if you are not, you must try kebabs whenever you visit here. The city offers some best kebabs you will ever have. Kebab corner is a highly reviewed restaurant here where you may go and enjoy them. Once here, you get to tear into those perfectly grilled and spiced chunks of lamb and chicken.
3. Bakery dishes
Fancy a love for cakes, pastries and chocolates? You must try them here in Ooty. This place sells some best home-made chocolates. Traditional biscuits, you get to tear into those perfectly grilled and spiced chunks of lamb and chicken. Fudge is a must try at Kingstar Confectionary.
4. South-Indian Cuisine
A traveller mostly looks for the South-Indian cuisine whenever he visits this part of the country. There are various places here where you may have some lip-smacking traditional South-Indian dishes like idli, Dosa, Chutney, Vada, Sambhar, Rasam, Upma, Sweet Pongal, Payasam, and Kesari.
Places to Visit
This place is filled with some fantastic places for sightseeing. You may contact any tours and travels firm there or plan your itinerary before the trip and hire a car to see the entire place. I am sure you will have the time of your life. Here, I have mentioned some of the best places where you must go while you visit.
1. Doddabetta Peak
Being the highest point in the Nilgiri Mountains, this place offers some spectacular views from its viewpoint. If you are lucky, which means it is a clear day; you will feel like you are top of the world. Early morning is the best time to visit here because the sun is coming up during this time from behind the lush forests. Also, in the evening for the view of the huge red ball of light going down. You can view the entire town from this peak. The atmosphere is both refreshing and relaxing. This one thing is surely not to be missed!
2. Ooty Lake
It is a beautiful artificial lake which is very near to the bus stand. You may enjoy boating in a motor boat, a shikhara or take a pedal boat. It is a very nice place for recreational purposes. There are various other activities to do here like 7D cinema, Horror and Mirror House etc. It also features a garden, a mini train, and an amusement park. The lake is surrounded by groves of Eucalyptus trees which make it a beautiful sight. You will get some beautiful pictures here. It will take at least 1-2 hrs. to visit here. Also, you may go picnicking here. The song Dil Deewana from the movie Maine Pyar Kiya featuring Salman Khan was shot here. It is open on all the days of the week.
3. Dolphin’s nose
It is a suicide point where a protruding rock looks like a dolphin’s nose. One can get to see some breath-taking views from its top. Not only the deep forest valleys but you will also get a view of St. Catherine falls which is a sight to behold. Thousands of people visit here for its picturesque views. It is located at a distance of 12km away from the Coonoor city. It is near to the Tiger hills. The drive up to Dolphin’s Nose is quite spectacular and one can also enjoy wonderful views of tea plantations on the way and from the peak. You may take a bus or hire a taxi to reach here.
4. Ooty toy train
This place is not to miss while you visit the town. A world heritage site, The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was built by the British in 1908. Even more than a century later, it has continued to charms its visitors with equal zest winding its way through the best of nature. The journey starts from Mettupalayam and goes through tunnels, curves, bridges and beautiful scenery to reach Ooty in five hours amid the mist and fog, birds and trees dancing along, whistling, passing through the stunning gorge, sunlight dancing above and dream-like drizzling, the Toy Train is an experience of a lifetime. Apart from offering a beautiful journey, the uniqueness of the trip lies in the fact that the rail system is the steepest in Asia and worth a visit. The entire Nilgiri Mountain can be seen which gives a delight to your eyes. This ride is one of the things to cherish here. In the movie Dil Se, Shahrukh Khan danced atop the toy train for the famous Chaiyya Chaiyya song. It is highly popular amongst the tourists. This ride is a gold mine of pictures and a photograph will be spending his/her best time during the journey.
How to Reach the City
Ooty is well connected to the road network. You may take a taxi from Coimbatore or drive on your own to reach here. It is 278 km from Bengaluru (Via Mysore and Bandipur) 535 km from Chennai (via Salem, Erode, and Coimbatore), 80 km from Coimbatore and 124 km from Mysore. Ooty is situated on NH 67 and is connected by road via the five main accepted Nilgiri Ghat Roads. Bus services operated by TNSTC AND KSRTC connect major towns in the state, nearby towns in the district such as Coonoor, Kotagiri, and Gudalur and nearby Cities to Mysore and Calicut.
Udhagamandalam railway station is connected with Mettupalayam by NMR meter gauge service. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) is one of the oldest mountain railways in India and was declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in July 2005. It is the only rack railway in India and uses the Abt system. It is a highly picturesque and beautiful ride. It starts from Mettupalayam and reaches Ooty in 5 hours.
The nearest airport is Coimbatore, around 96 km away and Major International Airport is Bengaluru (Kempegowda International Airport 273 Km Away). Ooty has three helipads, one at Theettukal and two at Kodanad.
Moreover, you may hire a rickshaw or a taxi to commute in the city.
Best time to visit
Ooty welcomes the tourists from all over the world throughout the year. Ooty celebrates New Year, especially in hotels, with great enthusiasm and cultural shows. Monsoon brings greenery and what is better than a hill station with scenic green views. Winters are relatively cold and you will enjoy the coldness. It is a perfect destination to spend your honeymoon. The annual Tea and Tourism Festival attracts crowds in huge numbers to visit the place and have a great time in this wonderful place.
Winter (October – March) – Winters in Ooty are quite pleasant. The temperature usually stays lower than 15-degree Celsius and it touches 0-degree occasionally.
Monsoon ( July – September)- People who love rains and pouring thunders with amazing green grass beds laid over mountains can visit here to Ooty during this time. They will have a great time watching clouds floating over the town from the topmost peak i.e. Doddabetta. Though weather won’t let you see the magnificent views at some places, it still is admirable.
Summer (March – June) – Summers are beautiful in Ooty and there is nothing that can stop you from loving the beauty of the town. The lush green mountains, the toy train rides and the attractive views will compel you to visit here.
Any trip is incomplete without purchasing souvenirs for yourself as well as your loved ones i.e. the friends and family. You may stop at some stores and spend some of your time in the market, taking a break from the sight-seeing thing. Great shopping is just an add-on to the list.
You may purchase tea from a variety of tea gardens for your family or friends. Tea is the speciality of this city. Connoisseurs will find plenty to choose from: dust and leaf; black, green, black and white varieties; and flavours such as masala, jasmine, cardamom and even chocolate. The Modern Store on Botanical Gardens Road has a large variety of teas from the surrounding plantations.
As I mentioned about the bakery items in the above section, home-made chocolates is what you should buy as souvenirs of the trip. Indulge your sweet tooth with the truffles, fudges and marshmallows available at King Star Confectioners on Commercial Road or The Modern Store on Botanical Gardens Road.
Besides these, you may purchase a world class quality of spices from here. like cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cardamom from The Green Shop in Ooty. Part of a chain of stores, this is an initiative of the Keystone Foundation, a fair trade organisation that works with indigenous communities in the Nilgiris.
Agriculture, being one of the most popular professions in the place after tourism, offers some great aromatic essential oils such as camphor, eucalyptus and citronella, which can be used for medicinal purposes.
Acres Wild, a family-run farm-stay in Coonoor, produces vegetarian and organic cheese with milk from Jersey and Holstein cows. Their entire range is handmade and includes an array of soft and hard cheeses: herb-infused varieties, feta, ricotta, halloumi, parmesan and even blue cheese. These are available at several shops including Bakers Junction and Tulsi Mall in Coonoor.
Last but not the least; Shopping Centre is the main shopping area of Ooty. You can shop here as you walk along the Mall Road. There are a lot of shops that sell souvenirs and handicrafts lined all along the road. Your friends will get the best gifts from you if you purchase these things from here.
Udagamandalam was originally a tribal land occupied by the Toda along with other hill tribes who coexisted through specialisation and trade. The major tribes of Nilgiris area are the Toda, Badaga, Kota, Irula and Kurumba. The Chera king Senguttuvan, who ruled during the 2nd century CE, on his way to the Himalayas in the north, stayed in the Nilgiris and witnessed the dance of the Kannadigas.
The Toda in the Nilgiris is first referenced in a record belonging to Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana and his general Punisa, dated 1117 CE. The Toda people were known for raising water buffalo. The Tamil and Badaga people are known for farming activities.
Nilgiris was ruled by various dynasties like Satavahanas, Cheras, Gangas, Kadambas, Rashtrakutas, Cholas, Hoysalas, the Vijayanagara empire and the Rajas of Ummattur. Tipu Sultan captured Nilgiris in the 18th century and extended the border by constructing a hideout cave like structure. The Nilgiris came into possession of British East India Company as part of the ceded lands, held by Tipu Sultan, by the treaty of Srirangapatnam in 1799.
Ooty served as the summer capital of the Madras Presidency; it was visited by British officials during the colonial days as a popular summer resort. After Independence, it developed into a popular hill resort.
Facts about the City
Ooty is an admirable land with lots of things which are unknown to many people. Here are some of those:
- Snooker is said to have originated on the billiard tables of the Ootacamund Club, invented by an army officer.
- Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a UNESCO Heritage Site. It is the slowest Train in India averaging 10kmph and Climbs Asia ’s steepest track after crossing the Bhavani River. Also, It covers more than 40 Kms all via 208 curves, 16 tunnels, and 250 bridges.
- Doddabetta Peak is the highest peak in South India, at 2,623 metres from the sea level.
- Unlike many other tourist destinations, the hill station of Ooty doesn’t have many historical connections. Although, one can connect it to Tipu Sultan because of the hideout cave which was constructed so as to extend the border of Sultan’s empire.
- The famous Botanical Garden of Ooty has a preserved fossil of a tree-trunk which is approximately 20 million years old.
- The Rose Garden of Ooty features as many as 20000 different types of roses. This collection is one of the largest in the world and thousands of tourists visit here.
- The Ooty Lake is an artificial lake. It is one of the very few artificial lakes of India situated at high altitudes.
- There are two national parks situated in the Nilgiri Mountains near Ooty- The Mudumalai National Park and the Mukurthi National Park. These are the habitats for endangered species including Indian elephants, tigers and as many as 226 different species of birds. It is an integral part of India’s first international biosphere reserve.
- It is one of the best places for shooting in India. Some best films have been shot here. For example Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dil Se, Maine Pyar Kiya etc. Mohabbatein was also shot here. 9th mile is the place where most of them have been shot.
- Ooty was the summer capital of Madras presidency of the East India Company.
- It is the home to the oldest military institution.
All said, in the end, I just want to wish you good luck for your trip and have a happy journey. Ooty is a beautiful land and cooperative people which will make your stay pleasant and comfortable. You may visit here even just for the weekend to relax yourselves and calm your nerves, away from the usual busy schedules. Thank you for giving it a read. Please mention in the comments below if I have missed anything.
Contributor: Akanksha Bhadauria