Often referred to as the “Queen of Hill Stations”, Ooty is an amazing hill station on the southern fringe of India, which welcomes thousands of people every year from all over the world. It is an amazing land with picturesque views, beautiful tea-gardens, and tasty cuisine. Once you visit Ooty, you will have a wonderful memory of living amidst hills and gardens, to be cherished for the rest of your lives. Whether you visit with your significant other or your family or it is just you, traveling solo, you will not regret the experience. There are many places which you may go and see, thereby exploring the hill station. Here are some of the places one must include in the itinerary while visiting Ooty. Here are top 10 places to visit in Ooty:
1. Toy Train
Fancy an adventurous train ride? Take a toy train ride of Nilgiri Mountain Railways, to reach the city which was built by Britishers in 1908. The journey starts from Mettupalayam and arrives at Ooty in 5 hours. Well, you may reach sooner by road transport but the train ride is a joy in itself. The exciting toy train journey takes visitors through several tunnels, bridges, forests, waterfalls, tea estates and forested hills. This steam engine train stops at hill stations like Coonoor, Wellington, Lovedale and Ketty. It has small blue wooden bogies with large windows and it crosses almost 250 bridges and 15 tunnels en route. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2005. It has the steepest railway track in Asia and very thrilling. It offers a great experience and definitely gives you the first story of your vacation to tell to others.
2. Doddabetta Peak
Ooty has always boasted about its picturesque views. Doddabetta is the highest mountain in the Nilgiri Hills at 2,637 meters, above sea level. There is a reserved forest area around the peak which is 9 km from Ooty, on the Ooty-Kotagiri Road in the Nilgiris district. This destination is ideal for capturing the scenic beauty of nature into your lens. The view of Nilgiri Hills from here is breathtaking. Looking through the telescope atop the mountain for more spectacular views is highly recommended. There is also a viewpoint where people rest a while to treat their eyes with some fantastic views. It will be a heavenly experience. Morning is the best time to visit here when you may enjoy the beautiful sunrise.
3. Ooty Lake
This lake is famous for picnic, boating, and recreational activities. It also features a garden, a mini train and an amusement park. Ooty Lake is an artificial lake constructed by John Sullivan. You may choose from different kinds of boats – motor boat, shikhara or a pedaling one. You will get to click some amazing pictures there. The lake is surrounded by groves of Eucalyptus trees with a railway line running along one shore. During the summer season in May, boat races and boat pageantry are organized for two days. It is really scenic and surrounded by lush forests and stunning outlooks.
4. Botanical Garden
Spread over a huge area of 22 hectares and with more than 650 species of flowers and trees, this place is a dream for horticulturists. The gardens are divided into different sections where visitors are greeted with beautiful natural beauty from the moment they enter the premises. For more than 160 years, thousands of foreign and Indian tourists have wandered through the lawns of the garden, watching the variety of flowers, ferns and orchids. It is a home to many rare species of trees. Chief among them is the cork tree, the only one of its kind in India. The paperbark tree, the monkey puzzle tree, and an old fossilized tree are the highlights of the rare species. The monkey puzzle tree has been named so because even monkeys fail to climb it. One of the attractions is the fossil tree that is believed to be 20 million years old. Another attraction here is the Toda tribe settlement towards the top of the garden.
5.Pykara Lake and Waterfall
Pykara is a village near Ooty which is also included in the list of places which are suitable for sightseeing in the city. It is an awesome picnic place with a lake and waterfall to enjoy. The waterfall is a bit dangerous. Here, water level increases suddenly. Therefore, it is advisable not to go near the falls. Pykara waterfalls flow through Murkurti, Pykara, and Glen Morgan dams. There is a forest rest house in Pykara and also the beauty of this place is iconic.
There is a lake near the waterfalls which is like the Ooty Lake. It also offers facilities like boating in different kinds of boats where you may sit and enjoy yourselves. This place will inspire the photographer in you. Adventure lovers will enjoy speed boat rides available at the lake, while the honeymooners may like to take long walks amidst the pine trees which surround the area.
6. Dolphin’s nose
This place is a unique site because it presents a rock which is in the shape of a dolphin’s nose. Once you reach the spot, it is a sight to behold for ever. You can see the St. Catherine falls, the Coonoor stream meeting the Kotogiri stream and the vast forest valleys. Local people call it a suicide point. You may use a telescope to see the falls and other unique spots. Located near the tiger hills, it is one among the most popular tourist spots in Coonoor.
Also located in Coonoor, Lamb’s Rock is a view point within a reserve forest. On the right, there is a helical ravine featuring Coonoor River. It is among favored tourist spots, which can be approached on the way to Dolphin’s Nose or the Seat. This place offers a phenomenal view of vast stretches of forests all the way to the Coimbatore plains. Also, we get to see a breathtaking view of Nilgiri hills as well as coffee and tea estates. It is one of the most crowded places in the locality just because of these above-mentioned reasons.
8. 9th mile
Ooty is pretty much famous for its scenic shooting locations. As the name suggests, this place is located 9 miles away from Ooty city. Various famous Bollywood movies like Raja Hindustani, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai etc. have been shot here as it offers some of the best views in the town. Also known as “Shooting meadow”, this place is entirely surrounded by lush green forests and magnificent hills. Not only movies, but it is a great place for photographers too who want to capture natural beauty in their cameras as well as in memories.
9. Rose Garden
Located in the heart of Ooty, the construction of this place is magnificent and there are small tunnels made wherein the roses are planted. The garden is visited by thousands of tourists throughout the year and even in winter when it is not the flowering season. Initially, when the gardens were developed, 1919 varieties of roses with 17256 rose plants were planted. Today, this garden has 20,000 rose plants with 2241 varieties of roses and is maintained by Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department. It has the largest collection of roses in India like miniature roses, hybrid tea roses, ramblers, floribunda and roses of unusual colors like black and green. Today this garden has more than 20,000 varieties of roses of 2,800 cultivars. Interestingly, it has received the Award of Excellence for the best rose garden from the World Federation of Rose Societies in 2006. This will be the favorite for those interested in horticulture. The roses grown in this garden are exquisite and hold a great market value. Also, they make lovely bouquets and are the perfect gift for your loved ones.
10. Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
Mudumalai National Park also a declared Tiger Reserve is the first wildlife sanctuary in southern India. It was established in the year 1940 and it covers about 60 kilometers. Now the area is extended up to 321 kilometers. Gray langur and the bonnet macaque are both living in the park. But you can also see fauna such as tigers, leopards, striped hyenas, dholes, sloth bears, Asian elephants, and Golden Jackals. It is also home to different species of birds. Crested hawk-eagle, the crested serpent eagle, the Malabar Trojan, and the Malabar gray hornbill are some of them. The Moyar River and Nilgiri River flow through the reserve. When we visited here, a bus took us for the tour of the reserve where we saw elephants and many other animals. We were not fortunate enough to have a look of the king in the jungle. Visit the place; maybe you are lucky enough.
This was all about the major places in the city. Now you may plan your tour accordingly and have a great vacation in Ooty. Several tea gardens and sparkling lakes like Kamraj Sagar Lake, Bellikal Lake and Ooty Lake are some famous sightseeing in Ooty that adds to the excitement of a vacation. There are many surprises hidden in this city. Go, explore and find them out one by one. If I have missed anything do share it with me in the comments below.
Contributor: Akanksha Bhaduria