Posted by: getaway2india | October 2, 2009

Ooty – The Queen of Hill Stations

Ooty – The Queen of Hill Stations

Ooty Map

The original name for Ooty was Udhagamandalam which the British shortened into a more comprehensible English form called Ootacamund. Today Ootacamund is shortened further to Ooty. It is also called The Queen of Hill Stations in South India. In fact many people in India wouldn’t recognize Ooty by its proper name Udhagamandalam or Ootacamund!!

Located in the Western ghats at a height of 2240 metres, Ooty is the headquarters of the Nilgiris district where the Eastern and Western ghats meet.

Surprisingly, probably due to its inaccessibility, Ooty was practically unknown to the Indians till the early 1800s when it was discovered by John Sullivan, the then British Collector of Coimbatore. The Britisher constructed the first railway line in the area and made Ooty the summer capital of Madras Presidency.


The earlier inhabitants of the land were the tribals called Todas who claim to have lived in the Nilgiris since time immemorial. These tribals  also believe that the 1st woman was created out of the right rib of the 1st man. They revere the Pandavas from Mahabharata.

Ooty is full of coffee estates and tea plantations. The dense forests around are full of conifers, eucalyptus, pine and wattle, numerous animals and birds.

The hilly region also houses smaller towns like Coonoor and Kotagiri. These smaller towns are a better choice to visit and spend time in, since they are off the beaten path, yet less than 1 hour away from Ooty. They enjoy the same natural climes and prices are a lot cheaper.


The weather is quite pleasant at a mean of 15-20 C around the year, dropping to lows of 0 C during winter.

What to see:

The centre of attraction, the artificial Ooty Lake, was constructed by John Sullivan in 1824. The Lake is surrounded by well maintained gardens. You can do boating in the lake.

Boating at Ooty Lake

You can also do fishing, but you have to obtain prior permission from the Assistant Director of Fisheries.

View of St. Stephen's Church from the cementery

View of St. Stephen's Church from the cementery

John Sullivan’s Wife & Daughter  lie buried in this cemetery close to St. Stephens Church (built in 1829) on Club Road. He retired and left for England in 1841 and died on 16 January  1855.

For more info on John Sullivan click  here.

Ooty at Night

Ooty at Night

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

The beautiful Botanical Garden laid over 50 acres of land was established by the Marquis of Tweeddale in 1848. The picturesque gardens that are maintained by the Horticulture department of the state, cover an area of about 22 hectares. It has well over 650 species of exotic and ornamental plants and trees, a beautiful Italian floral garden, well maintained lawns and a 20 million year old fossilized tree trunk.

Due to its altitude and evergreen character, it is home to some of the most threatened and endemic species. The garden is very popular with nature lovers and those who long to walk among greenery and see rare ferns and shrubs up close. If you are in Ooty in the month of May, then you can also be a part of the summer festival, which is held here annually. The festival holds flower shows and various cultural programs showcasing the talent of the locals and the renowned artists.

Government Museum

The Government Museum on Mysore Road, which was set up in 1989, has a good collection of tribal artifacts and arts and crafts of Tamil Nadu.

Doddabetta (10 Kms)

View of Ooty from Doddabetta

View of Ooty from Doddabetta

The Doddabetta Peak stands at an altitude of 2,623 meters. It is the highest point in the district lying at the junction of Western and Eastern Ghats and offers panoramic views of the Nilgiri Hills. There is a telescope house.

It is merely 10km from Ooty. Many say that on a clear day, which is honestly not that often, one can see far off areas, even the plains of Coimbatore and the flat highlands of Mysore.

Kotagiri (29 Kms)



Kotagiri is a lovely hamlet (1982 metres feet above sea level). The climate here is very healthy. The road to Kotagiri is flanked by tea gardens.

Rose Garden

It is located about 4 kms from Charring Cross. Spread over 10 acres of land, it has about 2000 variety of roses.

Art Gallery – Lalith Kala Academy (2 Kms)

Situated on the main Mysore road, it has a good collection of contemporary paintings and sculptures from all over India.

Mini Garden (1 Km)

The mini garden (Children’s Lake Garden) is on the way to the Boat House. There is also a children’s amusement park here.
Deer Park (1 Km)

The Deer Park is a park worth visiting.

  • Wax World – (Wax Museum)
  • The Tea Factory
  • Boating at Pykara
  • Falls at Pykara
  • Historical Dam with Power station at Pykara
  • Hidden Valley
  • Echo Rock

Mudumulai Wildlife Sanctuary (64 kms)

Mudumulai Wildlife Sanctuary -Tree House

Mudumulai Wildlife Sanctuary -Tree House

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is the most important wild life reserve in the state and borders the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and the Wyanad Sanctuary in Kerala. The dense forests shelter a wide range of animals and birds.

The animals include tiger, leopard, elephants, sloth bear, gaur, sambar, spotted deer, Indian muntjac, wild boar, hyena, wild dog, jackal, langur, bonnet macaque, mouse deer and flying squirrel.

The birds include Malabar trogan, Grey hornbill, crested hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, etc.

The Ooty Mysore road actually passes through the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. It is not unusual to sight a wild elephant on the road.


Coonoor Railway Station

Coonoor Railway Station

Coonoor, located at an altitude of 1858 metres (6100 ft.) is on the way between Coimbatore and Udhagamandalam. It is a smaller, but equally enchanting, and far quieter and picturesque hill station in the Nilgiris. (on the toy-train line – 28 kms from Mettupalayam )

The Sim’s Park in Coonoor, having a distinctive Japanese style, contains a large array of plants including the Rudrakhsa (holy beads) tree.

Dolphin’s Nose (12 Kms from Coonoor)

This is a beautiful spot. You can also see the Catherine Falls from here.

Ketti Valley View Point

Located on the road to Coonoor, this spot is a cluster of small villages that extend to the plains of Coimbatore and Mysore plateau.

Kalhatty Water Falls (13 kms from Ooty)

Kalhatty Water Falls

Kalhatty Water Falls

Is located on the Kalhatty slopes on the Ooty – Mysore Kalhatty Ghat road. The height of the water falls is about 100 ft. Kalhatty – Masinagudi slope area is rich in wildlife and different types of birds.

Mukurthi Peak & Mukurthi National Park (40 kms from Ooty)

The Mukurthi National Park is located on the South Eastern corner of the Nilgiris.

The unique feature of this sanctuary is the similarity of its flora and fauna to those found in the Himalayas. (Ramayana mentions Hanuman bring a mountain from Himalayas!). The area contains Nilgiri Tahr (Hamitragus hilocrius).
Silent valley is located on the western side of these ranges.

Pykara (21 kms from Ooty)

Pykara Falls

Pykara Falls

Shola Forest

Sholas tree forests

Toda House

Traditional Toda House

Toda settlements; virgin grassy meadows and also a large variety of wildlife.
The Pykara Dam, Pykara falls and the reservoir are good tourist spots.You can also do some boating here.

Avalanche Lake and Forest (28 kms from Ooty)

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake

This is a beautiful lake surrounded by thick shola trees where even sunlight cannot penetrate. This area is a Nature Lover’s Paradise.

Emerald Lake, Ooty

Emerald Lake, Ooty

DESTINY The Farm Stay Mulligur Emerald post The Nilgiris
147 Oriental Buildings Commissioners road Ooty 643209

Destiny Farmstay

Destiny Farmstay

Rooms From: $USD125.00. It is the place where you forget rest of the world. Bang in the middle of wilderness, Destiny gives you the real experience of farmstay amidst expansive hills, valleys, lakes and farms and there’s so much to do for every one and lot more…..

Heavy woollens in winter.
Cottons in summer.

Getting there:

By Air

The nearest airport is Coimbatore – 100 Kms – 3-1/2 hours by road.Coimbatore has direct flights from Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore  (Air Deccan, Indian Airlines, Jet and Go Air) and from out of India – Singapore, Sharjah, Colombo. TheMysore airport is about 5 odd hours away from Ooty by road (but Mysore airport is currently closed and only expected to open for light aircraft), and lies to the North of Ooty. The road trip is quite scenic from either airport.

By train

The hills are connected to by a nightly train. The Nilagiri Express (Train No. 2671) leaves from Chennai at night, and reaches Mettupalayam (which Indian Rail spells Metupalaiyam), a small town at the foothills of the Nilgiris early the next morning. The train The Nilgiri Mountain Railway leaves Mettupalayam at 7.10 pushed by a small steam powered historic locomotive that is a remnant of Swiss engineered trains imported in the late 1800s. The steam train is much smaller, and can only accommodate a portion of the passengers that disembark at Mettupalayam. A through ticket from Chennai to Ooty will ensure a place in the smaller train, although many prefer the faster route of taking a cab or a bus from Mettupalayam.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The steam train takes a very scenic route, and the pace of travel will let you take in the beautiful scenery at leisure with stops at stations for the engine to take on water(the journey takes about 5-1/2 hours compared to 2 hours by road). The train uses a rack and pinion system to haul itself up steep slopes, and also to prevent the train from sliding down when stopping. The train is pushed from behind. There are brakesmen at the rear of every carriage who will apply and release hand powered brakes individually for that carriage. The train often travels only at 5 – 10 Kmph, allowing some adventurous passengers to disembark from the train and walk along the train. This practice is not recommended and can be dangerous, besides there is a good chance that the train will speed up, and you will be unable to get back on board.

Mettupalayam can prove to be a bottle-neck during the peak season of April-June with cabs charging exorbitant rates. The train is often quite regular in this part of the country, and is by far the most comfortable way to get here.

There are other trains from Chennai to Coimbatore. The journey can be continued from Coimbatore by road, a 3-1/2 hour journey.

The unforgettable train journey from Mettupalayam to Ooty passes through eleven stations and over nineteen small bridges.

The train passes through areca plantations, tea and coffee estates offering spectacular views of the misty Nilgiris.

By car

Ooty is connected by good motorable road and is 535 Kms from Chennai (Via Salem, Mettupalayam) and 89 Kms from Coimbatore.

The Nilgiris are in Tamil Nadu, but it is quite near the borders of neighboring states Karnataka and Kerala. The hills consequently can be reached from within Tamil Nadu by traveling up a heavily forested winding road, with many sharp hair-pin beds.

The road trip from any state is quite scenic, although the Coimbatore-Mettupalayam-Coonoor-Ooty road (i.e. the Tamil Nadu route) is the most traveled and well maintained. All roads to the Nilgiri hills are toll roads, although the tolls are quite nominal.


There are buses and shared taxi vans that can be boarded from most parts of India to Ooty. If you don’t want wake up early to take the train from Coimbatore, plenty of buses are also going to Ooty.

From Kozhikode (Calicut) there are two government buses daily, leaving 05.00 and 07.00, travel time is about 6 hours. Mysore is served few times a day, too.

Mysore - Ooty Road

Mysore - Ooty Road

From Bangalore Ooty is 284 km by road. The journey takes about 8 hours, depending on the condition of the road. One can take a shorter route for which a diversion has to be taken at Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary. This route will take you past the small towns of Masinagudi and Kalhatti. This route will curtail the distance to Ooty by about 50 km. Keep in mind that this road is closed at night as it passes through the jungle, so you may actually have to spend a few hours at the check post which is closed invariably at night.

Caution:Only good drivers should take on this road as it is very narrow and steep.You’ll find some eateries and a fuel station in the town of Masinagudi. There are some wonderful resorts around Masinagudi town where one can rent a cottage. These places are a good weekend getaway for rest and relaxation. There are eating places between Bangalore and Mysore, and within Mysore, but from Mysore to Ooty one should carry some food, as there are very few restaurants.

Distance from Ooty to various cities:

Summer Festivals

Ooty has a number of summer festivals in the month of May:

  • Flower and Fruit shows;
  • Boat races;
  • Boat pageantry;
  • Dog shows;
  • Cultural Programs;
  • Fashion parades, etc.

Adventure sports like trekking also form part of the festival.

Best Season – Summer & Rainy
The main season is the summer. But Ooty is more enchanting during the rainy season.

Most travel agents / hotels conduct guided tour packages that will bundle you into a bus, and tick off the most important and hence crowded “tourist” spots in the area.

Things to Do:

  • Enjoy the weather.
  • Travel in the Railway. The charming Nilgiri Hill Railway, blue and cream with wooden coaches and large windows, is widely regarded as a marvel of engineering.
  • Go for long walks and hikes.
  • Visit a tea plantation and if possible a tea factory.
  • Travel the country side in a 4×4.
  • Catch a round of golf at the Gymkhana Golf course (membership or introduction required).
  • Visit the local Army cantonment – the Madras Regimental Center and the DSSC (Defense Services Staff College).
  • Visit terrace farmed cabbage fields around Ooty.
  • Visit the Mudumalai forest sanctuary (1-2 days minimum).
  • Sample the local bakeries (Kingstar bakery near Charing Cross in Ooty sells sinfully delicious chocolate and pistachio fudges).
  • Visit the Needle industry which is around 6km from main town Ooty in Ketti.
  • Visit 9th mile and also the 6th mile where lot of movies are shot:-)
  • Visit the Municipal Market and shop for fresh local fruits.
  • You can get farm fresh carrot on the way.
  • Horse back riding. It’s popular here. In one hour you can go around the lake or longer rides you can visit countryside around Ooty. Some knowledge of horses would be good as the guides are local men who don’t speak too much English, teaching is minimal. On top of the price you have to pay for guide. US$ 4/hour.


There are various restaurants in Ooty, mostly offering South Indian food, but some offer North Indian food.

One can also obtain some Chinese/Indo-Chinese food from restaurants such as:

  • Wang’s kitchen,
  • Shinkows
  • Western food such as pizza and sandwiches from chains like Hot Breads.
  • Modern Stores and Kingstar Bakery for Ooty’s famous buns, varkis, cakes, and other baked goods, as well as fruit and nut chocolates.
  • Preethi Vegetarian Restaurant, Ettines Road makes delicious vegetarian food.


  • The Nilgiris is famous for Tea. Try Irani’s on Commercial Road, famous with the locals.
  • Hotel Blue hills on Commercial Road. Best Non-veg hotel in OOTY. Serving biriyani and other dishes for more than a decade.

Place to Stay:

There is no dearth of accommodations, with many hotels and inns that cater to every budget. Accommodations are no more expensive than most cities in India, and the popular Indian hotel chains have a presence here.

  • Hotel Savoy from the Taj Group is one good option. Sitting firm on a rising hill, the Hotel sprawls over six acres of landscaped gardens, offering colonial style cottages that were built between 1834-1865. Colorful flowerbeds merge to form a multi-coloured quilt around the cottages, adding to their gentle refinement and old English Charm. A quiet retreat, the Savoy Hotel offers a little pocket of paradise.

Hotel Savoy Inside Hotel Savoy

  • Another excellent choice is the newly constructed Sherlock Hotel. It is a typical homestay with only about 10 rooms, but the location is magnificent – overlooking the entire valley, and the quality is high (including the food).
  • Hotel Sinclair – Great view of Ooty and surrounding hills. 5 minutes drive to go to the town market and restaurants. Hotel has its own restaurant and a bar.
Hotel Sinclair

Hotel Sinclair

HOTEL SULLIVAN COURT, OOTY , Near Rose Garden. Expensive yet comfortable. Food is also good.

Standard Room 2 Nights / 3 Days @ Rs. 12000/-
Fortune Club 2  Nights / 3 Days @ Rs.12998/-

Till 30th Sep. 2009

* Accommodation for two adults & two children below 5 years
* Breakfast for two adults and two children below 5 years
* Dinner for two adults and two children below 5 years
* 20% discount on food and soft beverages consumed
* One 1/2 day (4 Hours) Ooty local sight seeing by Car
* All applicable taxes

There are many other hotels available at Ooty that provide a decent stay..

  • Hotel Maneck, Main Bazaar, Ph 2443494. Very central hotel near horse race track with good economical restaurant on basement. Both hotel and restaurant are under Jain management. Rooms from US$ 4 upwards.

Hotel Manek1


  1. i have plan visit the ootty..

  2. Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Many thanks for providing this info.

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