Ootacamund is a popular hill station located in the Nilgiri Hills. The origin of the name Ootacamund is obscure, but "mund" is the Badaga word for a Toda village, and it is probably a corruption of the Badaga name for the central region of the Nilgiri Plateau. Another likely origin of the stem of the name ("Ootaca") comes from the local language Tamil where "Otta-Cal" literally means "Single Stone". This is perhaps a reference to a sacred stone revered by the local Toda people. Udhagamandalam is a more recent official Tamil name for the town. Ooty stands at an approximate height of 7,440 feet (2,268 m) above sea level.
The Nilgiri Hills were part of Chera Empire in ancient times. Later it fell into the hand of ganga dynasty, and then Hoysala empire under king Vishnuvardhana in the 12th century. They then became part of the Kingdom of Mysore of Tipu Sultan who later surrendered them to the British in the 18th century.
John Sullivan, the British governor of neighbouring Coimbatore province, liked the climate of this forested land, and occupied it by taking land from the native tribes (Toda, Irumba and Badaga); often buying up many square kilometres in a day for the price of a few meals.
The hills were developed rapidly under the British Raj because they were almost entirely owned by private British citizens, unlike the rest of India. Ooty served as the summer capital of the Madras Presidency, and had winding hill roads and a complicated rack railway system built by influential and enterprising British citizens with venture capital from the Madras government.
Located in the mountainous range called the Blue Mountains or Nilgiris, Ooty draws a large number of tourists every year. The weather is quite pleasant at a mean of 15 to 20 °C (59 to 68 °F) year round, dropping to lows of 0 °C (32 °F) during winter. The hill town suffers from rampant commercialization and various other ecological and infrastructural issues.
The landscape is marked by rolling hills and plateaus covered with dense vegetation, tea gardens, and eucalyptus trees. Many portions of the hills are preserved as natural reserve forests, and special permits are needed to camp outside of campgrounds. Ooty is more of a focal point of attraction for tourists, who also undertake auto tours of the surrounding countryside.
As a result of the local agricultural industry, some research institutes are based in Ooty. These include a soil conservation centre and a potato research farm. Efforts are being made to diversify the range of local crops and subsequently some Floriculture and Sericulture is being introduced in the local area, as well as the cultivation of mushrooms.
The only significant manufacturing industry is Hindustan Photo Films, the erstwhile photo film manufacturer in India. This is located on the outskirts of the town at Indu Nagar. Other manufacturing industries are located in the wider area. The most significant of these are in Ketti (manufacture of needles); Aruvankadu (manufacture of cordite) and Coonoor (manufacture of rabies vaccine).
There is some cottage industry activity in the area including chocolate, pickle manufacture and carpentry.
Though the local area is known for tea cultivation, this is neither grown nor processed in Ooty. Tea is grown at slightly lower altitude and hence Coonoor and Kotagiri are local centres of tea cultivation and processing.
The 22 Acre Botanical Garden was laid out in 1847 and is presently maintained by the government of Tamil Nadu. The original purpose of the "Botanical Gardens" was purely academic: to promote and study the various flora in and around Nilgiris. Now, it is open to the public as a park that can be enjoyed by visitors. The Botanical Garden is also a heaven for bird watchers where a variety of birds, both seasonal and year-round residents, can be sighted. A flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant species is held every year in the month of May at this garden. The garden also has a 20 million year old fossilized tree.
This was the first "Pukka" house in Ooty, built by John Sullivan. It is situated inside the premises of the Government Arts College.
There are a few number of Toda Huts up in the hills of Botanical Garden's were Todas still dwell.
This is an artificial lake built by John Sullivan. It used to be much larger than its present size, and encompassed the present bus stand and race course as well as much of the present market. Next to the lake there is a Mini Garden with an amusement park for children and a toy train.
This former palace situated around 1 km from the Ooty bus stand can be visited for an entry fee of Rs 50. It has been converted into a Hotel.
Note: Ooty is situated in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Many of the forested areas and water bodies are off limits to most visitors in order to protect this fragile ecosystem. Some areas of the Biosphere Reserve have been earmarked for Tourism Development, and steps are being undertaken to open these areas to visitors whilst conserving the area. Generally tourists are encouraged to observe any local signage and not to enter reserved forests and protected areas. Much of Ooty has already been damaged by rampant commercialisation as a result of tourism. Some steps are being introduced to limit the impact of pollution by tourists in the biosphere reserve such as making the area a plastic-free zone. This largely applies to plastic bags.
The highest point in the Nilgiri Hills, offering spectacular views over the town and district. There is road access to the summit. There is a reserved forest area around the peak.
There is a view point called "Valley View" on the main Ooty to Coonoor road.
A forested and grassy area, partially home to a golf course
The most accessible of all the nearby lakes. A boathouse and picnic area has been developed to provide access to this area. Most of the remainder of the lake is within a reserved forest and off limits to visitors.
This is a grassland area typical of the original bioscape of the Nilgiris. It has gently undulating hills, and is often compared with areas in the British isles such as the Yorkshire Dales. This is a popular film shooting area, particularly two areas sitauted approximately six and nine miles (14 km) out of Ooty on the main Ooty to Pykara road (also known as Mysore Road). These locations are accordingly named "Sixth Mile" and "Ninth Mile".
On the way to Pykara. A nearby lake bordered by pine forests.
A large protected area generally not accessible to visitors. It also contains a lake and peak of the same name.
taking a bus from ooty bus stand to thalakunda or any bus to mysore will take you to this place called pine forest. this place was featured once in the Tamil movie song "deena". its a small downhill like region where pine trees are arranged in an orderly fashion. its a very beautiful sight to look at. when we get down the trees a beautiful green lake opens up. its really a very exciting scene to look at.
usually the tourist vehicles cover pykara surely. so its not a great deal to mention here about that place. after pykara a road leads to mysore. in the way before the forest comes a small place called gudalaur. between gudalaur and pykara comes a hidden spot named needle hill view point. in midst of eculuptus forests comes this place. a walk of nearly 5min will take us to a big barren rock. its easy to climb the rock. after climbing it come to the tip of the rock. there you can see a sight that you cant see anywhere in your life. all the clouds below your feet. and villages below the clouds. this s really an exciting place to look at.
This is the primary water source for the town and is mainly in a reserved forest and is thus largely off-limits to visitors.
Near the town of the same name. There is a view point near the dam. The rest of the are is mainly in a reserved forest and is largely off-limits to visitors
Adjacent to the Emerald lake. This is mainly in a reserved forest and is largely off-limits to visitors
This is mainly in a reserved forest and is largely off-limits to visitors
Most of this is within the Mukurthi National Park (and also largely off limits to visitors)
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway(NMR) is one of the oldest mountain railways in India. The NMR was declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in July 2005. This connects Ootacamund with the town of Mettupalayam, at the foothills of the Nilgiri Mountains. It is the only rack railway in India, and uses the Abt system.
Coimbatore Airport lies 90km south east of Ooty. It has domestic flights to several major Indian cities and is an international airport with direct services to Singapore, Sharjah and Colombo. The next nearest airport to Ooty is Calicut Airport which is at a road distance of 146 km west of Ooty.
Steps are being undertaken to start a helicopter shuttle service from the nearest airport to Ooty for fixed wing aircraft which is in Coimbatore. It will initially be serviced by a Bell 407 marketed and run by J.B.Aviation with the aircraft leased from the air service provider Pawan Hans. The aircraft is capable of transporting five passengers along with two crew. The journey will take approximately 20 minutes and will cost 4500 Rupees per passenger for a one way flight. By surface transport, Coimbatore Airport lies 90km south east of Ooty and the journey takes approximately 3 hours.
The service has generally been well received by local hoteliers catering to up-market tourists and by the president of the Citizens Forum of Ootacamund, who has stated that "in the long run the service would play a key role in ensuring the economic wellbeing of the hill station". There is widespread criticism of the fact that the service is too expensive and out of reach for most of the local people, and will be of little benefit to most people as it will be a service to a small minority of wealthy tourists. Many have argued that the public funds ploughed into setting up the service and modernising the existing public helipad at Theetukal would have been better spent on improving surface infrastructure such as the local access roads which are in a very poor condition. However, some officials have defended the service for public benefit in the case of medical evacuation, although according to Bharat Kumar (JB Aviation): "We are ready to operate in case of medical emergency if the parties concerned are ready to pay the prescribed fare’’ , a clear indication that this is a commercial service and no humanitarian exceptions will be made.
There is also criticism of the fact that the service will not fly to the civilian Coimbatore Airport at Peelamedu but instead will fly to the Air Force Airport at Sulur which will be an added inconvenience to passengers wishing to use this as a connecting service to domestic and international flights, as it will involve an additional transfer by surface transport.
Ooty, being district capital, has the most frequent bus connections from nearby large towns in the district (such as Coonoor, Kotagiri and Gudalur). There are bus connections to most villages in the district via one of three towns. There are also frequent bus connections to the nearest mainline railheads of Mettupalayam and Coimbatore.
As Ooty is in Tamil Nadu state most direct bus connections are from towns in this state:
There are several buses from the nearest large main cities of Mysore and Kozhikode (in the two bordering states). Direct buses can be boarded for Ooty from many other parts of Karnataka and Kerala, including local connections to Palghat and Sultans Battery in Kerala, as well as Gundlupet in Karnataka. The capital cities of these two states (Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram respectively) as well as Union Territory of Puducherry are also connected via direct bus links.
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