9 May, 2019
It’s May, and along with the heat of the General elections and the hectic campaigning news, the summer is also getting on the nerves of the people. Being holidays for schools and colleges, most people are also looking to get away from the blistering heat and pollution of the city. Put like that, there is no better place to escape than a hill station. How about a cool hill station tucked away in South India, which is also hosting a Sumer Festival at this time?
The place is none other than Ooty, which is the more popular name for Ootacamund or Udagamandalam, situated in Tamil Nadu. This is the capital of the Nilgiri district and is situated in the Nilgiri hills. This is a truly scenic place, the natural beauty of which literally takes the breath away, and is inhabited by the Toda Tribe, apart from the other local population, which thrives mainly on tourism and agriculture.
During the colonial rule, this was mainly a tribal colony and the tribes like Toda, Kota, Irula, and Kurumba lived here. The place was ruled by many kings and dynasties before the colonization as well. It came under the British East India Company because of a treaty with Tipu Sultan. It became the summer capital of the Madras Presidency, because of its cool climate as well as the natural beauty surrounded by mountains and mist, and lovely flowers, and valleys. Even during the peak summers, the temperatures are only around 22 degrees Celsius around here, because of its altitude.
The Summer Festival
Scenic beauty, the fresh pollution-free air of the Nilgiri Hills and a flower show arranged for the tourism purpose, makes the Summer Festival a special one. This place is host to the largest Rose Garden in India, as well as a 22-acre Botanical Gardens, which hosts the flower show every May. This contains an exhibition of rare plant species, beautiful floral arrangements, vegetable carvings, flower rangoli, etc. To spice it up for the tourists, a rose show, fruit show, dog show, spice show, vegetable show, boat race, and boat pageantry are also held along the side. Besides, the Ooty Botanical Gardens also contains a lot of nature lover’s treasures like a thousand species of plants, exotic and indigenous; these include shrubs, ferns, trees, herbs, and even bonsai plants. It also has a 20 million-year-old fossilized tree, which is a huge attraction.
Besides all these, there are many lakes, pine forests, waterfalls, and the Pykara River and dam that can be explored when you visit Ooty. You could also visit Dodabetta, the highest peak on the Nilgiri Hills, and you may also get to check out the Toda tribe settlement as well as the Tribal Museum. The Nilgiri Mountain Railways with the steam locomotive used to a huge draw, with the train plowing through the scenic mountains and valleys Coonoor and Ooty. Diesel engines have now replaced this; the train journey though, still happens to be a memorable one and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You could also check out the beautiful reminders of the British Empire through the colonial buildings that lie around Ooty. With so much going for it, Ooty certainly happens to be a big draw in summer, especially in South India.
How to reach Ooty?
Ooty is well connected by road, and people can travel via Karnataka, Tamil Nadu or Kerala easily, to reach here. The nearest airport is Coimbatore, which is around 96 km away. The Calicut International Airport is about 140km away, and the Bengaluru Kempegowda International Airport is 273 km away. From these places, one could easily travel by road, using a taxi or the government bus transportation services to Ooty.
By rail, the nearest train connectivity happens to be Mettupalayam, 40 km from Ooty. Trains are plying from Chennai, Coimbatore, Mysore, and Bangalore connecting Mettupalayam and one can choose this route as well. Ooty promises a heavenly climate, a relaxing environment, healing touch of nature and much more, and is certainly worth checking out to beat the summer heat.
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