"Ooty- The Queens grown old" Udagamandalam by abi_maha
Udagamandalam Travel Guide: 136 reviews and 449 photos
Ooty also known as Udhagamandalam is the "Queen of hill stations" and the capital of Nilgiris district. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Nilgiris means "Blue Mountains". It is a land of picturesque picnic spots. Used to be popular summer and weekend getaway for the Britishers during the colonial days. It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. An added attraction for the tourists to Udagamandalam is the mountain train journey on a ratchet and pinion track which commences from Kallar, near Mettupalayam and wends its way through many hair-raising curves and fearful tunnels and chugs along beside deep ravines full of verdant vegetation, gurgling streams and tea gardens. Truly this is a journey to remember! This is also the train on which the popular song "Chaiyya Chaiyya" saw Sharukh Khan dancing on a train into the hearts of every Indian :)
However in recent times Ooty resembles any other city of Inida and looks less and less like a hill station. The further you get from the town center the better for you! However if you are looking for a getaway from noise and pollution, Ooty is no longer the place to head to.
This beautiful botanical paradise was first brought to the public eye by John Sullivan, Collector of Coimbatore district in 1819. But prior to this in 1812, the first Englishmen who were sent up the Nilgris by the Collector of Coimbatore, were Mr. Keys, Assistant Revenue Surveyor, and his Assistant, McMahon. They made their way via Dananayakan Kottai to Aracad and the existing village of Denad, and penetrated as far as Kallatti, the lower level of North Ooty, but never set their eyes on the beautiful valley in which Ooty lay. After Keys' visit there was no further expedition until 1818 when J.C.Whish and N.W.Kindersly (Asst. and second Asst. to the Collector of Coimbatore respectively) went up by the Dananayakan Kottai-Denad route, crossed the plateau in a south-western direction and descended by the Sundapatti pass from Manjakombai to the Bhavani valley and then went back to Coimbatore. The purpose of their visit is not known.
In March 1819, John Sullivan obtained Rs 1,100 (Rupees of those days not to be compared with the present-day rupee) from the Board of Revenue for laying a bridle path up the hill from Sirumugai to Kotagiri and its neighboring village, Dhimatti. The work was executed by McPherson in a period of 2 years starting 1821. This was the only route to the Nilgris from Coimbatore until 1832, when the first Coonoor ghat road was laid, thanks to the then Governor, S.R. Lushington, who got the work executed by Lehardy and Capt. Murray. The present metalled ghat road from Kallar to Coonoor, a distance of 25 km which has 14 hair-pin bends and a gradient of one 18 ft, which facilitated carriage traffic from Madras to Ooty, was mainly constructed by Colonel G.V. Law in 1871. It is gratifying to note that the cascade of the Coonoor river near Wenlock bridge on the Coonoor-Mettupalayam road named after Law, continues to bear the same name.
The Coonoor-Mettupalayam road was extended to Udagamandalam, covering a distance of about 15 km. The Kotagiri-Mettupalayam road (about 34 km long) which was 8 ft wide to begin with, was widened to 17 ft in 1872-75 with a gradient of one in 17 by the Dist. Engineer, Major Morant R.E. and handed over to the District Board in 1881. During the period from 1819 to 1830, John Sullivan's contribution was, apart from laying the route to Ooty, that he built the first house called Stone House in this place. Further, at his own expense, he conducted experiments on agricultural and horticultural crops and in animal husbandry to find the most suitable crops and breeds of milch animals for future settlers.Next to the magnificent task of laying the road to Ooty, the British took up, around 1880, the stupendous task of connecting Mettupalayam to Ooty by rail. A Swiss engineer, M. Riggenback and Major Morant of Kotagiri road fame prepared an estimate of 1,32,000 pounds (currency) for laying the rack railway and floated a company called The Rigi Railway & Co Ltd. Since capital was not forthcoming, Mr. Richard Wolley of Coonoor came forward to advance money on the condition that the contract would be entrusted to Mr. Wolley by the Government of Chennai.
The agreement between the 2 was signed in 1886, and the company called The Nilgri Railway & Company came into being with a capital of Rs 25 lakhs. The work on the line was started in August 1891 by Lord Wenlock, Governor or Madras, but the company was liquidated in 1894. Later, a new company was formed in 1894, and the work was completed in 1899. The line was worked by Madras Railway, to start with. Though the Nilgris formed part of Coimbatore district, it was separated into an independent district in 1868. For a period of 13 years from 1830, it remained part of Malabar district. This was to prevent tobacco smuggling from Coimbatore. From John Sullivan's days to this date, more than 170 years have rolled by. Udagamandalam considered a sanatorium and hill resort by the Europeans, has come to be like any other district. The devastation was so much that a ban on fresh construction was belatedly imposed by the Government.
Thaipoosam in Elk Hill Murugan Temple (February), Bookkapuram Mariamman Annual Festival (February), Ooty Mariamman Temple Festival (April), Coonoor Mariamman Temple Festival (April), Boat Races and Boat Pageantry in Ooty (May), Flower show in Ooty (May) and Fruit show in Coonoor (May).
- Pros:Tea Gardens, proximity to Kothagiri & Conoor
- Cons:Too urbanised
- In a nutshell:A run down hill station
This last trip to Ooty, we stayed in an estate that is around 30 KMS away from downtown Ooty- near a man made lake... more travel advice
Just opposite the bungalow we stayed in very were some enticing tea gardens so the 4 of us (My best friend and her... more travel advice
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