Called the Queen of Hill Stations picturesque, green Udhagamandalam better known, as Ooty is the most popular hill station in the South. Located in the Western ghats at a height of 2240m, Udhagamandalam is the headquarters of the Nilgiris district where the two ghats ranges meet. Nature has been generous with this region, which is by far the most beautiful in the state.
Apart from coffee and tea plantations, trees like confiers, eucalptus, pine and wattle dot the hillside in Udhagamandalam and its encirons. Summer temperature is rarely higher than 25°c with a minimum of 10°c and winter is are distinctly cooler with a high of 21°c and a low 5°c. Curiously enough, this slice of paradise remained unknown to the great southern dynasties and it took the British to discover it in the early 1800s.
They were, however, not the first inhabitants of this land as a tribe called Todas had been living there long before the British came, claiming that the Nilgiris had been their home since time immemorial. But the credit for modernising Udhagamandalam and making it accessible goes to the British who constructed the first railway line in the area and made it the summer capital of the Madras Presidency.
Ooty with smaller hill stations of Coonoor – 19 kms and Kothagiri 31 kms from Ooty are the other hill stations of this district. Nilgiri is India’s first biosphere. It has been declared as one of the 14 ‘hotspots’ of the world because of its unique bio-diversity. Nilgiri presents a truly breath taking kaleidoscope of visual treats and soul stirring experience.
Government Botanical Garden Ooty This garden was laid out in 1847 by the Marquis of Tweedale, the then Governor of Madras and is spread over 22 heactares ascending the slopes on the hill at an elevation of 2400 – 2500 metres above M.S.L.
Lush green well maintained lawns, rare tree species (like the cork tree which is probably the only such tree in India, the paper bark tree and the monkey puzzle tree – monkeys cannot climb this tree), a 20 million year old fossilized tree (presented by the Geological Survey of India, from the National Fossil Park, Tiruvakkarai, South Arcot district, Tamil Nadu) an Italian – style garden bordering a clear pool, a vast variety of flowering bushes and plants in myriad hues (exotic and ornamental), fern house with vast range of ferns and orchids, are some of the many highlights of this garden. A flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant species is held every year in the month of May at this Garden. This garden is maintained by Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department.
Rose Garden To commemorate the Centenary Flower festival, the Rose Park was established at Vijayanagaram in Udhagamandalam covering an area of 4 hectares in five terraces. The Rose Garden is situated in the lower slopes of the Elk Hill and on the North – Western side, facing the Udhagamandalam town. It is about a kilometer from Udhagamandalam Railway Station and Bus stand and has easy access with motorable roads from two sides.
The rose varieties planted in this park were assembled from different sources. Initially, 17,256 rose plants from 1919 varieties have been planted. Lated on some more varieties are added marking the total as 20,000 with 2241 varieties. The Nila Maadam is located in a spot from where viewers can see the entire rose garden. This garden is maintained by Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department.
Lake Park : The Lake Park is situated on the banks of the Ooty lake. It is very near to the Bus stand and opposite to the Ooty Railway Station. The reclaimed area of Lake was formed as a garden in the year 1977 under Hill Area Development Programme funds by Tourism Department. Ever since the formation of the garden it is well appreciated by all. As an entertainment both for tourists and local public this garden it is well appreciated by all. As an entertainment both for tourists and local public this garden was formed so as to enable them to enjoy natural beauty with illumination during dark hours. To add attraction to the garden a fibreglass dome was constructed in the year 1978.
Kalhatty falls : It is located on the Kalhatty slopes at about 13 kms. from Udhagamandalam on the Udhagamandalam – Mysore Kalhatty ghat road. The height of the water falls is about 100 ft. Kalhatty – Masinagudi slopes is rich in wildlife such as Panthers, Bisons, Wild Buffaloes, Wild Dogs, Spotted Deers, Sambars and different types of hill birds.