Glance a window view of Ooty as Nikita Chawla hand-picks 12 must visit places of interest amongst the myriad regions in and around dreamy Ooty. The writer has also captured the scenic beauty of enthralling Ooty hoping to give the reader a glimpse of the spectacular Nilgiris.
Every year, Ooty (a.k.a. Udhagamandalam) attracts tourists in large numbers. While Ooty might be synonymous to botanical gardens and boat houses to a few, its offers to be a quest for eco trails and trekkers. As adventurists, you might have the zest to explore what’s on the other side. One could choose different routes while choosing road trips or treks to the desired point and it is totally worth it! Rightly known as the Queen of the Hills, it gives you an overwhelming feeling on reaching higher altitudes. You literally feel like the king of the world! *Read it like SRK in Om Shanti Om*
Escaping from the orchestrated routine, visiting Ooty was a perfect retreat. Being a Chennaite and when ‘mountains are calling’, Ooty was easily a convenient option to pick a closest hill station. And why not?
1. Government Botanical Gardens
One of the oldest gardens hailing since the British Raj, it is home to many rare species of trees and foliage. While walking through the gates of the iconic garden, gorgeous varieties of flowers, ferns and orchids in different shades of red, lavender and white welcome you. The lush green lawns, the vibrant glasshouse nurturing various variety of flowers and ferns, the pretty nursery and the beautiful gallery of trees standing tall on the lower slopes of the vast Doddabetta peak. Another highlight of the garden is a 20 million-year-old fossil tree. Every corner of the garden is postcard ready. Taking a stroll in the lawns of the gardens rejuvenates your senses as there is beauty in every corner of the gardens. These charming gardens are maintained by the Tamil Nadu Department of Horticulture & Plantation Crops.
2. Ooty Lake
The 65 acres artificial lake formed during the British Raj is one of the primary attraction of Ooty. Amidst the stunning backdrop of mountains surrounded by eucalyptus trees and the mist beautifully lingering around the green cover makes this place magic. The tourists can access the various boats to enjoy their boat ride amongst the scenic setting. Alongside the lake, recreational activities such as an amusement park and toy trains for children, a flea market and horse rides are available for the tourist.
3. Doddabetta Peak
Located 10 kilometre from Ooty, Doddabetta (2634 meters above sea level) is the highest peak of the Nilgiris. The peak gives you a panoramic view of the entire region. Doddabetta is popular amongst the tourists as it gives an amazing landscape view of the entire Nilgiris hills. The region is surrounded with dense forest comprising pine trees, rich flora, fauna and wildlife. To have a bird eye view of the entire region, the Tourism Department has set up a telescope house. An alfresco cafeteria is also set up within the premises. En route to the telescopic house, there is a petite market that sells fresh carrots, corn, roasted peanuts, tea and spices. Warm wear and accessories are also sold here.
4. Pykara Falls and Pykara Boat House
The charmed Pykara Falls is located approximately 19 kilometres away from Ooty. The river flows in a beautiful series of cascades and waterfalls. An ideal leisure and picnic spot, the Pykara Boat House is untouched by commercialisation. The boat house provides boat rides amongst a picturesque dense trees and crystal blue river.
5. Kamaraj Sagar Dam
Looking for an idyllic location for a family picnic? Well, Kamaraj Sagar Dam is just that! Further to the dam is the Kamaraj Sagar Lake which provides a picturesque view of the abundant green trees set lining the lake and the dam. Many tourists and students visit this place to study the nature at its full glory. The tourists are also offered horse rides near the dam.
6. Elk Hill Lord Murugan Temple
Neighbouring to the vibrant rose garden, is the mystic Murugan temple. A life size golden statue of Lord Murugan stands tall amongst the slopes of the Elk Hill. The charming temple has a very peaceful atmosphere and the view from the temple is very fascinating.
7. Mariamman Temple
Located in the main market, the Mariamman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Mariamma, the Hindu Goddess of rain. Built in rich Dravidian architecture, the temple has a classic legend behind its existence. Considered one of the powerful temples of the town, the temple also features Kaliamman, Goddess Durga among other deities. People flock in large numbers offering prayers to the Goddesses.
8. St. Stephan’s Church
Founded in 1829, St. Stephan’s Church is considered one of the oldest churches in the Nilgiris built during the British era. The beautiful church is set amongst lush greenery an absolute treat to the eyes. The charmingly built church embraces colonial architecture, stained coloured glasses and the wooden beams and furniture.
9. Government Rose Garden
Amongst the beautiful slopes and terraces of the Elk Hill, the garden is home to almost 22,000 variety of roses and is apparently the largest rose garden in the country. The vast garden is maintained by the Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department, hosts various types and colours of roses lively blooming. Strolling amongst these beauties is every nature lover’s dream.
10. SIMS Park
Every photographer’s haven, the SIMS Park is a park cum botanical garden spread across several terraces. The garden is maintained by Tamil Nadu Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crops comprises vibrant varieties of flowers and naturally occurring trees and shrubs. This charming garden attracts thousands of visitors every year as it’s an ideal picnic and leisure spot. The tourist also has the pleasure to access the peddle boats within the park. A small children play area is also set up to engage the tiny tourists.
11. Dolphin’s Nose
A 10-kilometre drive from Coonoor, a protruding rock makes a shape of a Dolphin’s nose. From this point one can view the majestic Catherine Falls that drop several hundred feet below onto the dense forest and the Lady Canning Seat which are at times off-limits to visitors. The roads to the spot are narrow yet stunning. The Dolphin’s Nose is a steep cliff that drips to the tropical forest below. The breath-taking view of the tea-estates and the mountains makes it totally worth the drive.
12. Lamb’s Rock
En-route Dolphin’s Nose is the mystical Lamb’s Rock. This spot offers spectacular views of the mountains, lush green cover embracing coffee and tea estates and descending forest valleys. Similar to that of the Dolphin’s Nose, this rocky region provides fantastic views and drops down to the dense forest valleys.
How to reach Ooty?
- By Air – Take a domestic flight to Coimbatore as it’s the nearest city to Ooty. Hire a cab and road trip to Ooty. It doesn’t take more than 3 hours via road.
- By Rail – Our Indian railways are well connected and one could opt reaching Coimbatore or Mettupalayam by rail. The Chennai-Coimbatore Shatabdi Express reaches Coimbatore in 7 hours. Other regular trains to Coimbatore are also available. Alternatively, you could drive to Mettupalayam and take a toy train connecting to Ooty. These iconic toy trains pass through beautiful tunnels, bridges and valleys of the charming Nilgiris hills. The journey takes about 5 hours to reach Ooty. *Oh! Remember the famous Chaiya Chaiya song from SRK’s movie Dil Se? Well, this is it!*
- By Road – Approximately 8 hours to reach Coimbatore via road from Chennai (also depends upon traffic conditions). Another 3 hours to Ooty from Coimbatore