Queen of the Nilgiris
During my recent trip to India I was fortunate enough to visit Ooty – known as the Queen of the Nilgiris . Ooty, situated at an altitude of 2,240 mt above sea level is deep within the Nilgiri hills and is covered in eucalyptus, pine trees and coffee and tea plantations.
The road trip to Ooty is memorable. We started from Bangalore, via Bangalore-Mysore highway, the Bandipur tiger reserve, the Mudumalai tiger reserve (known for the Bengal tiger and the Gaur), and then the long drive up the mountains with several hair-pin curves. On the way we encountered some deer, monkeys, horses, goats and sheep.
The credit for modernising Udhagamandalam (Ooty) 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.
The Nilgiris have 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 experiences.
We stayed at the Taj Savoy. The Hotel sprawls over six acres of landscaped gardens, offering colonial style cottages that were built between 1834-1865. There are colourful flowerbeds and gardens, giving the place a English charm and a wonderful feeling of serenity. It offers a quite retreat away from busy Bangalore.
Activities in the area include boat-riding in the Pykara lake, horse riding at North Lake, taking the toy train from Metupalayam to Ooty. The track is 46 kilometers (28.5 miles) long, and passes over 26 viaducts, and through 16 tunnels and tall girder bridges. This railway is particularly picturesque because of the surrounding rocky terrain, tea plantations and forested hills.
Besides one can go trekking, try out the chocolates and visit the bazaars and emporiums. Ooty is truly a memorable place and is no doubt – ‘the Queen of the Nilgiris’