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Nilgiri is located more than 2,200 meters away in the 'Ir Blue Mountains' of Ootacund or Ooty and has all the staples of an attractive hill station. With its year-round freezing temperatures, its inviting setting amidst lush green hills has earned Ooty right as The Moniker, ik Queen of the Hills'. The serene bungalows and heritage buildings reflect Ooty's colonial past and make it a continuously growing and popular holiday destination in South India.

The hills in Ooty, tamilnadu, India
Photo by DICSON / Unsplash

What are some great places to see in Ooty?

Fernhill Palace: Once the residence of the Maharaja of Mysore, Fernhill Palace was built in 1844 in 50 acres of lush green gardens and eucalypt forests. Today, it is a restored heritage hotel that reflects the character of the royal palace that it once was.

Emerald Lake: As the name itself suggests, Emerald Lake gets its name from the reflection of the green mountains that surround it. A picturesque picnic spot, about 25 kilometers from Ooty's city center, Emerald Lake offers breath-taking presentations.

Doddabetta Peak: The Nilgiri Hills are surrounded by dense forests of more than 2,600 meters high mountain, Doddabetta Peak Eucalyptus and Rhododendron trees. The observatory above the summit offers a 360 degree panoramic view of the ancient surroundings.

St. Stephen's Church: Dating back to 1830, St. Stephen's Church was built using wooden beams from Tipu Sultan's palace in Mysore. Built in Gothic-style architecture, stained glass windows depicting the cross of Christ and a painting of the Last Supper are masterpieces here.

What to do in Ooty?

Take a toy train ride: The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Covering a distance of 26 kilometers from Mettupayalam to Ooty is called the 'Toy Train', which makes its way over 16 tunnels and 250 bridges. . The views of the entire journey are absolutely spectacular, with over 200 hill curves to navigate.

Boating on Ooty Lake: The most visited attraction in Ooty is the Ooty Lake. A man-made lake built by British Governor John Sullivan in 1824, the lake is a recreational center for locals and tourists. Boating in the lake is a popular activity and enthusiasts can choose from paddle, row or motor boats. The view from the Ooty Lake of the surrounding forests and gardens is spectacular.

Take a tea garden walk: There are tea countries on the edge of the Ooty hills. Different types of tea thrives on scattered plantations around Ooty and visiting these tea gardens gives an enlightening experience. Depending on the time of year, you can see tea buds being cultivated and harvested. Sampling tea is a year-round activity in the city's tea gardens!

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
Shot this at a quick stop while driving through the hills in Ooty, India.
Photo by Abdullah Ahmad / Unsplash

What to eat in Ooty?

Handmade Chocolate: Handmade chocolate is a sweet and popular indulgence in Ooty. Depending on weight, choose from a wide selection of locally manufactured chocolates from King Star confectioners or the city's modern stores.

Tea: In Ooty, the beverage of your choice will most likely be a hot cup. The varieties of tea available using locally grown tea include green, spice and black. A tea sample from Nilgiri Tea makes for great gifts!

Varki: A Ooty special, Varki is a type of snack made of wheat, butter and sugar. Usually served with tea, you can find fresh barki at any bakery in Ooty.

Serene land near the pine forest.
Photo by Srivatsan / Unsplash

When should I visit Ooty?

Because of its cool climate, the hill station of Ooty sees tourist traffic all through the year.

May to September: These are the summer months in Ooty and temperatures hover around 25C, offering much needed respite from the heat of the plains. Ooty also experiences light rainfall in May, which infuses fresh life in to the flora and fauna of the Nilgiris Hills.

October to February: These are the winter months in Ooty and temperatures dip considerably. The daytime high is around 16C and can go down to 3C. The morning fog makes way for bright sunshine on most days!

Read More: Considering a Weekend Getaway from Bengaluru? Head to Ooty!

How to reach Ooty?
By Air: The nearest airport to Ooty is in Coimbatore, which under a 100 kilometres away. The drive from Coimbatore Airport to Ooty’s city centre approximately takes up to four hours.

By Road: Ooty is accessible by road and makes for a great drive from Bengaluru (295 kilometres), Kozikhode (185 kilometres) and other nearby towns like Coonoor and Kotagiri. Public state buses and private taxis ply from nearby towns and cities in Karnataka and Kerala.

By Train: The charming Nilgiris Mountain Railway runs between Mettupayalam and Ooty. The ascend takes about four hours with picture postcard views accompanying you throughout.

Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India
Photo by Vishal Anand / Unsplash

What to Pack:
Woollens and a warm jacket are needed all through the year in Ooty. While the days are relatively warmer, the nights are breezy and cold.
An umbrella or raincoat to shield you from the rain. You don’t want to be caught by surprise during an unexpected drizzle.
Motion sickness medication is recommended for those who are prone to sickness on winding roads. Whether getting to Ooty by road or train, the curves can be a stomach churner for some.