Nestled peacefully at an elevation of 2240 m above sea level in the Nilgiri Hills, Ooty, short for Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam is a popular hill station located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The sleepy hill town was once inhabited by a local tribe named Toda before the British discovered its magnificence and took it under their rule in the 18th century. Ever since Independence, Ooty has resurfaced as one of the very few year-round destinations in India owing to its pleasant weather and tourist friendly nature. Best known for its calm lakes, beautiful gardens, luxury resorts and massive tea estates, Ooty is the perfect destination you should be heading to with your family.
Every traveler’s sightseeing in Ooty, more often than not, starts with its lakes. Spread across an area of 65 acres, Ooty Lake is the most famous tourist attraction in Ooty. The calm waters of the lake are a favourite amongst family travelers who frequent here for an afternoon picnic and leisurely boat rides. If you’re looking for a calmer and more secluded experience, head to the Avalance Lake and indulge in some fishing and camp out in the middle of nowhere.
Contributing to Ooty’s surreal natural attractions, its lush green gardens also make for one of the top places to visit in Ooty. The Ooty Botanical Garden is a popular tourist attraction in Ooty owing to its approximately thousand species, both exotic and indigenous, of plants, shrubs, ferns, trees, and bonsai. The Ooty Horticulture Department has recently developed what they call the Fern Hill Garden. An absolute delight for kids, this park has large varieties of floral artwork resembling different animals, something that is bound to leave the little ones awestruck. The hill town’s fascination with flora is also at display at the Thread Garden, a unique park that showcases paintings and artificial flowers made using threads by local weavers.
Apart from weaving, a major chunk of Ooty’s local population depends on agriculture with tea being the primary crop grown in the region. The quaint hill town is lined with rolling tea gardens which make for one of the best places to visit in Ooty. The Dodabetta Tea Factory is a key tourist attraction in Ooty, offering visitors a chance to learn all about the process of growing and processing tea. There is also a museum within its premises dedicated to tea and a retail shop wherein you can buy exquisite varieties of some of the world’s best teas.
Ooty’s surreal beauty and mesmerizing landscapes, however, can be best experienced from its famous view points. Doddabetta Peak, which also happens to be the highest peak of the Nilgiri District is situated right off the main town. Upon getting to the top of the mountain, visit the Telescope House to get an unmatched view of Ooty. Alternatively, explorers of the wild can head to the famous dense pine forests located between Ooty and Thalakunda. These green belts have attracted film folk and are a popular shooting spot, apart from being a photographer’s delight.
Finally, no true Ooty experience is ever complete without taking a ride through its hills in the signature toy train. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that connects Ooty to Mettupalayam offering scintillating views of the mountain ranges and an experience you will cherish for a lifetime.