Queen of Hill Stations, Ooty, also known as Udhagamandalam, has been a top choice for a holiday in Tamil Nadu since ages. Established by the British colonizers as a summer town, people to this date, plan trips to the many places to visit in Ooty as the temperature rises up in the plains. The architecture and city layout still serve as reminders of the English presence in that town. It is, however, overpowered by the intense Indian spirit reflected in the everyday activities of the town. Growth of the city’s population and commercial tourism has taken a toll on its centre, but you only need to go further towards the fringes to dive into its elegant natural beauty encapsulated by the places to visit near Ooty. From riding in the toy train to marvel at its sights or driving through its empty roads lined up with pine trees, it is impossible to not lose yourself to such serenity. There are plenty of places to visit in Ooty and around it which continues to contribute to the charm of the city.
This lake is one of the places to visit in Ooty that observes a huge number of tourists. Nestled amidst lush valleys with a heavenly view of the Nilgiris, the atmosphere around the lake is pleasant. You could take out rented bicycles for a spin beside the lake or go boating on it. While riding the toy train, you can enjoy a distant view of the lake. The best time to visit this tourist attraction is in summer owing to the annual festival organised for which boating competitions and pageantries are organised. Next to the lake, you can find local sellers setting up stalls with souvenirs and shawls everyday. Since this is one of the most popular places to visit in Ooty, it may often get crowded.
Pykara Lake and Falls
Pykara Lake is among the best places to visit in Ooty at its outskirts. It is an artificial lake formed by the dam at the Pykara village. The banks of the lake are ideal to spend an evening of quietude — especially for those looking for a respite amidst nature. You can enjoy the lake on a motorboat or the boathouse. Photographers and adrenaline junkies have a great time exploring the surroundings of this destination. After strolling beside the lake, you can climb up to Pykara Waterfalls, located in the middle of shola forests. Many local films have been shot here. Due to its popularity, Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation runs appropriate rest stops and restaurants for travellers to promote the destination as one of the top places to visit in Ooty.
This lake is a natural beauty formed in the aftermath of a landslide. The bewitching scenery the waterbody partakes in is why Avalanche Lake is one of the top places to visit in Ooty. Apart from the lake, you can explore the mountains close by that are graced with refreshing waterfalls. You and your travel companions can indulge in several activities for your amusement. For example, a trek can be undertaken up the mountains for a bird’s eye view of the city or to the Upper Bhawani Lake. This is also among the most famous places to visit in Ooty where you can go fishing, rafting, rappelling, horse riding and camping.
At the fringes of the city, Kalhatty village is one of the places to visit in Ooty where you can see splendid waterfalls. Inundated by luscious greenery, the waterfall is a great destination for trekking and enjoying the cold stream outpouring from a height of 40 metres. The thickets surrounding the falls are home to diverse flora and fauna. You are likely to spot animals such as deer, bison and even panthers besides a variety of exotic birds. The village is also close to other places to visit in Ooty such as Sholur, Kamarajasagar Dam and Pykara.
Kamraj Sagar Dam
Also known as Sandynalla Reservoir, Kamraj Sagar Dam is one of the most popular places to visit in Ooty. It serves as a common picnic spot owing to its charming surroundings with mighty hills in the backdrop.The verdant setting is one of the well-known places to visit by local film-makers that has increased its popularity among tourists. To pass your time, you can engage in activities such as bird watching and fishing here. This is one of the most well-known places to visit in Ooty by academics too. You will often find study groups here making observations about the environment.
One of the cleanest places to visit in Ooty, Emerald Lake is situated in the Silent Valley National Park. It is a perfect destination to set up camp where you can avoid throngs of tourism yet immerse yourself in the region’s beauty. Not often included in the list of tourist destinations in Ooty, it remains largely untouched and is a great location to explore. The deep blue lake with Nilgiri hills in the backdrop and a number of birds adding to the scenic beauty makes this one of the wonderful places to visit in Ooty for photographers. You can ride a bicycle around the lake, go trekking, fishing or just be engrossed in a book — there is not a wrong way to spend your time here. There are some tea gardens in the vicinity that you can make a stop at as well.
Government Botanical Garden
The Government Botanical Garden had its foundation laid out in the 19th century itself, yet to date, it continues to be one of the most popular places to visit in Ooty. It has a terraced layout, graced by over 600 species of indigenous plants, ferns, herbs and trees. The garden is divided into six segments: New Garden, Conservatory, Lower Garden, Nurseries, Italian Garden and Fountain Terrace. Each part showcases a different aspect of the garden housing distinct kinds of plants. A relaxing park to stroll in, this is one of the top places to visit in Ooty.
Mudumalai National Park
Among places to visit in Ooty that should not be missed, Mudumalai National Park is situated on the Nilgiri Hills linking the Eastern and Western Ghats. A tiger reserve, it is an abode to many other endangered species such as Indian elephant, leopard and white-rumped vulture which makes it an important centre of biodiversity. It is even in the running to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To spot a flurry of animals here when nature is at its peak bloom, the best time to visit is early summer or post monsoon. Other than its denizens, the national park is known for its landscape that makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ooty — the deep blue sky is agreeably in contrast with the lush greenery of the different kinds of flora found here, with the rugged Nilgiri Hills in the backdrop overlooking this pleasant scenery. The Moyar River gushes through the reserve and is a source of water to the animals, hence it is a good spot within the park to encounter animals. If booked in advance, it is possible to find accommodation within the park run by the Forest Department. Mudumalai National Park is one of the important places to visit in Ooty which is a haven for nature lovers and must be visited.
This garden is among the best places to visit in Ooty if you are looking for a nice, quiet spot for a picnic. A decent location to amble along while enjoying a pleasing view of myriad roses infusing a sweet scent in the air, you are bound to exit the garden feeling relaxed. It is not preferred to plan a visit here during winter. The best time to visit the garden is in summer, between March and June, as that is when the flowers are blooming. Besides, the Ooty Flower Show is hosted then too when the various types of roses and plants are put on display. This is one of the most popular places to visit in Ooty as the collection here is one of India’s largest, consisting of over 20,000 roses and 2,800 plants. People interested in botany especially enjoy this place to see in Ooty.
A stretch of green meadows underneath a bright blue sky at the outskirts of the city is known as the Shooting Point, named so as it is one of the places to visit in Ooty often frequented by filmmakers and photographers. Many popular Bollywood films have been shot here. Often uncrowded, this location is ideal for some serene downtime. The picturesque vistas amidst thickets and hills make for a lovely getaway for a picnic. This is not one of the places to visit in Ooty with anything particular to see; it is a good spot to saunter about or go on a horse ride and simply admire the surroundings. It is recommended to climb up to the top for a bird’s eye view of the Nilgiris. There is a dearth of eateries in its vicinity, hence you should carry enough food and water to last a couple of hours. This is among the top tourist places in Ooty for sightseeing that is extremely clean. Don’t forget to bring your camera along to capture some of the best shots you can of the destination and yourself.
Mukurthi National Park
Part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site Western Ghats, Mukurthi National Park is one of the important places to visit in Ooty. It is bordered by other biodiversity hotspots such as Mudumalai National Park and the Silent Valley National park. Some of the flora and fauna endemic to this region bear resemblance to the Himalayas, which makes it an intriguing destination to visit. Although its main purpose was to protect the Nilgiri Tahr, it houses hundreds of species including some endangered animals such as the Asian elephant and royal Bengal tiger. This is one of the places to visit in Ooty well-known for its avifauna, hence it has become a preferred spot for bird-watching. The vast grasslands and valleys are interspersed by the indigenous shola thickets. The park also consists of peaks that are enjoyed by experienced trekkers.
Probably the best out of all the places to visit in Ooty for a panoramic view of the extraordinary landscape, Doddabetta Peak is the highest peak in the Nilgiri Hills situated in the middle of the Western and Eastern Ghats. The summit also has a telescope house, through which you can have a better look at the forests and the hills. In the absence of mist, you can even see some parts of Mysore and Coimbatore. You can reach the top via a vehicle or on foot, hence this place to see in Ooty is accessible to all travellers of all ages and preferences. But if you are seeking adventure and want to enjoy nature at its best, you should make your way to the peak by trekking the craggy slopes of the hill. Since it is a fairly easy climb, it is one of the best places to visit in Ooty for trekking. This hill is also known to be covered by the rare Kurinji flowers every 12 years. After visiting Doddabetta Peak, you can head on over to other places to visit in Ooty around it such as the Tea Factory and Museum, Thunder World, Government Botanical Garden, Rose Garden and Ooty Lake.
St. Stephen’s Church
The origin of St. Stephen’s Church dates back to the 19th century and is one of the oldest places to visit in Ooty. It is built in the typical British fashion and is a symbol of the colonial presence in the region. The pastel yellow building is on most travellers’ places to visit in Ooty list. Some of its elements that are appealing to visitors include the painting of The Last Supper and various biblical settings portrayed on the church’s stained window panes. It also has a unique structure that uses hammer like tools attached to wooden planks to produce sounds when pulled, instead of a regular bell. The holiday season in December is the best time to visit the church as the Christmas spirit is ostentatiously on display with merry festivities held here.
Before Ooty’s industrialization and commercialisation, it was home to many indigenous tribes. Although now a more developed civilization has taken over the region, a few tribes still inhabit some areas in the city. One of those tribes are the Todas. Their location of residence has become one of the places to visit in Ooty that provides a unique experience to travellers. The Toda community is significantly small in number, sustaining itself through herding cattle and farming. Although tourists are not allowed to enter their temples, you can engage with individual members of the humble community. This is a great experience to learn about an endangered tribe’s culture and lifestyle. Their settlements are called munds that typically only have three to seven huts. They are constructed in a semi-barrel shape without any windows, and only a small door in the front for entry. If lucky, you can have a taste of their traditional meal.
Tea Factory and Museum
The Tea Factory is one of the landmark places to visit in Ooty. It is a fun experience for tea lovers to see how tea leaves are processed and packaged after plucking. It also has a small shop where all visitors get a free cup of tea. You can also buy souvenirs such as cups and plates with engravings related to tea. Homemade chocolates of different flavours make for popular gift items here as well. From the factory, you can head on to the Tea Museum within the complex. Its various exhibits narrate the history of a variety of tea from different parts of the world. You can learn about the origin and growth of tea in the Indian context too. Besides that, the gorgeous view of the valleys and hills from this location is unmissable. This is among the tourist destinations in Ooty that has become an essential part of the city’s experience. After the factory, you can make a stop at the Glenmorgan tea estate and participate in tea plucking.
Wax World Museum
Among the few interesting places to visit in Ooty if you want a break from the outdoors is the Wax World Museum. It is a great place to see in Ooty especially for children. The museum is set in a grand colonial mansion more than a century old. A number of eminent personalities such as political leaders, freedom fighters and social workers are memorialized here. For example, Mahatma Gandhi, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mother Teresa, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and former American president Obama are some prominent wax figures found in the museum. You will also come across exhibitions of rural settings and lifestyles moulded of wax. Although not one of the most impressive places to visit in Ooty, the colonial building is worth seeing and families with young kids seem to enjoy the place.
Written by Shruti Mishra, an in-house Tripoto writer.
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