South India has its own treasure chest of hills, harbouring greenery, mist, rich coffee and aromatic tea. Kotagiri, 28 km east of Ooty, is one such quiet town, fortified by the Nilgiri Hills, tea estates and various tribal Kota establishments.
Kotagiri offers nature lovers many gems such as the trek to Catherine Falls, a double-cascade waterfall descending from a height of 250 feet, Elk Falls, the Rangaswami Pillar, Longwood Shola and Doddabetta Range. For more picturesque views, follow the trail to Kodanad and enjoy passing through tea estates, meadows and the Moyar river. A 4-hour drive to Anamalai will lead you to the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, home to many indigenous tribes and beautiful animal species such as turtles, tortoises, pythons, leopards, cobras, Great Indian Hornbill, kingfishers, elephants, porcupines, Bonnet Macaque and many more. Coffee lovers will love the plantations of the exotic and high-grown Arabicas.
A visit to the Sullivan Memorial, which houses the Nilgiri Documentation Centre, can give you an insightful introduction to the vast history and heritage of this region and what goes into preserving its beauty. Keystone Foundation, an NGO, can give one more insight into programmes and the work being carried out for and with indigenous communities on eco-development initiatives, which is open to volunteers too. Green Shop, belonging to the same foundation, is a must visit for purchasing exquisite tribal craft, wild honey and local chocolates.
Restaurants such as Hari Mess, Orange Pekoe and Bison Park Drive In offer travellers a great variety in local, Chinese and South Indian non-vegetarian dishes.