Top Ten Spots for Sightseeing in Ooty and the Surrounding Areas
If ever you find yourself on holiday in the southern reaches of India, you should, if at all given the chance, take a day or two sightseeing in Ooty, the governmental seat of the Nilgiris District (state of Tamil Nadu). Though a bit off the beaten path, its combination of natural beauty, history, and tourist friendly locales makes it a must see for those in the area.
Here are the top ten spots that make it worthwhile:
- Botanical Gardens: When sightseeing in Ooty, you should not miss the botanical gardens, especially if you happen to arrive in spring. Along with the rose gardens, the Ooty Botanical Garden is a destination for tourists and locals alike, its lush fields, Italianate fountain, and rare species making for a wonderful afternoon.
- Ooty Golf Course: If you want to get a sense of how the Indian upper crust does their pantomime of Western business golf meetings, you should be sure to check out the rolling greens here.
- Ooty Lake: Ooty Lake is a man-made lake, constructed here by John Sullivan, the first governor of the area during the Raj and a must for sightseeing in Ooty.
- Toda House: The Toda were the former native dwellers of this high altitude area. The Toda House is a restored example of the homes of these people before the Raj displaced them. Along with the Tribal Museum outside of town, it is one of the main memorials to the people who once roamed this area.
- Downtown Ooty: Now highly commercialized, Ooty’s Downtown has long been a central attraction for tourists. Known as “the Queen of the Hill Stations,” Ooty’s Downtown has a series of entertainments, including a wax museum and several bars where tourists can hob nob with one another and locals. In the Downtown shopping district, you are also sure to come across some of the many boarding school kids whose wealthy parents send them to the well regarded schools in the vicinity. Ooty also puts on a flower festival and a tea festival periodically throughout the year—a good time if you happen to be around at that point.
Doddabetta Peak: Sightseeing in Ooty also involves getting out town and taking a look at the natural beauties of the surrounding areas. Of the many peaks in the area, this is the highest and it is said that from it you can see down into the Eucalyptus haze that lead the British to dub these the Blue Mountains. A bit of a trek, but well worth it for those who love to be awed by breathtaking vistas.
- Tea Plantations: On the outskirts of the town, you will also find evidence of India’s colonial past in these tea plantations. Back in John Sullivan’s day, many of the plantations were at higher elevations, though, in the long run the lower elevation turned out to be the more practical solution. Ooty is still a major agricultural center, however, just not mainly for tea.
- Pykara Falls: This lovely waterfall is quite wonderful and makes for a good stop on a nature hike. The lake also boasts a charming houseboat, but be careful in the woods as panthers still roam there.
- Kalahatty Peak: Daredevils will want to pack their bags and head for Kalahatty, a high peak where hand gliding is the order of the day.
- Madumalai Wildlife Sanctuary: Finally, animal lovers will find the Madumalai Wildlife Sanctuary will allow them to check out everything from elephants to coughing dear and giant squirrels. Yet another sign of India’s awareness of importance of Green issues.