Queen of hill stations, as I’d love to crown it. Udagamandalam, or better known as Ooty for the foreign tongues, is a beautiful town in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. Visiting Ooty always ensures two things for me, a happy heart and a bloating tummy with all the delicious food from here. Honestly, it’s no less than going back to your grandmother’s place and being pampered with all the love and care! Here are all the must-visit places in Ooty.
Nature’s beauty at it’s best. Rich with its vast flora and fauna, nature walks and garden visits are a must-do activity here! It was the first thing that came to my mind when I had packed my bags to leave for Ooty.
Starting from the 55 acres Botanical garden built during the late 1840s to one of the oldest national Park Mudumalai. There’s not a single dull moment in Ooty.
1. Botanical Garden
The greenery, cold mist covering it like this special frosting on cakes, chilling breeze, and the freshly picked carrots to munch on! The botanical garden was like no other that I’d seen. Walking around the park I was introduced to the various exotic and indigenous plant species. Some among them which can exclusively be found only around Ooty. There are pathways decorated with carpets of tiny little shrubs and trees so tall that you cannot spot even the monkeys trying to climb it.
2. Rose Garden
Another one of the interesting places to visit in Ooty is to take a stroll around is the Rose garden. I was quite taken aback when I got to know that the spot was awarded “The garden of excellence”! One of the largest rose gardens in India, the place exhibits above 3600 varieties of roses. It’s no less than a dreamland filled with colorful dreams.
3. Moyar River
With its subtropical highland climate, Ooty is home to a wide range of fauna as well. I made sure my evenings are spent walking around the Moyar river. Picking the time when animals come by the banks of the Moyar to drink water. The animals don’t get intimidated by human presence and I think of it as a really beautiful example of coexistence.
4. Mudumalai park
Interaction with the animals is facilitated in the protected areas, and I couldn’t help but get all Mowgly like feels just by being here. There are so many exciting places within the park itself, such as the elephant feeding camp, tiger reserve, Chief Minister’s watchtower, and the Jeep safaris that ensured that I knew the park like the back of my hand.
Alongside the jeep safari, I could see some officials patrolling on the elephants for anti-poaching. The connection that the people here share with the animals can very visibly be seen and it’s such a heartwarming view.. not only do they assure that the home of the animals remains untouched around Mudumalai, they’ve also created a museum near the feeding camp in memory of the animals that once lived here.
5. Trekking for the adrenaline
Walking into a touristy place always reminded me of those tiny postcards we used to send back home. With views of picturesque places, and a small section to write a personal note. Most places around Ooty hold the same personal note as a postcard to me. The only thing is that the places around here are too pretty to be confined in a 4″×6″ picture.
6. Doddabetta Peak
If you’re extremely enthusiastic about walking around Ooty like me, barely 9 kilometers from here is the highest peak of Nilgiris – The Doddabetta Peak.
A reserved forest area adds to the mesmerizing beauty of this place. Trekking amidst the forest after the 9kilometer walk was surely challenging for someone like me who needs a fresh breath of oxygen every 3 kilometers. That never remains a problem in Ooty though, the air here is just so refreshing and I could spot pit-stops very frequently around the peak. The telescope house is just a few steps from here at the peak. It gets a little crowded here sometimes, but the view is just oh so beautiful!
7. Shooting Point
Shooting point in Ooty is one among the identifiable spots, especially if you are a movie buff. The lush green meadows, chirpy birds, hills that look like rhythmic music waves, this place is the ideal picnic spot. To contrast the mellowness of the place, there are several excited trekkers as well as horse riders. I wanted to try the horse riding and I was pretty intimidated in the beginning. Even though I was nervous, it was a pretty exciting experience as a first.
8. Pine Forests
Yet another place like the shooting point in the pine forests. Early morning hours are pure bliss. The sun rays passing through the misty canopy of trees, just walking amidst them feels so magical! Trekking here at morning hours was even more enjoyable as there wasn’t much of a crowd and the moment felt very personal. Especially because it spans over a downward hill, there’s a natural order to it that makes the trekking experience even more beautiful. From the Siberian dwarf Pine trees to the towering Ponderosa trees, a wide range of these trees create a tapered spiral twist over you. The area is highly protected and had trees that have crossed the mark of existing here for beyond 4000 years.
9. Raw reflections – Ooty Lake
One of the unavoidable places to visit in Ooty is the infamous Ooty lake. Resting in the heart of Nilgiris, this beautiful lake is the go-to, for watching the occasional summer festival. Created artificially in 1824, this lake was meant for casual fishing. Later on, it was transformed into this serene boathouse, which became one of the finest and most visited tourist attractions here.
Surrounded by dense groves of Eucalyptus, I find this place to be rich in its therapeutic essence. Visiting Ooty lake during summers is quite an eventful experience, there are boating races filled with zealousness, alongside the usual sight of families and couples pedaling and rowing boats.
10. Pykara Lake
Pykara also comes along with a waterfall that goes by the same name. A trek up to the rocks of the waterfall gives a picturesque view of the lake and the greenery around it.
11. Avalanche Lake
Struck by the name Avalanche lake, my first thought itself was “That is such a contrasting name to have kept for a lake that looks so peaceful.”
Having originated from a landslide, the lake now is home to campers and trekkers. One of my most unforgettable memories from Ooty is pitching a tent facing the clear blue waters of the Avalanche lake.
Not far from here are the Cairn hills, which is a trekkers paradise in Ooty. Walking across the trails of Cairn hill, you can always be assured to have company. Several migratory, as well as indigenous birds, flock around to accompany the tourists to the peak.
12. Kalhatty Waterfalls
Last but not least would be my favorite of all, Kalhatty waterfalls. Also known as the Birdwatcher’s Falls, this place is easily accessible to the localities and the tourists. There’s a temple right around the falls, which can be reached only by walking on the water flowing from the falls.. stepping into the chilling waters bare feet, and the occasional spraying of water that I could feel on my face, a few greens and flowers studded around the rocks, this place was a spectacle that can never be erased off my mind.
I mostly wrapped up my day traveling 30 kilometers from Kalhatty to sip on to some warm aromatic chai from the tea factory.
There are so many more places to visit in Ooty from the Waxwork museum, ancient Stone houses, mini car museum, Tibetan markets to the Golf courses.
Ooty is an evergreen story in every wanderlust’s travelogue.