The ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ has been dubbed so due to its location deep within the dense forests of the Nilgiri Hills, parts of Western Ghats and being nestled Indian state of Tamil Nadu. You have the pine forests, rolling meadows, stunted sholas1, eucalyptus trees, tribal ‘Toda2’ villages; and if you venture beyond the urban limits, Indian Gaur (bison), wild elephants, Nilgiri Tahr (goat) and monkeys of course.
In mordern times these brimming jungles were ventured into by John Sullivan (the then Collector of Coimbatore) during his tenure in the late 1810s. In the early 1830s, the path to Ooty was made and soon it became the summer capital for the Madras Presidency and its officials.
In its hey-day Ooty sported a golf course, polo, swimming, tennis, snooker, a racetrack. With expansive bungalows, churches and the Ooty club (in operation since 1841), this was a slice of England or more accurately a layered cake of Britain.
“Such beautiful English rain & English mud….Imagine Hertfordshire lanes, Devonshire downs, Westmoreland lakes, Scotch trout streams & Lusitanian views.” – Lord Lytton describing the idyllic beauty of Ootacamund & the Nilgiri Hills, in a letter to his wife. Check out a brief history of Ootacamund club.
We shall continue the journey from yester years to Ooty of current time.
- Sholas are a local name for patches of stunted tropical montane forest found in valleys amid rolling grassland in the higher montane regions of South India.
- Toda: The original tribal community which inhabited the Nilgiris.