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The Nilgiri Hills were part of Chera Empire in ancient times. Later it fell into the hand of ganga dynasty, and then Hoysala empire under king Vishnuvardhana in the 12th century. They then became part of the Kingdom of Mysore of Tipu Sultan who later surrendered them to the British in the 18th century.

John Sullivan, the British governor of neighboring Coimbatore province, liked the climate of this forested land, and occupied it by taking land from the native tribes (Toda, Irumba and Badaga); often buying up many square kilometers in a day for the price of a few meals.

The hills were developed rapidly under the British Raj because they were almost entirely owned by private British citizens, unlike the rest of India. Ooty served as the summer capital of the Madras Presidency, and had winding hill roads and a complicated rack railway system built by influential and enterprising British citizens with venture capital from the Madras government.

It is believed the Blue Mountains appear so because of the vast Nilgiri forest surrounding them.

Ootacamund , The Queen of Hill Station

Ootacamund or Udagamandalam (the Tamil version of the original name) rightly described as “Queen of Hill Stations” by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, now sprawls over an area of 36 sq km with a number of tall buildings cluttering its hill slopes.

It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. Though the march of brick and mortar has laid waste its thick sholas which one saw in a bygone era, it still woos people from all over India as well as foreign countries right through summer, and sometimes in the winter months too.

An added attraction for the tourists to Udagamandalam is the mountain train journey on a ratchet and pinion track which commences from Kallar, near Mettupalayam and wends its way through many hair-raising curves and fearful tunnels and chugs along beside deep ravines full of verdant vegetation, gurgling streams and tea gardens.

The scenery, as it unfolds during the trip, is breathtaking, awe-inspiring and fantastic. One can notice a marvelous change in vegetation, as one goes from Kallar to Coonoor. At Kallar it is tropical and at Burliar-the next bus-stop as one proceeds from Mettupalayam-it is sub-tropical. Near Coonoor, it is humid with pines, blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and cypress trees. As we go from Ooty to Gudalur, the change in vegetation is striking. What a splendid interaction between climate and vegetation ! It is therefore very appropriate that Mount Stuart called the whole road leading to Ooty from Mettupalayam, “One long botanical debauch.”

Tourism Industry

Located in the mountainous range called the Blue Mountains or Nilgiris, Ooty draws a large number of tourists every year. The weather is quite pleasant at a mean of 15 to 20 °C (59 to 68 °F) year round, dropping to lows of 0 °C (32 °F) during winter. The hill town suffers from rampant commercialization and various other ecological and infrastructural issues.

The landscape is marked by rolling hills and plateaus covered with dense vegetation, tea gardens, and eucalyptus trees. Many portions of the hills are preserved as natural reserve forests, and special permits are needed to camp outside of campgrounds. Ooty is more of a focal point of attraction for tourists, who also undertake auto tours of the surrounding countryside.

The hilly region also houses smaller towns like Coonoor and Kotagiri. These towns are less than an hour’s drive away from Ooty and enjoy the same climate, but have fewer tourists and cheaper prices.

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