Nilgiri Hills is situated in the Western most part of the Southern State of Tamil Nadu. Nilgiri, the very word means ‘blue hills.’ Dodabetta is its highest peak. The hills with its steep slopes, fresh bubbling springs rushing down the slopes, the narrow ravines, innumerable waterfalls, and pleasant cool climate lend this place a unique charm. Ooty or Udhagamandalam, Kothagiri, and Coonoor are three major hill stations of the Nilgiris.
The smoky haze that envelops the mountain peaks along with the kurunji flowers that bloom on the hilly slopes lend the hills its name. It was originally occupied by the tribes called Todas. Nilgiri Hills also find a mention in the Hindu mythology or the Ramayana. During the rule of the East India Company, an Englishman named Francis Buchanan is known to have first set his footsteps on these mountains. Nilgiris first saw its European resident in the form of John Sullivan, the then Collector of Coimbatore, who had built his house on the hills.
How to reach
All the major tourist attractions in and around Nilgiris like Ooty, Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Mysore, and other even the bit lesser known Trichy, Coonoor, Palghat, Kothagiri Calicut, and Tirupati are well connected by good and well-maintained roads. Auto rickshaws and taxis are the most readily available local transport in the region.
There is the famous narrow gauge train line or the toy train in the Nilgiris, connecting Ooty, Coonoor, and Mettupalayam. Mettupalayam is about 47 kms from Ooty and is again directly connected to the major southern cities of Coimbatore and Chennai. The famous toy train connects Ooty with Mettupalayam.
Coimbatore is the nearest major airport to the Nilgiris and is situated at around 105 kms from Ooty. It is connected to the other major southern cities of Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram by daily flights.
Places to see
Ooty or Udhagamandalam, situated at a distance of 105 kms from Coimbatore is a major hill station on the Nilgiris. The Botanical Garden and the highest Peak in the Nilgiris, the Dodabetta Peak are the major tourist attractions in Ooty. Kothagiri is another 16 kms from Ooty and is smaller and quieter than Ooty and has to offer waterfalls such as the Elk Falls and Catherine Falls and Kodanad Viewpoint as places for sightseeing. Coonoor is mainly known for its extensive tea plantations and attracts tourists because of its very pleasant climate.
Ooty, being the most popular among all the hill stations of Nilgirirs, has to offer a wide range of products for leisurely shopping. Nilgiri tea, varied kinds of fruits, natural oils extracted from the Eucalyptas, and handcrafted items especially Toda embroideries are mostly liked and bought by the tourists.
Places to stay
De Rock in Ooty, Sinclairs Ooty Hotel, Meadows Residency, Fortune Hotel Sullivan Court, Lakeview Hotel, Hotel Darshan, Hotel Maneck, Hotel Khems, Willow Hill, Sagar Holiday resort, Blue Valley resort, Nahar Residency Hotel, Holiday Inn Gem Park are all fabulous accommodation options for tourists to enjoy the exquisite beauty of the Nilgiris.
Best time to visit
Tourists generally flock to these beautiful hill stations of Ooty, Kothagirir, and Coonoor during the summer months. Campers, backpackers, wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers all come together to enjoy the rich beauty, flora, and fauna of the Nilgiris.
The Nilgiris, because of its altitude, has a much cooler and wetter climate than its surrounding areas. Summers are mild with temperatures ranging from 10 to 25 degrees Celsius. Winter temperatures fall to 0 degrees.