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Ooty: Queen Of The Niligirs

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''Its captivating beauty always inspired filmmakers to shoot romantic song sequences for their flicks''

Known for its verdant valleys, rolling green slopes and scenic tea plantations, this tranquil hill station is an ideal romantic holiday retreat. The surrounding lush green forests and cascading waterfalls makes Ooty look like a virtual paradise on earth. This colonial hill-resort has been the hot favourite of Bollywood for years especially till the time shooting overseas was uncommon. Even today, many scenes of South Indian movies are shot here. Originally, this hill station was called, 'Udhgamandalam'. Owing to difficult pronunciation, Britishers later changed the name to 'Ooty'.

LOCATION : Ooty is a serene hill station cradled in the Nilgiri hills of the state of Tamil Nadu, India.

THINGS TO DO : • Site to many famous Bollywood numbers, visit Botanical Garden to see a very wide variety of plants including roses and imported shrubs along with the famous fossilised tree trunk that is said to be about 20 million years old.

• If going in May, plan Botanical garden visit around the Summer Festival, which involves flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant. Also take a sneak peek into the life of Toda tribe settlement towards the top of the garden.

• Take a boat ride in Ooty lake surrounded by lofty eucalyptus trees and shrubs to get the leisurely feel of the place. In May boat races and pageantry are organized for two days at the lake, which draws huge crowd.

• Experience breath-taking beauty of isolated Pykara Lake, located about 20 kms from Ooty. The boat house by the Pykara falls and dam has being drawing huge attention from tourists in large numbers. Ideal for good photography.

• Trek up to the Doddabetta Peak to get mesmerising views of plains of Coimbatore and the flat highlands of Mysore on a clear day. Avail the facility of "Telescope house" that is run by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation for more spectacular panoramic vistas.

• Not to be missed is Avalanche, truly a nature lover's paradise, for trekking and trout fishing. Rods are available on hire from the local fishery centre.

• Emerald lake to experience surrounding serene beauty, chirping of birds and splendid sunrise and sunset views.

• 6th Mile, the place where many India flicks were shot.

• 9th Mile that has huge tracts of land surrounded by forests and mountains. Apt for photography.

• The factory of Hindustan Photo Film (HPF) that produces Indu roll films which are used for taking photographs and Indu X-ray films.

• Kalhatty water falls in the Ooty-Mysore route, about 13 kms from Ooty. At their best between September to November.

• If interested in wildlife and willing to do something offbeat head to Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, about 65 kms from Ooty, and spot tiger, leopard, wild dog, hyena and jackal.

• Get breath-taking views of the magnificent Catherine Falls, a double-cascaded waterfall, from Dolphin’s Nose. It is a unique rock formation resembling a dolphin’s nose.

• Toy train (Nilgiri Mountain Railway) ride is a must that starts from Mettupalayam and goes through tunnels, curves, bridges and beautiful scenery to reach Ooty in five hours. Tunnels and tall girder bridges on the way, along with the breathtaking view, make this journey to Ooty really memorable.

• If seeking adventure, indulge in hiking, trekking, mountain biking, angling and hand gliding. Angling is very common owing to the numerous water bodies that flow through the Nilgiris.

• Learn all about the evolution of tea at the Tea Museum, located adjacent to the Dodabetta Tea Factory in Ooty. Visit the souvenir shop to buy a variety of tea leaves, souvenir cups, plates and more.

SHOPPING : One can buy Nilgiri tea, silver trinkets, shawls, medicinal oils and handmade local chocolates at Charring Cross in the middle of the town. Handmade local chocolates are very popular in the city. One can also buy fresh spices like cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cardamom from The Green Shop in Ooty. Higginbothams shop can be visited to purchase books and ‘Poompuhar’ emporium for handicrafts.

BEST TIME : Ooty can be visited all-round the year owing to its pleasant weather. Summers (April-June) are pleasant and good for sightseeing too. Between July to September, the place witnesses heavy rainfall that could disrupt sightseeing activity. October onwards again weather is cool and ideal for outdoor activities.

Source / Review By : Pramugdha Mamgain Nautiyal

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