Udhagamandalam, 80km north of Coimbatore, is better known by its English abbreviation: Ooty. It is a hill station 2500m above sea level. Its cool climate, famous tea gardens and dense forests fragrant with eucalyptus make it one of the most popular hill stations in the Nilgiri mountains.
The region was the traditional homeland of the Toda tribe. In the late 18th century it fell under East India Company control. Today the town’s economy is based mainly on tourism and agriculture.
Rose Garden: this garden boasts over 20,000 varieties of rose, making it one of the largest collections in India.
Ooty Lake: this artificial lake, nestling among Eucalyptus groves and fed by mountain streams, was built by the British in 1824. There are boats for hire.
The tea plantations: you can’t fail to notice the tea fields dotted across the hillsides! They are Ooty’s main attraction.
Tea Factory (4km): although it is rather touristy, a tour of the tea factory is very informative. You can follow the whole process from the fresh-picked leaves to the packing of the dry tea used to make India’s famous chai. At the end of the tour you’re invited into the shop, which sells tea of course but also home-made chocolates.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway: The British built the Nilgiri mountain steam railway in 1908. It is now a Unesco World Heritage site. The trip from Ooty to Mettupalayam takes you through magnificent landscapes.
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