Ooty, popularly known as ‘Paradise on Earth’ and ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ is located in the beautiful mountain ranges of Nilgiri in western ghats. Ooty was originally called Udhagamandalam, meaning ‘house in the mountains’. Later this name was anglicized and Udhagamandalam became Ootacamund. Ooty is the short form of Ootacamund.
The Nilgiri Mountain Ranges, also known as ‘Blue Mountains’ are said to be older than the Himalayas. They are also famous for ‘kurunji’ flowers that bloom once in every 12 years and decorate the hill slops with their bluish tint. Doddabetta Peak of Nilgiri Ranges which falls under Ooty region is the highest peak of South India.
The lofty green mountains, landscapes covered with flourishing tea gardens, cascading waterfalls, sparkling brooks, lakes and refreshing pleasant weather of Ooty attract myriads of tourists throughout the year. Famous for its tea industry, oil industry and Summer Flower Festival, Ooty is one of the most sought after tourists’ destination of south India. Coonoor and Kotagiri are two nearby places one must visit along with Ooty.
History of Ooty
The Nilgiri ranges were ruled by the kings of different dynasties namely Chera, Ganga and Hoysala over the years. King Vishnuvardhana was the last king of Hoysala dynasty to rule this region and Tipu Sultan conquered him and took over the governance. Later with the defeat of Tipu Sultan in 18th century, Nilgiri ranges came under British control.
Jacome Forico was the first European to visit Nilgiri Ranges, who also wrote a book describing its significance and alluring beauty.
Udhagamandalam was initially inhabited by tribal creeds called Todas and others. Todas handed over Udhagamandalam to John Sullivan: then governor of Coimbatore. The ambient beauty of mystic blue in the lap of nature was developed as a hill station and holiday resort by the Governor in 1819 and Britishers named this town Ootacamund. Sullivan also encouraged the cultivation of tea, teak trees and Chinchona trees and built houses and roads here.
Ooty was used as the summer capital of the presidency of Madras and the Britishers retreated to this place during summer. Name of Ooty was mentioned in the Madras gazette in 1821 when Ooty was spelled as ‘Wotokymund’. That was the first official entry of Ooty. Today Ooty is counted as one of the most popular hill stations of India, rightly called the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’.
As Ooty is known world wide as a hill station and a famous tourist destination, the city has been developed in the same accord. The city culture, economy and people are woven along and most of their activities mainly circle around tourism and development of Ooty that direction. Ooty is famous for its Tea, Spices, Home Made Chocolates, Eucalyptus Oil, Herbal Oil, Gourmet Cheese, Varkey (traditional Ooty Biscuits), Bee Honey, Bee Wax, Toda embroideries, Handicraft items, etc.
Apart from that, economy here depends largely on agriculture. The largest retail market of the country is situated in Ooty. Several research institutes like ‘soil conservation center’, ‘potato research farm’, ‘livestock farm’ and ‘Human Biological Institute’ are based here. Hindustan Photo Films is the major industry based in Ooty. Many cottage industries like chocolate making, homemade pickles, and carpentry are flourishing here. Ooty is widely known in the Elite class of the country for its efficient and modernized Boarding Schools. Eco-friendliness is another mission here and Ooty has been declared as no plastic zone. Plastic bags are banned here and people use eco friendly paper bags.
Major festivals celebrated in Ooty are; Tea & Tourism Festival, Thaipoosam, Mariamman Temple Annual Festival, Car Festival, Boat Race, Boat Pageantry, Flower show, Summer Festival, Dog Show, Fruit Show & Vegetables show and World Tourism Day.
All these festivals are arranged and organized by the tourism department of Ooty, Government of Tamil Nadu and Government of India Tourism Ministry. Other cultural programs and fashion shows are also organized here.
Tamil being the state language, the major languages spoken here are Tamil, Kannada, English and Hindi. People can be seen wearing warm woolen clothes all round the year.
Ooty is very famous for its tea, gourmet cheese, home made chocolates, herbs, oils and other handicraft items. There are plenty shops selling these items. You just have to make sure that you go to an authentic shop and buy good products for reasonable prizes. Green Shop, Shivani Stores, C-Store are some of the reputed shops where you can buy Ooty special items. But always be careful and don’t let anyone cheat you. Do not hesitate to bargain.