Udagamandalam Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by anilpradhanshillong
  • Things to Do
    by anilpradhanshillong
  • Things to Do
    by anilpradhanshillong

Most Recent Things to Do in Udagamandalam

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    16-Local Sights

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated May 27, 2014
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    Wandering aimlessly along the streets of Ooty has its own rewards. However, don’t attempt this during the day or in the evening. The traffic is horrendous. Early morning hours is the best for this sort of ambling along.

    As you stroll along in this beautiful hill station, you’ll marvel at the local architecture. Graceful wooden houses still stand in their regal splendour despite the craze of ugly high-rises. The Hotel Charring Cross is a case in point. So also the Collector’s office. Higginbotham’s, the legendary book stall is just opposite the Collectorate. All of them wear a clean, spruced-up look.

    Do you remember needle-work and lace curtains? Well, these are very much present in most hill stations of India – a great legacy of the British ladies. Quite a few practitioners of this graceful art are available in Ooty. Take the time to check out their work and take home a souvenir or two. You won’t regret it.

    First Written: Jan. 22, 2014

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    15-Connemara Cottage

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 21, 2014

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    If your guide or taxi driver takes you to Connemara Cottage and insists that this is the Stone House built by the founder of Ooty, John Sullivan, tell him he's wrong. The Stone House is located barely a kilometre away and now houses the Government Arts College. This is Connemara Cottage built during 1884-85 by Lord Connemara, the Governor of Madras (1886-1890).

    The Connemara Cottage is now the official residence of the Principal, Government Arts College. However, there is a move to convert this heritage building into a Government Museum.

    Made of solid stone, this two-storeyed house looks solid and indestructible. Large windows adorn the house allowing plenty of sunlight to filter through. A huge compound in front and ample space on the other three sides of the house, gives this cottage a unique look.

    Records indicate that Lord Macaulay drafted the Indian Penal Code in this cottage.

    First Written: Jan. 21, 2014

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    14-St. Stephen's Church

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 21, 2014

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    St Stephen’s Church is located on the road to Mysore above the town centre and near the Collectorate. It is one of the oldest churches in Nilgiris district. It is a Gothic church and is one of the best known colonial structures of Ooty.

    It's foundation was laid on Apr. 23, 1829, to coincide with the birthday of King George IV. A year later on Nov. 5, the church was consecrated by John Matthias Turner, Bishop of Calcutta and on Easter Sunday, April 3 of the following year (1831), it was opened to the public. The architect was J.J. Underwood, a Captain of the Madras Regiment. After Independence, the church came under the Church of South India (CSI).

    Most of the wood for this church was taken from Tipu Sultan's palace of Srirangapatna after the defeat of Tipu Sultan at the hands of the British. The exceptionally high quality of the wood may be judged from the fact that there is no noticeable wear and tear even today. The Church's 150th anniversary was celebrated in April 1981.

    Attractions in this church include the exquisite wooden architecture, the painting of the 'Last Supper’, the beautiful stained glass windows and the unusual bell. This consists of four hammer-like structures, tied on an inverted-V shaped wooden plank with wires and ropes. When these are pulled they produce a musical sound.

    The adjoining cemetery commemorates many British people who passed away at Ooty. The cemetery was also used as a location by Mani Ratnam for his phenomenally hit movie, 'Gitanjali' (in Telugu)/'Idhayathai Thirudaathey' (in Tamil).

    Church Timings: Visiting hours - 10 am to 1 pm and 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm. On Sundays, there is service from 8.00 am to 11:00 am.

    A video of the interior is here:

    It's in Tamil

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    13-The Stone House

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 21, 2014
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    In 1822, for the princely sum of Rs. 100/- John Sullivan acquired a piece of land from the Todas. On that plot of land, he proceeded to build a stone house for himself. It was called ‘Kal Bangala’ by the tribals (‘kal’ means stone in Tamil). He stayed in that house for 5 years (1823-27) but leased it out to the Government in 1834.

    Various other officials occupied this first modern house built in Ooty till the Government Arts College took it over in 1955. From 1870 to 1937, it functioned as the summer Secretariat of the Governor of the Madras Presidency. Each new occupant added a room or two to accommodate additional staff.

    Notice the ancient oak tree planted by the first owner way back in 1823. This is located in front of the house. It wears a withered look now but on June 1, 1923 two more trees were planted nearby. The accompanying plaque reads:

    “THESE TWO OAK TREES
    WERE PLANTED
    BY
    THEIR EXCELLENCIES
    THE LORD AND LADY
    WELLINGTON
    ON 1ST. JUNE 1923
    TO COMMEMMORATE
    THE CENTENARY
    OF OOTACAMUND”

    First Written: Jan. 21, 2014

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    07-Pykara Lake

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 20, 2014

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    About 19 kms away from Ooty on the Ooty-Bangalore road, a left-hand fork leads to Pykara village. There the largest river in the district, river Pykara, sacred to the Toda community, has been dammed to create an important hydro-electric power project. As a side result, an artificial lake has been formed which now attracts many tourists. A boat house, run by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, offers different types of boats to the tourists for 10 and 20 minutes' ride.

    This is one of the oldest power plants in south India and generates about 60 megawatts. The first unit of 6.65 MW was commissioned in October 1932 under the able administration of Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyar, Diwan of Travancore.

    On your way to the lake, you will traverse Wenlock Downs. This is a vast area of grassy meadows and a favorite picnic location.

    Once you leave your vehicle, you have quite a walk to a dilapidated Forest Rest House. From there, it is a 5-minutes’ walk.

    Don’t miss out on the biggest Eucalyptus Tree (22 ft dia) in Ooty. It is located on the left-hand side of the road about 5 kms from RTO, Tallaikunta junction.

    Timings: Lake 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
    Boating: INR 400/- to INR 550/-

    First Written: Jan. 19, 2014

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    12-Binocular Point, Coonoor

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 20, 2014

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    Along the way, you may stop at Binocular Point and view the distant scenery with the aid of the well-maintained binoculars.

    The claim to fame of this place is the lilting A.R. Rehman’s song ‘Chhaiya, Chhaiya’ from the 1998 Hindi movie, ‘Dil Se’ (‘From the Heart’), and the sensuous dance moves of Malliaka Arora Khan.

    Here’s the link to the song sequence:

    Chhaiya, Chhaiya

    And here’s my video of the place:

    Binocular Point

    First Written: Jan. 20, 2014

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    11-Sim’s Park, Coonoor

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 20, 2014

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    From the Trumla Repeater Station go straight to Sim’s Park – a veritable feast for the eyes. Take a leisurely stroll through the well-kept park, stretch your legs and inhale the fragrance of the exotic flowers.

    Built by J.D. Sim during 1874-75, this public park is spread over an area of 12.14 Ha and is open to the public during daylight hours. There is a small lake at the bottom of the park. Next door is a Rose garden.

    The signages within the park are very informative.

    First Written: Jan. 20, 2014

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    10-Trumla Repeater Station

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 19, 2014

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    From Coonoor Railway Station to Trumla Repeater Station is a matter of 13 kms. This is situated at a lonely spot on top of a hill and houses the Police Radio Repeater Station. If you can wrangle a permission from the district chief, you’ll be in for a fabulous time.

    From the vantage point of the roof of this concrete structure, the entire town of Coonoor lies stretched out. Rolling hills, meandering village roads, tea plantations, lonely bungalows, cluster of houses, paddy fields – all stretch out in front of your eyes. In the distance you will make out the gigantic rock formation, the Dolphin’s Nose, so named as it looks like a dolphin rushing heavenwards and Lady Canning’s Seat – another craggy hill top.

    First Written: Jan. 20, 2014

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    09-Toy Train

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 19, 2014

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    Once you are in Ooty it is mandatory to try out the Toy train, like in Darjeeling or at Shimla. It’s a delightful experience and one neither you nor your loved one will forget in a hurry. The chill of the place combined with the smallness of the railway compartment makes the trip more memorable. The quaint railway stations along the way from Ooty to Coonoor, like Lovedale, Ketti, Aravankadu and Wellington, lend a special charm to the whole adventure.

    You can book for the Toy Train through www.irctc.com. Else, the moment you land in Ooty, go to the Railway Station and book your ticket, Ooty to Coonoor, for the one-hour ride). The station names are UDAGAMANDALAM and COONOOR and the charges are INR 85.00 plus INR 30.00 Reservation Fee, per 1st. Class Ticket (Year 2012 prices).

    There is only one 1st. Class coach with a total of 27 seats. Seat Numbers 1, 6, 7, 12, 13, 16, 21 22, 27 are single seats. The other seats are two together. Seat numbers 17 and 18 are best as they are closest to the coach doors.

    There are four Second Class compartments. Of them, only one is reserved; the rest are unreserved. The train timings are 09.10 dep; arr. 10.10 arr. Coonoor. You may book your tickets 90 days in advance.

    First Written: Jan. 19, 2014

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    08-Pykera Falls

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 19, 2014

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    A little further off from the Pykara Lake is the serene surroundings of the Pykara Falls. There is an upper area which will be crowded. Go a bit further down to a fenced off area. From that vantage position, the falls look gorgeous and the shade of the trees provide you that much-needed respite from the hot sun.

    You may be tempted to ford the falls or venture out close to the water. Don’t. The water is rapid and the stones very slippery. Enjoy the sight, the scenery and the moment.

    First Written: Jan. 19, 2014

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    06-The Ooty Lake & Boat House

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 18, 2014

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    The founder of Ooty, John Sullivan, dammed the various streams flowing into Ooty and built this lake during 1823-25. Originally, the lake was very large but modernization shrunk the lake to its present size (2 kms in length) paving the way for the race course and the bus stand.

    Located near the railway station and the bus stand, this lake is now a top tourist attraction. You can hire an 8-seater or 10-seater or 15-seater boat for a 20-minute ride. The prices are INR 405/- 505/- and 745/-, respectively (Dec. 2012 prices). This includes the driver’s charges. Also, row boats, pedal boats and motor boats are available.

    Ideal for as bit of enjoyment for adults and an absolute thrill for the kids.

    First Written: Jan. 19, 2014

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    05-The Rose Garden

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 18, 2014

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    The Rose Garden or Rose Park is located about 1.5 kms from the town centre and is spread over 4 hectares. It was set up only in 1995 to mark the centenary of the Ooty Flower Show.

    Laid out on the slopes of the Elk Hill, the five terraces that make up the park is awash with over 3,500 varieties of roses from India and from different corners of the world. Owing to the distinctive Ooty climate, the roses are in full bloom almost the year round. This park may well be the largest rose garden in India.

    There is a nominal admission fee.

    There is a distinct pleasure in walking all over the park and identifying what each variety of the rose means. A large board helps you identify the colour with its meaning.

    It is best to visit this place early in the morning or later in the evening. The setting is amorous, the air languid and the walk very pleasing.

    First Written: Jan. 19, 2014

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    04- The Botanical Gardens

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 18, 2014

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    At the northern end of Ooty, close to the road that leads into the town from Coimbatore, stands the sprawling Botanical Gardens. This place is a feast for the eyes, for the sense of smell and all your other faculties. It is also a walker’s delight. During the season, a warm sun on your back, a riot of colours in front of you and wide, open spaces – all combine to embrace you and to soothe you. The Centenary Flower Festival was held here in 1995.

    Over 165 years old, this place owes its existence to Mr. W.G. McIvor of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England. When he landed in Ooty in 1848 at the age of 23, the entire expanse was an unkempt ravine. Under his skilful hands, the dense vegetation was replaced by shady trees, herbs and flowers.

    A Heritage Gate Building greets you at the very entrance. As the plaque describes, it was built as a plant conservatory in 1859 and was used as a sales counter for ornamental plants and seeds from 1912. You buy your ticket at the counter and enter the gardens.

    As you stroll on a slight incline, you’ll see an ornamental cannon and then the ‘W.G. McIvor Fern House’. Some distance away, you’ll come across a glass house with plenty of delightful flowers and ferns and indoor plants and cacti. Suddenly a path branches off to your left. This leads to the Raj Bhawan. You avoid it and continue up the slope.

    A short distance away, you’ll come across a fossil tree trunk. Then, a round-shaped cafeteria. If you take the steps, you’ll come to a gazebo and some more gardens. This is a quiet, shady nook normally frequented by lovers and photo buffs. A vehicle parked nearby sells Nilgiri Organic products. Above is the Raj Bhawan Gate.

    Once you’ve completed your circuit, you can take the metalled road to exit. At the bottom of this roads, you’ll come across a ‘Toda’s Model Hut’. This place also sells souvenirs. Just outside the main gate, you may find some horses. If you like, you may hire it for a ride – and feel young again!

    Timings & Entry Charges as of Dec. 2012.

    Counter Timing: 7 AM to 6.30 PM.
    Season Time: March-June; September-October. Adult-INR 20/- Child-INR 15/-
    Rest of the months is off-season. Adult INR 15/- Child 5/-
    Extra charges for camera and video camera.

    First Written: Jan. 19, 2014

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    03- Doddabetta Hill

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 18, 2014

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    Doddabetta Hill (big mountain) is about 10 kms from the main town area. You get to experience 7 hairpin bends along the way. Dense forest area, littered with pine trees, greets you as you negotiate a very bad road (Dec. 2012). There are many junctions so it may wiser to take a guide along or to keep asking for the way if you are travelling in your own vehicle.

    The hill is 8,640 ft (2,633 m) in height and is the second tallest south of the Vindhyas. There is a nominal entrance fee to the main area. A concrete tower, called ‘Telescope House’, dominates the scene. You can get fantastic panoramic views of Mukurithi Nilgiri Peak, Wellington, Coimbatore, Ooty town and of places where Hindi cinema shooting have taken place. These vantage points are ranged almost in a semi-circular path. You may then climb the stairs and go on top to view the same scene from a telescope.

    Once you climb down, you follow the crowd to the ‘Valley View Point’, a short distance away. From there also, the entire valley stretches out before you in a dazzling display of pine trees, greenery and forest. The distant mountains and the slight maze add to the overall charm.

    First Written: Jan. 19, 2014

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    02-Hairpin Bends to Ooty

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 17, 2014
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    Bangalore to Ooty is about 318 kms. It took us roughly 7 hours to reach Ooty, with plenty of stops along to way. We left Bangalore about 9 am and reached Ooty in the afternoon around 4 pm.

    From Bangalore, you take the road to Hebbel, past the Town Hall, Krishna Raja Market, before hitting the Mysore Road where the road merges into a 2 lane NH. It takes about 1 hr to get out of Bangalore town owing it being a week way and the office rush.

    An hour later, you will reach Ramanagara Town, the Silk City, then 10 kms later,
    Chanapatna, the land of Toys. Two minutes and you’ll see McDonalds and a KFC outlet on right hand side of road. If you forgot breakfast, take a U-turn from a cut in the verge ahead and satisfy your hunger. Vasudev's, 'Adigas' Restaurant, plus a few more eating joints are also available a little ahead.

    About 20 kms later, you’ll come to Shivapura Town and 13 kms later, you’ll see Mandya, the Sugar City. Thereafter, 35 kms and you’ll come across Baburayanna Kopal Town, while a mere 5 kms, you’ll be in Tipu Sultan’s Srirangapatnam. There’s a lot to see in this town, if you are so inclined. A little ahead (8 kms) and you enter the city of Mysore. You could stop for lunch here.

    Once you leave Mysore, you’ll come across the Bandaguri Tiger Reserve, both on the side of Karnataka as well as the Tamil Nadu sector. Dense forest begins but you’ll see mainly elephants regally walking around. Signages abound warning you about stopping or blowing your car horn or using plastic.

    About 29 kms short of Ooty, Masinagudi town, with its tea plantations starts. There is a slight incline which gets steeper and steeper with the last 20 kms consisting of steep, windy and 36 hairpin bends. You’ll have to drive carefully here as the road is narrow with the edges damaged. Also, you’ll encounter plenty of traffic.

    The hairpin bends are all numbered with large circular mirrors placed strategically to allow drivers from both directions to see oncoming traffic. Stick to your left-hand side of the road as much as possible as some oncoming large vehicles tend to come dangerously close to your vehicle as they negotiate the hairpin bends. If you are in the mood, park your vehicle carefully and take a photo of the bends.

    A short while later, you’ll come across the Thalai Kunda junction. The road leading right goes to Guladur town, about 42 kms ahead. Ooty is a mere 8 kms by the road straight ahead.

    A blow-by-blow account of the odometer readings is below:

    20938-20620 (odometer reading)=318 kms in 7 hours.

    20620-8.45 am-Left Bangalore
    20709-(89 kms)-10.10 am-Ramanagara Town, Silk City
    20719-(10 kms) 10.30 am-Chanapatna, the land of Toys
    20739-(20 kms) 10.45 am-Shivapura Town
    20752-(13 kms) 11.05 am-Mandya, Sugar City
    20787-(35 kms) 11.30 am-Baburayanna Kopal Town
    20792-(5 kms) 10.35 am-Srirangapatnam
    20800-(8 kms) 11.50 am-Mysore
    12.45 pm-Left Mysore
    Bandaguri Tiger Reserve-Karnataka side-TN side also forest
    29 kms short of Ooty-3.00 pm Masinagudi town-Tea
    20930-(130 kms) 3.35 pm-Thalai Kunda Junction-Guladur 42 kms right side; Ooty 8 kms ahead
    20938-(8 kms) 4 pm-Arrived Ooty

    First Written: Jan. 18, 2014

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