This hillside town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu is known for its mountainous scenery, stunning views and outdoor recreation.
Ootacamund has botanical gardens, lakes, forests and plateaus swathed in tea plantations. The upland town is more commonly known as Ooty and is surrounded by the eucalyptus-covered Nilgiri Mountains. This area of outstanding natural beauty was once a popular vacation spot for the British during colonial times. Today, it appeals to visitors from all over the world who come to experience its natural and cultural attractions.
Ooty’s gardens are among its biggest draws. Walk along the terraces of the Ooty Botanical Gardens on the slopes of the Doddabetta Peak. More than 600 species of exotic and indigenous plants are spread over 54 acres (22 hectares). They include a fossilized tree that is believed to be 20 million years old. You can smell the fragrant Government Rose Garden long before you see it. This is one of the largest rose gardens in India.
Ooty is popular with outdoor enthusiasts. Go for long walks among the mountains and trek to the top of Doddabetta Peak. This is the highest point in the area, with an elevation of 8,650 feet (2,623 meters). From the summit, enjoy superb views of Ooty and the valley below. Rent a boat for a ride across Ooty Lake, then enjoy a picnic on the lake’s shores.
See more of Ooty’s scenery with a trip aboard the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. One of the steepest rail journeys in Asia takes passengers through forests, along valleys and up hills, pulled by a steam locomotive.
Ooty has more to offer in addition to its scenic splendour. Tour the early 19th-century St. Stephen's Church and see effigies of historic Indian personalities inside the wax museum. Look out for the Todas huts in the hills above the botanical garden. These oval-shaped bamboo dwellings are where a pastoral community known as the Todas live.
Despite its remote location, Ooty has good transport connections. Bangalore, the third-largest city in India, is approximately 165 miles (266 kilometers) away, and regular bus services operate between the two locations. In and around Ooty, you can enjoy a vigorous or relaxing time among nature.