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What to See and Do in Ooty – a guide to notable landmarks and attractions

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Visit Ooty in the height of tourist season and it’s hard to believe it was once an undiscovered tribal village. The refreshing hill-top atmosphere of crisp mornings and cooling evenings first appealed to the Colonial-era British, who retreated here from the heat of the plains. Nowadays there’s a mix of Indian tourists and foreign travellers, who come to picnic in the gardens, boat on the lake, and trek into the mountains.
Ooty Lake

 

 

A popular family picnic spot, man-made Ooty Lake was created in 1824 using the waters from rippling mountain streams. If you fancy whiling away the hours like they did in Colonial times, rent a rowing boat from the boat house for a gentle paddle around the lake. If you fancy something more 21st century, you can hire a motorboat to zip around in.

 

Botanical Gardens

 

 

These lush 19th century landscaped gardens are Ooty’s main showpiece, with lovely meandering flower-lined pathways, open green spaces perfect for picnicking, and even a fossilised tree thought to be over 20 million years old. The gardens are often hectic with families at the high tourist season of April to June, so try to plan your visit for a quieter time if you can.

 

Doddabetta Tea Factory

 

 

The Nilgiris sprawl with deep green tea plantations, and if you fancy discovering how this ancient beverage is made you can take a tour of Doddabetta Tea Factory. Watch as workers carefully pick the young leaves from the tea plants, which are then taken in full-to-the-brim-baskets to be dried on the factory conveyor belts, and turned into different varieties of tea. If you fancy taking some home with you, the factory has its own shop, which is often much better value than the markets and shops in town.

 

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

 

 

You can’t get much more atmospheric than a traditional steam train ride up the mountains. This vintage toy train chugs passengers through tunnels, over bridges and around switchbacks on its thrilling – yet slow – journey through the Nilgiri Hills. It’s one of the best ways to appreciate the mountain scenery. Make sure you get up early to join the queue, as this is rather understandably one of Ooty’s biggest attractions.

 

Doddabetta Peak

 

 

If you fancy getting out into the Nilgiris, Doddabetta Peak is the mountain range’s highest point at more than 2633 metres above sea level. It’s a fair old trek from Ooty town centre, but the scenery when you get there is definitely worth the wait. Mist clings to the rocks, clouds float below, and – on a clear day – you can see the sweltering plains below. If you’re not up for the long trek from town, grab a taxi from town to Doddabetta Junction and just hike the last 3 kilometres.