The botanical wonders of Ooty
Ooty which is also referred to as Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam is a popular hill station in the Nilgiri Hills. Over the years because of its pleasant climate, it has served as an ideal summer getaway for people from the plains, especially from the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Ooty has earned the sobriquet of, “Queen of Hill Stations”.
Ooty’s beautiful tea gardens, lakes, and hills have enthralled millions over the years. There are many picturesque dams and lakes to visit in Ooty. Ooty is located in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and hence many of the forest areas as well as natural lakes do not permit visitors. This is to ensure that the fragile balance of the environment is not affected. However, there are many gardens and parks that are open to the public people make a beeline for them in Ooty to grab moments of solace in the midst of exotic plants and flowers. Here is a list of gardens and parks in and around Ooty that one must visit.
Ooty Botanical Gardens
A sprawling garden stretching over 55 hectares of land is the Botanical Garden in Ooty. The garden has a terraced landscape that is harmonious with the general lay of the land. This garden was established as long back as 1848. It is interesting to note that the garden was started as a community project by the British settlers. The garden was maintained with subscriptions by the people which was Rs. 3/Month. Vegetables were grown in the garden and subscribers received free vegetables.
Today the Ooty Botanical Gardens are home to over a 1,000 species of exotic plants, trees, shrubs, and bonsai.
The sprawling Ooty Botanical Gardens are made up of six sections namely Lower Garden, New Garden, Italian Garden, Conservatory, Fountain Terrace, and Nurseries.
The Lower Garden is the section that one finds as soon as you enter it. This section is made up of lush green lawns that will tempt you to sink into the soft grass. The lawns are made of a grass known as Kikiyu which have soft and cushiony structure. Apart from the lawns, a fern house with more than a hundred species of ferns is located in this section. A huge map of India made using plants and the fossil of the trunk of a tree that is more than 20 million years old is the cynosure of all eyes.
The New Garden as the name suggests is a portion developed relatively recently and has an enchanting array of tea roses, natural ponds, and other flower beds.
The Italian Garden was laid by Italian prisoners of war who were stationed here during the colonial rule, and hence the name. The section is awash with colour as flowers like Aster, Balsam, Begonia, Dahlia, Zinia, and many others sway merrily in the breeze, as a silent ode to the long gone prisoners of war who tended them.
The Conservatory groups together various flowering plants like Germanium, Chrysanthemum etc., and makes for an enchanting experience. The Nursery section has eight glass houses that are used for breeding exotic species of plants.
The Rose Garden that was established in the year 1995 is a place that charms you with its beauty and fragrance. The garden has a mind-boggling 20,000 varieties of roses grown across its terraced slopes that span an area of four hectares. You may have seen pink, yellow, red, and white roses, but have you seen green or black roses? You can see them at the Rose Garden in Ooty.
Not very far from the Ooty Lake which is the epicentre of Ooty, lies the Deer Park. A Park that is dedicated to deer but has much more. Here you can enjoy the sight of graceful deer grazing serenely. The varieties of deer in the park include Sambhar and Chithal. Apart from Deer, the Deer Park is also home to different species of rabbits and hares. A wide variety of birds are there to serenade you as you saunter in the natural environs of the Deer Park.
You can get a tranquil experience of the gardens and parks of Ooty at an unhurried pace by staying at Sterling Ooty-Elk Hill or Sterling Ooty-Fern hill.