Ooty is a popular hill-station that rests deep within the Nilgiri Hills of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Also known as Ootacamund and Udhagamandalam, Ooty takes pride in being called the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’. The Nilgiri Hills, literally meaning ‘blue mountains’ are a range of mountains in the westernmost part of Tamil Nadu and the southwestern edge of the Deccan plateau. They have been declared as one of the 14 ‘hotspots’ of the world because of the unique bio-diversity that is found there.
Ooty was initially home to the Todas, Kotas and other tribes who thrived on trade as early as 1117 A.D. However, the credit of bringing Ooty’s natural beauty to the limelight goes to the British. In 1827 Ooty became the official sanatorium and the summer capital of the Madras Presidency and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway connected Ooty from the rest of India by early 1900s.
Ooty is brimming with beauty. Endlessly rolling meadows, flower-beds and tea gardens lend the place an innate divinity that catches you as soon as you set foot on its soil. In this wonderland lies another little wonder adding its own charm to the grandeur of Ooty. The Emerald Lake in Ooty is the love of picnickers, ornithologists, children and anyone who wants to spend some time admiring the magnificence of nature. Located in the upper plateau region of the Nilgiri hills, Emerald Lake is about 25 km from the town of Ooty. A drive to the lake is as beautiful as the lake itself. The chill of the air slowly makes its way to your body as you cross a variety of trees, bushes and the neatly planted tea gardens. Your heart is excited in anticipation until you start to see the lake from a distance. As you get closer, it only gets more beautiful. On your trip to Emerald Lake, be sure to get up before daybreak and visit the lake at the time of dawn. Punctuated by the lush green Nilgiri Hills, the lake is a perfect place to catch an early morning sunrise. Just pack hot tea or coffee in a thermos and some snacks as you wouldn’t find any shops near the lake, and head along. You will be truly mesmerized to see the changing colors of the sky, the trees and the sparkling lake water as the sun climbs higher into the sky. When morning finally arrives, you will appreciate that the Emerald Lake is true to its name– an expanse of greenish-blue water set amidst hills covered in thick greenery. From above, the scene almost looks like an elaborate blue ‘lehnga’ (a traditional Indian dress) of a coy bride spreading gracefully on the surface of the earth. The lake is also a hotspot for ornithologists as one can enjoy looking at gregarious birds of different kinds flying in the area and making little chirpy noises. Kids love to spend time feeding the fish which are present in plenty and almost greet visitors by jumping in gratitude. The lake also has an adjoining dam which caters to the water requirements of the area.
Be prepared to buy some tea on your way back as the lake is surrounded by a tea plantation. So that when you come home and open a packet of tea for your daily morning cup, the fresh aroma will bring back the memories of one of the most beautiful days of your life.