History Trails of Ooty: Colonial Era and Beyond
John Sullivan, the then district collector of Coimbatore is credited to have discovered this beautiful hill town nestled in the Nilgiris. A drive on the old Mysore road is a journey through the history of Ooty.
At the junction of old and new Mysore roads, stands living history cast in stone - The Ootacamund Club. Entering the Club is stepping into colonial times and a bygone era. It is the place where snooker was invented, more than a century ago. The story goes that Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain of the British Army, joyously yelled ‘snooker’ when his opponent failed to pot a ball during a game of billiards. The term ‘snooker’ refers to a junior officer in Army parlance.
The road goes past meadows that were once true ‘English’ countryside. The grasslands, munds, and Toda huts have given way to an urban migrant population. But history does live, despite the developments. The Aramby Shola, now wisely protected, dates back to 1863 and houses the indigenous flora and fauna of the Nilgiris.
Further ahead is Tamizhagam, the State Government’s Official Guest House. Once upon a time, this stately mansion was Aranmore Palace, the summer palace of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. In the summer of 1959, the State Assembly was briefly shifted from the stately Fort St. George in Madras to the more temperate and picturesque Ooty.
The rosewood-panelled Ball Room of the palace, with its glittering chandeliers, was converted into a meeting chamber. Seating was provided for about 180 members of the assembly, along with a special box for the Governor. Visitors' galleries were created to accommodate the large groups that thronged the palace to witness the session.
The historic palace is now the State Guesthouse. Visitors are welcome as long as they maintain protocol.
Good to Know
Location: 3.4 km from the Sterling (Elk Hill) resort
Location: 5 km from the Sterling (Fern Hill) resort
On Toda Trail - Glimpses of the Earliest Inhabitants of the Nilgiris.3hrs
The Todas, an ethnic group who used to live in the Nilgiris, migrated here more than 2000 years ago. Anthropologists believe that they evolved in seclusion.
Mudumalai National Park- Step Into The Wilderness3hrs
Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a recognised tiger reserve. Nestled in the Nilgiris, it is home to many endangered species and is rich in flora and fauna.
The Blue Mountain Express: The Steepest Track in Asia3hrs
The charming old world steam coaches, huffing and puffing against the blue and emerald hills of the Nilgiris, are a magnificent sight. Its thrilling to ride in one.
Mukurthi Trek: Nature's Balancing Act3hrs
Discover the treasures of the Shola Forest in Mukurthi National Park. Trek up to a stunning view of the peaks in the Nilgiris.
The Stone House and the Oak Tree: John Sullivan's Legacy3hrs
John Sullivan, the man who designed Ooty, built this picture-perfect bungalow for himself. This charming building, about 150 years old, also has an oak tree of the same age for its companion.
Cairn Hill: Reminiscence of the British Era3hrs
The forests of Cairn Hill are spread over 168 hectares and have a few of the original surviving cypress plantations from the British era.
To Shoot a Mocking Bird: A Must Feat for Birdwatchers3hrs
The Nilgiri’s bird Laughingthrush is an artful dodger. Its mocking laughter challenges those in the vicinity. Though it is audible, it isn't easily visible.
St. Stephen 's Church: A Reminder of Colonial Heritage3hrs
Made from wood stripped from Tipu’s Palace at Srirangapatna, St Stephen’s Church follows the Gothic style of architecture and has beautiful stained glass windows.
Rose Garden: A Wonderland of Roses3hrs
The Rose Garden of Ooty is India’s most renowned garden, sprawling across 10 acres on the slopes of Elk Hill, housing more than 20,000 varieties of roses.
Jain Mandir: Soul and Solace3hrs
The Nasiyan Jain Temple, greatly revered by the Digambara sect of Jains, is dedicated to the first of the 24 Tirthankaras, Lord Rishabhdev.