Welcome to Udagamandalam !
Unforgettable Udagamandalam, the ‘Queen of Hills’ is perched at an altitude of 7.500 feet above sea level, amidst the verdant Nilgiris or Blue Mountains. It is endowed with extraordinary scenic beauty and is the most popular hill station of the South and also one of the best know hill resort of India. The salubrious climate of Udagamandalam makes it a resort for all seasons, although the tourist season is said to be from April to June.
The beautiful resort resembling an English – Country town was first discovered in 1819, by Jhon Sullivan, the then Collector of Coimbatore. It was later named as Ootacamund or Ooty derived from the world Ottakkalmandu, which means the ‘village of a single stone’. Udagamandalam is the Tamil name proposed by the government, but the town is still more popular by its British name, Ooty and is the ‘Pride of Tamil Nadu’. The entire region was previously inhabited by the Toda tribal’s and was never subjugated directly under any dynastic rule.
This delightful land up in the cool, nestling in the green heights of cloud kissing mountains is reached by a thrill – a – minute ghat road winding its way through the hills with picturesque vistas at every bend. Or one can take up a joy ride in a toy train “choo-chooing” up the mountains and providing one of the most unique experiences. The ambient beauty of Ooty lies in its peaceful ranges surrounded by a misty blue haze, which gives them the name Nilgiris or Blue Mountains. The colonial legacy of this British developed hills resort is still reflected in its terraced Botanical Garden, private schools, Ooty club and churches.
The charming resort is ideally suited for a truly enchanting holiday, hunting the forests, fishing the streams, boating on the lake, hiking on the downs, meandering though lovely gardens, playing a game of golf or tennis, or visiting tribal settlements.
The Blue Mountain or Nilgiri Railway is the ‘Pride of Tamil Nadu’ and is very popular among the visitors coming to Udagamandalam. The unique ‘toy train’ with its quaint yellow and blue carriages covers a distance of 46 kms. From Mettupalaiyam to Udagamandalam. The railway section was inaugurated on August 11, 1898. The train originally went up to Coonoor and was later extended till Udagamandalam in 1908.
It is the only ‘rack railway’ system in the country, as the engine is on the rear side and it pushed the coaches rather than pulling them. When the gradient increase and get too steep, a second pair of cylinders on the locomotive gets activated through the mechanism underneath the engine which engages the toothed rail in the middle of the track giving the engine extra push. Each of the three or four carriages has its own braking man, who sits on a little platform on the front of the carriage; the entire working mechanism is quite interesting.
Bayer Peacocks were the first engines to haul the train on this lovely route studded with 16 tunnels and 250 bridges. Today, the distance between Mettupalaiyam and Udagamandalam is covered in about four and a half hour.
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