HISTORY OF NILGIRIS DISTRICT
The Nilgiris, because of its natural charm and pleasant climate, was a place of Special attraction for the Europeans. In 1818, Mr. Whish and Kindersley, who were assistants to the Collector of Coimbatore, discovered the place Kotagiri near Rengaswamy peak. John Sullivan, the then Collector of Coimbatore was greatly interested in this part of the country. He established his residence there and reported to the Board of Revenue on 31st July 1819.
The Name ‘Nilgiris’ means Blue hills (Neelam – Blue and giri – Hill or Mountain) the first mention of this name has been found in the Silappadikaram. There is a belief that the people living in the plains at the foot of the hills, should have given the name, the Nilgiris, in view of the violet blossoms of ‘kurinji’ flower enveloping the hill ranges periodically. The earliest reference to the political history of the Nilgiris, according to W.Francis relates to the Ganga Dynasty of Mysore.
Immediately after the Nilgiris was ceded to the British in 1789, it became a part of Coimbatore district. In August 1868 the Nilgiris was separated from the Coimbatore District. James Wilkinson Breeks took over the administration of the Nilgiris as its Commissioner. In February 1882, the Nilgiris was made a district and a Collector was appointed in the place of the Commissioner. On 1st February 1882, Richard Wellesley Barlow who was the then Commissioner became the First Collector of Nilgiris.
Geographical Location of the District
The Nilgiris is situated at an elevation of 900 to 2636 meters above MSL. Its latitudinal and longitudinal dimensions being 130 KM (Latitude : 10 - 38 WP 11-49N) by 185 KM (Longitude : 76.0 E to 77.15 E). The Nilgiris is bounded on North by Karnataka State on the West by Coimbatore District, Erode District, South by Coimbatore District and Kerala State and as the East by Kerala State. In Nilgiris District the topography is rolling and steep. About 60% of the cultivable land falls under the slopes ranging from 16 to 35%
Area and Population
The District has an area of 2452.50 sq.km. As per 2001 census the population of this district is as follows
The Nilgiris District Comprises of six taluks viz Udhagamandalam, Kundah, Coonoor, Kotagiri, Gudalur and Pandalur. These taluks are divided in to four Panchayat Unions viz., Udhagamandalam, Coonoor, Kotagiri and Gudalur besides two Municipalities, Wellington Contonment and Aruvankadu Township. The District consists of 56 Revenue Villages and 15 Revenue Firkas. There are two Revenue Divisional in this district viz., Coonoor and Gudalur. There are 35 Village Panchayat and 13 Town Panchayat in this District.
There are no irrigation schemes in this district. The crops are mainly rain fed. Check Dams have been constructed wherever it is possible to exploit natural springs.
The Nilgiris District is basically a Horticulture District and the entire economy of the district depends upon the success and failure of Horticulture Crops like Potato, Cabbage, Carrot, Tea, Coffee, Spices and Fruits. The main cultivation is plantation Crops, viz., Tea and Coffee. Potato and other vegetables are raised in Udhagai and Coonoor Taluks. Paddy and Ginger are grown in Gudalur and Pandalur Taluks. Paddy is also grown in Thengumarahada area in Kotagiri Taluk. Besides these crops, Ragi, Samai, Wheat, Vegetables etc., are also grown in small extent throughout the district.
Since this district is situated at an elevation of 900 to 2636 meters about MSL during summer the climate remains to the Maximum of 21 degree Celsius to 25 degree Celsius and the minimum of 10degree Celsius to 12degree Celsius . During the winter the temperature available to the maximum 16degree Celsius to 21degree Celsius. and minimum of 2degree Celsius.
The Nagapattinam - Gudalur National Highway Passes through this district. All the taluks are connected with Major District Roads. The village roads are maintained by Panchayat Union. There is no sea port or Airport in this district.
There are 8 Hydel Power Houses in this district.
1. Pykara Power House
2. Pykara Micro Power House
3. Moyar Power House
4. Kundah Power House - I
5. Kundah Power House-II
6. Kundah Power House - III
7. Kundah Power House - IV
8. Kundah Power House - V
John Sullivan M.C.S
Born in London on 15th June , 1788, John Sullivan was the Englishmen destined to have greater cultural impact on the Nilgiris Hills than any other single person. From a humble position as writer in East India Company at Madras , He rose to the very high position of the District Collector in 1814. In 1815 He became the collector of coimbatore. In 1819 , He visited the eastern plateau for three weeks accompanied by a noted French naturalist Jean Baptiste Louis . It was probably on February 22, 1821 that John Sullivan first visited WOTKYMUND with a badaga guide. He acquired the stone house hill, and started building the first house of Udhgamandalam, the stone house in which the government arts colleges is housed now.
John Sullivan M.C.S had a strong love for nature and prosperity for agriculture .His love for gardening was so strong that he lost no time in actively engaging himself in the development of the area in general and Udhgamandalam in particular. His contribution towards the early growth of Nilgiris is remarkable. The European flowers , vegetables and fruit trees were introduced only by him. A number of old varieties of plants of Europe and South Africa form part of the Nilgiris flora today, thanks to Sullivan. He imported improved seeds of barley and popularized them in the Hills; for the Badagas of lower plateau , barley is the staple grain and they call it SULLIVAN GANGI. The first road to the Nilgiris from sirumugai was formed in 1820 due to his initiative. He planned and executed formation of the famous lake at Udhgamandalam by damming up the streams in the surrounding area. The first improved track originated with his request of March 1819 and this was the Kotagiri Ghat. In 1826 he improved another pass up to the southern side of the hills, which was later known as Sullivan’s Ghat. His interests were thus very broadly concerned with the development of the district.
Sullivan retired to England in 1841, a tragic man who had lost and buried his young wife and two children in St.Stephen’s Church graveyard, Udhgamandalam. He left behind him a great mark in the form of a flourishing new town , Udhagamandalam, India’s first Hill Station.
Eucalyptus Oil extraction is yet another important old time industry here. One can smell the fragrance of the Oil wafting through the air during the course of extraction. Apart from leaves, the pulp wood is used as a major raw material for the manufacture of viscose for a factory situated at the foot hills of the Nilgiris District. Also the bark and the twigs are collected and distributed as a fuel supply (fire wood) under public distribution system
CORDITE FACTORY ARUVANKADU
The Government of India, Ministry of Defense have set up a Cordite Factory at Aruvankadu, near Coonoor on the Coonoor-Ooty Road. The Factory was established in the year 1901. The Factory is engaged in the production of propellants for Gun Ammunition.
HINDUSTAN PHOTO FILIMS - OOTY
HPF was setup with the objective of supplying raw cine films to Motion Picture Industry, X-Ray films for Hospitals and special photographic materials for professional and amateur photographers in the Country.
NEEDLE INDUSTRIES (INDIA) PRIVATE LIMITED., KETTI
In 1949, this was a British brewer factory slowly switched over to manufacture of Gramophone Needles and later on to hand sewing needles and then started their export somewhere in the year 1964 and from then on standing as leading manufacturers of Needles in the world and with diversifications of manufacturing of suture needles, knitting pins, safety pins, snap fasteners and now standing as a leader in the manufacture of above in the whole world. "Needle makers to the world".
RALLIES INDIA LTD.,SANDYNALLA
An industry for manufacturing extracted products such as gelatine, ossein and allied Chemical products etc. was setup in the year 1971 in Sandynalla near Udhagamandalam under private sector.
NILIGIRIS DISTRICT CO-OPERATIVE MILK PRODUCERS UNION LTD
The Govt. have setup a unit at Ooty under Co-operative sector which is engaged in the manufacture of milk products such as cream, butter, ghee, palkova, ice-cream and cheese.
HINDUSTAN UNILEVER LTD., KETTI
M/s Hindustan Lever Ltd., a private concern has setup a unit on Kekkatty Road, Ketti for the manufacture of mushroom and mushroom based products
The Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation (TANSIDCO) has set up an industrial estate at Udhagamandalam in 1982. In the Nilgiris district, the total number of small scale industries units was only 39 during 1980 - 81 and this has risen up to 176 during 1986 - 87. However, during 1987 - 88, there was a slight decrease in the number of small scale industries units, which stood at 171. During 1988 - 89, 111 were registered.
DISTRICT INDUSTRIES CENTRE (DIC):
The Government of India had taken a new industrial policy in 1978 for rapid growth of small scale units and tiny industries with a view to maximize employment opportunities and raise the income levels in rural areas. Accordingly, District Industries Center were set up in every district from 1978, so as to provide all services and assistance required by small and village industries through a single agency.
INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, UDHAGAMANDALAM:
TANSIDCO has set up an Industrial Estate at Udhagamandalam near Hindusthan Photo Film Limited, in 1982 at a cost of Rs.15.69 lakhs. The land was retransferred by M/s. Hindustan Photo Film Limited to SIDCO, free of cost, for the construction of shed for small scale Industries units and for tiny sector. Government sanctioned a sum of Rs. 5 lakhs as share capital assistance during 1981 - 82 for construction of sheds in the industrial estate.
TANSI WATCH ASSEMBLING UNIT:
The unit was incorporated in the year 1978. It commenced production with effect from 1st August 1978 and it is engaged in assembling watches only. The required raw materials are supplied by the Hindustan Machine Tools (H.M.T). The investment on land and building is about Rs.4.23 lakhs and on machinery and equipment is Rs.6.46 lakhs. The unit has provided employment to 103 persons.
HYDRO ELECTRIC SYSTEMS
KATERI HYDRO - ELECTRIC SYSTEM:
This is the earliest hydro - electric system installed in the district. The Kateri stream rises in the Kateri and Ketti valleys in the district. The Kateri falls is situated in the Ketti valley and flows from a height of 54.86 meters. Just above the falls, a dam to a height of 11.58m. was built across the outlet of a natural basin and a reservoir with a storage capacity of 12 1/4 million cubic feet formed in 1902. Above this, another dam enclosing a supplementary reservoir with a storage capacity of 10 million cubic feet was built later, in the year 1916. The length of the power house was 30.48 m; breadth 9.14 m. and height 10.36m. and it was designed to contain the whole of the generating plant, which consisted of four 125 KW. sets and one 500 KW. set, giving current at 5000 volts.
PYKARA HYDRO - ELECTRIC SYSTEM:
The pykara hydro electric system stands as a monumental example of the natural potentialities of the district for the generation of power. The pykara power plant is the highest head plant so far installed in the whole of Asia. It is situated at the height of 938.78 meters. The Pykara scheme which is the first hydro - electric project under taken by the composite Madras State was sanctioned in the year 1929.
MOYAR HYDRO - ELECTRIC SCHEME:
The Moyar hydro - electric scheme in the district is the first hydro - electric project executed in the First Five Year Plan period. The project utilizes the tail water of the Pykara station over a drop of 396.24 meters and makes it available for 16 km. below the Pykara power house. Work on the scheme was begun in 1946 and completed in 1952.
KUNDAH HYDRO - ELECTRIC SCHEME:
The Kundah hydro - electric scheme is the biggest among the schemes so far executed to generate electricity in the State. Two streams, the Avalanche and the Emerald, rising amidst the group of high peaks, Devarbatta, Karaikada, Koulingabetta and Porthimund, all over 2438.40 m. The scheme was sanctioned by the Government in September 1955 at an estimated cost of Rs.3544 lakhs including transmission line. Executed during Second Five Year Plan period. A combined storage by two dams across Avalanche and Emerald Streams with a capacity of 5500 cubic feet.
EMARALD AND AVALANCHE DAMS:
The Emerald and Avalanche dams have been built across the Emerald and Avalanche streams which are two arms of the kundah river. They are situated at a distance of about 29 km. from Udhagamandalam. It has a total storage of 5500 million cubic feet. The Avalanche dam is 372 m. in length and 57.66 m. height, while the Emerald dam is 328.6 m. lon and 65.72 m. height. The two reserviors thus formed are interconnected by a tunnel 733.77 m. long of horse shoe shape with a discharge of capacity of 900 cusecs.
Inscription of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as a World Heritage Site in the 29th Session of the World Heritage Committee, Durban, South Africa, 10 to 19 July 2005.
The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO consists of representatives from 21 of the States Parties to the Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage, elected by the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention. The essential functions of the Committee are to:
(i) Identify, on the basis of nominations submitted by States Parties, cultural and natural properties of outstanding universal value which are to be protected under the Convention and to list those properties on the World Heritage List;.
(ii) Monitor the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, in liaison with the States Parties; decide which properties included in the World Heritage List are to be inscribed on or removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger;. and decide whether a property may be deleted from the World Heritage List; and
(ii) Examine requests for International Assistance from the World Heritage Fund.
During its 29th session at Durban, South Africa, on 15th July, the World Heritage Committee, has approved the extension of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, to include Nilgiri Mountain Railway, India, on the basis of the existing criteria (ii) and (iv) and rename the extended property as Mountain Railways of India;
Criterion (ii): The Mountain Railways of India are outstanding examples of the interchange of values on developments in technology, and the impact of innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of a multicultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world.
Criterion (iv): The development of railways in the 19th century had a profound influence on social and economic developments in many parts of the world. The Mountain Railways of India are out standing examples of a technological ensemble, representing different phases of the development in high mountain areas.
In terms of the categories of cultural property set out in Article I of the 1972 World Heritage Convention, this is a site. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) is proposed as an extension to the existing World Heritage Site, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), forming a serial nomination: Mountain Railways of India.
THE MYSTIC BEAUTY OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS...
The Nilgiris properly called Nila-giri or Blue Mountains is an integral part of the great plateau occupying the junction of the eastern and western ghats. The name "Nilagiri" is about 850 years old and was given by the inhabitants of the adjoining plains because of the blue haze, which envelops the range.
The Nilgiri Mountains are known for their coffee and tea plantations. Potato is the major cash crop of the district. Chinacona products, eucalyptus oil, geranium, scented phenol etc. are also produced here. The district is also noted for its ancient tribes the Todas, the Kotas, the Kurumbas, the Panias and the lrulas.
Udhagamandalam, the Queen of Hill stations and popularly called as Ooty is a major tourist attraction. The beautiful botanical gardens, the Ooty lake, the children's lake garden near the Railway Station, Doddabetta, Coonoor and Kotagiri are some of the many scenic spots on the blue hills.
From the year 1854 onwards, various proposals were mooted to build a mountain railway from Mettupalayam to the Nilgiri Plateau. All the proposals had either a technical or financial problem. One of the early proposals even suggested the use of heavy water carriers to counter the weight of the train on the slope, and another suggested a ropeway in the steeper part of the terra in.
Finally it was a Swiss Engineer named N. Riggenbach who thought of rack rail system at an estimated cost of 1 ,32,000 pounds, which was considered too costly and dropped. Meanwhile, the Madras Railway Company opened the Madras-Coimbatore-Beypoor (Calicut) railway line for traffic in 1862. And in 1873, opened the 26 mile Long Branch line between Podanur and Mettupalayam, which made Mettupalayam the foot hill point for any body going to the hills.
The revival of various plans for a mountain railway finally ended in 1885, with the Nilgiri Railway Company being formed with a capital of Rs.25 lakhs. And in August 1891, the first sod of the line was cut by Lord Wenlock, the then Governor of Madras Presidency. After many problems and change of hands, the line was ultimately completed and opened for public traffic on 15'h June 1899 by the Madras Railway. The line was extended to Ootacamund from Coonoor sometime in 1908 on the same gauge over a distance of 11 and 3/4 miles at a cost of Rs.24, 40,000.
The Railway line from Mettupalayam to Ooty is 45.88 km. long and lies partly in Coimbatore District and partly in Nilgiri District of Tamil Nadu, on the eastern slopes of the western g hats. Mettupalayam is at the foot of the hills with an elevation of about 330 metres and Udhagamandalam on the plateau with an elevation of 2200 metres. The average gradient of this metre gauge line is about 1 in 24.5.
The sharpest curve on the section is 17.5 degrees. There are about 208 curves on the section, out of which 180 curves are 10 to 17.5, degrees. 76 numbers of curve lubricators have been provided on the sharp curves.
There are 250 bridges on the section, out of which 32 are major ones and 15 are road over/under bridges. The total lenial waterway works out to 31 .63 metres per km. The longest bridge is Bridge No.25 at Km.9/1 1-12 of 3 x 18.29 and 12 x 3.66 girder spans. There are 16 tunnels between Kallar and Ooty, all of which are in excellent condition. Most of the tunnels are un-lined.
THE UNIQUE RACK AND PINION...
Boasting of the only rack and pinion system in the whole of Asia, the unique rack section of the Nilgiri
Mountain Railway begins at Km.7/8-9 beyond Kallar Down Top point and ends at Km.26/8-9, a little before the Coonoor Up Home signal. The average gradient on the rack section is I in 15. The rack rails consist of two toothed steel bars laid in a double row at 44 mm apart and 64 mm above the running rails so that the tooth of one is directly opposite the gap of the other to ensure that the engine pinions do not work off the racks when negotiating curves. The entry to the rack is effected through a specially designed entry tongue laid in special channel sleepers fitted with bow springs and connecting links which is connected finally to the rigid bars. The maximum permissible speed on Mettupalayam-Kallar and Coonoor-Udhagamandalam "Non-Rack" system is 30 KMPH while between Kallar and Coonoor "Rack" section the maximum permissible speed is 1 3 KMPH.
Trains are operated on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway on the Absolute block system. Engines are attached always at the Mettupalayam end of the formation, pushing the loads while going up. Each of the coaches and wagons are provided with a brakes man who independently operates the hand brakes and the 'rack' brakes on whistle codes obtained from the driver.
The "X" class locomotives used on this railway are tank engines of '0-8-2' type with 4 cylinders of compound type; the high pressure cylinders work the adhesion wheels while the low pressure cylinders working on the exhaust steam of the first two cylinders work on the rack system.
The Principal Stations of NMR:
THE NATIVES OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS...
The Todas a unique tribe of India, have been the guardians of the rich vegetation of the Blue Nilgiri for centuries. Legend has it that God dropped a pearl on a hill and out of this pearl came their God, Takkirsi, who beat the earth with a cane, and out of the dust the first Toda was created. It was in 1 602 that Jacome Ferreiri, a Syrian Christian priest with his men crossed the wild mountainous country. This was the first sighting of the beautiful blue hills by anyone other than the Todas. People began settling in the hills and by 1830, the British had appointed a military commandant to run the Ooty settlement.
Publication of technical papers in India commenced in Madras in 1860, but very soon it ceased publication.Next in line was the publication of technical papers from Roorkee in 1863 and continued for over two decades. The Roorkee papers were known as 'Professional Papers on Indian Engineering' and were edited by the Principal of the Thomason Civil Engineering College, Roorkee. The circulation of these papers, incidentally the only one of such kind, was amongst the top notch technocrats and bureaucrats of the British India. These papers played an important role in moulding the opinions of the elite of that era. The Professional Papers, as per objectives laid out in 1863, would contain a) Original papers descriptive of works and scientific subjects, b) Official documents, reports and projects, c) Original designs and projects and d) Occasional translations and reprints of articles generally not accessible to Indian Engineers.
Major T F Dowden, R.E., published the first article on the Rigi Railway on the Ladder System in 1874, mainly by translation from the descriptions of one Prof. J.H.Kronauer. The history of rack railway (also known as ladder or cog system) was described thus:
'Mr. N. Riggenbach obtained a patent in 1863 in France for a system of mountain railways on the principle of the Ladder Rail. However till 1868 no one came forward to finance the scheme. In 1868, in U.S.A. upon Mount Washington near Boston, a similar railway with an ascent of 33% was started. Three engineers, thereon, Mr. Riggenbach (Mechanical), Mr. Naeff and Mr. Zschokke (Both Civil Engineers) associated to establish such a railroad on Rigi. From Luzerne Govt. they obtained a concession in 1869. A company was formed with a capital of £ 50,000 and a railway line of 3.26 miles with average ascent of 1 :4 was constructed by 1871-72.'
Major Dowden published a letter from the Rigi Railway Company that they can assist any such project in India. Technical details of track, locomotive, and coaches were supplemented along with suitable line sketches. Economics of the Rigi railway system was also mentioned in the article. This was the first attempt to publish information about rack-rail system for Indian Engineers.
The most ardent supporter of a rack railway for Nilgiris was Captain (later Major) J.L.L. Morant, R.E., and District Engineer of the Nilgiri District. In two long articles along with numerous plates (No. CUCV, July 1875 and No. CUCXXVI, January 1876), Captain Morant described the 'Central Ladder' system of mountain railway known more commonly as Rigi Railway. These articles included,
a) a translation from German, the fifth Administrative Report of Rigi Railway Company for the year 1874,
b) a translation from French, a report of M/s Riggenbach and Zschokke on the construction and working of a railway over the Arlberg on the Rigi Mountain.
In 1877, Captain Morant described the new Rigi cogwheel locomotive and commented that 'the rack-rail system has many points in its favour and we regard it as decidedly preferable in every respect to Mr. Fell's system of centre rail with horizontal gripping wheels'. Mr. J.B. Fell patented his central rail system in 1863; the first engine was also built in 1863 in Birkenhead but had no impact on Indian Engineers for mountain railways on the Indian sub-continent.In the next article (No. CCXXXI of 1877), Captain Morant gave a detailed analysis with the title 'Mountain Railway for the Nilgiri Hills'.
It was no less than a Project Report. The estimate for the rack-rail line from Mettupalayam to Coonoor was £197,237 (Rigi system) and £ 302,452 (Fell system). This estimate included the cost of rolling stock also. The editor commented, 'Although the Government of India are not at present prepared to sanction at the expense of the State the railway above referred to, it is possible that private enterprise may raise the requisite funds; and the question continues to occupy the attention of local officers. Captain Morant deeming that the reluctance of Government to undertake the railway in question was due in part to the want of complete information in regard to the cost and details of working of the several systems, has continued to collect further data, and to correspond with the most eminent pioneers of mountain railway construction in Europ e.Major Morant in 1878 published two more articles - one on the Rack-rail system applied to a trunk line over the St. Gotthard. Another was a translation from German, oriinal article was by Mr. N. Riggenbach, giving construction details of rack railway and their rolling stock. The article and 12 plates vividly described the system.
In 1877, the Governor of Madras Presidency, the Duke of Buckingham, got estimates prepared for an alternate proposal, a railway line from Mettupalayam to a point 2 miles north of Kallar and an inclined ropeway from here to Lady Canning's seat and another railline from the head of ropeway to Coonoor. This proposal was considered too hazardous and so dropped.
To quote from the Administrative Report of Indian Railways for the year 1880-81, 'the proposal for extension of the Mettupalayam branch to Nilgiri plateau was first mooted in 1875. It has now assumed a more definite character, a Company having been started in Madras to float the undertaking. It will. probably be on metre-gauge, will have comparatively easy gradients from Mettupalayam to Kallar at the foot of the Nilgiri Hills, 5'/2 miles, and from thence up to Coonoor Ghat, 61/2 miles, the gradients will be very heavy. The production of tea, coffee, and cinchona is still increasing on the Nilgiri Hills, and it is anticipated that the traffic which will seek the line at once give a fair return. Traffic will be higher. In February 1881, permission was granted to the Agents of the Company to open out the existing track between Coonoor and Kallar to a width of 3 ft. through Government wasteland, but little work will be done until the company asks for fewer and more reasonable concessions. The matter is still under consideration'.
THE NILGIRI RAILWAY COMPANY
In 1882, Mr. N. Riggenbach, came to the Nilgiris and started preparing detailed estimates for a rack railway, which it was calculated, would cost only £ 132,000. Major Morant of the Royal Engineers, who was then District Engineer, in the Nilgiris, and who took an abiding interest in the scheme, assisted him in this work. A local Company under the name "The Nilgiri Rigi Railway Company Ltd." was formed to construct the line and the Government gave it some encouragement and concessions in the matter of acquisition of the necessary land under the Land Acquisition Act and in laying a railway line from Mettupalayam to Kallar.
The Company, however, requested the Government to promise a guarantee of four per cent on an outlay of £150,000 for 15 to 20 years; but the Government was not prepared to comply with this request'without reciprocal conditions. Finally, an agreement was reached between the Government of Madras and the Company as a result of which a limited guarantee was promised by the former.
The prospective investors of England were, however, not satisfied with the nature of the Government guarantee or the sufficiency of the estimates and thus the necessary capital for the proposed Company was not forthcoming.
The Company, therefore, requested the Government to modify its terms and lend the services of a British Engineer to scrutinize the estimates. As they could not afford to pay for the British Engineer, Mr. Richard Wooly of Coonoor agreed to advance some money on condition that he should be given contract for the construction of the railway line. His offer was accepted and from that time onwards began his connection with the Nilgiri Railway of which he eventually became the first Agent and Manager. This Company could not raise the requisite capital and was liquidated.
"The Nilgiri Railway Company" was formed in 1885 with a capital of Rs.2.5 million and the proposal for construction of a rack line was dropped for a short while in favour of an adhesion line, similar to the Darjeeling railway on a gradient of 1 in 30. However, very soon, the rack principle came to be favoured and in 1886 a contract was entered into between the Secretary of State for India, Government of Great Britain and the New Company. In 1889, the requisite capital was raised in London and in August 1891, Lord Wenlock the then Governor of Madras Presidency cut the first sod.
The original intention to have a direct rack railway on the Riggenbackh to system had by this time been dropped in favour of somewhat longer and more substantial line using the Abt type of rack rail. Rigi system uses a Ladder type or central rail with the toothed wheel engaging the runs of the ladder, the Abt system has two adjacent rails in the centre of the track with the teeth on the top out of step with each other. Perhaps the choice was made due to the recommendations made by Sir GuilfordL. Molesworth, Consulting Engineer to the Government of India for the State Railways who in 1886 visited Harz Mountain Railway working on Abt System and strongly advocated this system in preference to Rigi System. The financial health of the Railway Company deteriorated and construction work came to standstill.
At this stage, a new Company in the same title was formed in February 1896, which purchased the interests of the liquidated company and set about the task of completing the construction of the line. Another agreement was concluded between this Company and the Secretary of State for India, whereby all Government land required for the line was granted free and the Government gave a guarantee of three per cent on the capital during the construction period. The Madras Railway operated it under an agreement with the Government.
The Government purchased this line in January 1903, for Rs.3.5 million, although the capital outlay up to that time was of the order of Rs.4.9 million. The Madras Railway Company was asked to manage this railway line on behalf of the Government. Subsequently the management was entrusted with South Indian Railway on 31st December 1907 at the time of the expiry of Madras Railway's contract. The line was extended to Ootacamund from Coonoor in 1908 on the same gauge over a distance of 11¾ miles at a cost of Rs.2.44 million. The terminal station is now styled as Udagamandalam. The progress of construction is tabulated below :
PROGRESS OF CONSTRUCTION
The railway line from Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam is 46.61 km long and lies partly in Coimbatore District and partly in Nilgiri District of Tamil Nadu, on the eastern slopes of the Western ghats. Mettupalayam is at the foot of the hills with an elevation of about 330 metres and Udagamandalam on the plateau with an elevation of 2200 metres. The average gradient of this line is about 1 in 24.5. The rail-line is laid to Metre gauge (1000 mm).
The ruling gradient is 1 in 40 on the section between Mettupalayam and Kallar, and 1 in 12.28 from Kallar to Coonoor and 1 in 23 from Coonoor to Udagamandalam.
The sharpest curves on the section are 17.5 degrees. There are about 208 curves on the section, out of which 180 curves are 10 to 17.5, degrees. 76 numbers of curve lubricators have been provided on the sharp curves.
With the exception at Kallar; the facing points at other stations are non-standard with 1 in 16 crossing. At Kallar, 1 in 8'/2 points and crossings is provided at the Coonoor end top point and 1 in 12 at the Mettupalayam end. The track consists of 50-Ib rails. On the rack section, wooden and steel trough sleepers are laid alternately.
There are 250 bridges on the section, out of which 32 are major and 15 are road over/ under bridges. The total lineal waterway works out to 31.63 metres per km The longest bridge is Bridge No. 25 at km 9/11-12 of 3 x 18.29m and 12 x 3.66 m girder spans.
There are 16 tunnels between Kallar and Udagamandalam, all of which are in excellent condition. Most of the tunnels are unlined. The location (km from Mettupalayam) and their length (in feet) are tabulated below:
The rack section commences from km 7/8-9 and ends at km 26/8-9. The rack rails consist of two toothed steel bars laid in a double row at 44 mm apart and 64 mm above the running rails so that the tooth of one is directly opposite to the gap of the other to ensure that the engine pinions do not work off the racks when negotiating curves. This gave it a common nomenclature of Alternating biting teeth with acronym Abt, also the family name of the originator of Abt System. The rack bars are of two standard lengths i.e., full bars with 26 teeth of length 3.12 m and half bars with 13 teeth of length 1 .56 m. The pitch of rack teeth is 120 mm.
The racks are laid at a constant distance of 455 mm from the inner rails (452 mm in the case of 25 mm thick rack bars) and are screwed by bolting to cast iron chairs fixed to the sleepers with fang bolts.
The rack bars were originally imported from England. This import continued till 1956-57 and thereafter, owing to stringent foreign exchange position at that point of time, import was not permitted, and mild steel IS 226 rack bars were used. Today the rack system consists of 50% of old high tensile steel 22 mm thick rack bars and 50% indigenous 25 mm thick mild steel rack bars, obtained from the Railway Engineering Workshop at Arakkonam.
The entry to the rack is affected through a specially designed entry tongue laid in special channel sleepers fitted with bow springs and connecting links, which is connected finally to the rigid bars. At all stations, except the now closed Kateri Road, the racks are discontinued over points and crossings. At erstwhile Kateri Road station alone, until 1982, the points and crossings were provided with through rack system due to the steep gradients on either side.
The section from Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam is provided with stone ballast and the cushion varies from 75 mm to 150 mm.
It was originally proposed to locate the terminal station in Ootacamund at Charing Cross, but it was eventually decided in 1904 to construct it at the present place in St. Mary's Hill. This involved the re-alignment of the latter part of the line and the construction of an embankment across the Ooty Lake near Willawbund.
Trains are operated on the Nilgiri Railway on the Absolute Block System and the block instruments in use at the stations are of either Theobald or Neale's Tablet type. The stations are of Class B for block working and are equipped with rudimentary interlocking with Home signals only in each direction. Trains stop at each station and are not allowed to run through. There are no catch sidings or slip sidings provided at any of these stations. Engines are attached always at the Mettupalayam end of the formation, pushing the loads while going up. Each of the coaches and wagons are provided with a brakes-man who independently operates the hand brakes and the rack brakes on whistle codes obtained from the driver.
The stations of Nilgiri Railway and their height from mean sea level are given below:
Kateri Road Station was not in the original scheme and thus the 'Index Plan' of 1899 does not show this station at the time of opening of the section up to Coonoor.
The track is maintained in conventional style. 9 gangs consisting of one mate, one key man and seven gang men maintain the rack railway from Mettupalayam to Coonoor. Each gang has about 3-km long section under their charge. The track-gauge used by these gangs is custom made and with the same gauge, one can check vital dimensions of the rack-rails.
Sleepers are wooden or steel trough types. 15-16 sleepers per rail are provided for.
The Nilgiri Railway is a feat of engineering, unique in many ways. The line is a metre-gauge, practically level for the first 4½ miles, to Kallar at the immediate foot of the hills. As soon as the train leaves Kallar, the rack rail appears and the long climb begins. In the next 12 miles to Coonoor the line rises 4,363 ft. curving almost continuously as it clings to the mountainside, crossing lofty viaducts or tunnels through the hard rock. In this distance, there are thirteen tunnels, the longest being 137.96m (451 ft) in length. The gradient posts read 1 in 12½ with monotonous consistency.
Construction expenses were heavy; because in addition to the tunnels, a big bridge over the river Bhavani at the foothills was necessary. Besides this large bridge, 26 other bridges smaller in sizes were constructed and heavy expenditure incurred in rock cutting and blasting.
'Still it has been worth it. To quote a South Indian Railway spokesman in 1935, 'Those engineers must have been lovers of nature when they decided on the alignment. Aside from the question of utility, the wee train as it winds its upward way, passes through a panorama of diversified scenery unrivalled anywhere; pausing frequently to refresh itself at stations, terra-cotta coloured and flecked with green, tucked snugly away amid the eternal quietude of these hills. Over deep ravines, lofty escarpments tower overhead, and the water of some mountain river hurling into beautiful cascades on its downward gambols: changing to scenes of peaceful rural simplicity. As the train tops the edge of the plateau and pursues its journey, stern crags fade into gently undulating hummocks, dotted with scattered villages; patches of cultivation fringed by tall and slender Eucalyptus trees, with perchance, a faint cool mountain breeze soughing their lofty, tufted crowns, tuning in playful caprice, the bluish-silvery tinted leaves'
The bridgework, the stone piers, abutments and arches are as imposing as they were built a hundred years ago, stone was abundantly used and the stonework was of excellent quality.
The line was built up to Coonoor through the Agency of Nilgiri Railway Company; the work was completed in 1899. Later, the extension of line up to Udagamandalam was built through the agency of Public Works Department. At that point of time, the assistance of army was also taken to complete the last bridge between Fernhill and Udagamandalam. The cement blocks indicate 'No. 11 Co., 2nd Q.O.S&M, 1907-8' in bold letters.
M/s T.S. Chinnaswamy, the contractors built the station building of Udagamandalam, the Contractors in 1909. It was then Ooty station. The first Station Master of Ooty was Bob Hill. Mr. Hill had an imposing personality. He remained the Station Master of Ooty for 21 long years from 1909 to 1930. His photograph, an impressive one, decorates the present Station Master's room.
After completion of Mettupalayam Coonoor section, at the time of opening of the line, Nilgiri Railway commissioned M/s Boesinger, the famous photographer from Coonoor to capture the glimpses of the engineering marvel built by them. M/s Boesinger produced a thick album containing 22 photographs of 12"x10" size. An index plan, a suitable emblem, major technical details and a list of senior officers of Nilgiri Railway were also added in the album. Some of the photographs of Boesinger are reproduced in this book. The photographs were taken in 1898 and 1899.
The emblem of Nilgiri Railway contains the following inscriptions in Latin:
“SIC ITUR AD OOTY VESTIGIA NULLA RETRORSUM”
In 1928, Nilgiri Railway faced a severe calamity. A number of bridges collapsed and the restoration was a stupendous task. Rao Sahib H.J. Bellie Gowder, Contractor from Aravankadu, a Nilgiri town, did Restoration. The devastation was repeated in 1930 and so was the restoration by Rao Sahib.
The first Flower Show was organised in the year 1896 by the Nilgiris Agri-Horticultural Society under the Chairmanship of Mr.J.H.Tremenhere, the then Collector of Nilgiris.
The flower show is conducted in the Government Botanical Garden during the third week of May every year. Until 1979, the flower show was conducted by the Nilgiris Agri-horticultural society. The Government has taken over the flower show from 1980 onwards by forming a committee called the Nilgiris Flower and Fruit Show Committee. Elaborate arrangements are being made to conduct the flower show in a fitting manner. The flower show attracts large number of tourists from all over India
To create greater awareness among the Flower Growers, Garden Lovers and the Farming Community, a garden competition is being conducted involving the Estate Gardens, Private Cottage Gardens, Public Gardens and various other categories of the garden. On an average, about 200 gardens compete. Garden competition is held prior to the flower show and best gardens are awarded prizes and cups.
Flower show is held for two days. First day is Inauguration of the show and second day prizes are distributed to winners of various competitions held in connection with flower show. On the day of flower show, about 250 numbers of exhibitors participate in different categories. Several government departments and voluntary agencies also display their activities for the benefits of the flower lovers and tourists. More than 50 varieties of potted plants are exhibited by the competitors during the Flower Show days. More than 150 varieties of cut flowers are exhibited by the competitors on the show days. Various kinds of tropical and temperate vegetables are also exhibited by the growers for the competitions. The tropical and temperate fruits exhibited for the competition also delight the visitors. The Floral decorations, Indian and Japanese Flower arrangements, Vegetable Carving, Flower Rangoli, Bonsai etc., are the major attractions during the show days. The exclusive cut flower stalls from the large private and public garden are also an attraction during the Show days. 59 rolling cups, 250 cups and cash prizes are awarded to the best competitors and exhibitors at a cost of Rupees 1.5 Lakhs.
The Summer festivities in the Nilgiris usually start with the Rose show during second week end of May every year, and is also one of the most colorful events during the summer festival. The first Rose show was conducted on May 2001 and is being conducted annually by the Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department at the centenary Rose Park at ooty. There are more than three thousand varieties of Roses in the Garden. All of them can be seen in full bloom during the Rose Show. The garden becomes a riot of colours with every rose looking more beautiful than the other. The special attraction of the Rose show are the Rose towers specially designed with thousands of roses becoming cynosure of all eyes and the rose petal Rangolis adding extra colour to the Rose show.
Nilgiris is highly noted for its Horticultural wealth especially temperate fruits like Apple, Plums, Peaches, Pears, Persimmon and Citrus etc. Conducive climate of the district is ideal for growing temperate and sup-tropical and even tropical fruits.
To encourage the fruit growers, the fruit show is conducted in last week of May every year in Sim's Park, Coonoor. Coonoor has a Pomological Station where many of temperate fruit crops are grown. This station serves as model orchard and show the latest technology of growing fruit. It also supplies the fruit sapling to the needy farmers. A fruit preservation Unit is being run by the Department of Horticulture at Coonoor. Fruit products like Jam, Jelly, Marmalade, Squashes, Pickles are produced here. This unit also demonstrates the production techniques to entrepreneurs. The Department of horticulture and plantation crops exhibits the horticultural wealth of state. Many farmers exhibit their fruits. It is a very rare event where one can see all the exotic and native fruits in one place. Prizes are given to the outstanding fruit garden and best exhibits of fruits and vegetables.
The Annual Dog Shows are part of the Summer Festival of the Nilgiris and is always been attended and presided over by the Governors and other Dignitaries of the State Government and is always loved by the Tourists who visit the Nilgiris in Millions during the summer.
The dog shows are conducted by SOUTH OF INDIA KENNEL CLUB
SIKC was holding its shows at Ooty in Picturesque Botanical garden till the year 1980, and moved on to new venues after that. SIKC is the Third oldest Club in India after Calcutta and Bombay Presidency Club. SIKC holds their shows in a very well organized manner and we attract exhibitors coming from all over the country. The club has prestigious 44 pure silver trophies which we were donated by various Maharajas and well known personalities of 1930’s and 1940, the club awards silver prizes for top four winners, and good prizes to all the participating dogs. The show arrangements are at par with International standards and one of the best arranged in the Country.
The Toda are known by several names like Tudas, Tudavans, and Todar. They are found only in Nilgiri district.The Government of India has identified the Toda as one of the six Primitive Tribal groups of Tamil Nadu. The name Toda is supposed to be derived from the word 'tud', the sacred tud tree of Todas. The Linguist Emeneau(1958 : 47 - 50) said that, "Toda dialect is an independent language of the Dravidian family affiliated with Tamil - Malayalam. The uniqueness of the half - barrel shaped houses given speculations regarding their origin ranged from Rome to Sumeria. The Toda village is called a mund, means a herd or a cattle - pen. It is usually a collection of three or five half barrel shaped huts each 18 feet by 9 feet by 10 feet high with a small doorway measuring only 32 inches by 18 inches. Besides the huts, the mund has another hut with a smaller doorway, called 'Tirierl' or dairy temple. In the vicinity of the mund is the cattle - pen. Toda people are white (fair) in colour, being tall, strong built and well shaped. The striking feature of the women is the arrangement of their hair which is dressed in ringlets and flows waving down to the shoulders. The traditional garment of a Toda is known as put - kuli, is of thick white cotton cloth with red and blue stripes which is embellished further embroidery by the Toda women, is thrown around the body by the men and women like 'Roman toga'. Jewelry is worn by both men and women.
The Kothas, live in Seven settlements, generally known as Kotagiri or Kokkal. Theyare village artisans, who are good in carpentry, black smithy and pottery. But only a few families are engaged in these skills as a means of living. Most others are engaged in cultivation. Happily, most of the Kota families in all the settlement have their own patta land. Unlike Todas, they do not shy away from personal cultivation and are generally hard working people. In the field of education also they have stolen a march over other tribal communities. Today, many of them are working in the Government and non Governmental departments.
KURUMBAS AND IRULAS
The Kurumba houses known as "GUDLU" are temporary constructions in the forests. The traditional occupation of the Kurumbas is food gathering, like collection of honey and forests produce. They are also cultivating millets like ragi and samai on a small scale of mainly on hill slopes and mountain ridges. Honey fetches considerable remuneration for the Kurumbas. It is released much by public. Honey is collected mostly in the summer months from the cliffs, rocky crevices and the branches of giant trees. The supplement their usual diet with ample quantity of honey. Kurumbas are known to possess keen eyesight, gained possibly from constant watching of the honey bee to the hives. Now, they are mainly engaged in agriculture and those who do not own lands work as casual agricultural laborers. The Kurumbas are had working people, but the economic condition of the Kurumbas is very poor.
Irulas with a few subsects among them are living in Masinagudi area, and in parts of Kotagiri and Coonoor Taluks. They are generally engaged in Collection of minor forest products. This is a seasonal operation and they work as casual agricultural laborers on local estates. Some of them are also engaged in looking after the herds of cattle belonging to others. Some are engaged in agriculture in the patta lands, conditionally assigned to them, where they have raised tea, coffee, jack trees, guava etc. However, due to their poor maintenance of their land due to lack of finance, the return from these lands is meager. The general economic condition of these tribes is poor.
The Mullukurumbas of Gudalur are a District group and are believed to belong to a pre agricultural tribe, since they still use bow and arrow for occasional hunting. They live in nine settlements in Erumad area and Cherangodu village. They are mainly agricultural labourers. They are hard working people but their economic condition is poor.
Paniyas(which literally means "workers" in local usage) are found Gudalur taluk and many more in Kerala. Paniyas were found to be coming under a subtle from of bonded labour. They were released from bondage and a few have been since rehabilitated in various schemes. They are scattered throughout Gudalur Taluk and are one of the most backward tribal communities. Under an age old system, most of the Paniyas were working under local land owners for low wages with little and no liberty to work for others for competitive wages. After Independence, however, the majority of the Paniyas broke away from their masters and started working as casual agricultural laborers, bamboo cutters and estate laborers. The Paniyas, by and large, live in poverty irrespective of whether they are bonded or not. During 1976, 481 Paniyas in 252 families were freed from bonded labour and they have been rehabilitated in the Paniya Welfare Land colonisation Co- operative society and other schemes.
This tribal community is also found only in Gudalur Taluk, they are like Paniyas, farm labourers and their condition is no better than, of Paniyas.
FLORA & FAUNA
"SHOLA" THE GRASS LAND VEGETATION
The tropical woodlands are locally known as Sholas a term derived from the tamil word Solai which etymologically means a tropical rain forest. In the "Revised survey of Forest types of India", these sholas have been classified under the type "Sourthen Montane West Temperate Forest". Sholas occur in the higher hills of south India such as The Nilgiris the Anamalais and the Palani hills at altitudes above 51,00 meters. While the forests show fundamental affinity to the various types of tropical rain forests to which category they belong they also show marked differences in details from this main group, both in structure as well as in floristics. The average height of the tree is markedly low being hardly ever over 20 meters the fall in height being conditioned by exposure to wind also. In the drier eastern part of the plateau as well as in the windily location of the western half of the average height rarely exceeds 10 meters. The tree storey are only two in number. The leaf size is comparatively small. Drip tips, buttresses and cauliflary are nearly absent. Largelianas are however quite common Toddalia asiatica, Rhamnus wightii, Eleagnus latifolia, Jasminum spp. etc., are note worthy.
The flora in Nilgiris is a varied one including floristics of tropical as well as temperate origin. The species are all evergreen. The families that are represented both in the variety of species as well as in the proportion to other families are as follows,
The ground flora consists of a great wealth of ferns, mosses and fungi. The occurrence of temperate species in intimate mixture with the predominantly tropical genera and species as well as the reduction in the total number of species specially of trees.
The more important species comprising these forests are as follows,
* Michelia nilagirica
* Gordonia oblusa
* Xantolis tomentosum
* Sideroxylon tomentosum
* Meliosma wightii
* Elaeocarpus oblongus
* Turpinia nepaulensis
* Viburnum erubescens
* Viburnum acuminatum
* Viburnum hebanthum
* Vaocinium nilgherrense
* Maesa perrotettmbana
* Psycholria congesta
* Hedyotis stylosa
* Lasianthus coffeoiaes
* Alsopjila latebrosa
* Angiopteris evean
4.LIANAS, SCANDENT SHRUBS & OTHER CLIMBERS:
* Rosa leschenaultiana
* Senecio corymbosus
* Senecio intermidius
* Mahonia leschnaultii
* Rhamnus wightii
* Toddalia asiatica
* Clematis wightiana
* Rubus spp.
* Elaeagnus latifolia
It has been generally recorded that the outer slopes, outer ends of valley and hill, which are having scrubby vegetation do not contain wildlife of any importance, except hares, wild dogs, snakes and some of the common birds.
The elephants are conmmon in swampy areas of Kundah catchment, Sigur plateau and Moyar river valley. The carnivores like tigers, panthers, and wild dog etc., are also well represented. Sambhar, spotted deer, Jackal, bears, Nilgiris langur, etc., are common ones. The Nilgiris district may be divided into two parts, broadly, the west and the east when considering the terrain; climatic condition; vegetation; and fauna.
SPECIES TO BE FOUND IN THE WESTERN AREA:
* Wild Dog
* Nilgiri Thar
* Nilgiri black Langur
* Macaque monkey
THE EASTERN AND NORTHERN AREA:
* Sloth Bear
* Black Buck
* Four-horned antelope
* Mouse Deer
* Macque monkey
OOTY / UDHAGAI / UDHAGAMANDALAM / OOTACAMUND
Udhagamandalam, which is the Head Quarters of the district, is the largest and most important hill station in south India. This principle station on the Nilgiris is at an elevation of 2286 meters and situated at the center of the district. It is an extensive valley enclosed on all sides but the west by a lofty range of hills. The name of the ooty or Ootacamand was first mentioned in about 1821 in the Madras Gazette which was then spelt as "Wotokymund" by an anonymous correspondent who was one among the Europeans to set an eye on Ootacamand. It is also fondly called the Queen of Hill Stations.
GOVERNMENT BOTANICAL GARDEN:
This garden was laid out in 1847 by the Marquis of Tweedale, then the Governor of Madras and is spread over 22 hectares ascending the slopes on the hill at an elevation of 2,400 - 2,500 mts. above MSL. Lush green well maintained lawns, rare trees species (like the cork tree which is probably the only such tree in India, the paper bark tree and the monkey puzzle tree-monkey cannot climb this tree.), a 20 million year old fossilized tree, an Italian - style garden bordering, a clear pool, a vast variety of flowering bushes and plants , fern house with a vast range ferns and orchids are some of the highlights of this garden.A flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant species is held very year in the month of May at this garden.
The garden is divided into six different sections:
1. Lower Garden
2. New Garden
3. Italian Garden
5. Fountain Terrace
CENTENARY ROSE PARK
Situated in the heart of Ooty town, this garden has been beautifully laid out in terraces with rose tunnels, pergolas and bowers with rose creepers. To commemorate the centenary Flower Show, the Rose Park was established at Vijayanagaram in Udhagamandalam covering an area of 4 hectares in five terraces. Today this garden has the largest collections of roses in the country like Hybrid Tea Roses, miniature rose, Floribunda, Ramblers, roses of unusual colours like black and green are some of the more than 3,000 varieties of roses that will captivate your senses. The Rose Garden is situated in slopes of the Elk Hill. The rose varieties planted in this park were assembled from different sources. The 'Nila Maadam' is located in a spot from where viewers can see the entire rose garden. This garden is maintained by Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department. It has also received the award of Excellence for the best rose garden in entire south Asia from the International Rose society in 2006.
The Ooty Lake is the pride of the Blue Hills. It is the central and strategic attraction. Mr. John Sullivan formed this artificial lake in the year 1824, the then Collector of Coimbatore. The Ooty lake which extends to an area of 65 acres. Earlier the entire lake was used for fishing. The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation on behalf of the Tourism Department took the possession of the lake for pleasure boating facilities in the year 1973. Another added attraction of the Ooty lake is the Mini Train and an amusement park.
At 2,623 mts above MSL, Doddabetta is the highest Peak in the Tamil Nadu and is about 10 kms. from Ooty bus stand. The name Doddabetta literally means 'Big mountain' in the Badugu Language, which is so in reality. It is at the junction of Western and Eastern Ghats and offer beautiful vistas of Nilgiri Hills range. It is surrounded by dense Sholas. One can have a magnificent panoramic view of landscape and the whole of the District and even beyond through the Telescope House run by T.T.D.C., which is an added attraction . The Sunset is spectacular from this view point.
THE OOTACAMAND CLUB:
This club ranks one of the leading clubs in the state of Tamil Nadu and is hardly a KM from the Udhagamandalam railway station. It is admirably situated in the heart of the town at the base of the hill adjoining the St.Stephen's Church and is located on the Udhagamandalam - Gudalur road, near Taj Savoy Hotel. The building occupied by the present Ootacamund club was constructed as a hotel by Sir, W. William Rumbold (Bart) in 1831-32 and inaugurated in 1833. It is said that snooker was invented at this club.
Government House (Raj Bhavan) is situated on a ridge of the Western Slopes of Doddabetta on the outskirts of the South Eastern Quarter of Udhagamandalam.
Before Udhagamandalam became the virtual summer capital of the state, it was visited periodically, by the Governors of Madras for a few months to -make a good escape from the hot sultry weather of Madras.
Built in 1877 by the Duke of Buckingham when he was the Governor of Madras, Government House, Raj Bhavan today, is used only occasionally during the Governor of Tamil Nadu's visit to ooty. Otherwise, the sprawling cream-coloured mansion, overlooking the Botanical Gardens stands a silent reminder of the pomp and grandeur that it had seen in the days of the Raj.
A fine ballroom added by Sir Arthur Havelock in 1900 and in 1904 the entire building was electrified. The well-kept lawn and the beautiful gardens is the residence of the Governor for most of the summer months of April, May and June. Portraits of Governor and their ladies, of Queen Victoria, George V, George Marry, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos and many others decorate the walls of the house.
This, which is a memorial to a Governor who made himself in every way popular during a brief tenure of office terminated by his death at Ootacamund, was erected, by public subscription, some time in 1886, at a total cost of between Rs.13,000/- and Rs.14,000/-.
It was at first intended to place it in front of the market, but it was subsequently decided that the site in front of the Collector's Office was better, as being a more public place. It having been found, however, that there was not a sufficient head of water at this point to allow of the fountain playing freely, it was, at the end of 1898, moved by the municipality, to its present position, which is that formerly occupied by the old mealnoxylon tree that used to mark the centre of “Charing Cross”.
Honey & Bee Museum
‘The Honey & Bee Museum’ is a novel project at Ooty by the NGO, Keystone Foundation. It depicts information on indigenous honey bees and traditional indigenous tribal people who harvest them. It also has a children’s activity room and a small knowledge resource unit on bees, environment and people. The Bee Museum is first of its kind focusing on traditional knowledge and practices. The museum aims to be a vibrant space with live demonstration units of bees, specimens and tools – both traditional and modern used in beekeeping and honey gathering.
THE OOTY RADIO TELESCOPE:
Radio telescope has been installed at Muthorai which could be reached via. Fernhill on the Udhagamandalam - Avalanche road. This being the largest telescope in Asia was constructed between 1966 and 1968. It was generated with indigenous capabilities in antenna design and fabrication as an offshoot. The Radio Astronomy Centre (TIFR) is using the telescope for astronomical investigations. More information can be had from here.
Tribal Research Centre & Tribal Museum
The Tribal Museum is functioning in the campus of Tribal Research Centre which is located at Muthorai Palada, 10 kms. away from Ooty town. Tribal Museum is placed on the hillock depicting rare artifacts and photographs of primitive tribal groups of Tamilnadu as well as Andaman and Nicobar Islands and developed on the interests of Anthropological and Archaeological primitive human culture and heritage. Tribal Museum is also having an open air tribal houses belongs to Toda, Kota, Paniya, Kurumba and Kanikaran. Popular six sculptures are exhibited inside the museum depicting the life size physical anthrop models of Todas, Kotas and Paniya
KAMARAJ SAGAR (Sandynallah Reservior):
The Kamaraj Sagar Dam is a good picnic spot and can be reached via kandal amidst very old trees and green shrubs of various terrains. It is a very good picnic spot on the slopes of the Wenlock Downs. Apart from studying nature and environment, fishing provides excellent game in Kamaraj Sagar Dam.
At 25 km North west of Ooty is situated Glenmorgan which was then very famous for the Tea estate. The Glenmorgan tea estate is one of the oldest estate of the place and it was there even before the Pykara Hydro Electricity scheme was taken up for execution. The beautiful lake at the foot of this estate constitutes the fore bay for the Pykara power house which is above 3 km down the hill at Singara. The Pykara power plant is the highest plant so far installed in the whole of Asia and is situated at a height of 938.78 meters. There is a haulage way (Mechanical Rope Way) leading to the power house and it takes nearly one hour to go by the trolley from the Glenmorgan head works to the power house at Singara.
The Incline near the German point is so perpendicular that this stretch of the track, have, to a length of 300 meters, makes difficult ascent and descent. The Inclination is 41 at this point and the total length of the haulage is 3000 meters. A trip to Singara by the Haulage is certainly a thrilling experience. Rest houses are available both at Glenmorgan and Singara for the use of the Officers of the Electricity Board and also for other visitors.
Glenmorgan and Singara are of great importance to the tourist as delightful picnic spots. The view from the point above the rest house at Glenmorgan is panoramic. A picturesque view of the Pykara power house at Singara, the Moyar valley, The Mudumalai Wild life Sanctuary and the distant places of Mysore can be had from here.
Travel 28 kms from Ooty town past the Emerald Lake surrounded by undisturbed forest and you have reached Avalanche. It is on the way to Upper-Bhavani from Ooty via Emerald Camp. The gorgeous scenery at every turn is an experience of wonder and delight. The views from the top of the hill at Avalanche give a magnificent sight of the Avalanche Valley and reservoir In many places here, the shoals are so thick that even sunlight cannot penetrate. Avalanche is home to a wide variety of birds in great abundance. Spotting and identifying them can be a very rewarding experience for bird lovers. It is also popular with angling enthusiasts for trouts. The shoals here are a heaven for rare temperate Orchids.
Kalhatti Falls is about 13 Kms. from Ooty on Sigur Ghat Road. This is a beautiful picnic spot where the height of the falls is about 120 feet.
Buses are available upto Kalhatti village on the 6th mile on Sigur Ghat road and one has to cover the next two miles by foot to reach the falls. Nevertheless, the falls is connected by a motorable road. It is ideal for persons fond of Hiking, Bird Watching and Trekking.
KETTI VALLEY VIEW
This view point is located 7 kms from Ooty on the Ooty – Coonoor Road. Undulating hills from the backdrop for fourteen picture- post –Cards villages. The valley is one of the largest valley in the world and extends from the plains of Coimbatore to the Mysore plateau.
The Pykara is the largest river in the District. It is considered very sacred by the Todas. The Pykara river rises at Mukurthi peak. It passes through hilly tract, generally keeping to North and turns to West after reaching the Plateau's edge. It gets down majestically in a series of cascades; and the last two falls of 55 meters and 61 meters are known as Pykara falls. They are about 20 kms from Ooty.
The Pykara Lake is about 21 kms from Ooty on the Ooty-Mysore road. Boating on the Pykara lake is enjoyable. A restaurant is also available. Wenlock Downs, a vast Expanse of grassy meadow on way to Pykara, is a favorite picnic location and is very popular with the movie makers of this country.
The Coonoor ghat road rapidly supplemented all other routes to the Nilgiris, and Coonoor at the head of this ghat which possessed essential advantages gained its importance. Coonoor Stands on a lower ridge of the plateau at an altitude of 1,858 mts. and has a railway station on the Mettupalayam - Udhagamandalam route. Coonoor is an important trade centre for tea and the Tea Board of India, has a branch office here.
Around and near Coonoor, the travellers and tourists could enjoy the beautiful places of interest like Sim's Park, the Lady Canning's Seat. Lamb's rock. Dolphine's Nose, the Law's Falls, the Droog,
This unusual park-cum-botanical garden was developed around the natural contours of the land more than a hundred years ago., Ethnic trees, shrubs and creepers, co-habit with many unusual species of foliage brought in from various parts of the world. Rudraksha – the bead tree and Queensland karry pine, a handsome ornamental tree, are among the many attractions in this park. Sim’s park and the Botanical Garden to gather from the largest repository of temperate plants in India and an important destination for Botanists. Sim’s Park is the venue for the annual vegetable and fruit show.
Sim's Park, Coonoor, came into existence due to the pioneer efforts of the early European settlers. It was inaugurated in December, 1874 due to the efforts of Mr. J.D. Sim, Secretary to Government and Major Murray, acting Superintendent of the Nilgiris forests, and the park was named after the former.
Though this was started as a pleasure resort for the residents and visitors, the park has now developed into a Botanical Garden for the purposes of introduction and trial of various exotic species of systematic and economic importance.
The park is situated in a deep ravine on the northern side of Coonoor railway station at an elevation of 1768 to 1798 metres above MSL. It extends over an area of 12 hectares of undulating land and possesses a number of natural advantages. It adjoins the Pomological Station, Pasteur Institute and Silk Worm Seed Station.
It occupies the slopes and base of a small ravine. At the head of the gardens, the well kept lawns, the artistically laid out ornamental beds, looking beautiful and lacking no wealth of the flowering plants or shrub in great variety and colour, are great feasts to the eyes. The Annual fruit and vegetable show is held in the park.
It is about 12 kms. from Coonoor bus stand situated near Tiger Hills. It is unique rock of tremendous proportions, jutting out of the face of hill side in the formation which its name suggests. The view here is extremely grand and well repays the exertion of getting there. Left and right are great ravines; on the one side is seen an excellent view of the magnificent St. Catherine's Falls with their stream continuing several thousand metres below, while on the other, the familiar Coonoor stream meets the stream from Kotagiri. They together tribute to the great Bhavani river. In fact, we are metres away from the Nose opposite to it and separated in between by the deep valley that is covered with the beautiful greenary and mash of tree tops.
Lamb's rock is perhaps the most favorite place for picnic parties near Coonoor. It is a point on the way to Dolphin's Nose, and the Seat was so called by the then Collector Mr.E.B.Thomas, after one Captain Lamb who made earnest attempts to open a path to the place. It is situated in Burliar village and is about 8 kilometre from Coonoor. The rock is a sheer precipice of jagged rock drops down several hundred feet to bury itself in the luxurient jungle below.
There are a few views which are beyond compare. On the right hand yawns to great Hulical ravine and from its base some 5000 feet below, ascends the roar of the Coonoor stream. The Lamb's Rock is a sheer precipice of several hundred meters and commands a good view of the Coimbatore plains.
The Law's falls which is named after Col. Law, who traced and mainly constructed the new Coonoor ghat, is a pretty cascade on the Coonoor river near its junction with the Mettupalayam ghat road.A little lower down the torrent is crossed by the ghat road over it. The falls is about 5 kilometres below Coonoor at the junction of Coonoor and Kateri rivers on the Coonoor,Mettupalayam road.
It is one of the prettiest places in the district and it attracts many visitors.the Law's falls is a paradise for naturalists, is very wild and rocky.
17 kms. from Coonoor. One has to go up to Nonsuch Estate and trek down for about 4 kms. There is a a dilapidated fort of which it was said that Tippu Sultan used this fort as an outpost. The peak stands at an elevation of about 2,000 mts. and directly overlooks the plains.
LADY CANNING'S SEAT:
Laddy Canning's Seat is about 8 Kms. from Coonoor bus stand and further along the same road as that to Lamb's Rock. It is perhaps the loveliest point in the heart of the woods. Lady Canning, wife of the Viceroy was fond of this spot, which commands a panoramic view of the numerous tea estates, Lamb's Rock, the Droog, the Lampton's Peak all could be seen one above the other and even Mettupalayam is visible at a distance.
Ooty,Coonoor and Kotagiri lies in the upper plateau of Nilgiri and Gudalur lies in lower plateau. it is the headquarter of the Taluk and lies about 51kms,West of Udhagamandalam below the Ghats at an elevation of 1,180mts,above M.S.S on the way to Mysore.the name of the place means junction village. Most of the Gudalur area is green carpeted.
NEEDLE ROCK POINT
It is 8kms, on Gudalur-Ooty road,this view point gives you a 360 degree view. Thesunset from here on clear days is guaranteed to take your breath away. A panoramic view of the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary and Gudalur town far below, is a visual treat from this view point.
FROG HILL VIEW POINT
It is about 12kms on Gudalur-Ooty road.from here and can see Frog shape of a Hill view.
SANTHANAMALAI MURUGAN TEMPLE
The temple where you can realise the wonders of Nature,is 19kms,from Gudalur.It is Surrounded by Valleys,Streams and water falls whichsound is very soothimg and mesmeric effect. One can enjoy by seeing Cardamom,Clove,Pepper,Tea and Coffee plantations on the way to the Temple.
It is 20kms from Gudalur. A few ruins of historical Ummatur Dynasty can see here.
8 kms from Gudalur.A shrine of Betterayasamy (lord of the hunts) with sub-shrine built in Kerala style is present . Wynad scenes are visible from here.
It is about 15kms from Gudalur. A dilapidated fort is here.
35 kms from Gudalur. It is extreme Western corner which has plantations and MICA mines. Sulthan Bathery is very near.
Kotagiri which is about 30 km. east of Udhagamandalam, 23 km. from Coonoor and 33 km. from Mettupalayam is one of the oldest and the largest of the hill stations. It is situated at a height of 6511' above the mean sea level and it possesses an agreeable climate among the hill stations of the district. It is protected by the Doddabetta range from the violent southwest monsoon and is not affected by mists which are so common at Coonoor. The lower elevation of the place makes it warmer than Udhagamandalam. These advantages in the climate make the station a fine health resort. Kotagiri stands at the head of a fine ravine running down towards Mettupalayam.
The place was known in the past as “Kota-Keri” or (Kota-gherry) the street (or line of homes) of Kotas”. In fact, there was a Kota settlement there and it was only in 1911 when the lands occupied were acquired by government for sanitary improvement purposes and the Kota settlement had to be shifted, to 'Aggal' hamlet, 2 km. away from Kotagiri. The temple of the Kotas dedicated to the deity 'Kamataraya' still remains there and has been renovated. The Kotas worship at this temple every month and the annual festival which takes place on the “Arudra Dharshan” day at this temple is of great importance to all the Kotas of the distrct.
John Sullivan, the first Englishman to set foot on the Nilgiri hills pitched his tent near a village by name Dimbatti which is very close to Kotagiri.
Catherine Falls is about 8 kilometres from Kotagiri, named after Catherine, the wife of Mr.M.D. Cockburn. This couple was among some of the first Europeans to settle in Kotagiri and they lie buried side by side in the cemetery there. The Falls are at a distance of 7 km. from Kotagiri and consists of an upper and a lower fall. The upper fall, which is the second highest in the Nilgiris, takes a leap of about 250 feet. From above the falls, one can see the magnificent view of Dolphin's Nose and the surrounding country
KODANAD VIEW POINT:
Kodanad is a little village about 18 kms. from the east of Kotagiri on the eastern edges of Nilgiris. . The huge valley dips down from feet to the level of the plains and rises again in the opposite to the level of Mysore plateau.
It commands a panoramic view of the plains and the eastern slope of the Nilgiris. The panoramic view of the Thengumarahada , the Bhavanisagar dam, the tea estates and the river Moyar is breathtaking. Tamilnadu and karnataka State border and the actual point where the eastern and western ghats meet can be distinctly seen. This place is to be visited in bright sun light. A telescope has been installed to see the places, around and apart.
Longwood Shola is the only major pocket of natural shola forest left in the immediate vicinity of Kotagiri in the Nilgiris. This shola is an integral part of the very fragile Nilgiri eco-system with an area of 116 hectares. The preservation of this shola forest is very vital. It plays a vital role in Kotagiri's microclimate, attracting and regulating rainfall. There is a very picturesque trekking path, which goes through this serene shola.
RangaSamy Pillar and Rangasamy Peak
It is a conical peak at a height of 5855 feet above MSL and is the most sacred hill on the plateau. According to Hindu Legend Lord Rangaswamy used to live at Karamadai in Coimbatore district on the plains but quarrelled with his wife, came to live alone here. Two-foot prints on the rock not far from Arakadu village below the peak are stated to be the proof for this.
On the north west of Rangaswamy Peak is found the Rangaswamy Pillar, which is an extraordinary isolated rocky pillar rising in solitary grandeur to a height of some 400 feet and has sheer sides, which are quite unclimbable.
Mudumalai Wild life Sanctuary
This is the first Sanctuary to be set up in India and forms part of the Jawharlal Nehru National Park. It is located 36 kms from Ooty from Kalhatty and 67 kms via Gudalur. From Mysore it is 91 kms away. This Sanctuary extends over an area of 321 sq.kms in the junction of the three states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. It is at an elevation of 1,140 mtrs. A variety of habitat ranging from tropical evergreen forest, moist deciduous forest, moist teak forest, dry teak forest, secondary grasslands and swamps are found here.
It is rich in wildlife, like Elephants, Gaur, Tiger, Panther, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Porcupine etc., birds like-minivets, hornbill, fairy Blue Birds, Jungle Fowls etc., and reptiles like python, Monitor Lizards Flying Lizards etc., You can take a ride into the jungle on elephant back or take a vehicle ride along designated visitor’s route inside the jungle. The elephant rides have to be booked at Ooty. The Mayor river and the life around it is an experience by itself. The Theppakadu elephant camp is popular tourist attraction.
MUKURTHI NATIONAL PARK AND MUKURTHI PEAK
Mukurthi National Park is another major attraction of the Nilgiris. It is located on the south eastern corner of the Nilgiris Plateau. The area contains a viable population of Nilgiri Thar (Hermitragus hilocrius).
27 km from Ooty and easily accessible, Mukurthi peak is certainly the most notable height of the Nilgiris. It stands 8380 feet above the sea and commands one of the most magnificent views to be seen in India. It is noticeable owing to its curious shape which is that of an acute right angled triangle with one side almost vertical. The view from this peak is one of finest in South India. The Mukurthi dam has been built at the foot of this hill under Pykara hydro electricity scheme. The dam is situated at a distance of 32 km from Ooty and the peak is reached by walk for a distance of 9 km from there.
The Mudumalai wild life sanctuary is a paradise for Bird watchers. Their chorus at Dawn is a delight to the visitors. One can see a variety birds such us gray jungle fowl, peafowl, spur fowl, gray partridge and quail, crossing the forest roads. Shama, common iora, golden oriole and scarlet minavet entertain the visitor with their sweet melodies. Racket tailed drongos, Malabar gray hornbill, malabar trogon, paradise fly catcher, night jar, hill mynah, wood pecker, pigeon, etc. are also seen. The majestic peacock can be very commonly seen here
The Royal and ancient game of Golf started in the Nilgiris more then 100 years ago. A few holes started in the grounds of ABC( Archery, Badminton, Croquet) club and partly on the adjacent land belonging to Hobart Park. The present Race course later grew into and 18 hole golf course of international fame. In 1892, the ABC club was amalgamated with the Gymkhana club representing racing and polo interests and all the amusements, thus came under the control of one unit. the Gymkhana club is located about 5 Km from Udhagamandalam on the road to Mysore.
Gymkhana club commands, an enchanting view of the Kundha range of hills, a land swamp of sholas and the rolling Wenlock downs. The present golf links are laid out over 193 acres. For the past 15 years, teams from West Germany have been participating in the Autumn Golf Meet, thus creating a healthy atmosphere of goodwill and understanding among such friendly countries. The club has Constructed cottages to cater to the needs of golfers holiday, and a sojourn in an excellent climate in the sylvan surroundings of the District
Every year in the Months of April, May and Middle of June, Madras Race Club is conducting Horse Races in Ooty Race Course
Trekking is yet another enterprising sport available in the Nilgiris. There are many trekking routes available in the Nilgiris and the trekking gadgets could be had on daily rent basis from the Forest Authorities. For trekking in Ooty and around Ooty, one must get prior permission from the following authorities.
1. Wild Life Warden Mudumalai Wild Life Sanctuary, Ooty. Ph 2444098
2. District Forest Officer, Nilgiris North Division, Ooty Phone:2443968
3. District Forest Officer, Nilgiris South Division, Ooty Phone: 2444083