Also widely known amongst locals as Udhagamandalam and also the Queen of Hill Stations, Ooty is situated at 2,240 meters (7,350 feet) in the Western Ghats with breathtaking views of the natural scenery. It is known as the Queen due to the sheer beauty that the place possesses compared to the other Hill Stations within the region. Ooty is located in the Nilgiri District where it is the biggest place and also acts as the headquarters for the region. Before it gained its modern day name, hundreds of years ago, Ooty was called Oththai-Kal Mandu which translates to 'house in the mountains'. Enriched with fertile land, spectacular views and kind-hearted locals, Ooty is a prime place for tourists to visit when visiting the great land of India. Visitors come to Ooty from all corners of the globe to exploit the breathtaking views and to also visit the hillsides where located are a range of vast coffee and tea plantations whilst also bearing an array of trees such as Conifers and Eucalyptus. Also, a sight to the landscape is a vast range of dense vegetation and plateaus of tea areas. Special permits issued by the local state are required for tourists to visit and camp at some of the most untouched and beautiful areas of the hills as the local government is trying to preserve such beauty within the region. There are various companies offering tours of the idyllic countryside and this is certainly a must do for any visitors or traveler to the region. Ooty was first discovered and made a mainstream destination by John Sullivan, who was a collector of Coimbatore district in 1819. Ooty was the perfect destination for the British as it allowed for them to escape the heat and humidity of India and to go to a place where the climate was similar to that of Britain, with the highlight mainly being rain. During the British rule, they created many beautiful Hill stations within India, with Ooty being one that stands out above the rest, and for this the British should be credited. The locals in Ooty speak both Badaga and Paniya, with these languages being spoken by the local tribes to the area. Ooty is a very touristic place in the Nilgiris and due to this, English is widely spoken amongst the locals, so for tourists to communicate with them shouldn't be a problem. The historical Toda Tribe, who were natives of the region of Ooty, were known to be extreme cattle-herders and also dairy-workers due to the range of animals in the area. The Toda Tribe was also known to practice the fraternal polyandry, which is a custom in which a single woman gets married to all brothers of one family. Despite its historical nature, the government outlawed such practice with which it no longer happens. Despite worshiping various gods, the Toda Tribe were mainly and truly dedicated to their dairy buffaloes and would often perform the Kona Shastra ceremony on them which involved performing a sacrifice of a male calf. The Toda Tribe also lived in villages which were called Munds and consisted of 5 huts, 3 of which were used for self-dwelling, 1 to shelter the calf's during cold nights and 1 used as a dairy space. In modern times, visitors and travelers to the region are enticed by the pleasant and unique mixture of the culture and tradition of Ooty. The region is a big believer in celebration and the social calendar is swarmed with many fairs and festivals celebrating with culture and tradition and also displaying a vast religious character that have defined the way of the Ooty people. Best Season to visit Ooty With the climate tending to be hot and humid around the summer months in India, Ooty, because of its hill location, has mild and somewhat a pleasant climate throughout the year. Summer months are warm whilst the winter months are cool proving to be the ideal temperature for visitors from colder lands. Getting There To arrive in Ooty by plane, visitors will need to fly to the nearest airport which is Coimbatore airport where there are flights to and from Singapore, Sharjah, Colombo and Mumbai. The hills are connected to by a nightly train, The Nilgiri Express, which leaves from Chennai at night, and reaches Mettupalayam, a small town at the foothills of the Nilgiris early the next morning. If you want to take a bus to Ooty, then there are buses and shared taxi vans that can be boarded from Coimbatore. Major Attractions at Oooty Ooty Botanical Gardens When visiting Ooty, it is absolutely imperative that you visit the fantastic and truly mesmerizing Botanical Gardens. Commissioned and funded by the Tamil Nadu state government in 1847, the gardens have been and are still today the biggest attraction to the region. Covering a whopping 22 hectares of land, within the garden consists of an enormous range of different types and species of plants with the estimation being that there are over 650 different species of plants and trees. The garden also contains a very rare fossil of a tree which is widely renowned for being more than 20 million years old. The garden is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life and is extremely popular with lovers of nature. Located within the garden in the month of May, the Ooty summer festival is a superb celebration of such true beauty whilst also holding cultural programs for locals to show off their talents during the flower shows. Doddabetta Peak Standing at a breathtaking altitude of over 2000 meters above sea level, The Dibabetta Peak is the tallest point throughout the whole district and also meaning that it is the greatest vantage point in the Ooty area. Located just roughly six miles from the city, it is extremely easy to reach the fantastic view point from Ooty and visitors certainly won't regret making the short journey. It is possible to arrive at the vantage point by bus that frequently leaves from Ooty. Visitors should strive to visit on a clear day where from the viewing point, not only will you have a clear view of the valleys below but also visible will be the plains of Coimbatore and the Highlands of Mysore. Wax World - (Wax Museum) Wax World is a fantastic wax museum run by a privately owned company. Although it isn't on the same level as Madame Tussauds littered around Europe's big cities, it is still very much worth a visit. If you don't admire wax works, then simply go for the historic building where the museum is situated, as it's extremely impressive. Shooting Point Shooting Point is an idyllic meadow in the hills and has been made most popular by film directors who have used the location to shoot scenes for their movies. An ideal place to view the picturesque and luxurious landscape below, to get to the Shooting Point, firstly visitors will have to tackle a steep climb which for the keen trekkers is an absolute dream to tackle the route and then be rewarded by the view. For those who aren't comfortable with tackling such a steep climb, there are locals who offer horseback rides to the point. You can see why the location is so popular amongst filmmakers to film as it is so calm and peaceful and so spectacular. It is the perfect place for visitors to come and just get away from the city life and spend the day either walking around, reading a book, having a picnic or just simply relaxing and taking in the sights. Annamalai Temple Annamalai Temple is superb ancient temple located roughly 14 miles from the city of Ooty. Dedicated to Lord Muruga, the temple is also commonly known by locals as the 7th Hill House of the Lord. As you would expect from a temple in the hills, the views are spectacular and even more so from the observatory that is situated at the top of the hill. Accommodation Many hotels and inns cater to every budget in Ooty with hotels being no more expensive than most cities in India. Some of the recommended places to stay are as follows; Karnataka Hotels Ooty Hotel Darshan Sunshine Inn Reflections Guest House Hotel Savoy The presence and aura of the hills of Ooty are truly remarkable and extraordinary. Everywhere you go, there is a true sense of the picturesque scenery and landscape to the peace of the region. There is always something to see and do, or if you are feeling lazy, there is always the option to relax amidst the calm nature of the Ooty Botanical Gardens. All of this coupled with a relaxing and comforting temperature with vast and impressive history, Ooty really is the place for visitors to truly unwind and embrace a unique culture.