The King's Cliff in the Queen of the Hills
Ooty Travel Blog› entry 18 of 22 › view all entries
Udhagamandalam, formerly Ootacamund, but still universally called Ooty, was "The Queen of the Hill Stations" - Snooty Ooty. Over 2000m up in the Nilgiri Hills, much of it is now like any Tamil town, but tidier, yet it still has many Raj era touches. Our hotel, King's Cliff, once the home of Lady Mabyn, has been a hotel since the 1920's. It advertises" Bed, breakfast and fireplace" and is single story bungalow style. Bedrooms, wood-panelled, have open fires. The houseboy comes to light the fire when you ask, and then brings hot water bottles at bed time. It certainly is much cooler up here - low 20s rather than mid 30s. St Stephen's Church, built 1820, and just like an English parish church, but painted cream, is beautifully kept.
Down the hill the Botanical Gardens, originally set up by Kew are fine and busy with tourists. The peaceful looking Boating Lake is surrounded by pines, eucalyptus, a fun fair, a children's park and a go-cart track. Opposite is the Thread Garden. "As an artistic creation par excellence challenging the human imagination it occupies the position of unique and innovative miracle in this era.
Outside town westwards is the Tribal Museum, with artefacts from the area's original inhabitants. It had to be opened specially for us - the previous day it had only 3 visitors. A shame, as there was some fascinating stuff. By contrast, Doddabetta Mountain, eastwards out of town, the highest point in the area was heaving. The car park was full of taxis and buses and crowds queued for the telescope. Groups of youngsters cheered as they were photographed against great views down to Ooty and across the Ghats.
Ooty is no longer snooty, but a popular resort for Indians taking in the views (briefly), the mountain air (unavoidable), the rain (heavy one day) and the shops (lots). You've never seen such a variety of woolly hats, including men wearing some very fetching pink and white velour numbers!