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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Ooty?

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Ooty, also called Udhagamandalam, whose Anglicized name then came to be known as Ootacamund, was first referred to as the Queen of hill stations by the British, given its enchanting beauty and lovely deep valleys. Standing amidst the Nilgiri mountain ranges, Ooty has a landscape marked by tea gardens, eucalyptus trees and a dense vegetation. The famous Kurunji flower, which blooms once in every 12 years gives the slopes of the Nilgiri mountains a bluish tinge.

  • British Times
    This place was originally occupied by a native tribe called Todas, along with some other minor tribes. They then handed over the political control of the area to John Sullivan, the then Governor of Coimbatore. He developed the place into a full-fledged town and encouraged the plantation of tea, teak and chinchona trees, a legacy that the town still continues to maintain. He is said to have also ruthlessly fought for the land rights of the native tribes and seeked to render them cultural recognition and respect.

    The Treaty of Srirangapatnam in 1799, was a turning point in the historical and cultural contours of the Nilgiris region. The ceded lands held by Tipu Sultan legally came under the East India Company.
    John Sullivan is responsible for laying the path from Sirumugai to Dimbhatti in 1829, and then in 1832, laying the route to 1832. Ooty served as the summer capital of the Madras Presidency of the Britishers, and even was used as a holiday resort for the British soldiers.

  • Post-British Times
    After Independence, Ooty has continued on a growth trajectory. Boasting of an impressive Literacy Rate of over 80%, Ooty also deserves a credit for maintaining a very balanced Sex Ratio. It developed as the most famous hill station of South India, and today serves as the District Headquarters of the Nilgiri district.

    The British culture still continues to exert its influence, and the place is an agricultural hub growing English fruits (plums, pears, strawberries) and English vegetables (potato, cabbage, carrot). Dairy farming is another activity among locals that is an important contributing factor to the economy. And obviously, tourism industry is again something that comes naturally to the local people. However, in the recent years, non-judicious use of natural resources by particularly tourism industry has put an excessive strain on water and road facilities of the area.

Yet, it wouldn't be wrong to say that the numerous picturesque preserved forests, the picnic spots and the beautiful lakes have contributed in marking out this small town a place in the books of history as well as tourism.

Carry your traveller's hat firmly on your head and be amazed at the finesse with which nature has bestowed this place with beauty, and how the populace has imbibed the rich culture and history to its advantage. Know more about the culture and history with the amazing places to visit in Ooty.

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