These are my little notes from the charming town of Wellington!!
If you thought I am writing from New Zealand, I must tell you that India has its own sweet and charming town, known as Wellington. Interestingly, it is a very beautiful one, that floats in the clouds. Located in the Nilgiris District and home to the ‘Defence Services Staff College (DSSC)’, this piece of land lies at an altitude of 1880 meters above mean sea level in the state of Tamil Nadu. In simple words, it is a self-contained military cantonment, 14km from Ooty.
I had read that Nilgiri hills, the Blue Mountains or the ‘Land of Destiny’ had always been a beautiful melting pot of British settlers, Toda tribes, and the tea planters. In Wellington, I got to see each of these in plenty. The town has an abundance of British influence, rolling fields, English style cottages, mountain views, lakes, and flora-fauna. It is one of those picturesque settlements that writers often describe in the English text books. Far from the maddening crowd of the cities, it is a quiet, little place where I would have loved to settle down to write down my pending book.
The changing colors of the Nilgiris, the floating clouds, the sunset, the scenic views and everything about the place inspired creativity in me. I could easily spend the day eating, enjoying the scenic views and spending the rest of the day in leisure. If you have been looking for a laid back holiday in the hills, Wellington could be a beautiful escape. I also liked the fact that this township was self-sufficient in itself as it provided for all the essentials like markets, children parks, military hospital, lake, handful shops, eateries in nearby Coonor and some vintage home-stays. As disciplinarians would have it and for the benefit of the staff college students, the place inspires you to sleep early and rise early. Weekends are lively no doubt, but this place is definitely not meant for people who are looking for a happening, party-like atmosphere. (There are restro-bars in Coonor and we partied in Hopscotch which was really good but more or less this is a peaceful place.) For all the time that I lived there, I was in love with its colonial air and aura.
Hair Pin Bends and more…
The most convenient way of reaching this cantonment town is by road after landing at Coimbatore Airport. I am always game for road trips and this one came as an added experience. There are fourteen hairpin bends that make the drive to the town thrilling and fun. The first bridge that actually puts you into Wellington is the Black Bridge. This is a historic bridge in Wellington and is now called Manekshaw Bridge, named after Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of field marshal.
On the first day, when I walked around the campus, it was hard to ignore how clean the town looked. Every road, every turn, every lane house in the neighborhood looked spic and span. Perched on the hills, Wellington enjoys a gorgeous setting but the effort that has been made to keep it clean enhances its beauty many times. Wellington is managed by the military forces but civilians also live there. And I was amazed to see how nicely the zero-garbage rule is accepted and practiced by all the residents of the town. I am told that there are heavy fines for even a strip of paper on the road. Bravo! Can we dream of having more towns and cities like this? Let us take a learning from here too.
A Walk Around The Campus
Personally, I loved walking around the campus or being driven around in our favorite car that we had at our disposal (Ecosport). We were joined in by more friends from Mumbai and we actually had a gala time driving around at least three times a day. Coonor, being 3 kilometers away was the safest and quickest destination when we sought for places to dig in. By the way, Ooty was only 16 kilometers away. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway toy train is just a walk away if you wish to take the train from Wellington station. I boarded the train from Coonor and experienced the ride till Lovedale.
Some of the places that have been a part and parcel of Wellington’s for decades are the Gymkhana Club, the golf course (which is a favorite among the officers), Wellington Lake, Madras Regimental Center and DSSC canteen. I have fond memories of all these places. And if you are a sucker for history like me, you will love to unearth stories behind every building there. If you happen to meet the officers posted there or who have studied there once, might share some really interesting tid-bits to keep you entertained. Every time, we traveled to Coonor or Ooty, I would never miss spotting the MRC and the Gymkhana club. In these 8 days trip, all these places had almost become a part of my everyday routine. I am glad I got a chance to discover this beautiful piece of India that is unknown to many.
In the next post, I will talk about the neighborhood of Wellington that has some of the most scenic and delightful places like Coonor, Kothagiri, Lovedale, Ooty and more!