I hope you read my last post around the Nilgiris and the Neelakurinji flowers that will bloom this year. This article is in continuation which revolves around the gorgeous town of Wellington and its neighboring places like Coonor, Kothagiri, Lovedale, Ooty emphasizing on the history and heritage of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This will also give an insight to the travelers to plan a trip to South India and explore places beyond Ooty.
The Nilgiris have reasons galore to excite the traveler in you. I travelled and discovered these five beauties for myself.
1. Udagamandalam (Ooty) – Queen of the Hills
Being the capital of Nilgiris district, Udagamandalam or Udhagai always tops the charts for those who travel to Tamil Nadu for the first time. It is the most popular hill station of South India and a real favorite among family vacationers as well as honeymooners. The mountains, floating clouds, picturesque valleys, rolling tea plantations, misty mornings, cascading Pykara falls, the famous botanical gardens, highest peak Doddabetta (2,623 m), abundance of scenic charms and a heritage that lives through British styled houses make Ooty unique and special.
As the region is part of a fragile ecosystem, Ooty is home to myriad of plant species, giving way to some of the most beautiful gardens and parks on its slopes. St Stephen’s Church is the oldest church while St Thomas Church commands a compelling view of the Ooty Lake. Talking of lakes, this British hill station also boasts of Pykara lake, Emerald Lake, Avalanche Lake and Porthimund Lake.
The credit for discovering Ooty goes to John Sullivan, then Collector of Coimbatore. He built a house up in the mountains called Stone House, which is famously known as the first bungalow of Ooty, now converted into a government museum that is worth a visit. 169-year-old Ooty Hunt Club, the only hunt club of Asia is the most exciting place to trace the history of hunting days of India. Arts College, Post Office, Nilgiris District Library, Breeks School, Adam’s Statue, Rajbhavan, Fern Hill Palace, Lawley Institute are some of the other colonial buildings which add to the historical significance of the Nilgiris.
2. Coonor – The smaller cousin of Ooty
If you have been looking for a laid back holiday in the hills that are far from the maddening crowds of the city, Coonor could be a beautiful bet. It is clean, calm, absolutely uncluttered with colorful houses and layered landscape. Not only it enjoys the status of being the second largest hill-station in South India after Ooty, it also enjoys a fascination among the bird lovers. Some of the best and rare species of birds can be spotted here.
With the peace of tea gardens, comfort of colonial buildings cum homestays and proximity to the rich bio-diverse universe of the Nilgiris, Coonor is alluring in its own sweet way. A walk around the Sim’s park, breakfast at 80 McIver Villa and a drive to Dolphin’s nose should definitely be on the list.
3. Wellington has a glorious past and a disciplined present!
Endowed with a plethora of striking charms and salubrious climate, Wellington is home to the ‘Defence Services Staff College (DSSC)’ of India. This self-contained military cantonment, 14km from Ooty is one of the most photogenic places to settle down and enjoy the finer things of life. Blessed with scenic views of mountains, floating clouds, terraced tea gardens and colonial aura, Wellington enjoys a gorgeous setting. The effort that is made to keep it immaturely clean and disciplined enhances its beauty many a times.
The first bridge that transfers one from Coonor to Wellington is the Black Bridge. This is a historic bridge of the area 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. The people from tri-services have known Wellington’s for decades and some of these places like Gymkhana Club, the golf course, Wellington Lake, Madras Regimental Center and DSSC canteen are part and parcel of its existence.
4. Lovedale – The lovely neighborhood
There is something so magical and unpretentious about this peaceful place that it instantly soothes the city-worn soul. Boasting of some stunning vistas and being an all-weather destination, this is one of the most idyllic and quaint places in the Nilgiris. While Dodabetta (8000 ft) is the highest peak of Nilgiri mountain range, Lovedale at 7200 feet over mean sea level, happens to one of the highest settlement. Lawrence School, one of the prestigious residential schools of India is the pride of this region. The Nilgiri Mountain Railways traverses through Lovedale and one should definitely get down to show some love to this lovable place.
5. Kothagiri or ‘mountain of the Kotas’
This is definitely one of the best kept secrets of Nilgiris. Surrounded by dense Shola forests and lush green tea estates, Kotagiri, ‘mountain of the Kotas’ gets its name from the Kota tribes. 33 km southeast of Ooty, this quaint and traditional town is known for its mild and temperate climate, second best in the world after Switzerland. Kotagiri is the smallest and oldest hill station of the South which the British officials chose to build their cottages to beat the scorching heat. The carefully cultivated tea gardens have their own stories to tell. Kotagiri happens to be the first place around this region where coffee and tea were planted on experimental basis.
The verdant vegetation, cool mountain air, the floating clouds, close-to-the-elements experience makes Kotagiri a place of sheer beauty. One can do morning drive from Coonor or Wellington and spend the day exploring some of the nearby attractions like Kodanad View Point, Catherine Waterfalls, Elk Falls, Sullivan Museum. Others who prefer to do treks may choose from the three, Kotagiri–Kodanad, Kotagiri–St Catherine Falls and Kotagiri–Longwood Shola.
The charm of the Nilgiris is undeniable. Period.
In 2017, I explored a lot of South India. Check my posts from the Golden Chariot experience and the trip to Mysore with TVS motors was lovely.
18 thoughts on “5 Beauties of Tamil Nadu – Coonor, Wellington, Ooty, Kothagiri and Lovedale”
I love how personal this post is and how I can really tell you appreciate and respect the true beauty of the earth. I have never heard of this place, but I definitely want to travel there!
Nice! Ooty is a put off for me just because it is become absolutely commercial and of course the most visited by tourists. The other four, I need to mark my visit some day.
The Nilgiris are always held special for how it developed an ecosystem around the dry landscape of Tamil Nadu. I plan to scan the place for its other secrets some day soon.
PS: Social share icons hover on the image making it very difficult to view the Pic too well on mobile devices. Suggest you look into that.
This area of India looks so pretty and very green too! I like how you also link the places with the history going back to the time of the British rule. Coonor station looks so quaint and quite historic too; I’m sure the views are wonderful on this train ride.
beautiful nature fabulous post sharing
I am glad you explored something beyond Ooty and Coonoor. Usually people only go to these places but wellington, lovedale and kotagiri have their own charm too. This region along with other hills mentioned in your earlier post make for a lovely vacation in the hills.
Love reading about all of these under-the-radar spots in India! This area looks so lush and green. I’d love to ride that train in Coonor–I’m always so tempted by pretty trains, and I love the color of that one!
We have been to Ooty once couple of years back and founds it very touristy and commercialised and didnt like it much there. May be its good in the interior parts. Conoor and Lovedale is something we are looking to visit this summer sounds like a lovely destination. Kothagiri sounds beautiful too we have been hearing about it for the first time through your post. Thanks for sharing this information.
Seeing your post makes me realize that I haven’t been to many beautiful places in Tamil Nadu. Lovedale and Coonoor are on my list the next time I visit Tamil Nadu. Plus Golden Chariot is a dream experience in itself.
Whenever I travel, I try to visit all the heritage and cultural sites of a local. For me, that’s one of most important parts about my travels — learning about the history that happened and the context of those events. These are all great suggestions! I especially love the Lovedale neighborhood, sounds enchanting!
I love Nilgiris very much. I love those tall eucalyptus forests on high slopes. I have been to kotagiri in my childhood but never knew that it is second best after Switzerland. But yes tea gardens of this place are amazing. Also train ride from Coonor to Ooty is very scenic ride. You have described very well about this region in your blog, which I was not knowing, though I went there. Thanks for sharing!
I really have to go on that route. My mom lived a bit in Wellington and Coonoor. My husband has been to Coonoor. I haven’t been to any of those places… Gotta go!!!
amazing pictures good work n keep it up 🙂
You are not just a good writer but a wonderful photographer too. Hope someday you will like to write for us too
Hi!! This is a brilliantly written post! Can you tell me which season did you travel in? How about travelling to these places in August 2018?
Hi. brilliant post!
can you tell me which season you traveled in? How about Aug 2018?