About Nilgiris


Nilgiri is the name given to a range of mountains spread across the borders among the states of Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala. The nilgiri hills are part of a larger mountain chain known as the Western Ghats. The district is contained mainly within the Nilgiri Mountains Range. The administrative headquarters is located at Ooty. The Blue Mountains were likely named for the widesperead blue strobilanthes flower or the smoky haze enveloping the area.


The origin of the name 'OOTACAMUND' could have been derived from the languages of either the Toda or Badaga tribes, who were the original inhabitants of the area. In all probability, the name Ootacamund has arisen from the word 'Patk - Mund' (Patk is a Toda word meaning a level spot, and mund the Badaga equivalent of a home, or Toda Village).

Mr Sullivan,, who is considered as the founder of Ootacamund, probably visited Ootacamund for the first time only in April 1821. According to historical accounts, the first expedition of Europeans reached Todamala as early as the end of 1702, or the early part of 1703. However, Mr Sullivan was the Collector of Coimbatore founded the first European settlement in Ooty in 1821. His name will always be intimately associated with its early growth, which was in great measure due to his persistent pushing of its claim for Ootacamund to be considered as a Sanatorium. Due to his concerted efforts, the first road to the Nilgiris was built. Mr Sullivan was the one who brought European plants, vegetables and flowers to the Nilgiris.

Sir Thomas Munro, the first Governor to visit Ootacamund on 26 Sep 1826, had discovered a route from Kotagiri to Ootacamund. Mr Sullivan's assistants, Messrs Whish and Kinder, took this route (via Jackatala, now known as Wellington) in their expedition to discover Ootacamund. Lord Tweeddale, the Governor of Madras, during his stay at Ootacamund, paid several visits to Coonoor and Kotagiri. He selected Jackatala as the site for the barracks for a European Regiment, which was to be stationed in the Hills.

In 1847, the Marquis of Tweeddale took great personal interest to grow a garden in Ootacamund, and contributed a very liberal donation of Rs 1,000/- towards it. He proposed to establish a public garden which, besides being an agreeable resort for the residents of Ootacamund, would also be a constant source of some fine flowers and vegetables. It would also be the repository for the plants of neighbouring states, and a store from which the stations of the Presidency could procure seeds of impeccable quality.

Doddabetta, the highest peak in the Nilgiris, was home to the Meteorological Observatory. In March 1853, the Court sanctioned the continuance, till the end of the year, of Doddabetta Observatory. It was suggested that it should then be moved to a site near Coonoor, where the barracks for European troops were being built at that time. In April 1859, orders were issued that it should be closed and the instruments be sent to Jackatala. However, as there was no place readily available to store the instruments, Assistant Surgeon Leslie, who was stationed at Coonoor, took them over and conducted observations for a while. For many years, Wellington continued to be the only station for meteorological observation in the Nilgiris.

The lure of the Blue Mountains beckons from afar. As the little hill train chugs its winding way up from Mettupalayam, one gets a peek into the richness and variety of the Nilgiris. The beauty is breathtaking as the betel nut (for Areca nut, in the local language) plantations give way to jackfruit trees, which then merge into the sholas and tea plantations of the higher reaches. Throughout the journey from the plains, waterfalls and misty mountains provide a kaleidoscope of picture postcard scenery. It is nature at its unsullied best, a trekker's paradise, an experience for nature lovers and a horticulturist's delight. The Nilgiris have a flavour of their own, dominated by a verdant and lush green. A trip to the Nilgiris, particularly off the beaten path, is a memorable experience.