Geography of Ooty
The geography of Ooty is unique owing to its location nestled amidst the district of the Nilgiris Mountain range which is home to the Doddabetta peak, considered as the highest point in South India.
The Blue Mountains is also a name given to a mountain range that spreads across the three Indian States; Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Nilgiris Hills form a part of a larger chain of mountains known as the Western Ghats which are famous for their scenic beauty.
Situated within the State of Tamil Nadu, the Nilgiris District is flanked to the North by the District of Mysore situated in Karnataka and the District of Wayanad situated in Kerala. To its south is the District of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, to its west are the Districts of Malappuram and Palakkad in Kerala and to its east are the Districts of Erode in Tamil Nadu and the District of Chamarajanagar in Karnataka.
The Nilgiris District comprises of three sections; Ooty or Ootacamund, Coonoor and Kotagiri that form apt base camps for an interesting journey into the Nilgiris. Coonoor is perched at an average height of 1,502 meters above mean sea level while Kotagiri sits at an average elevation of 1,793 meters above mean sea level and enjoys great weather as it is protected from the invasion of the south-west monsoons by the Doddabetta mountain ranges.
The most famous hill station of the three, Ooty sits at a height of 2,240 meters above mean seal level and is home to soft slopes and dense forests dotted with Shola trees that perfectly alternate with numerous orange groves, tea garden estates and coffee plantations. This region is home to the Todas, Kurumbhas and Irulas Tribes who still reside in the same indigenous ways that has changed a bit over the past centuries.
The Doddabetta Peak forms the highest point of the Western Ghats perched at a height of 2,623 meters above sea level which primarily encompasses the Nilgiris District within which this mountain range cradles the stunning hilly region of Ooty.
Ooty or Udhagamandalam houses the headquarters of the Nilgiris District that spans over a lush green area of 2,452.50 Square Kilometers. The topography of Ooty is marked by steep and rolling hills wherein approx. 16% to 35% of the Nilgiris slopes are cultivated from an approximate 60% of cultivable land. This District is scattered with small villages, clear streams, comforting blue lakes and elegant cottages lending a perfect holiday destination for tourists who prefer to enjoy the beauty of nature.
Historically stating, the Hills of Nilgiris have a history dating back several centuries ago, however, it’s quiet intriguing as to how they were called the Blue Mountains as very little or no information is available. Some cite that the name was derived from the smoky blue haze that perpetually envelopes the region whereas a few other sources cite that that its name was derived from the Neelakurinji flower that blossoms once in every twelve years yielding a bluish tinge to the entire slopes of the Nilgiris, a stunning view that captivates the eye for sure.
The Nilgiris coincide at a point to form a junction between the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats and are known as the oldest mountain ranges of India followed by the Majestic Himalayas. These hills stretch across the borders of Tamil Nadu into the adjoining states of Karnataka and Kerala and are considered easier to traverse through when compared to the Himalayas thus are best suited for amateur trekkers. This is possible owing to its manageable slopes, captivating beauty and climatic conditions that avoid any chances of fatigue. Its mesmerizing sights are enough to lure skilled hikers to get a feel of these mountains while enjoying a stress-free expedition.
The Nilgiris is covered by two eco-regions, the South Western Ghats that homes a diverse ensemble of trees mainly dominated by moist ‘Deciduous Forests’ area perched at an elevation between 250 and 1,000 meters and the ‘Rain Forests’ montane eco-region that covers an area ranging from above an elevation of 1,000 meters.
The Deciduous Forests eco-region extends along the South Western Ghats right through to the southern tip of India and homes the largest herd of Asian Elephants and tiger habitat that also reside across to the Eastern Ghats while the Rain Forests eco-region is lush and dense and considered amongst the most diverse forest on planet earth.
The rain forests area covering the elevated region above 1500 meters gives way to stunted Shola Forests that are interspersed with open montane grasslands which is home to only 2,000 Nilgiri Tahr goats, an endangered species found only in this region of the South Western Ghats.
A trip to Ooty will take you through a journey filled with a view of varied changes in vegetation especially during your travel from Kallar to Coonoor. At Kallar, you get to experience a tropical climate and from Mettupalayam to Ooty, you get to experience a sub-tropical climate.
During the journey, from Mettupalayam to Ooty, you cross through humid regions near Coonoor covered with pine, cypress and eucalyptus globulus trees offering tourists with an exciting opportunity to experience the marvelous blend of climatic and vegetation changes thus giving it the apt description of a long botanical entrapment.