Ooty is wrapped with immense beauty of the soothing greens things including a number of tourist spots with extraordinary colonial architectural excellences. Prior to being a part of the colonial rule, Ooty was also under the rule of several Kings or Maharajas of Tamil Nadu who have erected Palatial Houses and Palaces in Ooty for use as their Summer Retreats in Ooty.
Ooty is dotted with some of the finest Ooty Palaces and Monumental Mansions that belonged to various Tamil Nadu Rulers who would reside in Ooty to escape from the heat of the plains.
Also known as the Summer Palaces of Ooty, most of magnificent palatial structures were erected by noteworthy and erstwhile Kings of Mysore followed by the Maharaja of Vadodara, Maharaja of Jodhpur and Nawab Salar Jung Bahadur who was a vizier of the empire of Hyderabad.
Of the numerous Ooty Palaces, the Arronmore Palace belonging to the Maharaja of Jodhpur Royalty province was sold off for a sum of Rs. 5, 50,000 to the Government of Chennai [formerly known as Madras] post independence. Today, this Palace in Ooty is referred to as ‘Tamizhagam’ and has been transformed into a Government Guest House where lodging facility for the general tourists is offered during the Off Season period in Ooty.
Another noteworthy Palace in Ooty is the Annandale Palace that features meticulously tended lawns and gardens gracing the site where Annandale formidably stands. This was once the residence of the Maharaja of Jodhpur where he, his royal family and other royalties resided during the pleasant summer months.
The erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore is known for his treasure of Palaces in Ooty and another one besides the impressive Arronmore Palace is a stunning Ooty Palace constructed in a typical quintessential Swiss chalet style known by the name of Fernhill Palace which was erected in 1842 as the residence of the Maharaja of Mysore.
The Fernhill Palace in Ooty nestles within the abode of imperious cedar trees, fir trees and the gentle swaying palm trees. This Ooty Palace showcases a delightful blend of delicate frame work, sturdy iron railings with supporting balusters and shaded verandahs. This Palace in Ooty was initially built 1842 and later a few additions were made to its structure. It is now a part of a posh Hotel in Ooty that tell tales of an erstwhile era of imperial prominence.
A dynasty of chivalry and well rooted traditions still continues today with the ever so popular 13th Century Palaces in Ooty thus attracting a large pool of history enthusiasts and global visitors who visit to catch a glimpse of the glory of the Wadiyar Dynasty in this modern era.
The Maharaja of Mysore was once known as the most important of Indian Kings including the Nizam of Hyderabad wherein his wealth was not supported by his State Treasury like other Indian Princes, but by his efficiency, well organised and prosperous businesses ranging from the field of agriculture to growing of spices like cardamom and even dairy farming amongst many more different enterprises. The well-run establishments made the Maharaja of Mysore, one of the wealthiest man in the world and the richest in India.
Ooty Raj Bhavan
Another historical site to visit in Ooty is the Ooty Raj Bhavan or Government House situated on the Dodabetta Ridge of the Western Slopes located on the outskirts of the South Eastern direction of Ooty and very close to the Ooty Botanical Gardens.
The legacy of Ooty Raj Bhavan started even before Ooty became the summer capital of Tamil Nadu when it was periodically visited by the Governors of Madras. They used the Raj Bhavan in Ooty as their Summer Retreat during the summer months of April, May and June to escape from the hot scorching heat of Chennai [Madras].
The Ooty Raj Bhavan was constructed by the Duke of Buckingham in 1877 when he was the Governor of Madras and today, this Palatial Mansion is occasionally used by the Governor of Tamil Nadu during his visits to Ooty.
The Raj Bhavan in Ooty displays an exterior in cream shade of colour and overlooks the scenic Botanical Gardens. It silently stands as a strong reminder of the grandeur of the British Raj days when this place was filled with festivities and celebrations of social gatherings and small private parties.
The Ooty Raj Bhavan features a large ballroom that was a later addition built by Sir Arthur Havelock in 1900. It was only in 1904 when the entire mansion came to life graced by a sprawling and well maintained lawn and the beautiful gardens. The walls are graced with the Duke of Buckingham, George Marry, George V, Queen Victoria, Portraits of Governor and their Ladies and Chandos amongst the several other paintings that decorate the walls of this Mansion.
Adam’s Fountain in Ooty is a Memorial for the Governor of Ooty that was erected in 1886 after his untimely demise in Ooty that cost somewhere between Rs. 13,000 and Rs. 14,000, raised by public subscriptions. This Memorial Site was intended to be erected in front of the Ooty Market; however, the site in front of the Collector’s Office was chosen being a public venue. Due to insufficient water supply for the Adam’s Fountain in Ooty, the site was shifted in 1898by the Municipality to its present location where an ancient melanoxylon tree [Australian Blackwood species] once marked the position of Charring Cross Town Centre and today, has been replaced by Adam’s Fountain in Ooty.
Apart from the various Palaces in Ooty, there are several Monumental mansions that have been transformed today as Hotels or Government Colleges including the residence of the Maharaja of Hyderabad called ‘The Cedars’ or ‘Baroda Palace’ situated in Ooty and Elk Hill House which was built by George Norton atop Elk Hill thus inspiring its name are some examples of sculptural delight that are graced with fine structures and lush green environs of Ooty.