Toy Trains, Tea Estates, Gardens & Places to visit in Ooty

I have fond memories of riding the blue train, visiting tea estates, gardens, and exploring other places to visit in Ooty. Also known as Udhagamandalam, Ooty is a resort town in the Western Ghats mountains, in South India. Founded by the British Raj as a summer resort, this area in Tamil Nadu is known as the Queen of Hill Stations in the South and is one of my favorites destinations growing up!

View from Doddabetta, Ooty | Place to visit & things to do | Outside Suburbia

10 Best Places to visit in Ooty

Ooty offers a respite from the scortching summers of Chennai and I remember visiting a few times with family, taking that blue train. One trip was with my Girl scout group when we stayed in the Youth Hostel and went on hikes. Watching the mist lift in morning with cup of coffee, looking for fresh carrots just pulled out of the ground (sold in small kisosk by the road), walks near the lake are some of my favorite memories from this mountain resort town or hill station in South India.

Botanical Garden, one of my favorite places to visit in Ooty

One of the first places I like to visit in Ooty is the expansive Botanical Garden. The 50-acre garden features more than 600 species of plants and flowers, has water features, and a nice lush lawn. The garden holds an annual flower show, a two-day event conducted in May to showcase flower sculptures, floral artistry, and craftsmanship. It is one of the top attractions in Ooty and plan to spend 2 to 3 hours.

10 Best Places to visit in Ooty | Outside Suburbia
Ooty Botanical Garden | Outside Suburbia
Botanical Garden, Ooty | Outside Suburbia
10 Best Places to visit in and around Ooty | Outside Suburbia

Ooty Botanical Garden has a great selection of plants and flowers I haven’t seen anywhere else in India.

Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is situated on the lower slopes of the Elk Hill on the North-Western side, facing the town of Ooty. Located about 1 Km from the Udhagamandalam Railway Junction and Bus Terminus, it is one of those places you just have to visit in Ooty especially during the rose season!

It was past rose season when we visited, we saw beautiful dahlias though

Rose Park has about 20,000 rose plants and over 2000 varieties. The best place to get a view of the entire park is from the Nila Maadam viewpoint, terraced patio. The garden is maintained by the Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department and often has rose plants for sale. 

Ooty Lake & Boathouse

The lake is probably the top attraction in Ooty and one of those places that you can’t miss. This artificial lake was formed back in 1824 and fishing was the major activity in this lake. These days, Tourism Development Corporation of Tamilnadu runs the Boating.

Ooty Lake & Boathouse | Outside Suburbia
A boat ride on the Ooty lake is a nice way to spend an afternoon

It is something you want to do at least once so you can say you have done it! I like the peddle boats and just walking around the lake. Kids will like the area since it has some activities like bumper cars, horse rides and a mini train.

Deer Park

Located on the fringes of the Ooty Lake, is a deer park where you can see Chital Deer and Sambhal Deer. It is one of the high altitude Animal Park in India and a great place to see the flora and fauna of Ooty.

10 Best Places to visit in and near Ooty | Outside Suburbia

Other things to do in Ooty

Ooty is a popular honeymoon destination in South India. You can spend a week in Ooty or get away for a quick weekend. You can check out most of the popular attractions, see the sights in Ooty and Coonoor in two three days.

Whether you visit all the places or do nothing at all and just enjoy the scenic views, go for walks among mist-clad hills, smell the roses and just take it easy, Ooty will make for a memorable trip!

Visit Tea Estates & Tea Museum in Nilgiris

Sitting on the slopes of Nilgiris is one of my favorite places to visit in Ooty – a tea museum and tea estate. If you are a tea lover, you will want to add this to your list of things to do in Ooty! You can walk through the estate, take some photos, sip some piping hot tea.

10 Best Places to visit in and around Ooty | Outside Suburbia

At the Tea Museum, you will learn some facts about tea, like, its origin, its evolution over time. There is a small fee to visit the factory and museum but you can taste some masala tea at the end of the tour!

Address: Dodabetta Road, Mel Koddapmund, Ooty.

Ride the Toy Train

No trip to Ooty is complete without a scenic ride on the toy train as we call them.  It is called the Nilgiri mountain railway these days and still runs on a steam railway line just like it did in 1908. The charming blue train with its wooden coaches and large windows goes through tea estates, bridges and tunnels.  It is a slow train based on the rack and pinion system similar to the ones in Srilanka and Switzerland.

Nilgiri Mountain Railway and other things to do in Ooty | Outside Suburbia

From Mettupalayam, you can take the heritage toy train (Nilgiri Mountain Railway) as it meanders over green hills and rolling tea estates.  The journey takes about five hours to reach Ooty. It leaves Mettupalayam at 7.45 am and reaches Ooty around noon. The train passes over 26 viaducts, and twist and blends through 13 tunnels. Have cameras ready to photograph the viaduct between Kallar and Adderley. After a steep climb, the train enters Coonoor.

If you want a shorter ride, take the train from Coonoor to Udhagamandalam or vice versa. Either way, you are treated to some spectacular scenery!

Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Ooty

Other places to visit near Ooty

There are plenty of other places to visit near Ooty like Upper Bhavani Lake, Pykara Lake, and the many waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries. There is also a Toda settlement that you can visit. The Toda tribe is one of the indigenous tribes of Ooty and their homes are very unique. The home, rather huts are shaped in the form of semi-barrels without any windows. It is located about 5 or 6 kms from the town of Ooty.

Doddabetta Peak

Doddabetta Peak is a major attraction near Ooty. Located at an altitude of 2,623 meters, it lies at the junction of western and eastern ghats, around 10 kms away from Ooty. Doddabetta peak is the highest peak in Tamil Nadu and offers you breathtaking views from the top.

View from Doddabetta, Ooty | Place to visit & things to do | Outside Suburbia
View from Doddabetta

On the top of Doddabetta sits a telescope house that offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes. There are a few hiking/trekking trails nearby that are popular with visitors. It is a great place to come in the evening to see a sunset on a clear day.

Kalhasti waterfall & Kalhatty village

About 14 km from Ooty, you will find Kalhasti waterfall, in the Kalhatty village. Water descends down from a height of 120-122 feet and you might spot a wide variety of hill birds and other wildlife here including Panthers, Bisons, Wild Buffaloes, Wild Dogs, Spotted Deers, Sambars and monkeys.

Also, it has various trees and spice plants like cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, sandalwood, pepper, and rosewood. Kalhatty Hills is one of the famous spots in Ooty for trekking and popular with hikers of all ages. 

Dolphin’s Nose

Located near Coonoor, Dolphin’s Nose is a popular place to visit in Ooty for photographers. This unique rock formation is shaped like the nose of a dolphin. The panoramic view and verdant hills dotted with waterfalls like Catherine Falls, and lots of greenery are pretty magical.

The drive towards Dolphin’s Nose takes you through several tea plantations and offers breathtaking views of the mountains. You can stop at Tulsi Mall, a large supermarket in Coonoor town, on the way.

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary

Located at the junction of the 3 States of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. It is the first of its kind to be set up in India and forms a part of Jawaharlal Nehru National Park. You will find Tropical Evergreen Forest, Teak Forest, Deciduous Forest, and secondary Grassland Swamps here.

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary near Ooty | Outside Suburbia

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is a popular place to go on Safaris, Tigers are largely elusive here but leopards are frequently seen.  Other wildlife often seen in these parts are Elephant, Gaur, Mouse deer, Sloth bear, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Blackbuck, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel, Four-horned Antelope (Chowsingha), Wild Dog, Striped Hyena, Wild Boar, Porcupine, Slender Lories and more.

See: 10 Wildlife Sanctuaries in India that you should visit

How to Get to Ooty

The nearest airport is in Coimbatore, and direct flights connect this airport to Chennai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai. It takes about three hours of drive from Coimbatore airport to Ooty. Which is probably the fastest way to get to Ooty. You can also take the train and the nearest railway station is Mettupalayam, it takes about 2 hours of drive time to reach Ooty.

Best way to get to Ooty | Outside Suburbia

Where to stay in Ooty

Growing up when we visited Ooty with family we have stayed at the tourism board run TTDC hotel located on Charing Cross road. I can’t speak to how they are now but back then the accommodation was modest but clean and well run. The prices are pretty reasonable as well.

Best places to stay in Ooty | Outside Suburbia

WelcomHeritage Ferrnhills Royale Palace, Sterling Fern Hill and Tata Savoy are charming places to stay in Ooty but you will find many homestays as well.

Don’t miss Tea at Kings cliff! We stopped for tea in their Sunroom, our kids loved the apple pie here.  The garden was lush and green and the views from the sunroom were romantic!

A few more photos from our trip to Ooty and Coonoor in Nilgiris in TamilNadu, India

Love these ancient and antique Hindustan ambassador cars | Outside Suburbia
Love these ancient and antique Hindustan ambassador cars
Our crew from our last trip in Ooty

I hope you found my little guide to Ooty helpful. Have you been? Have I missed anything??

You might also like:
Memorable things to do in Chennai
10 Best Wildlife Sanctuaries in India
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