Mountains & Hill Stations
Deep in the hills and forests of the Western and Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu, amidst their relieving coolness, soaring peaks and ecological hot spots, nestle the hill stations of Tamil Nadu. Ooty, Kodaikanal (2,133 meters), Yercaudand Yelagiri (at 1,410 meters it lies in north Tamil Nadu). All of them undiscovered and inhabited only by native tribes and odd immigrant groups from the plains till the British discovered them during the mid 1800s.
2,240 meters high in the Nilgiri (‘Blue’) hills of the Western Ghats, Ooty, or Udhagamandalam, was soon declared the official sanctum and summer capital of the English in 1827. ‘The Queen of Hill Stations in South India’ today, with her retinue of high mountains, wavy grasslands, shola forests, and immaculate tea estates, sits in royal splendor amidst lush well tended rose and botanical gardens, parks, lakes, orange groves, sylvan picnic spots and British-era churches and bungalows (including a museum and art gallery). 250 kilometers away from Ooty, on an eastern spur of the Western Ghats, sits Kodaikanal. Perched at 2,133 meters amongst high hills, meadows and grasslands, amongst cypress and eucalyptus and acacia, with such alluring places like Bryant Park, Coaker’s Walk, Dolphin’s Nose, Bear Shola Falls, Pillar Rocks, Guna Caves and others, Kodaikanal extends her allure to the picnicker and nature lover alike.
It was the British, again, during the early 1820s, who truly discovered and developed Yercaud (‘Lake Forest’), 1,515 meters high in the Shevaroy Hills of the Eastern Ghats near Salem, and Yelagiri, 1,410 meters high in the Vellore District, into the picturesque and salubrious hill stations of today – less cold and expensive, as charming and more laid back than their more illustrious cousins Ooty or Kodaikanal. Small well wooded lakes, hiking and trekking trails, waterfalls, wildlife sighting opportunities and high-flung spots (with such quaint names as Lady’s Seat, Pagoda Point and Arthur’s Seat) offer panoramic views of the surrounding hills and forests – both, ideal getaways from the heat of the plains!