Why the Ooty Railway Track Should  Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List!

There are seven major mountain ranges in India, including the Himalayas, on which the number of villages and towns is in thousands. According to the traditional definition of a hill station, any town situated at a mountain height of 1,000 to 2,500 meters (3,300 feet to 8,200 feet) is called a hill station. But this definition is geographical. The definition of tourism for hill stations is different. The Ooty Railway Station is one such destination that draws a different definition of travel and tourism.

Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

Exploring Ooty Railway Track: Your Gateway to Hill Station Bliss

A place where facilities like hotels, resorts, eateries, shopping, boating, etc. are available gets the status of a hill station on the tourist map. According to this criterion, the number of hill stations in India is not more than a few hundred. As a result, when summer comes and the search for a hilly place to escape the heat begins, the list of such places seems a little ‘short’. Indeed, going to one of the remote villages in the mountains and spending peaceful days in the presence of nature is a different experience. Well, such a journey is a topic for a separate discussion.

Discovering the Historic Charm of Ooty Railway Track

Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

Like Shimla, Dalhousie, Mussoorie, Darjeeling, etc. hill stations in India, Ooty was also developed by the British. Situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,350 ft) in the Nilgiri Hills, Ooty was the home of a tribal people called Toda and known as Ootacamund before its modern incarnation by the British. In the local language, ‘Ootakal’ means’sacred stone’, while the Toda settlements were known as ‘Mund’, hence the name Udhagamandalam or Ootacamund.

The Ooty Railway Track and John Sullivan’s Legacy in Udhagamandalam

According to historical records, the arrival of the British in Udhagamandalam was in 1818, when the Collector of Coimbatore, John Sullivan, visited the hill village for the first time. Ootacamund cast such a spell on the mind of this white Latsaheb that in 1822 he built the first house of European construction here and settled the family permanently.Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

In a letter to the Governor of Madras, Thomas Munro, wrote, ‘This place is so beautiful that it reminds of Switzerland. There is greenery everywhere you look in the valley here.’ Over time, Udhagamandalam became a hill station for the British as well as a training ground for the British Army. Even today, Wellington is the headquarters of the Madras Regiment of the Indian Army.

The arrival of the British modernized Ootacamund, thus anglicizing the village name. The British did not like to pronounce the word Ootacamund, so initially Ootacamund, then Vadakamand, Watkimand got various corruptions and finally the short name of Ootacamund was lost. Today, Ooty word among tourists is prevalent, while the locals prefer to speak Udagamandalam.

Experience the Unique Charm of Ooty Railway Track

Ooty is a delightful hill station located in the Nilgiri mountain range of Tamil Nadu state. Fresh air, greenery, a cool atmosphere, etc. are also found in Ooty, like hill stations like Munnar in Kerala and Nandi Hills in Karnataka. But what makes Ooty a bit more special than other hill stations is The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which is a World Heritage Site. It is the only rack railway in India and also has the steepest gradient in Asia.

Exploring the Engineering Marvel of Ooty Railway Track

Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

Generally, railway tracks in India have gradients in the ratio of 1:200. It means that a train running on a track climbs or descends 1 foot while covering a distance of 200 feet. In hilly areas, this ratio is around 1:100. Darjeeling’s toy train is 1:25, while Nilgiri Railway’s ratio is 1:12. The implication is that the Nilgiri Mountain Train climbs the mountain and gains 1 foot in height for every 12 feet it moves.

Normal railways cannot do such a steep climb. Hence, an additional third toothed belt (rack) has been laid between two meter gauge tracks on the Nilgiris Mountain Railway. In short, the gear-like wheels fitted under the engine mesh with the teeth of the rack, so that a steep climb of 1 foot every 12 feet does slip back.

Ooty Railway Track: Slow-motion speed of 10 km per hour

The Nilgiri Mountain Train departs from Mettupalaya every morning at 7:00 am. It takes four and a half hours to cover the journey of about 46 kilometers to Ooty. This train, moving at a very slow speed of 10 km, is probably the slowest train in India. A short journey is not tiring, despite being so long. The journey of the train passing through the greenery and crossing around 108 bends, 250 bridges, and 16 tunnels remains a memorable memory.Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

Taking several breaks along the 500-kilometer route, the train offers its passengers incredible views of eucalyptus trees, tea gardens, rivers, green mountains, waterfalls, and sometimes dense fog. If luck is strong, elephant herds can also be seen on the way!

Also, if you have traveled by sitting in the first-class compartment, you will not forget the captivating views ahead that can be seen in the 180-degree view. When the Nilgiri Mountain Railway takes off from Mettupalayam station, the engine is mounted at the front, but as the climb begins, it is mounted at the very end. Thus, the engine does not pull the train, but pushes it. As a result, the guard (first class) compartment is at the front and the engine at the back.

The climb from Mettupalayam to Kallar is not very steep, hence, the track is of normal meter gauge. After Kallar, the rack rail starts, and then the train is hauled to Adderley for filling water in its steam engine.Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

From Kallar to Hillgrove, the train makes the steepest climb of the entire journey and reaches Hillgrove station in an hour or so. Here, during a 10-minute break, the engine takes water again and the passengers take tea and snacks. The river passing under a bridge near Hillgrove Station and the view of the surrounding high mountains are beautiful to capture in the mind and on camera.

After the journey continues from Hillgrove, the train crosses winding bridges and tunnels and stops for water again at Runnymede.
The lush green tea gardens start from here. Adjacent is the garden of the railway premises, bursting with colorful flowers, and the tea gardens in the background. The final leg of the steam locomotive and rack rail journey starts at Runnymede and ends at Coonoor.Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

Situated at an altitude of 1,850 meters (6,070 feet) above sea level, Coonoor is known for its tea gardens. Many senior officers who have retired from the Indian Army live in Coonoor. Slightly less crowded than Ooty, Coonoor is also a fun hill station. One or two days can be spent here on the way to or from Ooty.

After Coonoor, diesel engines replace steam engines and the track up to Ooty reverts to normal meter gauge. From here begins the final 1 hour leg of the train journey, which is also very beautiful. Some passengers alight at stations like Wellington, Arwankdu, Ketty, Lovedale, and Fernhill after Coonoor, as many resorts of Ooty are located at those places. While passing through Ketty, seeing the scenery of beautiful valleys, churches, small houses, fields, cloud-covered hills, etc., one often feels that it would be nice if the train stopped here for a while!

After Lovedale, the train begins to descend, and finally, an unforgettable journey comes to an end at Ooty. About four and a half hours after the journey started! Many tourists find that time too much, so they prefer to travel by highway instead of the slow mountain railway. They miss out on the benefits of India’s only rack railway journey and the natural beauty seen during the journey.

Worth watching places in Ooty

Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

Like every hill station, Ooty also has lakes, waterfalls, gardens, some special points, museums, shopping areas, etc. However, the most popular among such places is the lake called Ooty Lake. British collector John Sullivan, who came and settled in Ooty in the early nineteenth century AD,. This artificial lake, prepared in 1824, is spread over about four and a half square kilometers. The maximum depth is 140 meters (460 feet). The Tamil Nadu Tourism Department has set up a boat house next to the lake so that tourists can enjoy boating in it. Paddle boats, as well as motor boats, can be found here. A boat race is organized in Ooty Lake during the month of May.

Ooty Railway Track: Gateway to the Historic Botanical Garden

The botanical garden, which was established during the British period (during 1847), is also a center of attraction for many tourists. The garden, spread over 22 acres, is divided into 6 different sections. Altogether, 650 types of flowers, plants, vines, and trees have been included in the botanical garden. There is also a fossil of a tree about 2 million years old. The flower show held in the third week of May every year is truly spectacular.

Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

Barely ten kilometers from Ooty is Doddabeta, the highest peak of the Nilgiris. Its height is 2,635 meters (8,645 feet) above sea level. In the local language, Doddabeta means ‘huge mountain’. The natural beauty seen from here in all directions is mesmerizing. The far-reaching Nilgiri mountain ranges, the greenery on the mountain slopes, the swirling clouds in the sky, the sun playing hide and seek behind them, the cool breeze and the tranquility (when there is not much tourist rush) are all the hallmarks of Doddabeta. From this place, there is a view of the Ketty Valley on one side, the border region of Karnataka on the other side, and Ooty on the third side.

Why the Ooty Railway Track Should Be on Every Traveler’s Bucket List.

Around Ooty and Coonoor, there are tea plantations and tea manufacturing factories. A huge T-park that tourists can visit is located at Doddabeta itself.

The list of places to visit in and around this hill station is huge. A beautiful rose garden spread over four hectares, a beautiful mountain range known as the 9th Mile, Pykara Falls and Lake, Pine Forest, Ketty Valley, Dolphin Nose of Coonoor view points, Catherine Falls, etc. are included in the list. After reaching Ooty, information about them is not only available, but they can be visited simultaneously by taking a local taxi. However, at least three full days should be allocated for it.

Relaxation is the permanent mood of the hills, so if we want to enjoy a hill station like Ooty, we also have to adopt that mood. Once you get that, the Mettupalayam to Ooty rack railway journey is guaranteed not to be long! “

Essential Information for Visiting Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Category Details
Location Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India
Best Time to Visit March to June and September to November
How to Reach By Air: The nearest airport is Coimbatore International Airport, 88 km away.
By Train: Ooty has its own railway station connected to major cities.
By Road: Well-connected by road to major cities like Bangalore, Mysore, and Coimbatore.
Main Attractions
  • Ooty Lake
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Doddabetta Peak
  • Tea Museum
  • Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Accommodation Options range from budget hotels to luxury resorts. Popular choices include Taj Savoy Hotel, Sterling Ooty Fern Hill, and Club Mahindra Derby Green.
Local Cuisine Must-try dishes include South Indian specialties like idli, dosa, and vada, as well as local Ooty chocolates and tea.
Weather Ooty has a pleasant climate throughout the year, with mild summers and cool winters. Average temperature ranges from 5°C to 20°C.
Travel Tips
  • Carry warm clothing, especially if visiting in winter.
  • Book accommodation in advance during peak seasons.
  • Explore local markets for handmade chocolates and souvenirs.
  • Respect the local culture and traditions.


Good to Know

  • March to June is the best time to visit Ooty. The monsoon lasts here from June to October. However, during that time, Ooty’s beauty blossomed, and the journey would be memorable.
  • The nearest airport to Ooty is Coimbatore. Apart from this, direct train from Chennai to Mettupalayam is also available. From Coimbatore, Ooty can be reached by taxi or bus, but as far as possible, the journey should be done by toy train. It is imperative to book this train in advance from the railway website: www.irctc.co.in.

– There is no dearth of hotels and resorts in Ooty for overnight stay. Information about Tamil Nadu tourism as well as government approved private hotels. https://www.ttdconline.com/hotelnamedisplay.do

. A hired taxi or even a self-drive car is available after reaching Ooty to get around. Names of some taxi companies: Savari, Ooty Taxi, and Meru Car Rental.

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  1. You always provide good information not only about popular places but also about places which is known to few people and this blog is one of them and it is very well written and it shows you research about the place really well

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