Ooty

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Ooty (I avoided the longer versions like Ootacamund or Uchagamandalam) is a hill station, established by the East India Company in the nineteenth century. (References to the  local tribes such as the Todas who lived here before the British occupation go back to th 12th century.)

High up in the Nilgiri Hills, the mountain range that separates Kerala from Tamil Nadu, I got there by train from Coimbatore (96 km away) to Mettupalayam, and thence on the famous mountain railway to Ooty, built by the British in 1908.  It is a narrow gauge track, with an additional rack rail to help it up the 1 in 25 slope.  Part of the journey is covered by steam trains. The journey is 26 km, with 16 tunnels and 250 bridges!  And spectacular views.

Ooty itself is a wonderful mixture of  an Indian market town and a decaying relic of the British Raj.  It is here that British colonial families, including I suspect my grandparents, sought refuge from the extreme heat and humidity of summer months in cities like Madras. Everywhere one sees Victorian and Edwardian artefacts, often embellished with colours that make them uniquely Indian.

I did not do a comprehensive tour of Ooty but I very much enjoyed visiting the beautiful Botanical Gardens, laid out in the nineteenth century.

The altitude means that day-time temperatures are like a pleasant British summer, but the nights in winter are very cold.  I caught a cold and was ill for quite some time.