Often called the Queen of Hill Stations, Udhagamandalam or Ooty lies in the state of Tamil Nadu. The origin of its name has been unclear;
though it is believed that it comes from a local tribal word, Ootaca or Otha-Cal. A moderate elevation of around 7350 feet and a pleasant weather for most part of the year has led to Ooty tour packages becoming increasingly popular.
As with most hill towns in India, Udhagamandalam was established by the British. Over time, sprawling tea estates and heritage buildings came up, further enhancing its photogenic setting. Not just families and friends, but honeymooners have also found an appropriate paradise in Ooty, owing to its mesmerising lakes and hills. Many Ooty holiday packages include a journey on the UNESCO-listed Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
This hill route, on which it travels, has one of the steepest gradients in the world; hence, it uses the ingenious rack and pinion system, developed way back in 1811. Starting from Mettupalayam, the train takes passengers on winding and rising tracks, along tea gardens, across over 350 bridges and through more than 200 curves and 16 tunnels. While on Ooty family tours or a honeymoon, travellers can consider strolling in the town to witness the legacy of the British.
Udhagamandalam is dotted with scores of buildings, dating back to the 19th century. Among these, the Stone House and Saint Stephens Church are two of the most prominent. The Stone House was the first bungalow and in turn the first pukka house, built here. It stands on a lush patch of land, which has tall trees all around.
The scenery is immensely breathtaking here; ideal for capturing in cameras. From outside, Saint Stephens Church looks plain and simple, but its interiors tell a completely different story. A carpet-covered aisle, lined by coffee-coloured wooden benches, makes the decor elegant. Pointed-arched windows, covered by stained glass paintings, depicting scenes from the Bible, catch the attention instantly.