Flora in Yercaud

People with a keen interest in flora will have a fantastic time here as there is much that Yercaud hill station has to offer them. The Botanical Survey of India runs an Orcidarium here. It houses a substantial assembly of native orchids. The luxury of witnessing an Orchid that eats insects is something that will remain with you forever. It is a rare orchid called the Ladies Slipper. There was an extraordinary tree called Shevaroys Bombax that was purportedly found on one of the private estates and has been successfully multiplied at this farm. It is a sheer delight for plant lovers. Within the BSI campus you will come across what is called the Bell Rock. When you hit it with a stone it makes the sound of a bell.

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Right next to the lake is a park called the Anna Park. A flower show is held here every year in May. People come here to take part at this flower show from near and afar. Part of Anna Park has been designed in a Japanese style. This Japanese Park should not be missed. The mystical feeling of this place is something that can only be experienced rather than being put in words. There are simply no words to describe the reaction of your senses to this place.

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There is yet another farm called the Silk Farm and Rose Garden. Here you will come across a multitude of Mulberry trees. The entire process from the pupa to the larva stage can be viewed at leisure. You can witness the growth of silk worms and learn the process of how silk is spun. The Rose Garden has a mass of multicolored roses. These are also available for sale at the nursery.

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There is yet another farm with a rose garden. This is called the Horticulture Farm. Several strains of roses can be seen here, ranging from the Button rose to very big rose. Also seen here is a plant with green roses. Again you could pick up sprouts of these plants for a bargain. The nursery here is pretty well stocked.

The tribals who farmed these lands deserted the region when a plague gripped them. Thus the Government developed this land by growing Teak. The Vaniar Dam has been constructed upon the Vaniar River that passes through this Teak forest. This place is known as the Kottachedu Teak Forest.

Sight seeing in Yercaud

The serene Emerald Lake cradled by the mountains is the first thing to enchant a person when entering the town of Yercaud hill station. The feeling is akin to the experience of Alice in Wonderland. There is a marvelously landscaped garden by the banks of the lake. Of all the hill stations in the South, this is the only one to have a natural lake. There is a beautiful floating fountain in the center of the lake to add to its beauty. You will find a leisure park and a Deer park around the lake. The scenic beauty of the mountainous landscape while boating on the lake is unequalled. Do not miss this opportunity of a boat ride. It is a once in a lifetime experience. Boats can be availed at the Yercaud boat house.

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The Tipperary Road leads you to the southern most view point of Yercaud hill station. Here you will be confronted by the Elephant Tooth Rocks. Allegedly these rocks are the bits and pieces of a meteorite that fell on earth. The hills in these parts are black granite and these rocks are white in contrast. Such rocks are found in two locales. One of them is situated on the Southern Ridge of the Shevaroys while the other is situated in the east with a view of the Ghat road. The one next to Guntur is the larger one with two rocks that stretch to a height of 120 feet. This one is made up of pure white quartz. It has a dramatic effect against the backdrop of the black granite and the greenery. It can be scaled very easily but the descent can be treacherous as the substance is soft and flaky. It would take an entire day to climb up and back. On the other hand it takes about two hours to arrive at the spot where the smaller one is situated. Some Gold Mining Activity has taken place here.

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Two kilometers from Yercaud town is Bears Hill. Several schools and Seminaries are located in this area. Drinking in the beauty of this place is pure bliss. Another interesting place to see is Bears Cave. Prior permission is required to go to this place as it is sited on a private property. An eminent Criminal lawyer from Chennai once owned the old European Bungalow on this property. It can be a grueling task to advance into the cave as one has to crouch after the initial 60 feet or so.

The hill tribes made four piles of random stones in the shape of a Pagoda. This place is called the Pagoda Point or Pyramid Point. The reason for constructing this is not quite clear but it was done to denote an event. Presently a Ram Temple stands between these Pagodas. One can take a basket and set out on a picnic here. On the south west side of the Yercaud hills is a compilation of rocks with a view of the Ghat road and Salem.

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You will see a natural rock formation in the contour of a seat. It is believed that long ago an English Lady spent her evenings here ingesting the splendid view. A tower has been built here fitted with telescopes so people can get a clear view of the surroundings. The Mettur Dam is visible from here on a cloudless day. The view of the infinite blinking lights of Salem in the night is truly remarkable. There is a gents seat and children’ seat next to the Lady’s seat. The mini park here is also a good place for a picnic.

Anyone wishing to view the Big Lake in all its glory should head for Arthur’s Seat. This spot can be arrived at via a precipitous road towards the north of town.

3 kilometers from the Yercaud Lake there is a charming waterfall called Kiliyur Falls. To get maximum pleasure here the best time to visit is after the monsoons.

Map Of Ooty

Below is the map of Ootacamund (short for Ooty). Use the scroller to enlarge.
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Visiting Yercaud

In the Servarayan ranges, also called Shevaroy Hills of Tamil Nadu lies a hill station named Yercaud. This place is quite close to Salem. Yercaud is nestled in the Eastern Ghats at a height of 3389 feet above sea level. The lake in the center lends its name to this town. Yeri connotes lake and kaadu connotes forest in Tamil lingo. By and large the rest of Tamil Nadu is dry, but Yercaud is heavenly as the climate here is cool. The mercury never rises above 30 degrees Celsius nor dips under 13 degrees Celsius.

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Yercaud hill station is much more economical in comparison to either Udhagamandalam (Ooty) or Kodaikanal. Dense forests provide shade and winds while the coffee plantation fulfils the need for attraction. There is no account in history as to when people started streaming into Yercaud for rest and relaxation. Clearly people have visited these parts since time immemorial. The wholesome weather in Yercaud entices visitors at all times of the year. It is spread over an area of 382.3 square kilometers. The languages spoken here are Tamil, Hindi and English. The popular name for Yercaud is poor man’s Ooty. The Yercaud hill region is known as Shevaroy Hills because the Sevarayan temple is the highest point in Yercaud.

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On the way to Yercaud hill station you will go through a town named Salem. This town is famous for its textiles. Window shopping here would be a good idea as it might lead you to purchase handlooms at half the prices compared with other places. As the road begins to ascend into the mountains of Yercaud you will catch a glimpse of some brightly colored idols. These are only found in Tamil Nadu as they are worshipped as protectors of the villages by the locals and they are known as Aiyanars. You will come across 20 hairpin bends up the meandering hill. There are stands on the pavement that sell fresh garden produce, which include cloves and pepper. Finally, you will spot the undulating coffee plantations.

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Yercaud came to be known by the British in the early 19th century. A British officer stationed in this region in the second decade of the 19th century introduced coffee cultivation to this area. The first roads were laid only in the early 20th century although the first house was constructed in 1840. The Christian missionaries caught attention of the lovely climate and inspired them to institute the Sacred Heart Convent for girls and the Montfort School for boys. The other produce in Yercaud hill station besides coffee is jackfruit, guava, oranges and berries. Spice such as pepper and cardamom grow in abundance.

The Salem junction and Salem town stations are the closest for those getting in by train as it is only 35 kilometers away. Regular bus services are available from Salem, Madhurai, Bangalore, Trichy, Chennai and Coimbatore. The airport closest to Yercaud is Kamalapuram. You could also land at Omalur, Coimbatore, Trichy or Bangalore airports.

Videos Of Ooty

Botanical Garden Of Ooty Part 1:

The Botanical Garden is situated 2 km east of the Ooty Railway and Bus Stations and is maintained by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu by its Horticultural Dept.

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Botanical Garden Of Ooty Part 2:

A variety of exotic and ornamental plants can be seen here. They are well maintained.

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Pykara Lake:

This is a short video showing the Pykara Lake.

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Thread Garden Of Ooty:

An artificial embroidery garden bearing natural models of plants and flowers fully developed of embroidery threads using our self developed technology of hand wound embroidery without needles or machineries taking 12 years with the effort of 50 lady artists.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Festivals and other attractions of Ooty

Ooty is also known for some attractions and celebrations such as the boat races and boat pageantry in Ooty. This is held in the month of May. It can get pretty exciting and interesting. Another attraction is the flower show in Ooty which draws throngs of people who love the fauna. This too is held in the month of May. If you were to visit in the month of February you could attend the Thaipoosam at the Elk Hill Murugan temple as well as the Bookkapuram Mariamman annual festival. Alternatively in April you could visit the Mariamman temple festival.

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Cultural programs, dog shows, fashion parades are other things to enjoy during the summers. Tea lovers need not feel left out as there is something for them here too in the form of a tea festival. This is held in the month of January.

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The Madumalai sanctuary in the luxuriantly forested foothills of the Nilgiris is 321 kilometers and is only a fraction of the 3000 kilometers larger reserve. This reserve includes Bandipur and Wynad extending to the states of Kerala and Karnataka. In Tamil, the word Madumalai means Old hill.

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The range of vegetation in the larger reserve spans from semi-evergreen forests to grasslands and swamps. On the other hand, Madumalai is mostly densely wooded. It is home to the spotted deer, the Indian bison, tiger, panther, wild boar and the sloth bear. The Moyar River is home to crocodiles and otters. Madumalai is largely populated with wild elephants. However you won’t spot them so easily. The domesticated variety is what you will probably catch sight of. The ideal time to visit Madumalai is between the months of February and June.

Not very much is made locally. Ever since Eucalyptus was introduced in the 19th century, it has thrived into a small oil-extraction industry in this area. The Toda men and women wear homespun shawls called puthikuzhi. These have black and red embroidery on them. They are tied around the waist with one end extending over the shoulder. It could be compared to the Roman toga. One could avail of these as a souvenir in the market.

Ooty is well connected to other parts of the state. Buses leave for Kotagiri every twenty minutes. This journey takes one hour. Buses to Coonoor leave every hour. Buses ply to Coimbatore every thirty minutes. It takes three hours for this journey to Coimbatore, which is ninety kilometers away. Seven buses leave for Bangalore everyday. It is three hundred kilometers away and takes eight hours to complete this journey. This bus goes via Mysore. It takes five hours to cover a distance of one hundred and sixty kilometers. You can take a bus to Madumalai, which is sixty-seven kilometers away and takes two and half hours to reach. Alternatively you could take of the small buses which go via the narrow and twisting Sighur Ghat road.

Sight Seeing Places in Ooty

The most exciting part of visiting Ooty could well be your journey in the toy train. Ooty is connected to the lowlands by miniature railway just as in Darjeeling and Matheran. The toothed central rail onto which the locomotives lock on the sleeper slopes is a distinctive element of the railway line. Another unusual feature is that the locomotive pushes the carriages from the back instead of pulling it from the front. The railway journey commences at Mettupalayam and goes to Ooty via Coonoor. The journey offers you some breathtaking views. All things considered it is an amusing trip for the outdoor lover. The winding tracks up with its many spine chilling curves and terrifying tunnels as it passes the deep ravines and tea gardens. The landscape is incredible and overwhelming. The sights keep changing as the train wends its way up the mountain.

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A visit to the Botanical gardens is an absolute must. There is veritable cultivation of trees with a wealth of knowledge provided on each one, including scientific information. Ooty is an ideal place to visit if you wish to connect with nature. It is a good place to forget the hustle and bustle of city life, and enjoy the environment. Ooty is a wonderful place for outdoor activities. A good starting point for a trek would be the road to Kotagiri on the Kotagiri Pass. The highest peak in Tamil Nadu is 3 km’s east of this pass. It is called Doddabetta. It stands at a height of 2623 meters. Doddabetta is 10 km’s away from Ooty.

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There is plenty for those who enjoy the outdoors. You could hire horses to ride on. One could enjoy a boat ride on the lake. The lake there is picturesque surrounded with the majestic towering trees.

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Madumalai is on the main road between Ooty and Mysore. The Park has elephant camps if you like riding on them. The animals you will most likely see here are the spotted deer, wild boar, monkeys, gaur and elephants. The wildlife tours within the confines of the sanctuary are limited to travel on elephant back, minibuses and jeeps. One could also take a night safari in a jeep. Elephant back rides can be booked on an hourly basis. It would be advisable to book your accommodation and elephant rides in advance if you plan on visiting the sanctuary. Dorms and lodges are maintained here by the Forest department. The Log house here, which is a 5 minute walk from the river, is a good option.

Another interesting activity is that the horse races are held at the racecourse during the monsoon season but the betting is pretty tame. Ooty doesn’t have much of a night life though, so don’t expect to paint the town red at night!

History and historical places of Ooty

The original name of Ooty in Tamil is Udhagamandalam.  This is a prominent hill station in the south of India. It is situated in the Nilgiri hills close to the tri-junction of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Nilgiri literally means blue hills. Ooty served as the summer headquarters of the Chennai Government. Prior to that, the area was inhabited only by tribal people, which comprised of a mixture of 18 different tribes. The majority of these were the Todas. The legend is that the Todas believed that goddess Tekirshy and her brother waved a magic wand to create a buffalo. After that they created the Toda man. The first Toda woman was created using a rib from the man. Their animalist shrines exist even today serving as reminders. Ooty is positioned at a height of 2240 meters. Ooty attracts tourists in the summer for its cool weather.

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Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru once visited this hill station and very aptly described it as the queen of hill stations. The British first discovered Ooty when the British first set up the East India Company in the Nilgiris. John Sullivan was the first British to construct a stone house here.

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Ooty is spread over a total area of 36 square kilometers. The ideal season to visit would be from April to June and from September to November. In the summers the mercury usually hits a high of 25 degrees Celsius and it dips to 10 degrees Celsius.  Whereas in the winters it could go as high as 21 degrees Celsius and come down to as low as 5 degrees Celsius. A word of caution: The overnight temperature in Ooty could drop to as low 0 degrees Celsius. Ooty receives an approximate of 121 centimeters of rainfall.

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People who are religiously inclined can visit an abundant number of churches, which are worth seeing.  Some of these are Sacred Heart church, Saint Teresa’s church, the Kandal shrine, Holy Trinity church, Saint Stephen’s church, Thomas church, Saint Mary’s church and the Union church.

You will find several temples in Ooty. Some of them are the Jain temple, The Kandal, Venkateshwara Perumal temple, Muniswarar temple, Mariamman temple, Mooyaulaka Arasiamman temple, Subramania Swami temple, Vithoba temple, Elk hill and Murugan temple. You could also visit the big mosque on your trip out there.

Conversely those who are looking for some peace and spiritual experience could pay a visit to the ashrams there. Ramakrishna math, Raghvendra math and Sampoorna ashram are some of these places.

However most of the folks going to Ooty are out for a good time and/or their honeymoon. They need not despair as there is plenty for you to set eyes on and enjoy in Ooty. The Madhumalai Park, the lake and the Botanical gardens, Doddabetta and Pykara Falls are some of the most prominent places. If you are in Ooty, we would recommend you not miss any of these sites. Whether you want to spend a romantic evening or have fun, the lake is a wonderful place to be. Taking a boat ride is a pleasant experience. The lake appears beautifully serene with Eucalyptus trees surrounding it. It is so picturesque, you wouldn’t want to leave!

Traveling to Ooty

If you wish to visit Ooty, it is very well connected by various transport options:

By Flight:

The nearest airport to Ooty is Coimbatore, 100 Km away. Coimbatore can be reached from Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kozhikode.

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By Railway:

Coimbatore is the nearest major broadgauge railway junction from Ooty (100 km) which is connected to all major cities, while Mettupalayam is the nearest broadgauge railway head from Ooty (46 km). If you can reach Mettupalayam directly, you can catch the Nilgiri toy train of the Mountain Railway which takes about 4 hours to reach Ooty. As per our sources, the initial plans to build a mountain railway were made way back in 1954. Finally, 45 years later (1899) the dream was converted into reality with the help of Swiss Locomotive Works. It was a wooden coach train with large windows and coloured blue and cream, using steam engines. Some of the stations you will come across when chugging up the rocky terrain track are – Kallar, Adderely, Hill Grove, Runnymede, Katery, Coonoor, Wellington, Aruvakkadu, Ketti and Lovedale.

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By Road:

Ooty is about 535 km from Chennai via Salem, 187 km from Calicut, 290 km from Bangalore, 236 km from Kodaikanal via Coimbatore and Palani, 89 km from Coimbatore, 237 km from Yercaud, 281 km from Kochi via Coimbatore and Palakkad, 155 km from Mysore and 18 km from Coonoor via Gudalur. If you prefer public transport, there are several bus services (including Govt. and private) from Mysore, Bangalore, Cochin, Tirupathi, Thanjavur, Kanyakumari, Calicut, Palghat, Trichi.

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Map of Yercaud

Below is the map of Yercaud, a hill station in Tamil Nadu. Move the scroller towards “+” to zoom in and “-” to zoom out.
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