The jewel in Ooty’s tourism crown is the beautifully laid 22 acre Ooty botanical gardens. The garden was conceptualized in 1847 by the then governor of Madras Marquis of Tweedale. The 22 acres is spread over the hill slopes on the Nilgiri hills at approximately, 2500 meters above sea level. The garden was designed and developed by W.G.McIvor from the royal gardens of Kew in 1948. He planted Ooty’s first Mulberry tree and the red and white Camellias. The fern house, which is built in Victorian architecture is named after McIvor.
Picture (above) – Tree from Australia
There are trees brought from every nook and corner of the world and the robust growth of the trees acknowledge that the weather is conducive for every type of plant species to survive here. The main reason of starting the botanical gardens was for the botanists to study and research about the flora present in the Nilgiris. Currently, the park is open to the public for a small entry fee. It is one of the oldest heritage gardens in the world. Many movies have been shot in this garden.
Picture (right) – Green House
I was amazed to see Magnolia tree in full bloom, the striking Maple tree adding the autumn color against the green lawn, Japonica flower, Australian tree with yellow blooms, palms from Canary Islands.
Picture (left) – Magnolia; (right) Palms from Canary Islands
The list is endless and wouldn’t plant lovers love to be lost in a place like this?? Some of the other rare trees that are found here are the Cork, Paper Bark, and the Monkey Puzzle trees.
Picture (left) – Fushcia; (right) – Pansy
A 20 million year old tree fossil is displayed in the gardens. During May a flower show is held in the gardens, which attracts thousands of people. Many birds have made this place their home.
The whole garden is divided into six sections, and they are Lower Garden, New Garden, Italian Garden, Conservatory, Fountain Terrace and Nurseries.
Another major attraction is an Italian-style garden bordering a pool, which has yellow lilies and looks like a garden from a fairy tale. The place is also an ideal location for bird watching. The fern house, orchidarium, green house are all worth a visit.
Picture – Yellow Lily
The settlement of the indigenous people of Ooty the Todas are on top of the hills. The settlements are called as munds. A trek up the hill inside the botanical gardens will take you to their settlement that will give an insight into their culture. Here, there is a Toda temple and huts of the Todas built in a very unique way.
Picture – Toda Temple
Todas are vegetarians and their occupation is cattle rearing and dairy. They worship buffaloes along with many other gods and goddesses and you can see the horns of the buffalo drawn on the entrance of the Toda temple.
Picture – Toda House and a Toda woman
They believe that goddess Teikirshy and her brother first created the sacred buffalo and then the first Toda man. The first Toda woman was created from the right rib of the first Toda man. Many poems and songs have been penned around the buffalo and these are sung or chanted during religious festivities and funerals.
Picture – Buffalo calf reared by the Todas
The Toda lands are under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site. Toda artifacts like rugs, shawls and bead work are on sale near the entrance of the botanical gardens.
Type of Place: Botanical Gardens
Distance: 3 Km from Ooty Bus stand
Transport: Autos, buses ply to the botanical gardens
Facilities: Rest room and a restaurant is available inside the gardens