Monday, April 18, 2011



O + O + T + Y = OOTY!

Oooty, or Ootacamund is the municipal capital of Nilgiri District in the western area of Tamil Nadu State, India. Right smack in the middle of southern India, Ooty, high up in the Nilgiri hills, offers respite from the heat and humidity of the low coastal areas for today's travellers, as it once did for the colonial rulers of past times. Wander around Ooty and you will find many archiyectural reminders of that era, some in faded grandeur, others well maintained.

Our Dragoman tour dropped us at Metupalaiyam  so we could catch the Nilgiri Mountain Railway Toy Train early in the morning. The train wound its way through the hills, covered in tea plantations, with a couple of stops at Coonoor and Wellington, arriving at Ooty at around noon. That was a beautiful and interesting trip. Catching glimpses of people's lives as we climbed higher and higher.

Info on timetables you'll find here- Ooty-train info

Our  beds for the night were at the YWCA.  Beware, the pictures make the rooms look more plush than they really are, but clean, simple rooms, shared toilets and bathrooms, with a very large and grand dining room still with a hint of colonial grandeur about it.

Ooty can turn on a surprise- the sunset was spectacular!
This photo taken through the dining room window glass is not enhanced.

Ooty has a fond place in our hearts. Our exploration next day took in several of the seven Christian Churches, and the Botanical Gardens.  

While walking up to St Stephens we heard the songs of a choir ringing out across the valley, becoming stronger as we approached a church. The uplifting and joyful voices drew us towards the church, we hesitated, then opened the door and were greeted by a wonderful sound of men, women and children singing their hearts out, so full of the joy of God.

Wow, what a moment! 

Sunday morning church choir in full melodious concert...we were enthralled!

The minister welcomed us in, beckoning us forward to sit down and join in. Every male on the right hand side turned to face us, and every woman on the left likewise... singing at the tops of their voices... a true moment of welcome. Kay and I were entranced with the melody of joyful happiness resounding around us. I wanted so much to video our experience but I put my camera and video recorder away. Sometimes you just have to sink into the moment. An experience like that is so rare, no distractions should be countenanced. They welcomed us - we were not going to intrude upon them but just to enjoy the singing.

Overlooking Ooty. The church where we enjoyed the choir is extreme left centre.

Eventually when they finished their singing, the minister began addressing his people, and we took our leave to continue up the top of the hill to St Stephens.

Ooty, or Ootacamund remains a place we fondly remember.

St Stephens.
We don't often think about India having a Christian religion, but it is its third largest faith, comprising around 2.5% of the population having arrived with St Thomas in 52 AD.



Jessica Brant said...

You are so lucky to have traveled so far and experience such amazing places in you life.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Hi Jim - Your trip would have been special if you visited the Madras Regimental Center - a beautiful old Indian Army establishment. I lived in Wellington as a child, when my Dad commanded that Center. Your post reminded me that I need to visit again.

Jim said...

I guess we are lucky Jessica, but it's been more about being thrifty and making good decisions in life.

Corinne, I'll have to google that and find out more about it. It's a very interesting part of India. Loved that train ride!

alejandro guzman said...

Ooty way to go Jim. Priceless memories.


Jorie Pacli said...

Nice! As this is something I have to include hopefully in my travel bucket list for India. What a way to rename it Ooty too..;) I love the sunset photo Jim. That is really marvelous pic...:)Thanks for sharing...:)

sheril benedict said...

Ah post about Ooty...popular hill station in Tamil Nadu ...That too thotabeta the highest peak here..nice place for excursion n that train is the highlight of this place !! Nice post jim

Rachel Hoyt said...

That looks like an amazing place to visit! I've never even heard of it. Thanks for sharing! :)