Friday, September 14, 2012

"Queen of Hill Stations" The NILGIRIS Informations.

                                             THE "NILGIRIS"

   The Nilgiri (Tamil: நீலகிரி, Badaga or blue mountains are often referred to as the Nilgiri Hills, are a range of mountains with at least 24 peaks above 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), in the westernmost part of Tamil Nadu state at the junction ofKarnataka and Kerala states in Southern India. They are part of the larger Western Ghats mountain chain making up the southwestern edge of the Deccan Plateau.


   The hills are separated from the Karnataka plateau to the north by the Moyar Riverand from the Anaimalai Hills and Palni Hills to the south by the Palghat Gap. TheNilgiris District of Tamil Nadu lies within these mountains. Its latitudinal and longitudinal dimensions are 130 km (Latitude: 11° 08' to 11° 37' N) by 185 km (Longitude: 76° 27' E to 77° 4' E). Central location is: 11°22′30″N 76°45′30″E . It has an area of 2,479 square kilometres (957 sq mi).

                                               Overview The NILGIRIS MOUNTAIN


    The first recorded use of the word Nila applied to this region can be traced to 1117 AD in the report of a general of Vishnuvardhana, King of Hoysalas, who in reference to his enemies, claimed to have “frightened the Todas, driven the Kangas underground, slaughtered thePallavas, put to death the Malayalas, terrified King Kala and then proceeded to offer the peak of Nila Mountain (presumably Dodabetta) to Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth.[4]
    The original inhabitants of the Nilgiri Hills were the Toda, Badaga, Kota, Irula and kurumbas. The Nilgiri Hills were part of Chera Empire in ancient times. Later, the area came under the rule of the Western Ganga Dynasty, and then Hoysala empire in the 12th century. They then became part of the Kingdom of Mysore of Tipu Sultan who later surrendered them to theBritish in the 18th century.
The first Europeans to attempt the grueling climb to the Nilgiris included an enigmatic Jesuit priest, Father Fininicio, in 1603. They struggled up the mountains, avoiding elephants, tigers and other wild beasts, and met the Todas at the top.
From 1799 these mountains were seen daily by the British authorities from the plains ofCoimbatore. Revenue was collected from them for the British East India Company by a native renter. Excepting Dr. Ford and Capt. Bevan, who traversed the hills in 1809 with a party of pioneers, and some deputy surveyors under Colonel Monson, who partially mapped the area, no British had ventured to explore the all but unknown region.
In 1814, Mr, Keys, a sub-assistant, and Mr. McMahon, an apprentice in the Survey Department, ascended the hills by the Danaynkeucottah Pass, penetrated into the remotest parts, made plans, and sent in reports of their discoveries. As a result of these accounts, Messrs. Whish and Kindersley, two young Madras civilians, ventured up in pursuit of some criminal's taking refuge in the mountains, and proceeded to reconnoitre the interior. They soon saw and felt enough favorable climate and terrain to excite their own curiosity and that of others.

In 1819, John Sullivan, the British Collector of Coimbatore, set out to explore the Nilgiris after obtaining an order from the British East India Company charging him to investigate the "origin of the fabulous tales that are circulated concerning the Blue Mountains to verify their authenticity and to send a report to the authorities".
With a detachment of Europeans and Indian sepoys, he set out on his mission on January 2, 1819. The journey involved crossing rough and harsh terrain, steep precipices and danger from wild animals. After an expedition that lasted for six days and loss of the lives of some of the expedition members, Sullivan finally reached a plateau from where he proudly hoisted the British flag.

In May, 1819, the same tourists from Coimbatore, accompanied by Monsieur Leschnault de la Tour, naturalist to the King of France, repeated their excursion. They asserted the temperature in the shade to be 74 °F (23 °C) at a time when the temperature of the plains was up to 100 °F (38 °C). Such a climate within the tropics was considered so great an anomaly that few at first believed its existence.
John Sullivan occupied the area by buying land from the native tribes people, often buying up many square kilometres in a day for the price of a few meals. In 1822, he began construction of the first house in the Nilgiris on a hillock in Ooty, to the east of the hollow where the racecourse now lies. In 1823 his wife, who had the distinction of being the first European woman in the Nilgiris, and his infant son moved into the house called Stonehouse. Government House was soon built a few meters away. Stonehouse now serves as the administration building for the Government Arts College, which is the former Government House.
After the early 1820s, the hills were developed rapidly under the British Raj because most of the land was by then privately owned by British citizens. It was a popular summer and weekend getaway for the British during the colonial days. In 1827 Ooty became the official sanatoriumand the summer capital of the Madras Presidency. Many winding hill roads were built. In 1899, The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was completed by influential and enterprising British citizens with venture capital from the Madras government.

Peaks in the Nilgiris


Doddabetta Peak, 4 km east south east from Udhagamandalam,11°24′10″N 76°44′14″E , with a height of 2,637 metres (8,652 ft) is the highest point in the Nilgiris and the southern extent of the range. . Hecuba (height: 2,375 metres (7,792 ft)), Kattadadu (height: 2,418 metres (7,933 ft)) and Kulkudi (height: 2,439 metres (8,002 ft)) are closely linked peaks in the west of Doddabetta range and nearby Udhagamandalam.
Snowdon (height: (2,530 metres (8,301 ft)) 11°26′N 76°46′E  is the northern extent of the range.Club Hill (height: 2,448 metres (8,031 ft)) and Elk Hill (height: 2,466 metres (8,091 ft))11°23′55″N 76°42′39″E are significant elevations in this range. Snowdon, Club Hill and Elk Hill along with Doddabetta, form the impressive Udhagamandalam Valley.
Devashola (height: 2,261 metres (7,418 ft)), notable for its Blue gum trees, is in the south of Doddabetta range.
 (height: 1,707 metres (5,600 ft)) is east of the Devashola. The Bhavani Valley and the Lambton's peak range of Coimbatore district stretch from here.
Hullikal Durg (height: 562 metres (1,844 ft)), 11°19′N 76°53′E  in the Kannada language, Hulikal Durg means Tiger Rock Fort. The Sanskrit name of his place is Bakasura Parvata. It is 3 km. south east of Coonoor. Tropical Pine forest flourishes at the base of this hill, while the valleys support green foliage.
Coonoor Betta (2,101 metres (6,893 ft)) is also called Teneriffe. It is on the northern side of the gorge, accommodating the Nilgiri Mountain Railway to Coonoor.
Rallia Hill (height: 2,248 metres (7,375 ft))11°25′N 76°53′E  is in the midst of a reserved forest and almost equidistant from Udhagamandalam and Kotagiri.
Dimhatti Hill (height: 1,788 metres (5,866 ft)) 11°26′N 76°01′E  is above the Gajalahatti pass, which provided a short cut from Mysore to the Carnatic plains and was of much strategic importance in the eighteenth century. This peak, dedicated to the Deity Rangaswamy is considered holy by the people of the surrounding villages.
Nilgiris Peaks in Mukurthi National Park
On the Nilgiri Plateau, the Kundah range of the Nilgiri hills is a ridge on the south-western side of Mukurthi National Park borderingKerala. With elevations greater than the general level of the plateau, the range possesses some peaks close to the height of Doddabetta.
Avalanche hill of this range has the twin-peaks of Kudikkadu (height: 2,590 metres (8,497 ft)) and Kolaribetta (height: 2,625 metres (8,612 ft)).
 (or Bear Hill) (height: 2,531 metres (8,304 ft)) and Kolibetta (height: 2,494 metres (8,182 ft)), south of the Ouchterlony valley, are a continuation of the Kundah range.
Mukurthi Peak
Mukurthi Peak 2,554 metres (8,379 ft)) 11°23′29″N 76°31′38″E , Pichalbetta (height: 2,544 metres (8,346 ft)) and Nilgiri Peak (height: 2,474 metres (8,117 ft)) 11°24′0″N 76°30′4″E  are the important heights of this area. These 3 hills of the Wayanad district are generally low in relation to other heights of the district; but are distinguished in relation to the generally uniform level of this area.
Maruppanmudi hill
 (height: 1,528 metres (5,013 ft)) 11°31′N 76°27′E  is 10 km. northwest ofGudalur.
Other heights deserving notice are: Needle Rock, Hadiabetta Hill (height: 1,155 metres (3,789 ft)), Glulur hill (height: 1,148 metres (3,766 ft)).
Chinna Doddabetta
 (height: 2,392 metres (7,848 ft)) 11°28′N 76°45′E  is about five km. south of Udhagamandalam.
 Konabetta Peak
Konabetta: (height: 1,880 metres (6,168 ft)) 11°30′N 76°46′E  is about 5 km, north-northeast of Udhagamandalam. This is also called Sigur Peak.
Koodal Betta
 (height: 2,183 metres (7,162 ft)) 11°28′N 76°50′E  means Echoing rock. It is about 13 km north-east of Udhagamandalam.
Kundah Betta
 (height: 1,998 metres (6,555 ft)) 11°07′N 76°43′E  is About 10 km south-southwest of Udhagamandalam.
Kundah Mugi
 (height: 2,344 metres (7,690 ft))11°24′N 76°51′E  is about 11 km east of Udhagamandalam,
Dolphin's Nose 11°22′N 76°51′E  is a promonotory over the Kotagiri valley about 6 km east-northeast of Coonoor. The place provides an excellent view of the Catherine falls and a vast expanse of verdant plains.
Ibex Hill
 11°27′N 76°35′E  is about 17 km., west-southwest of Udhagamandalam. It is a straight cliff in the proximity of Sigur Pass.
Muttunadu Betta (height: 2,323 metres (7,621 ft)) 11°27′N 76°43′E  is about 5 km, north northwest of Udhagamandalam.
 (Coppery Hill) (height: 2,120 metres (6,955 ft)) 11°22′N 76°48′E  is about 8 km. south east of Udhagamandalam.
 (Silvery Hill) (height: 2,120 metres (6,955 ft)) is 16 km west-northwest of Udhagamandalam

Tourist Places
Ooty Botanical Gardens:
The Botanical Garden is a lush green and well maintained Botanical garden. A flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant species is held every year at this garden. The garden also has a 20 million year old fossilized tree. One can find a diverse variety of flora, ranging from rare trees like the cork tree, the paper bark tree, and the monkey puzzle tree, flowering bushes and plants, fern house consists of ferns and orchids.
Ooty Lake & Boat House:
This is an artificial lake. It used to be much larger than its present size of 4 km2 and is 2.5 km in length, and encompassed the present bus stand and race course as well as much of the present market. Boating is the major attraction at the lake. The boat rise allows visitors to enjoy the serene environs at a laid-back pace.
Stone House
This was the first "Pukka" house in Ooty. It is situated inside the premises of the Government Arts College. It now houses the government office.
Toda Huts
There are a few number of Toda Huts up in the hills of Botanical Garden were Todas still dwell.
Railway Station
This is a important junction for The Nilgiri Railways. It is very clean and well maintained.
St. Stephen's Church
This one of the oldest churches in the town, it architecture is essentially old style with tall spires. It is located near the District Court house building.
Wax World, Ooty
A wax museum that houses life-size look-alike wax statues of personalities of Indian history, culture and heritage housed in a 142 year old bungalow.
Ooty Golf Links
It is a forested and grassy area, partially home to a golf course.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there now and stay a week or two and experience bliss like never before. Please post your 'Jiyo Life Moments' stories and share with the rest of the world so that they too can experience this heaven on earth.


Nilgiri Mountain Railway

    The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a railway in Tamil NaduIndia, built by the British in 1908,[1] and was initially operated by the Madras Railway. The railway still relies on its fleet of steam locomotives.[2] NMR comes under the jurisdiction of the newly formed Salem Division. In July 2005, UNESCO added the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the site then became known as "Mountain Railways of India."[3] After it satisfied the necessary criteria, thus forcing abandonment of the modernisation plans. For the past several years diesel locomotives have taken over from steam on the section between Coonoorand Udhagamandalam. Local people and tourists have led a demand for steam locos to once again haul this section.[2] The famous Hindi song "Chaiyya Chaiyya" from the film "Dil Se" featuring Shahrukh Khan was shot on the roof top of NMR. 

The NMR track is 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) gauge and the railway is isolated from othermetre gauge lines.
Between Mettupalayam and Coonoor, the line uses the Abt rack and pinion system to climb the steep gradient. On this rack section trains are operated by 'X' Class steam rack locomotives manufactured by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works ofWinterthur in Switzerland. These steam locomotives can be used on any part of the line (either with or without the rack section),but the newer diesel locomotives can operate on the entire section, between Mettupalayam andUdagamandalam.This signals the beginning of the process to phase out the coal-fired vintage Swiss engines that took scores of passengers on the rack and pinion track to Coonoor and Udhagamandalam, covering 41.8 km, 108 curves, 16 tunnels and 250 bridges
Hence, the Southern Railway decided to replace the coal-fired locomotives. The work was entrusted to Golden Rock Workshop of Southern Railway at Tiruchirapalli. Each of the new engines weighs a little over 50 tonnes and cost Rs.10 crore.
The new engine has been provided with pilot and primary burners with separate tanks to hold about 850 litres of diesel and 2,250 litres of furnace oil. The hauling capacity of this new engine is 97.6 tonnes and it can run at a speed of 30 km an hour in plains and at 15 km an hour on a gradient.
Officials hoped to put the engine to use by Sunday on the Mettuppalayam–Coonoor section. The arrival of the new engines raises hopes of eliminating the disruption in service that occurred frequently over the last two years.
For long, the X Class locomotives manufactured by Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur in Switzerland lent that distinct charm to NMR. These locomotives are six to eight decades old, railway officials said
The steam locomotives are always marshalled at the downhill (Mettupalayam) end of the train. The average gradient in this rack section is 1 in 24.5 (4.08%), with a maximum of 1 in 12 (8.33%).

Mettupalayam-Ooty Mountain Train Hauled By Diesel Locomotive Approaching Wellington Station

Nilgiri Mountain Train Hauled By YDM4 Locomotive
Between Coonoor and Udagamandalam the train is operated by a YDM4 diesel locomotiveusing conventional rail adhesion principles. On this section the locomotive is always at the Coonoor end of the train as although the line is not steep enough to need a rack rail, the ruling gradient out of Coonoor is still very steep at 1 in 25 (4%).

Steam Locomotive
As of 2007, there is one train a day over the rack section, which starts from Mettupalayam at 07:10 and reaches Ooty at noon. The return train starts from Ooty at 15:00, and reaches Mettupalayam at 18:35. The train is scheduled to connect to the Nilgiri Express, which travels from Mettupalayam to Chennai via Coimbatore. A summer special service is also run during the months of April and May, starting from Mettupalayam at 09:30 and from Ooty at 12:15. Between Coonoor and Udagamandalam, there are four daily trains each way.

Even though the NMR stations have networked computerised ticketing systems for onward journeys, it still issues Edmondson style manual tickets for the Ooty-Mettupalayam journey to preserve the 'World Heritage Site' status of the railway. However, ticket booking is similar to other conventional trains and can also be done via the Indian Railways' website.[4] It is advisable to book tickets for this railway in advance, especially during peak season.
The majority of repairs to the locomotives are carried out at the Coonoor shed but many of the steam locomotives have been rebuilt at the Golden Rock Workshops. Carriages are repaired at Mettupalayam but, like the locomotives, are taken to one of the big railway workshops for major work. Due to its popularity, a number of passengers using the NMR have requested that the Southern Railways convert the section from Coonoor to Udagamandalam to steam locomotive[citation needed], extending the present steam traction between Mettupalayam and Coonoor.
Mettupalayam Station
Mettupalayam(Coimbatore) - 0 km (0 mi), 1,069 ft (325.8 m) above sea level - Junction with the 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) (Indian Gauge) line from Coimbatore city railway station. Passengers cross the platform to board the Nilagiri Passenger train (NMR). There is a small locomotive shed here and also the carriage workshops for the line.Leaving Mettupalayum, the line is adhesion worked and actually drops for a short distance before crossing the Bhavani River, after which it starts to climb gently.

Nilgiri tea

Nilgiri tea is generally described as being a dark, intensely aromatic, fragrant and flavoured tea grown in the southern portion of the Western Ghats mountains of Southern India. It is grown in the hills of the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu, though there are numerous other tea-growing districts in South India as well, including Munnar and Central Travancore, further south in Kerala state.

Nilgiri tea plantations are represented by the Nilgiri Planters' Association, which is an organizational member of the United Planters Association of South India (UPASI), headquartered in Coonoor. UPASI is the peak body representing plantation owners in South India. However, plantations only account for around 30% of tea production in Nilgiri District. The vast majority of production is undertaken by small growers, who typically own less than one hectare each.[1] The majority of Nilgiri tea small growers are Badagas people, a local community of agriculturists.[2]
Tea plantations in Nilgiri District (as in other growing districts of India) typically own and operate their own processing factories. Small growers sell their tea as green leaf to "bought leaf factories", which are independently owned. (Although in recent years, some plantation factories have started buying green leaf from small growers)[3] After processing (which converts the green leaf into 'made tea'), most is sold through regularly scheduled auctions inCoonoorCoimbatore and Kochi (India)|Kochi. More than 50% of Nilgiri tea is exported, and usually finds its way into blends used for tea bags.[4]
The expensive hand-sorted, full-leaf versions of the tea like the Orange Pekoe (O.P.) are highly sought after at international auctions making it unaffordable for most locals. In November 2006 a Nilgiri Tea achieved "Top Honours" and fetched a world record price of $600 per kg. This was at the first ever tea auction held in Las Vegas. A machine-sorted, lower-cost variety of high quality tea is a semi-full leaf variety known as Broken Orange Pekoe (B.O.P.). However, most production occurs via the Crush, Tear, Curl or CTC process of manufacture, which delivers a higher number of cups per measure (technically known as cuppage). The strong flavours of Nilgiri tea make it useful for blending purposes. At the same time, Nilgiri tea has suffered from poor reputation associated with its erstwhile reliance on sales to the former USSR. Soviet buyers had little regard for quality.[5] In the 1990s the collapse of this trading partner triggered a substantial economic downslide in the Nilgiris district, which was further aggravated by various quality issues.[citation needed] In recent years the Tea Board of India has charged some producers of Nilgiri tea with fraudulently adulterating their product, and has closed some Bought Leaf Factories due to non-compliance with food safety regulations.[citation needed] Also with a view to improving product quality, the United Planters Association of South India and the Tea Board of India have instigated programs to change cultivation and harvest practices among small growers.

 Mudumalai National Park 

The Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary Tamil:முதுமலை வனவிலங்கு காப்பகம், now also declared a Tiger Reserve, lies on the northwestern side of the Nilgiri Hills (Blue Mountains), in Nilgiri District, about 150 km (93 mi) north-west of Coimbatore in the westernmost part of Tamil Nadu, on the interstate boundaries with Karnataka and Kerala states in South India. Mudumalai, which means 'first hills’, is one of the first wildlife sanctuaries established in India. The sanctuary is divided into 5 ranges - Masinagudi(in Karnataka), Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota.

Here one can often spot herds of endangered Indian elephantsvulnerableGaur, and Chital. The sanctuary is a haven for Bengal Tigers and Indian Leopards and other threatened species. There are at least 266 species of birds in the sanctuary, including critically endangered species like the Indian White-rumped Vulture and the long-billed vulture.[1]
The Western Ghats, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (6,000 km2 (2,300 sq mi)), including all of Mudumalai National Park, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site
The Nilgiri tahr

The Nilgiri tahrNilgiritragus hylocrius, known locally as the Nilgiri ibex or simplyibex, is an ungulate that is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of theWestern Ghats in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in southern India. It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu.[2] Despite its local name, it is more closely related to the sheep of the Ovis genus than the ibex and wild goats of the Capra genus. 
In the Tamil Language it is called varaiaadu, the term being composed of two Tamil words, wurraiprecipice, and aadu, a goat. It is also the state animal of Tamil Nadu.[3] The ancient word in classical Tamil was "varudai" (வருடை: Natrinai, 359; Ainkurunuru, 287; Pattinappalai, 139). It was previously named Capra warryato byGray.[4]
Its closest relatives are sheep (genus Ovis). Until 2005, it was placed with the Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) and the Arabian tahr (Arabitragus jayakari) in the genus Hemitragus. However, it has recently been transferred to a new genus Nilgiritragus because it is genetically more similar to members of the genus Ovis than to other tahrs.

Kotagiri is a panchayat town in The Nilgiris District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Kotagiri is situated at an elevation of around 1793m above sea level and is one of the three popular hill stations located in the Nilgiris. This picturesque hill station is bounded by verdant green tea estates and offers a number of trekking options.
This old hill station has been developed around innumerable knolls and valleys. The Doddabetta Range is 22 km away. Catherine Falls, Elk Falls and Rangaswami Pillar are the major attractions near Kotagiri and you can trek to these places. Kodanad View Point offers a spectacular view of the gentle sloping hills and blue hills. There is another jungle trekking trail that leads you to a small stream of water.
The three popular trekking trails are Kotagiri - Kodanad; Kotagiri - St. Catherine Falls and Kotagiri - Longwood Shola. The Kotagiri - Kodanad trail leads you through splendid views of lush-green tea estates and the magnificent Moyar River. One has to cross through meadows to reach Kodanad.Kotagiri is linked by road to Mettupalayam. The road which continues on to Ooty (27 km from Kotagiri to Ooty) is one of the Nilgiri Ghat Roads and is now one of the five access routes for the entire district. Coonoor is 23 km from Kotagiri and connected by a road that branches off the Ooty road.
Buses to Kotagairi are available from Mettupalayam in the foothills and also from Ooty and other places.
Kotagiri is well-connected with all the major cities of Tamil Nadu by road. There are regular bus services from Ooty, Mettupalayam andCoonoor. The nearest railhead is in Coonoor. The nearest airport is in Coimbatore (65 km) which is well-linked to cities like Chennai,Bangalore and Cochin.