Blue haven spreads green message

Away from the city

Blue haven spreads green message

The landscape is striped with tea plantations and multi-coloured wooded sections. All this is punctuated with picturesque villages. The Nilgiris or ‘blue mountains’ is a name that does not seem to have any recorded history, though it is conjectured that the bluish haze caused by the altitude (situated at an elevation of 900 to 2636 meters above MSL) gave the area its name, or that the name came from the ‘kurunji’ flower, known to bloom here every 12 years and cover the hillsides with shades of blue. 

The very thought of these verdant spaces being sullied with plastic is depressing; the reality of the plastic-free status of the area is apparent in the strict use of either brown paper, or sturdy newspaper bags by the shops. The popularity of Ooty, Coonoor and Kothagiri, once belonging entirely to the Kota, Soligas, Irumba and Badaga indigenous tribes, as a holiday resort began early in the 19th century. History records the role of East India Company employee John Sullivan in popularising the Nilgiris as a summer home for the English, working in the heat of the plains. He even introduced a variety of plants and trees to the region, brought from Europe and South Africa, and his house and grave can still be visited in Ooty. The late 19th century saw the region well connected by road and rail, and with the ownership of vast tracts of land by British officials came the tea and coffee plantations. Existing forest area and a great deal of grasslands and shrublands were cleared to make way for cultivation. However, the area continued to grow as a tourist destination in summer months, the plantations at least preventing large-scale building activity and urbanisation.

Many home-stays, being part of the original architecture of the area, blend in with the scenery and offer different panoramic views of the landscape. The area is a bird-watcher’s paradise. It is possible to see the bison in herds, lithe horned deer, and even elephants and tigers (for those who are very lucky). Driving through the estates looking for vantage points to capture the best views can be filled with adventure. However, every hairpin bend miraculously produces a new picture and offer breathtaking views of spectacular skies and undulating land spreading like a fairy-tale scene until they meet at the horizon.

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