Hill Stations – Tamil Nadu
During the time of the Raj the British wanted refuge from the heat of the Indian plains so developed the Hill Station – an area in the mountains to which they could retreat during the summer months. Tamil Nadu has a number of Hill Stations in the Western Ghat Mountains. Ooty is the best known and many people visit this area in order to ride the Nilgiri Blue Mountain Railway. The ‘toy train’ is a narrow gauge railway running from the plains of Mettupalayam, through Coonoor and on to Ooty. Railway enthusiasts like to do the whole journey (particularly the section between Mettupalayam and Coonoor as this is by steam train) but many people are happy to travel between Ooty and Coonoor. The steep terrain of the area means that the line is vulnerable to landslides and trains can break down. So if you are planning to visit the area purely to see or ride this train you need to be prepared that it may not be operating.
Ooty (now officially called Udhagamandalam) is the most well-known of the Tamil Hill Stations. It is at an altitude of over 2000 m and an area where tea is grown. Today it is a busy town.
Not as well-known as its neighbour Ooty – but offers much the same hill station/tea growing experience and is not as busy.
There are some other interesting places to stay in the Ooty/Coonoor area. Kotagiri (an hour from Ooty) is a quiet trekking and tea estate area.
Mettupalayam area & Coimbatore
This hill station is located in the Palani Hills 120 km from Madurai – so it is an alternative journey break to the hill station of Munnar just across the border in Kerala. Kodaikanal has a lake in the middle of town and is a good area for trekking.