Nilgiris Geography and climate

Nilgiris Geography and climate

 

Geography of Ooty

The geography of Ooty is unique owing to its location nestled amidst the district of the Nilgiris Mountain range which is home to the Doddabetta peak, considered as the highest point in South India.

The Blue Mountains is also a name given to a mountain range that spreads across the three Indian States; Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Nilgiris Hills form a part of a larger chain of mountains known as the Western Ghats which are famous for their scenic beauty.

Situated within the State of Tamil Nadu, the Nilgiris District is flanked to the North by the District of Mysore situated in Karnataka and the District of Wayanad situated in Kerala. To its south is the District of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, to its west are the Districts of Malappuram and Palakkad in Kerala and to its east are the Districts of Erode in Tamil Nadu and the District of Chamarajanagar in Karnataka.

The Nilgiris District comprises of three sections; Ooty or Ootacamund, Coonoor and Kotagiri that form apt base camps for an interesting journey into the Nilgiris. Coonoor is perched at an average height of 1,502 meters above mean sea level while Kotagiri sits at an average elevation of 1,793 meters above mean sea level and enjoys great weather as it is protected from the invasion of the south-west monsoons by the Doddabetta mountain ranges.

The most famous hill station of the three, Ooty sits at a height of 2,240 meters above mean seal level and is home to soft slopes and dense forests dotted with Shola trees that perfectly alternate with numerous orange groves, tea garden estates and coffee plantations. This region is home to the Todas, Kurumbhas and Irulas Tribes who still reside in the same indigenous ways that has changed a bit over the past centuries.

The Doddabetta Peak forms the highest point of the Western Ghats perched at a height of 2,623 meters above sea level which primarily encompasses the Nilgiris District within which this mountain range cradles the stunning hilly region of Ooty.

Ooty or Udhagamandalam houses the headquarters of the Nilgiris District that spans over a lush green area of 2,452.50 Square Kilometers. The topography of Ooty is marked by steep and rolling hills wherein approx. 16% to 35% of the Nilgiris slopes are cultivated from an approximate 60% of cultivable land. This District is scattered with small villages, clear streams, comforting blue lakes and elegant cottages lending a perfect holiday destination for tourists who prefer to enjoy the beauty of nature.

Historically stating, the Hills of Nilgiris have a history dating back several centuries ago, however, it’s quiet intriguing as to how they were called the Blue Mountains as very little or no information is available. Some cite that the name was derived from the smoky blue haze that perpetually envelopes the region whereas a few other sources cite that that its name was derived from the Neelakurinji flower that blossoms once in every twelve years yielding a bluish tinge to the entire slopes of the Nilgiris, a stunning view that captivates the eye for sure.

The Nilgiris coincide at a point to form a junction between the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats and are known as the oldest mountain ranges of India followed by the Majestic Himalayas. These hills stretch across the borders of Tamil Nadu into the adjoining states of Karnataka and Kerala and are considered easier to traverse through when compared to the Himalayas thus are best suited for amateur trekkers. This is possible owing to its manageable slopes, captivating beauty and climatic conditions that avoid any chances of fatigue. Its mesmerizing sights are enough to lure skilled hikers to get a feel of these mountains while enjoying a stress-free expedition.

The Nilgiris is covered by two eco-regions, the South Western Ghats that homes a diverse ensemble of trees mainly dominated by moist ‘Deciduous Forests’ area perched at an elevation between 250 and 1,000 meters and the ‘Rain Forests’ montane eco-region that covers an area ranging from above an elevation of 1,000 meters.

The Deciduous Forests eco-region extends along the South Western Ghats right through to the southern tip of India and homes the largest herd of Asian Elephants and tiger habitat that also reside across to the Eastern Ghats while the Rain Forests eco-region is lush and dense and considered amongst the most diverse forest on planet earth.

The rain forests area covering the elevated region above 1500 meters gives way to stunted Shola Forests that are interspersed with open montane grasslands which is home to only 2,000 Nilgiri Tahr goats, an endangered species found only in this region of the South Western Ghats.

A trip to Ooty will take you through a journey filled with a view of varied changes in vegetation especially during your travel from Kallar to Coonoor. At Kallar, you get to experience a tropical climate and from Mettupalayam to Ooty, you get to experience a sub-tropical climate.

During the journey, from Mettupalayam to Ooty, you cross through humid regions near Coonoor covered with pine, cypress and eucalyptus globulus trees offering tourists with an exciting opportunity to experience the marvelous blend of climatic and vegetation changes thus giving it the apt description of a long botanical entrapment.

 

Various seasons in Ooty brings out the different aspects of the beauty of this hill station. While the summers are charming and colorful, the winters in Ooty are thrilling.It is among the relatively cool places in South India.

Being located at quite a high altitude the climate of Ooty remains cool and temperate almost all through the year. During the summers temperature ranges from 10 degrees to 25 degrees. During the winter months temperature ranges between 5 degree and 21 degrees centigrade.

The spring season is the time when Ooty is most colorful. The surrounding hills bustles with the varied hues of different regional flowers.

Ooty receives an above average rainfall during the monsoon. Tucked deep inside the Ghats, the place is not immune to the tropical rains that lash South India during the monsoon. Rains can get pretty relentless at times and can dampen the spirits of those who have come to enjoy a well earned vacation. The roads get pretty slippery during this time and the mountain curves get pretty dangerous. The heavy fog that sets in during the later part of the monsoon and throughout the winter can play spoil sport to your trekking plans and other adventure activities. Most of these places will either remain closed or will be opened considering according to convenience.


The average yearly rainfall is 121 centimeters. During the rainy season the hill station blooms with lush greenery all around. During this time the trek routes are generally closed but the rainy season of Ooty offers a charm that no other season does.

Though the pleasing weather of Ooty has made it a place favorable for visiting at any time of the year, but the most suitable times to visit this hill station are the months of February and March and the time between October and November.

Ooty has grown to become an important travel destination mainly because of the refreshing quality of its weather.

Three national parks protect portions of the Nilgiris. Mudumalai National Park lies in the northern part of the range where Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu meet, and covers an area of 321 km². Mukurthi National Park lies in the southwest part of the range, in Kerala, and covers an area of 78.5 km², which includes intact shola-grassland mosaic, habitat for the Nilgiri tahr. Silent Valley National Park lies just to the south and contiguous with those two parks, covering an area of 89.52 km². Outside the boundaries of those parks, locals have cleared large tracts of the native forest to graze cattle, and for plantations of tea, Eucalyptus, ganga and Acacia.

Location:

    • Latitude 11° 08' to 11° 37' N
 
  • Longitude 76° 27' E to 77° 4' E

Area:

  • 2,552.50 km2

Elevation:

  • Highest – Doddabetta peak 2,637
    metres (8,652 ft.)

Waterfall:

    • Highest - Kolakambai Fall 400ft
 
  • 2nd highest -Catherine Falls 250ft

Temperatures:

    • Summer - March to june
      Max 25 °C and Min 10° C
 
    • Monsoon - July to sep
      Max 18 °C and Min 11° C
 
  • Winter - Nov to Jan
    Max 14 °C and Min 0° C

Rainfall:

  • 3,520.8 millimetres (138.61 in)

Forest Type:

  • Moist, dry, evergreen and montane
    (shola) tropical forests

Ootacamund, or Udhagamandalam, the district capital, constitutes the principal town of the area. The town also has several buildings in British-style architecture, especially the church buildings. A road junction has the name Charing Cross. The other main towns in the Nilgiris include Coonoor, Kotagiri, Gudalur and Aruvankadu. Well-known tourist spots in Coonoor include Lambsrock and Sims park. In Sims park, the city hosts a "Fruit Show" in the summer. Vendors display all the varieties of fruit during the show.