Ooty (hill resort) is celebrating bicentenary this year - proper infrastructure management will improve its revenue potential!!

 In 2022, the popular hill station - Ooty in the Nilgiris district of TN  often called the  ''queen of hills'', is completing  200 years of is existence. Unveiling of  John Sullivan's statue at Ooty by the CM of Tamil Nadu Mr. Stalin  in May 2022- marked the beginning of  the bicentenary celebration that is said to last one long year. The TN government had sanctioned R.10 crore for the celebrations.

Ooty Stone House  thehindu.com

Above image: The stone house, the first building constructed by John Sullivan in the Nilgiris; in 1823............

Sullivan's stone house ''(Kal Bangala'') Ooty, TN  in.pinterest.com

Founder of Ooty John Sullivan 1819.chennaifirst.in

Above image: Sullivan's 225th birth anniversary was celebrated  on June 15, 2013. He was the collector of Coimbatore district under the Madras Presidency.  It was in 1870, Ooty became the Summer Capital of the Madras Presidency and the first couple  to arrive at the hill station were Lord Francis  Napier and Lady Nnapier .............

Hill station Ooty location map, TN.tapioca.co.in

The Presidency of Madras took over its administration of the Nilgiris region on  July 22, 1799 soon after death of  Tipu Sultan in the last Angelo-Mysore war at Srirangapatna, now in Karnataka. While under their rule, the British did try to explore the Nilgiris hills. The modern history of this place began with the discovery of the hill by John Sullivan, the then  Collector of Coimbatore in 1819. 

His first expedition  to the hill included a group of several hunters, warriors, etc with camp gear.. His camping  at Dimhatti  near Kotagiri gave him a unique experience  and quite satisfaction  with the weather on the hills.  After two years  he bought  a piece of  land from the Toda tribe at Hothedge Mund (habitat of Toda). According one Dharmaligam, Hon. director of Nilgiris Doct. center, the land was part of an abandoned   funerary  hamlet of the native tribes.

Tea Estate, Ooty, TN.oomtventertainment.com

Hill station, Ooty, Tamil Nadu. tripadvisor.ca

Sullivan  built the first ever modern stone house on June 1 of 1823.  It was a  red-letter day in Indo-British history and the history of  the Nilgiris hill.  Under the colonial rule, this date is considered the foundation of  Ootacamund (Ooty) as the first ever  hill station in the British EmpireSullivan's settlement, congenial weather and serene environment  made the British on the hot plains of India  move uphill.  Soon  the missionaries moved up hill and built a small Catholic church. The stone house is  now on the premises of the Govt. Arts college. On August 18, 1868 for administrative purpose, Nilgiris district was formed by the EIC's Madras Presidency. This hill station was the summer capital of Madras Presidency for 70 long years; Lord Thomas Monroe. was one the early occupant of this place. Countless higherups, governors,  viceroys visited this place. English actor Richard Burton  once visited this hill station decades ago.

On his own initiative,  Sullivan developed the Ooty lake  and  there was a  proposal to develop this area  into a sanatorium. The lake was extended farther for irrigation and agricultural   purposes, etc.  Credit goes to Sullivan  who introduced  potato, cabbage and tea plants new to this area   as the climate was conducive for their farming.  To day tea and coffee are major crops and there are plenty of tea estates in the Nilgiris,  some of them were once owned by the Europeans once. Nilgiris Tea is a famous one on the international market. 

cloudy dat, Ooty, Flicker.com

Nilgiris Mt. railway, TN youtube.com

Above image: The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+3⁄8 in) meter gauge railway in Tamil Nadu, India, built by the British in 1908 is a popular one and  in ''July 2005, UNESCO added the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.''  It comes under the management of   the Southern Railway and is the only rack railway in India. recently.  NMR switched over to   to diesel locomotives haul the carriages  on the section between Coonoor and Udhagamandalam...................

It was Sullivan's  early  expeditions to the Nilgiris  that marked the legacy of British settlement in this part of the hills. The pristine hill with plenty of unexplored  wooded areas over a period of time became a beehive  for   human activities that had begun to change the history and topography of   this place. 

Once a beautiful and lush green  place in the past in the last 200 years it  has witnessed   many historical events, the most important one being  the exit of the British in 1947 who had left behind school buildings, churches, military station, mansions built by them to serve their purposes.  

Though Sullivan's discovery had a positive impact on the economy of this hill station, there is an undercurrent of criticism and disapproval by the a section of historians and experts  interested in tribal welfare.   When the British owners started developing tea plantations with workers from many other places, their intrusion in the tribal land   impacted the tranquility and livelihood of Todas. Ecological destruction apart, at stake was the dynamics of the natives and their cultural ethos. They experienced expansion on their land, loss of wooded areas and soil  cover.   Some heritage lovers  are of the opinion that  ''when  good things happen here and there bad things do happen and such negative aspects of the arrival of  Europeans on he hills can not undo what benefits Sullivan had brought in. His singular achievements can not be overshadowed by other negative aspects. The present over-crowding, air pollution, deforestation, more housing, loss of habits of animals - all these have happened in the past several decades because of Man's greed.   

Today the hill station barely survives hosting 3 million visitors every year, not withstanding the fact that it has taken a heavy toll on it due to  ecological degradation, over housing and  increase in population. Once a nice small quiet town, a green paradise with wooded areas near by for gaming,  post independence, it has become a concrete jungle with poor town planning. In some places houses/buildings   coming up on barren slopes are vulnerable to landslides during the rainy season with the loss of thick soil and forest cover. The town is literally   bursting at seams. 

Residents complain that the  garbage dump at Theetukal  is an eye sore and  a grim reminder of better waste management  Indiscriminate commercialization and  tourist influx  have an extra  grip on the hill station. According to the INTACH- Nilgiris chapter the best tribute to Ooty town  during the 200 year  celebration would be preserving the environment of the hills''   Still it is not too late if the town planners with adequate funds turn this hill back to old glory - a place of serene and ambiance. 

'Dirking drainage sanitation facilities, new infrastructure, well-paved roads, multilevel  car parking, exploration of tourism  to improve revenue - all these need to b taken care of as early as possible, towns people complain.  Further, introduction of  cable car facilities here will  give a good boost to tourism and  areas with cable car facilities across India attract lots of  people and children.  Such facilities in this place are relevant as we are celebrating 200 years of its discovery.