Ferrnhills Royal Palace - a colonial legacy of Ooty, India

 Ooty, Tamil Nadu.FerrnhillslPalace, fernhillspalace.co.in

Many Indian rulers, rich people and the British higher-ups during the colonial days had a summer residence or retreat built exclusively for them on the near by hills to escape from the scorching  summer season and relax  in the cooler areas of the hill

Ferrnhills RoyalPalace, Ooty, TN.goibibo.com

 station. To be in a serene and quiet place and be away from the din of urban life and the burden of administrative work or business dealings, etc., was a nice thing for them and the family members.  The vast expanses of undulating lush, wooded  hills and  meandering valleys with cool weather offered the people from  hot areas all the comforts they needed during their stay there. It was a good respite for them, a change from the monotonous life in the office building to exhilarating life in the cool shadows under the trees. When the temperature was hovering above 100 (F) degrees plus without air-conditioner, it was difficult a century ago to work in a hot building.  During the British rule in the late 1800s and early 1900s most of the Judicial courts in India  used to be closed for a month during the summer. So were many other government departments. 

Fernhills Hotel, ooty, TN. n.hotels.com

 Udangamandalam  commonly called  Ooty is an important and famous hill (altitude above 7500 feet) station in India. It is in the Nilgiri hills that form the Western Ghat Mountain chain. Attracted by majestic peaks, charm and grandeur with lush green, tall trees and flowers, every year more than a million people visit this paradise on earth. John Sullivan, the then collector of East India company stationed at Coimbatore was the founder of Nilgiri hills. Ooty and and the surrounding places still retain the colonial legacy and flavor. With the arrival of Europeans, tea plantation gained popularity and gave job opportunities to the locals. There are buildings that were constructed during the British rule. Breeks Memorial Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary school, St Stephen's church, the Nilgiri Library are worthy of mention.  For the colonial rulers Ooty had been their favorite and rich  summer retreat  where they had plenty of opportunities to go hiking. 

Location map. Ooty Hill station, Tamil Nadu. blog.savaari.com

Fernhills Palace in Ooty, Nigiri District of Tamil  Nadu  was once the erstwhile summer residence of the Maharajah of Mysore kingdom. The young prince (just 12 years old) in 1873  bought Fernhills properties  comprising 40 acres of land for Rs.10,000.00. His Highness Chamarajendra Wadiyar was the first Indian Royal ruler to have bought  an English holding in Ooty.  At that point of time, tea estates and small properties in the Nilgiri hills were mostly owned by British citizens, rest were tribal lands. 
Fernhill Palace Hotel, Ooty, TN nivalink.com

First  built in 1844  by Capt. F. Cotton as a private residence in mid 1860s,  it changed hand  and served as one of  Ooty's  earliest country club.  Almost very much similar to  a Swiss Chalet, its architecture,  carved wooden barge boards and ornamental cast iron works   enhance its  appearance.  Set in the midst of greenery, the palace built in a blend of  Gothic, regency and Neo-classical renaissance architecture,  has a remarkable  alpine look of the place with its well landscaped and manicured gardens, firs and cedars surrounding the bungalow. Another interesting feature is the indoor badminton court in the palace. Mysore Royal family still owns the Bungalow and the properties.

The Palace  ground is now spread out over 50 acres (200,000 m2) of green lawns, landscaped gardens and dense woods, offering a stunning view  of terraced tea gardens and lush green valleys. Once you are on the hills, you will never want to leave the cool place; perhaps, you may be craving to stay there for good.

Late Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar was the last scion of the Wadiyar dynasty of Mysore  that ruled the kingdom of Mysore between 1399 till India's independence. He succeeded his father in 1974.  Despite the abolition of  titles and allowances (privy Purse) of more than 560 Indian  Maharajahs in 1971 by former PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi, he  strictly stuck to the tradition  and legacy of Mysore rulers. A good example is  Mysore city's  annual Dasara festival a  10-day, 400-year-old  gala celebration  that culminates in a colorful procession. This festival dedicated to  commemorate the day the Hindu goddess Chamundeshwari had killed the demon Mahishasura is a major tourist attraction. .

When the iconic Fernhills Palace of Ooty came under his dynamic administration, he was the one who converted it into   a five-star "heritage" hotel. It is truly a royal hotel with regal splendor and  Victorian furniture and its colonial furnishings  enhance the beauty of the interiors.