Do you know about the places discovered by the British in South India and how much surreal they are?
The Indian subcontinent is awe-inspiringly varied, as much in its climate and geography as it is in its culture. From hot and humid forests to lofty snow clad peaks, it is like a traveller’s dream come true. It is no wonder then that the British traders who arrived in India in the 17th century for purely commercial pursuits stayed on and made it their home.
Summer Retreat to Escape the Heat
India’s summers are nothing if not formidable and the British, finding it hard to cope with the heat, sent frequent expeditions into the mountains and wildernesses in search of ideal locations for the officers and their kin to retreat. Many of these expeditions ended in the discovery of exquisite locations that were than developed as summer retreats.
The Three Gems of the South
The Nilgiris, literally meaning the Blue Mountains, were the perfect destination for the officials of the Madras presidency to escape the heat during the hot summer months and a number of hill stations subsequently came up here in the 19th century. The largest of them, set deep within the hills, was Udagamandalam (or Ooty). Written records show how the British collector John Sullivan was so enthralled by its beauty that he told his superior the place resembled Switzerland. Ooty was made the summer capital of the Madras government and its splendid beauty made the Englishman to name it as the ‘Queen of the Hills’. He went on to create the beautiful Ooty lake where tourists can go for boating today.
Ooty also houses India’s largest Rose Garden, a famous Botanical Garden, a wax museum that displays life-size wax statues of famous Indian personalities and several other spots that can keep you occupied for days at end. Railway tracks were laid in the 1830s from Ooty to Coonoor, a quaint and scenic little village known today for its tea plantations and nature treks into the mountains. A steam-engine-run toy train was also built to connect the two hill stations; it remains a major highlight of the region to this day.
Another picturesque destination in South India that the colonists built into a summer heaven was Kodaikanal, often touted as the ‘Princess of the Hills’. It has a pristine natural charm that abounds in every corner, from the tall Pambar and Bear Shola Waterfalls to the breathtaking views from Pillar Rocks and Dolphin’s Nose. The enchanting Kodaikanal Lake and the 1-kilometre Coaker’s Walk along the side of a steep mountain make it is an extremely romantic tourist destination as well.
Delighting tourists for a century and counting
Ooty, together with Coonoor and Kodaikanal, thus served as ideal holiday and recreation spots for the British officials for a century. They are still three of the most popular hill retreats in the country and most favoured destinations especially for those travelling to South India.
Check out Shanti Travel’s customized trips to Southern India to discover the places discovered by British in South India http://www.shantitravel.com/en/south-india-tours/