NATURE

The Nilgiris - the land people and places

The Nilgiri Hills, are a range of mountains that are part of the larger Western Ghats mountain chain making up the southwestern edge of the Deccan Plateau. The hills are separated from the Karnataka plateau to the north by the Moyar River and from the Anaimalai Hills and Palni Hills to the south by the Palghat Gap.The original inhabitants of the Nilgiri Hills were the Toda, Badaga, Kota, Irula and kurumba tribes. Blessed by nature with stunningly beautiful landscapes and a bewildering variety in flora and fauna, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has declared the Western Ghats as a World Heritage Site and part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves including all of Mukurthi National Park in the south-eastern corner of the Nilgiris. Over 2700 species of flowering plants, 160 species of fern and fern allies, countless types of flowerless plants, mosses, fungi, algae and land lichens are found in the sholas forests of the Nilgiris. The forests in the Nilgiris are also home to the reclusive species of mountain goat the Nilgiri Tahr besides Leopard, Bear, Elephant, Gaur, Sambur, Cheetal, Barking Deer and the Four Horned Antelope. More than 350 bird species of birds populate the Nigiri Biosphere Reserve many of them endemic to the region.

Kotagiri is a town in The Nilgiris relatively undiscovered by travelers, situated at an elevation of around 1793m above sea level between the towns of Ooty and Coonoor. This picturesque hill station is bounded by mountain slopes of tea bushes, verdant valleys, numerous streams and many scenic trekking routes. At one point in its history Kotagiri was the destination of choice for members of the colonial administration to use as a summer retreat.

The area has been the traditional home of the 'Kota' tribes (Kotagiri in the vernacular translating as 'mountains of the Kotas'). While the Toda tribes of the Nilgiris are traditionally agriculturists the Kotas are artisans and engaged in pottery. They are extremely reclusive and reluctant to interact with outsiders. Currently there are about 1000 known members of the Kota tribe. The Kota settlement in 'Aggal' hamlet, 2 km. away from Kotagiri a fascinating place to experience a culture that is very quickly disappearing. The temple of the Kotas dedicated to the deity 'Kamataraya' still remains there and has been renovated. During the colonial era, in summer with the town becoming their getaway, several Englishmen settled here. By the middle of the 19th century there were many colonial era bungalows here. Many of these bungalows are still standing and some have been converted into lodgings for travelers.

PLACES TO VISIT

The Doddabetta Range is 22 km away. Catherine Falls, Elk Falls and Rangaswami Pillar are the major attractions near Kotagiri and you can trek to these places. Kodanad View Point offers a spectacular view of the gentle sloping hills and blue hills.

Kodanad View Point is accessible by road, 16 km (9.9 mi) from Kotagiri or about 30 minutes by road. It provides a splendid panoramic view of the great Mysore Plateau to one side and the picturesque 50-acre farming cooperative called Thengumarahada set amidst shrub covered land with the Moyar River flowing through. John Sullivan's Bungalow, also known as the Pethakal Bungalow, built during his stay in the Nilgiris has been renovated and is open to the public. The Nilgiris Documentation Centre and the Nilgiris Museum are housed in the bungalow. Village walks, tasting of the local cuisine and experience of folk life are some of the activities that are organized here. The bungalow is located in Kannerimukku, about 2 km from the town, the landscape composed of tea plantations and beautiful views of the valleys and the mountains.

Longwood Forest, Located within Kotagiri town, Longwood forest is a pristine tropical evergreen forest home to the flying fox (a large arboreal squirrel) that is rarely seen, there is also a resident family of about 20 bison which can be seen grazing in the evenings just outside the forest on Milidhane road.

The Nehru park in the town is a complex which houses a temple of the Kotas. A private park about 3 km from the town on Coonoor road, specialises in roses and is a must see from March to June.

Other places of interest are the St.Catherine waterfalls near Aravenu plummeting down from a height of 250ft (76m), the Uyilatty falls (also known as Elk falls) located 8 km from Kotagiri town and the 1,785 m (5,856 ft) high Rangaswamy Peak.

St. Catherine Falls (Geddhehaada Halla) is an 8 km trail. St. Catherine Falls is a two step waterfalls that plummets down from a height of 250 ft (76 m).

Kil-Kotagiri : A small town situated 13 km north east of Kotagiri.

Rangaswamy Peak : Located at a distance of 12 km from Kil-Kotagiri, the highly captivating Rangaswamy peak is revered by the Irulas tribes and sacred place for Thousand of families in and around porangaduseemai (kotagiri region),Located at the altitude of 1800M Above MSL. It is a biconical peak and is the most sacred hill on the plateau, being the Holy deity of the Nilgiris people. This shrine is visited by thousands of pilgrims and is the most sacred hill on the plateau. Visited by devotees during the summer month and pray Lord Rangaswamy. According to Hindu Legend Lord Rangaswamy used to live at Karamadai in Coimbatore district on the plains but quarrelled with his wife, came to live alone here. Two-foot prints on the rock not far from Arakadu village below the peak are stated to be the proof for this.

Rangaswamy Pillar : Situated 4 km from Kil-Kotagiri on the north west of Rangaswamy Peak is a sacred pillar that is worshipped. It is a solitary rocky pillar rising to a height of about 400 feet (120 m) and has sheer narrow sides.

Thengumarahada : "The paddy bowl of the Nilgiris", is situated in Kotagiri taluk, on the plains and could be reached through the trail winding past the Bhavani Sagar reservoir.

Ooty : Ooty is called the Scotland of the East and is a popular tourist destination. The scenic town houses the exquisite Botanical Gardens which were established in 1847 with a beautiful Rose Garden atop a hill. The Ooty Lake is another major attraction.

Coonoor : This second largest hill station in the Nilgiris surrounded by tea plantations and situated at an altitude of 1839 m. With numerous spots for bird watching the area is a visual treat for bird spotters. Sims Park, a botanical garden is the main attraction containing a small lake and home to a thousand varieties of trees, plants and flowers.

Dolphins Nose : Dolphin's Nose is well over 1,000 feet above sea level, 10 km from Coonoor and is a spectacular spot to visit. The tip of the peak resembles a dolphin's nose, hence the name Dolphin's Nose. It is an enormous rock formation that is entirely unique. There are gigantic ravines found both to the left and right of Dolphin's Nose and below, a awe inspiring view of Catherine Falls with its continuing stream several thousand metres. The famous Pasteur Institute is also located in Coonoor.

Droog Fort : Droog Fort (also called Bakasura Malai) is a historic fort located 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) from Coonoor, The Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. The fort was used as an outpost by Tipu Sultan in the 16th century. Today, the fort is in ruins, with only one wall remaining. The site attracts tourists, who reach the fort by hiking through the Nonsuch Tea Estate.

Elk Falls : This is a tourist attraction to visit in Kotagiri. This place is very well known for the amazing waterfalls and the beautiful European house built during the colonial era.

WILD LIFE IN NILGIRIS

Blessed by nature with stunningly beautiful landscapes and a bewildering variety in flora and fauna, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has declared the Western Ghats as a World Heritage Site and part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves including all of Mukurthi National Park in the south-eastern corner of the Nilgiris. Over 2700 species of flowering plants, 160 species of fern and fern allies, countless types of flowerless plants, mosses, fungi, algae and land lichens are found in the sholas forests of the Nilgiris. The forests in the Nilgiris are also home to the reclusive species of mountain goat the Nilgiri Tahr besides Leopard, Bear, Elephant, Gaur, Sambur, Cheetal, Barking Deer and the Four Horned Antelope. More than 350 bird species of birds populate the Nigiri Biosphere Reserve many of them endemic to the region.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Built by the British in 1908, the railway still relies on its fleet of steam locomotives. In July 2005, UNESCO added the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the site then became known as "Mountain Railways of India. For the past several years diesel locomotives have taken over from steam on the section between Coonoor and Udhagamandalam. The ride takes passengers through very scenic landscapes and quaint little towns, past pastures with cattle grazing and wistful ponies, smiling children waving as the train trundles past until it arrives at its destination in the town of Ooty.

Cycling

There are many scenic trails in the Nilgiris that guests can bicycle through. We will provide a couple of bikes, a van and chauffer to transport them to the beginning of the route and then arrange to have guests picked up at the conclusion of the ride. Alternatively the guests may use the bikes to cycle Kotagiri town or explore the area around the residence.

Treks

The three popular trekking trails are Kotagiri - Kodanad; Kotagiri - St. Catherine Falls and Kotagiri - Longwood Shola. The Kotagiri - Kodanad trail leads you past undulating meadows through splendid views of lush-green tea estates and the scenic landscape through which the Moyar River flows.

Kodanad View Point is also accessible by road, 16 km (9.9 mi) from Kotagiri or about 30 minutes by road. It provides a splendid panoramic view of the great Mysore Plateau to one side and the picturesque 50-acre farming cooperative called Thengumarahada set amidst shrub covered land with the Moyar River flowing through.

Tea Factory Tour

The Nilgiris is a major tea growing area and there are numerous tea plantations and factories on the hill slopes around Kotagiri. Guests may visit and view at close quarters how the leaves are plucked, processed and packed. Guests may also taste some of the teas in the factory.

Conversations & Music

The foyer is a space that we hope will serve as a catalyst for many interesting conversations: negotiating different viewpoints, experiences shared, lots of laughter. Most evenings the fireplace is lit and the musician engaged for the evening brings the piano to life. Guests with musical inclinations can join in or set up a gig on one of our terraces. We could organize a barbecue. You never know where an evening will go, so many possibilities.

Continental Cooking Classes at The Point

Chilean cuisine owes its distinctive characteristics to traditional Spanish cuisine, the indigenous cultures of Chile with later influences from other European cuisines, particularly from Germany, Italy and France. The food tradition and recipes in Chile are notable for the variety of flavours and ingredients, with the country's diverse geography and climate hosting a wide range of agricultural produce, fruits and vegetables. Chile is known for its fantastic seafood, grilled meats, stews composed of corn, beans, potatoes, exotic tropical fruit, pisco, and excellent wines. One of the highlights of Chilean Cuisine is its diversity of seafood due to the length of its coastline.

 

The Hot Seat

An adrenalin pumping, bone jarring drive on a FMSCIA prepared rally car with all safety measures in place and an experienced rally driver at the wheel. The routes that the drive will take are through private plantation roads nearby. Stretches include both tarmac and gravel.

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