Travelogue... Saluting the Legacies of the RAJ
By Syed Ali Mujtaba
This is a note on my recent family vacation to Ooty from October Nine to Eleven 2016. I begin this by saluting the colonial rulers of India whose road engineering work is a marvel of art. They have constructed the motorable road to 8000 feet above the sea level. Here, not only the cars but even mini vans can easily climb the top most peak of the Niligris hill.
Second is the con
struction of the mountain railway that is another engineering feat attained by the British. The toy train that runs from Otty to Metupalyam in the plain is a world heritage. I was relishing how the roadways and railways construction may have been done at that with primitive tools that was prevalent at that of point. Undoubtedly, it was the Indian laborers toil of sweat that has achieved such a glory.
The other attraction of the place is the tea plantation which is spread to thousands of hectors of land. This is another gift of the Raj. The Nilgris hills and Darjeeling hills are the two places in the country, where British introduced this cash crop of tea plantation. The entire mountain slopes decked with lush green tea leaves makes a picturesque sight.
The entire Cooner hills which is 30 KM from Otty is dotted by the tea estates. Now most of the tea gardens are owned by wealthy Indians. Many of them are film stars. The tea garden where I am standing belongs to yesteryear
actor Mumtaz’s husband Mayur Madhvani. Now it has come to Fardeen Khan who has married their daughter. Another big name living here is the film director Mansoor Khan, of QSQT, Qayamat se Qyamat Tak fame.
The palatial houses or bunglos of the tea estate owners is another legacy of the Raj. Each of them is competing with the other in terms of their upkeep. Many of the owners come here only for short visits and only their staff maintains the well furnished living space.
The Wellington cantonment in Coonoor is another legacy of the Raj. The officer’s academy, the bomb factory and the barracks of Madras regiment was established by the British before the World War 1. Wellington is the foremost military establishment in the country even now.
Well Otty is little England in many ways. Charring Cross, the famous landmark of London is the center point of Otty. With day temperature of about 10 to 12 degree C in the day and 3 to 4 degree C in night, it is typical English weather now. It m
akes look more the same with cloud and sun playing hide and seek through out the day.
In many ways Otty reminded me of England. I have lived in London and I got the feeling that I am back there. I saw one building that was same to same that I saw in London. Even the roof and the windows of the structure was exactly its replica. The fountain at the Charring Cross constructed in 1880, is still operational.
The Otty botanical garden is another marvel of the Raj and so is the Rose garden. The churches in Otty are another fine specimen of British architecture. The side paths with flowers and the lamppost there reminded me of little England.
One thing that is missed now is the presence of White people there. At this point of time mostly inland tourists dotted the scene and the place was full with holiday crowd from neighboring states of Tamil Nadu.
Last but not the least; Otty is completely free from the vices that are synonymous with many tourist destinations of the world. There are no high profile bars or pubs; there are no discotheques or night joints, no drugs, no casinos, no prostitutes which is a common sight in such places.
The environment is clean so are the roads that are not littered with garbage or rubbishes. On the whole my three days sojourn at Otty was wonderful opportunity for recouping from the daily mundane work in Chennai. It is worth a visit for those who are planning a vacation at Otty also known as queen of hills.