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Live the Experience

Its 170 years since the first tea plantations were started in India and there is a great piece about it written about at the link below for those interested in the history of Indian tea.

The Nilgiris has three distinct weather patterns; summer, winter and the monsoon season. The summer months last between April and mid June with a very comfortable climate that rarely goes above 29º C. While summer is a great time to visit for those of you looking to get away from the scorching heat in the rest of the country do be warned that the district can get very crowded with tourists which sometimes takes away from truly enjoying the sights and sounds of the Nilgiris.

The South West monsoon starts to set in towards the second half of June and continues till the end of July. This monsoon mainly affects Ooty with Coonoor and Kotagiri only experiencing spill over showers.

There is a short respite from the rain in August and September. This is a great time to visit the Nilgiris as we have far fewer crowds and the weather is by in large perfect with a few showers here and there.

The North East monsoon starts to set in sometime in October. This monsoon mainly affects Coonoor and Kotagiri with Ooty now receiving only spillover showers. The North East monsoon brings with it torrential rainfall and of late a lot of tourists come in to see this spectacle. There is nothing much you can do but read a book and enjoy the rains. The rains bring with it a special feeling and clears up the air making the views even more gorgeous in the interludes when the sun comes out.

Winter sets in December and goes all the way to mid February. The days are warm and sunny with temperatures generally hovering between 18º C and 21º C but the evenings can get very nippy with night time temperatures between 4º C and 10º C. The weather can sometimes dip below zero but generally isn't noticeable from the comfort of a cozy bed.

Mid February to mid April is a great time once again with temperatures warming up to a pleasant average of about 21º C. This is also a wonderful time to visit where just like in August and September the crowds are far less allowing you to enjoy all that the Nilgiris has to offer.

A view of the rolling Nilgiri Hills

The Nilgiris literally translates to the Blue Mountains in the local dialect and gets its name from the blueish tinge that is omni present across this beautiful mountain range. Located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu the district sits in the intersection of the three states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and is spread over an area of 2543 square kilometres with a population of 735,394 people as of the 2011 census.

The Nilgiris sits on an elevation between 3200 to 8651 feet (1000 to 2637 metres) above sea level. Doddabetta is the highest point in the district and also the second highest point south of the Himalayas. The average temperature ranges from 5 degrees Celsius to 26 degrees Celsius with an average rainfall of about 1350 mm. This weather condition coupled with good soil makes the region a hub for agriculture including plantation crops such as tea, coffee and spices. The main economy of the region revolves around agriculture, plantations, tourism and education.

The Nilgiris is part of the Western Ghats and is known for its unique Shola eco system that exists at elevations above 6000 feet (1828 metres) across the district. The Sholas are high elevation stunted cloud forests that our inter spread with rolling grasslands. The stunted forests tend to be at the folds of the mountains and constitute about 20% of the Shola ecosystem while the rest of the landscape traditionally constituted grasslands. The total forest cover of the Nilgiris is estimated to be 142,577 hectares (about 56% of the district) of which the Sholas constitute about 10% of the total forest cover.

A Toda lady working on a traditional embroidered shawl

The major settlements in the region include the resort towns of Ooty, Coonoor, Kotagiri, Gudalur and the Wellington Cantonment which houses the Madras Regiment Centre, the oldest regiment in the country. The major communities living in the upper regions of the Nilgiris include the Todas, Kotas and the Badagas and the communities in lower hills include the Paniyas, Irulas and Kurumbas. Each of these communities have a distinct language and there are as many as ten languages spoken only in the Nilgiris.

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