The pristine hills of Ooty are home to many a tea garden, some of which date back to the British times. Being a hill station, the British took no time to discover that their favourite beverage could be grown off the hills of this resort which also served as summer residence to the executive government of those days. Many hills were thus converted to tea gardens with luxurious bungalows amid them, housing group managers of these estates. Tea thus became a commercial enterprise in Ooty and continues to be a source of living for hundreds of planters in and around Ooty, despite repeated calls for diversification by various bodies.
This picture was taken on New Years Day, 2004 when along with a group of friends, I went out on a trek to a nearby town called Lovedale.
We began our trek, walk rather, from the Ooty railway Station and intended to conclude it at Ketti, which is a hamlet situated just outside Ooty. The trek was special because we had decided to walk along the route of the metre gauge railway line that connects Ooty to Mettupalayam. The route is very popular among visiting tourists who often board the Mountain Railway, that snakes its way through some of the most picturesque locales of Ooty.
We had passed Fernhill Station when this marvelous view presented itself. The day was semi-clouded and the winter chill was still in the air despite the mid-day sun which was in and out of the clouds every few minutes, casting huge shadows on the ground below! One can see a cluster of buildings amid the tall eucalyptus trees on the far right hand side of the picture. They are part of the renowned Narayana Gurukula which was founded by Sree Narayana Guru, the famed Social Reformer and Redeemer of Kerala. The Fernhill wing of the Gurukula is currently managed by Swami Tanmaya, who I am associated with for a decade now!
One can envision the lives of the hard-working simple farmer folk who toil for a living. The tea industry is currently in doldrums and revenues are a pittance. Slowly but steadily the call to diversify and engage in crop rotation is being heeded to. Terrace farms are very popular and yield some of the finest crops that one can savour.
The half-rail fencing (two of which can be seen) were laid by the British when the railway line was being built. Both, the line and the fencing, have endured more than a century of wear and tear but have stood still and have not once broken down. I decided to title this post "Postcard from Heaven", after little thought, since this reveals the true picture of the Ooty that was, many many years ago!
Untouched, Unspoiled and Magnificent!