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ABOUT OOTY - Ooty is a resort town in the Western Ghats mountains, in southern India's Tamil Nadu state. Founded as a British Raj summer resort, it retains a working steam railway line. Other reminders of its colonial past include Stone House, a 19th-century residence, and the circa-1829 St. Stephen’s Church. It's 55-acre Government Botanical Garden lies on the slopes of Doddabetta Peak. Ooty is situated in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Some areas of the Biosphere Reserve have been earmarked for tourism development, and steps are being undertaken to open these areas to visitors whilst conserving the area. The Government Rose Garden (formerly Centenary Rose Park) is the largest rose garden in India. It is situated on the slopes of the Elk Hill in Vijayanagaram of Ooty town. This garden has one of the largest collection of roses in the country with more than 20,000 varieties of roses of 2,800 cultivars. The collection includes hybrid tea roses, Miniature Roses, Polyanthas, Papagena, Floribunda, Ramblers, Yakimour, and roses of unusual colors like black and green. The 22-acre (89,000 m2) Ooty Botanical Gardens was laid out in 1847 and is maintained by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The Botanical Garden is lush, green, and well-maintained. A flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant species is held every May. Deer Park is located on the edge of Ooty Lake. It is the highest altitude zoo in India aside from the zoo in Nainital, Uttarakhand. This park was formed to house a number of species of deer and other animals. The boathouse established alongside the lake, which offers boating facilities to tourists, is a major tourist attraction in Ooty. During the summer season in May, boat races and boat pageantry are organized for two days at the lake. Pykara is a river located 19 km from Ooty. The Pykara is considered very sacred by the Todas. The Pykara river rises at Mukurthi peak and passes through a hilly tract, generally keeping to the north and turns to the west after reaching the plateau's edge. The river flows through a series of cascades; and the last two falls of 55 meters and 61 meters are known as Pykara falls. A boathouse by the Pykara falls and Dam is an added attraction to tourists. Kamaraj Sagar Dam (also known as Sandynalla reservoir) is located 10 km from the Ooty bus stand. It is a picnic spot and a film shoot location on the slopes of the Wenlock Downs. The various tourist activities at the dam include fishing and studying nature and the environment. The pine forest situated between Ooty and Thalakunda is a small downhill region where pine trees are arranged in an orderly fashion. Mudumalai National Park and tiger reserve lie on the north-western side of the Nilgiri Hills. The sanctuary is divided into 5 ranges - Masinagudi, Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota. Here one can often spot herds of endangered Indian elephants, vulnerable Gaur, and chital. The sanctuary is a haven for Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, and other threatened species. There are at least 266 species of birds in the sanctuary, including critically endangered species like the Indian white-rumped vulture and the long-billed vulture. Mukurthi National Park is a protected area located in the south-eastern corner of the Nilgiris Plateau west of Ooty. The park was created to protect its keystone species, the Nilgiri Tahr. The Tribal Museum is part of the campus of Tribal Research Centre which is in Muthorai Palada. It is home to rare artifacts and photographs of tribal groups of Tamil Nadu as well as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and anthropological and archaeological primitive human culture and heritage. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was built by the British in 1908 and was initially operated by the Madras Railway Company. The railway still relies on its fleet of steam locomotives. Local people and tourists have led a demand for steam locos to once again haul this section. Stone House is the first bungalow constructed in Ooty. It was built by John Sullivan and was called Kal Bangala by the tribals (Kal means stone in local tribal language). St Stephen's Church is located on the road to Mysore in Ooty, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the oldest churches in the Nilgiris district. The church dates back to the 19th century. St. Thomas Church, a parish in the Anglican Diocese of Ooty, was begun in 1867, with the foundation stone being laid on 1 May by Lt. Gen. Howard Dowker. Ooty Tea Factory is situated amid the blue hills of Nilgiris, it is a must-visit place for nature lovers, photographers, and tea lovers. Tourists get to learn about the origin of different kinds of tea leaves all across the globe and history associated with tea in India. There are many well-known tea factories like The Tea factory, Doddabetta Tea factory, and BenchMark Tea Factory.
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