Nilgiri Mountains

Coordinates: 11°22′30″N 76°45′30″E / 11.375°N 76.75833°E

Nilgiri Mountains
Nilgiri Hills Tamil Nadu
View of Nilgiri Mountains
Highest point
PeakDoddabetta (Tamil Nadu)
Elevation2,637 m (8,652 ft)
List of Indian states and territories by highest point
English translationBlue Mountains
LocationTamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka
Parent rangeWestern Ghats
Age of rockAzoic Age, 3000 to 500 mya
Mountain typeFault[1]
Easiest routeNH 67 (Satellite view)
or Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The Nilgiri Mountains form part of the Western Ghats in western Tamil Nadu of Southern India. At least 24 of the Nilgiri Mountains' peaks are above 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), the highest peak being Doddabetta, at 2,637 metres (8,652 ft).


Nilgiri literally means blue hill in all four major Dravidian languages and in Sanskrit. The usage of the name Nilgiri has been observed since at least 1117 CE.[2][3] It is thought that the bluish flowers of Kurinji shrubs gave rise to the name.[4]


The Nilgiri Hills are separated from the Karnataka Plateau to the north by the Noyar River.[5]

Three national parks border portions of the Nilgiri mountains. Mudumalai National Park lies in the northern part of the range where Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu meet, covering an area of 321 km². Mukurthi National Park lies in the southwest part of the range, in Kerala, covering an area of 78.5 km², which includes intact shola-grassland mosaic, habitat for the Nilgiri tahr. Silent Valley National Park lies just to the south and contiguous with those two parks, covering an area of 89.52 km².


The Nilgiri Hills are part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (itself part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.[6]), and form a part of the protected bio-reserves in India.

Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve
Map of Nilgiri's Biosphere Reserve
Nilgiris - Copy
Nilgiri Hills from Masinangudi


The high steppes of the Nilgiri Hills have been inhabited since prehistoric times, demonstrated by a large number of artifacts unearthed by excavators. A particularly important collection from the region can be seen in the British Museum, including those assembled by colonial officers James Wilkinson Breeks, Major M. J. Walhouse and Sir Walter Elliot.[7]

The first recorded use of the word Nila applied to this region can be traced back to 1117 AD. In the report of a general of Vishnuvardhana, King of Hoysalas, who in reference to his enemies, claimed to have "frightened the Todas, driven the Kongas underground, slaughtered the Poluvas, put to death the Maleyalas, terrified Chieftain Kala Nirpala and then proceeded to offer the peak of Nila Mountain (presumably Doddabetta or Rangaswami peak of Peranganad in East Nilgiris) to Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth."[8]

A hero stone (Veeragallu) with a Kannada inscription at Vazhaithottam (Bale thota) in the Nilgiri District, dated to 10th century CE, has been discovered.[9] A Kannada inscription of Hoysala king Ballala III (or his subordinate Madhava Dannayaka's son) from the 14th century CE has been discovered at the Siva (or Vishnu) temple at Nilagiri Sadarana Kote (present-day Dannayakana Kote), near the junction of Moyar and Bhavani rivers, but the temple has since been submerged by the Bhavani Sagar dam.[9][10]

In 1814, as part of the Great Trigonometrical Survey, a sub-assistant named Keys and an apprentice named McMahon ascended the hills by the Danaynkeucottah (Dannayakana Kote) Pass, penetrated into the remotest parts, made plans, and sent in reports of their discoveries. As a result of these accounts, Messrs. Whish and Kindersley, two young Madras civilians, ventured up in pursuit of some criminals taking refuge in the mountains, and proceeded to observe the interior. They soon saw and felt enough favorable climate and terrain to excite their own curiosity, and that of others.[11]

Ooty, Front of Stonehouse, 1905
Front of Stonehouse, 1905

After the early 1820s, the hills were developed rapidly under the British Raj, because most of the land was already privately owned by British citizens. It was a popular summer and weekend getaway for the British during the colonial days. In 1827, Ooty became the official sanatorium and the summer capital of the Madras Presidency. Many winding hill roads were built. In 1899, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway was completed by influential and enterprising British citizens, with venture capital from the Madras government.[12][13]

In the 19th century, when the British Straits Settlement shipped Chinese convicts to be jailed in India, the Chinese men settled in the Nilgiri mountains near Naduvattam after their release and married Tamil Paraiyan women, having mixed Chinese-Tamil children with them. They were documented by Edgar Thurston.[14]

Peaks in the Nilgiris

Nilgiri Hills Topo
Topographic map of Nilgiri Hills showing some peaks
Doddabetta view
View of Nilgiri hills from Doddabetta

The highest point in the Nilgiris and the southern extent of the range is Doddabetta Peak (2,637 metres (8,652 ft)),[15] 4 km east southeast of Udhagamandalam, 11°24′10″N 76°44′14″E / 11.40278°N 76.73722°E.

Closely linked peaks in the west of Doddabetta range and nearby Udhagamandalam include:

  • Kolaribetta: height: 2,630 metres (8,629 ft),
  • Makurni (2594)m)
  • Hecuba: 2,375 metres (7,792 ft),
  • Kattadadu: 2,418 metres (7,933 ft) and
  • Kulkudi: 2,439 metres (8,002 ft).

Snowdon (height: (2,530 metres (8,301 ft)) 11°26′N 76°46′E / 11.433°N 76.767°E is the northern extent of the range. Club Hill (2,448 metres (8,031 ft)) and Elk Hill (2,466 metres (8,091 ft)) 11°23′55″N 76°42′39″E / 11.39861°N 76.71083°E are significant elevations in this range. Snowdon, Club Hill and Elk Hill with Doddabetta, form the impressive Udhagamandalam Valley.

Devashola (height: 2,261 metres (7,418 ft)), notable for its blue gum trees, is in the south of Doddabetta range.

Kulakombai (1,707 metres (5,600 ft)) is east of the Devashola. The Bhavani Valley and the Lambton's peak range of Coimbatore district stretch from here.

Muttunadu Betta (height: 2,323 metres (7,621 ft)) 11°27′N 76°43′E / 11.450°N 76.717°E is about 5 km, north northwest of Udhagamandalam. Tamrabetta (Coppery Hill) (height: 2,120 metres (6,955 ft)) 11°22′N 76°48′E / 11.367°N 76.800°E is about 8 km southeast of Udhagamandalam. Vellangiri (Silvery Hill) (2,120 metres (6,955 ft)) is 16 km west-northwest of Udhagamandalam.[16]


Nilgiri forest
Wattle plantations in Nilgiris

The highest waterfall, Kolakambai Fall, north of Kolakambai hill, has an unbroken fall of 400 ft (120 m). Nearby is the 150 ft (46 m) Halashana falls. The second highest is Catherine Falls, near Kotagiri, with a 250 ft (76 m) fall, named after the wife of M.D. Cockburn, believed to have introduced coffee plantations to the Nilgiri Hills. The Upper and Lower Pykara falls have falls of 180 ft (55 m), and 200 ft (61 m), respectively. The 170 ft (52 m) Kalhatti Falls is off the Segur Peak. The Karteri Fall, near Aruvankadu had the first power station which supplied the original Cordite Factory with electricity. Law's Fall, near Coonoor, is interesting due to its association with the engineer Major G. C. Law who supervised building of the Coonoor Ghat road.[17]

Flora and fauna

Over 2,700 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 of the Nilgiris. No other hill station has so many exotic species.[18]

The Nilgiri tahr can be found in the hills.[19]

Much of the Nilgiris' natural montane grasslands and shrublands interspersed with sholas has been much disturbed or destroyed by extensive tea plantations, easy motor-vehicle access, extensive commercial planting and harvesting of non-native eucalyptus and wattle (Acacia dealbata, Acacia mearnsii) plantations, and cattle grazing.[20] The area also features one large and several smaller hydro-electric impoundments.[21] Scotch broom has become an ecologically damaging invasive species.[22]

Threatened plants of the Nilgiris include:

Wild Horse In Pine Forest

Wild horse in pine forest

Gaur (Indian Bison) at Periyar National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary

Herd of Gaur, Indian bisons.


  1. ^ "Application of GPS and GIS for the detailed Development planning". Map India 2000. 10 April 2000. Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  2. ^ The Missionary Herald of the Baptist Missionary Society. Baptist Mission House. 1886. p. 398.
  3. ^ Lengerke, Hans J. von (1977). The Nilgiris: Weather and Climate of a Mountain Area in South India. Steiner. p. 5. ISBN 9783515026406.
  4. ^ "Decline of a Montane Ecosystem". Kartik Shanker Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science. February 1997.
  5. ^ "Nilgiri Hills". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  6. ^ UNESCO, World Heritage sites, Tentative lists, Western Ghats (subcluster nomination), retrieved 4/20/2007 World Heritage sites, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster
  7. ^ "Collection search: You searched for Nilgiri". British Museum. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  8. ^ Pai, Mohan (15 January 2009). ...and they created little England. The Western Ghats - Hill Stations. the-western-ghats-by-mohan-pai-hill-stations, Egmore, Chennai. pp. Ootacamund. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  9. ^ a b "Kannada script (10600)". Department of Archaeology - Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu Government.
  10. ^ Francis, Walter (1908). Madras District Gazetteers: The Nilgiris. 1. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. pp. 90–94, 102–105. ISBN 978-81-2060-546-6.
  11. ^ Burton, Richard Francis, (1851). "Nilgiri Hills (India), Description and travel; Nilgiri Hills (India), Social life and customs". Goa, and the Blue Mountains, or, Six months of sick leave. London: R. Bentley.
  12. ^ "Ooty Queen of hill stations". Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  13. ^ "Nilgiri Mountain Railway". Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  14. ^ Sarat Chandra Roy (Rai Bahadur), ed. (1959). Man in India, Volume 39. A. K. Bose. p. 309. Retrieved 2 March 2012. d: TAMIL-CHINESE CROSSES IN THE NILGIRIS, MADRAS. S. S. Sarkar* (Received on 21 September 1959) During May 1959, while working on the blood groups of the Kotas of the Nilgiri Hills in the village of Kokal in Gudalur, inquiries were made regarding the present position of the Tamil-Chinese cross described by Thurston (1909). It may be recalled here that Thurston reported the above cross resulting from the union of some Chinese convicts, deported from the Straits Settlement, and local Tamil Paraiyan
  15. ^ Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds. (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. United States of America: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. p. 271. ISBN 0-89577-087-3.
  16. ^ District Administration, Nilgiris (8/20/2007) National Informatics Centre, Nilgiris, retrieved 8/31/2007 Hills and Peaks
  17. ^ EAGAN, J. S. C (1916). The Nilgiri Guide And Directory. VEPERY: S.P.C.K. PRESS.
  18. ^ The District Collector, Collector's Office, Udhagamandalam, The Nilgiris District, Tamil Nadu, General Information, RARE TREES, FRUITS, FLOWERS & ANIMALS retrieved 9/2/2007.
  19. ^ "Nilgiri Tahr". WWF. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  20. ^ Davidar, E. R. C. 1978. Distribution and status of the Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius) 1975-1978. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society; 75: 815-844.
  21. ^ Rice, C G Dr (1984) US Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, USA, "The behaviour and ecology of Nilgiri Tahr", Tahr Foundation, retrieved 4/17/2007. Archived 28 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 103 (2-3), May-Dec 2006 356-365 HABITAT MODIFICATIONS BY SCOTCH BROOM CYTISUS SCOPARIUS INVASION OF GRASSLANDS OF THE UPPER NILGIRIS IN INDIA, ASHFAQ AHMED ZARRI1, 2, ASAD R. RAHMANI1,4 AND MARK J. BEHAN3 Archived 19 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Nayar & Sastry (1987-88) Red Data Book, Plants of India Threatened Plants of Tamil Nadu

External links

Acrapex leucophlebia

Acrapex leucophlebia is a species of moth of the Noctuidae family. It is found in the Nilgiri mountains in India.

The wingspan is 26–32 mm.

Amphitorna castanea

Amphitorna castanea is a moth in the family Drepanidae. It was described by George Hampson in 1891. It is found in India's Nilgiri Mountains.The wingspan is 28–36 mm. Adults are pale reddish brown, the wings evenly striated with brown. There is an oblique line from the apex of the forewings to the middle of the inner margin of the hindwings, bent near the apex, where there is a deep black spot above it. There are traces of a dark antemedial line on the forewings and the costa is red-brown. There is a white speck on the discocellulars.

Betta Kurumba language

The Betta Kurumba language (Beṭṭa Kurumba) is a Dravidian language closely related to Tamil, and is spoken by 32,000 people in the Nilgiri mountains and in adjoining areas in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

Beṭṭa (ಬೆಟ್ಟ) means “hills” in Kannada.

Bucaea fumipennis

Bucaea fumipennis is a moth of the family Erebidae. It was described by George Hampson in 1891. It is found in the Nilgiri Mountains of India.The males have grey wings, while the forewings of the females are dark yellow and the hindwings are yellowish grey.

Catherine Falls

Catherine Falls is a double-cascaded waterfall located in Kotagiri, The Nilgiris District, Tamil nadu and it is also a major tourist spot in Kotagiri, located on the Mettupalayam road branching off at Aravenu. The upper fall drops to the floor, and is the second highest in the Nilgiri mountains. The waters from the upper stream of the Kallar river are crossed by the invisible Mettupalyam-Ooty road beyond the mountains in the south-west. The height of water falls is about 250 ft.Catherine Falls is named after the wife of M.D. Cockburn, believed to have introduced the coffee plantation to Kotagiri. The native name of the Catherine Falls is Geddhehaada Halla, meaning "Foothills Dale River". It can clearly been seen from the top of Dolphin's Nose if seeing the entire waterfall as one total impression is what you are looking for. It is also possible to take a road to the top of the falls.

Crambus nivellus

Crambus nivellus is a moth of the family Crambidae. It is found in India, including Uttar Pradesh, Darjeeling and the Nilgiri Mountains.

Diduga albicosta

Diduga albicosta is a moth of the family Erebidae first described by George Hampson in 1891. It is found in India's Nilgiri Mountains, Sri Lanka and on Bali.


Doddabetta (தொட்டபெட்டா/ದೊಡ್ಡ ಬೆಟ್ಟ ) is the highest mountain in the Nilgiri Mountains at 2,637 metres (8,650 feet). There is a reserved forest area around the peak. It is 9 km from Ooty, on the Ooty-Kotagiri Road in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu, India. It is a popular tourist attraction with road access to the summit. It is the fourth highest peak in South India next to Anamudi, Mannamalai and Meesapulimala. The peaks Hecuba (2375 m), Kattadadu (2418 m) and Kulkudi (2439 m) are the three closely linked summits in the west of the Doddabetta range near to Udagamandalam.

Irula language

Irula is a Dravidian language spoken by the Irulas who inhabit the area of the Nilgiri mountains, in the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, India. It is written in the Tamil script.

Irula people

Irula are a Dravidian ethnic group inhabiting the area of the Nilgiri mountains, in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, India. A scheduled tribe, their population in this region is estimated at 25,000 people. People of Irula ethnicity are called Irular, and speak Irula, which belongs to the Dravidian family.

Law's Falls, Coonoor

Law's Falls is a tourist spot in Coonoor, The Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu.


Migoplastis is a genus of moths in the subfamily Arctiinae first described by Rudolf Felder in 1868. They are confined to India's Nilgiri Mountains and to Sri Lanka.

Parotis athysanota

Parotis athysanota is a moth in the family Crambidae. It was described by George Hampson in 1912. It is found in India's Nilgiri Mountains and in New Guinea and Taiwan.

Sahyadris forest rat

The Sahyadris forest rat (Rattus satarae) is a species of rat belonging to the family Muridae. It is native to the northern Western Ghats in India where it is split between three regions, Satara in Maharashtra, the Nilgiri mountains in Tamil Nadu and Kodagu district in Karnataka.

Scopula linearia

Scopula linearia is a moth of the family Geometridae. It is found in India (the Nilgiri mountains).

Shoranur Junction railway station

Shoranur Junction is the railway station located at Shoranur, Palakkad District, Kerala. It comes under the Palakkad Railway Division of the Southern Railway. It is an important junction because it is the point at which the line from Coimbatore (crossing the Nilgiri mountains) meets the coastal line from Mangalore to Kochi. Further, Shoranur junction is the node from which a separate Branch line goes to the town of Nilambur, about 66 km to the north. The Nilambur–Shoranur line, which connects two tiny hill-towns, is one of the most picturesque in India.

Upper Bhavani

Upper Bhavani is a hilly region located in Nilgiris district, Tamil Nadu, India. The region is where Bhavani river flows before entering into plains.

Uraeotyphlus malabaricus

Uraeotyphlus malabaricus is a species of caecilian in the family Ichthyophiidae. It is endemic to the Western Ghats of India and is known from its type locality, "Malabar" in Kerala, and from the Nilgiri mountains in Tamil Nadu. It is known with several common names: Malabar tailed caecilian, Nilgiris caecilian, Malabar caecilian, and white-lipped caecilian.

Zakerana nilagirica

Zakerana nilagirica (Nilgiris wart frog or Nilgiri frog) is a species of frog that is endemic to the Western Ghats, India. It is known from Nilgiri mountains in Tamil Nadu and Wayanad district in Karnataka. It is known with certainty only from the two aforementioned localities, but it is locally common. It is associated with stagnant and running waters in disturbed forests and cultivated areas adjacent to forests.

Parks &
Tourism in The Nilgiris
Gardens and parks Rose bud (6027707280)
Sunset in Needle Rock View Point
Lake and waterfalls
Pykara waterfalls
Other tourist spots
Toda Hut
Flower show ooty


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