View of Nilgiri Hills
|Elevation||2,637 m (8,652 ft)|
|Translation||Blue Mountains (Tamil)|
|Location||Tamil Nadu, South India|
|Age of rock||AZOIC, 3000 to 500 mya|
|Easiest route||NH 67 (Satellite view)
or Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The Nilgiri (Tamil: நீலகிரி, Badaga: நீலகி:ரி or blue mountains), often referred to as the Nilgiri Hills, are a range of mountains in the westernmost part of Tamil Nadu state at the junction of Karnataka and Kerala states in Southern India. They are at least 24 peaks above 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). The mountains are part of the larger Western Ghats chain making up the southwestern edge of the Deccan Plateau.
The hills are separated from the Karnataka plateau to the north by the Moyar River and from the Anaimalai Hills and Palni Hills to the south by the Palghat Gap. The Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu lies within these mountains. Its latitudinal and longitudinal dimensions are 130 km (Latitude: 11° 08' to 11° 37' N) by 185 km (Longitude: 76° 27' E to 77° 4' E). Central location is: . It has an area of 2,479 square kilometres (957 sq mi).
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has started evaluating the Western Ghats, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (6,000+ km²) for selection as a World Heritage Site. Such a site would include all of Mukurthi National Park in the south-eastern corner of the Nilgiris.
The first recorded use of the word Nila applied to this region can be traced 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 Kangas underground, slaughtered the Pallavas, put to death the Malayalas, terrified King Kala and then proceeded to offer the peak of Nila Mountain (presumably Dodabetta) to Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth.
The original inhabitants of the Nilgiri Hills were the Toda, Badaga, Kota, Irula, Moundadan Chetty and kurumbas. The Nilgiri Hills were part of Chera Empire in ancient times. Later, the area came under the rule of the Western Ganga Dynasty, and then Hoysala empire in the 12th century. They then became part of the Kingdom of Mysore of Tipu Sultan who later surrendered them to the British in the 18th century.
In 1814, Mr, Keys, a sub-assistant, and Mr. McMahon, an apprentice in the Survey Department, ascended the hills by the Danaynkeucottah 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 reconnoitre the interior. They soon saw and felt enough favorable climate and terrain to excite their own curiosity and that of others.
In 1819, John Sullivan, the British Collector of Coimbatore, set out to explore the Nilgiris after obtaining an order from the British East India Company charging him to investigate the "origin of the fabulous tales that are circulated concerning the Blue Mountains to verify their authenticity and to send a report to the authorities".
With a detachment of Europeans and Indian sepoys, he set out on his mission on January 2, 1819. The journey involved crossing rough and harsh terrain, steep precipices and danger from wild animals. After an expedition that lasted for six days and loss of the lives of some of the expedition members, Sullivan finally reached a plateau from where he proudly hoisted the British flag.
In May, 1819, the same tourists from Coimbatore, accompanied by Monsieur Leschnault de la Tour, naturalist to the King of France, repeated their excursion. They asserted the temperature in the shade to be 74 °F (23 °C) at a time when the temperature of the plains was up to 100 °F (38 °C). Such a climate within the tropics was considered so great an anomaly that few at first believed its existence.
After the early 1820s, the hills were developed rapidly under the British Raj because most of the land was by then 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.
In the 19th century, when the British Straits Settlement shipped Chinese convicts to be jailed in India, the Chinese men then 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.  Paraiyan is also anglicized as "pariah".
Edgar Thurston described the colony of the Chinese men with their Tamil pariah wives and children: "Halting in the course of a recent anthropological expedition on the western side of the Nilgiri plateau, in the midst of the Government Cinchona plantations, I came across a small settlement of Chinese, who have squatted for some years on the slopes of the hills between Naduvatam and Gudalur, and developed, as the result of ' marriage ' with Tamil pariah women, into a colony, earning an honest livelihood by growing vegetables, cultivating coffee on a small scale, and adding to their income from these sources by the economic products of the cow. An ambassador was sent to this miniature Chinese Court with a suggestion that the men should, in return for monies, present themselves before me with a view to their measurements being recorded. The reply which came back was in its way racially characteristic as between Hindus and Chinese. In the case of the former, permission to make use of their bodies for the purposes of research depends essentially on a pecuniary transaction, on a scale varying from two to eight annas. The Chinese, on the other hand, though poor, sent a courteous message to the effect that they did not require payment in money, but would be perfectly happy if I would give them, as a memento, copies of their photographs." Thurston further describe a specific family: "The father was a typical Chinaman, whose only grievance was that, in the process of conversion to Christianity, he had been obliged to 'cut him tail off.' The mother was a typical Tamil Pariah of dusky hue. The colour of the children was more closely allied to the yellowish tint of the father than to the dark tint of the mother; and the semimongol parentage was betrayed in the slant eyes, flat nose, and (in one case) conspicuously prominent cheek-bones." Thurston's description of the Chinese-Tamil families were cited by others, one mentioned "an instance mating between a Chinese male with a Tamil Pariah female" A 1959 book described attempts made to find out what happened to the colony of mixed Chinese and Tamils.
Doddabetta Peak, 4 km east southeast from Udhagamandalam, , with a height of 2,637 metres (8,652 ft) is the highest point in the Nilgiris and the southern extent of the range. Kolaribetta (height: 2,630 metres (8,629 ft), Hecuba (2,375 metres (7,792 ft)), Kattadadu (2,418 metres (7,933 ft)) and Kulkudi (2,439 metres (8,002 ft)) are closely linked peaks in the west of Doddabetta range and nearby Udhagamandalam.
Snowdon (height: (2,530 metres (8,301 ft))is the northern extent of the range. Club Hill (2,448 metres (8,031 ft)) and Elk Hill (2,466 metres (8,091 ft)) 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.
Hullikal Durg: (height: 562 metres (1,844 ft)), Kannada language, Hulikal Durg means Tiger Rock Fort. The Sanskrit name of his place is Bakasura Parvata. It is 3 km. southeast of Coonoor. Tropical pine forest flourishes at the base of this hill, while the valleys support green foliage.In the
Coonoor Betta (2,101 metres (6,893 ft)) is also called Teneriffe. It is on the northern side of the gorge, accommodating the Nilgiri Mountain Railway to Coonoor.
Rallia Hill (height: 2,248 metres (7,375 ft))Kotagiri.is in the midst of a reserved forest and almost equidistant from Udhagamandalam and
Dimhatti Hill (height: 1,788 metres (5,866 ft)) Mysore to the Carnatic plains and was of much strategic importance in the eighteenth century. This peak, dedicated to the deity Rangaswamy, is considered holy by the people of the surrounding villages.is above the Gajalahatti pass, which provided a short cut from
On the Nilgiri Plateau, the Kundah range of the Nilgiri hills is a ridge on the southwestern side of Mukurthi National Park bordering Kerala. With elevations greater than the general level of the plateau, the range possesses some peaks close to the height of Doddabetta.
Avalanche hill of this range has the twin-peaks of Kudikkadu (height: 2,590 metres (8,497 ft)) and Kolaribetta (2,630 metres (8,629 ft)).
Derbetta (or Bear Hill) (height: 2,531 metres (8,304 ft)) and Kolibetta (height: 2,494 metres (8,182 ft)), south of the Ouchterlony valley, are a continuation of the Kundah range.
Mukurthi Peak 2,554 metres (8,379 ft)) Wayanad district are generally low in relation to other heights of the district but are distinguished in relation to the generally uniform level of this area., Pichalbetta (height: 2,544 metres (8,346 ft)) and Nilgiri Peak (2,474 metres (8,117 ft)) are the important heights of this area. These three hills of the
Muttunadu Betta (height: 2,323 metres (7,621 ft)) is about 5 km, north northwest of Udhagamandalam. Tamrabetta (Coppery Hill) (height: 2,120 metres (6,955 ft)) is about 8 km southeast of Udhagamandalam. Vellangiri (Silvery Hill) (2,120 metres (6,955 ft)) is 16 km west-northwest of Udhagamandalam.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2014)|
|No.||Local name||Height||English name||Location|
|1||Anginda peak||2,383 metres (7,818 ft)|
|2||Chinna Doddabetta||2,392 metres (7,848 ft)|
|3||C||2,448 metres (8,031 ft)||Club Hill|
|4||Coonoor Betta||2,101 metres (6,893 ft)||Teneriffe|
|5||Derbetta||2,531 metres (8,304 ft)||Bear Hill|
|6||Devashola||2,261 metres (7,418 ft)|
|7||Dimhatti Hill||1,788 metres (5,866 ft)|
|8||Doddabetta Peak||2,637 metres (8,652 ft)||
|10||E||2,466 metres (8,091 ft)||Elk Hill|
|11||Glulur hill||1,148 metres (3,766 ft)|
|12||Gulkal Malai||2,467.7 metres (8,096 ft)|
|13||Hadiabetta Hill||1,155 metres (3,789 ft)|
|14||Hecuba||2,375 metres (7,792 ft)|
|15||Hullikal Durg||0,562 metres (1,844 ft)||Tiger Rock Fort|
|17||Kattadadu||2,418 metres (7,933 ft)|
|18||Kolaribetta||2,630 metres (8,629 ft)|
|19||Kolibetta||2,494 metres (8,182 ft)|
|20||Konabetta||2,066 metres (6,778 ft)||Sigur Peak.|
|21||Koodal Betta||2,183 metres (7,162 ft)||Echoing rock|
|22||Kudikkadu||2,590 metres (8,497 ft)||Avalanche Hill|
|23||Kulakombai||1,707 metres (5,600 ft)|
|24||Kulkudi||2,439 metres (8,002 ft)|
|25||Kundah Betta||1,998 metres (6,555 ft)|
|26||Kundah Mugi||2,344 metres (7,690 ft)|
|27||Muttunadu Betta||2,323 metres (7,621 ft)|
|28||Mukurthi Peak||2,554 metres (8,379 ft)|
|29||Maruppanmudi hill||1,528 metres (5,013 ft)|
|30||Nadugani Peak||2,320 metres (7,612 ft)|
|31||N||1,438 metres (4,718 ft)||Needle Rock|
|32||Nilgiri Peak||2,474 metres (8,117 ft)|
|33||Pichalbetta||2,544 metres (8,346 ft)|
|34||R||2,248 metres (7,375 ft)||Rallia Hill|
|35||S||2,530 metres (8,301 ft)||Snowdon|
|36||Tamrabetta||2,120 metres (6,955 ft)||Coppery Hill|
|37||Vellangiri||2,120 metres (6,955 ft)||Silvery Hill|
|38||Rangaswamy Peak and Pillar||1,794 metres (5,886 ft)|
|39||Kilkotagiri bettu||2,000 metres (6,562 ft)|
The highest waterfall, Kolakambai Fall, north of Kolakambai hill, has an unbroken fall of 400 feet (120 m). Nearby is the 150 feet (46 m) Halashana falls Second is Catherine Falls, near Kotagiri, with a 250-foot (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 feet (55 m), and 200 feet (61 m), respectively. The 170 feet (52 m) Kalhutti Fall 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.
Over 2700 species of flowering plants, 160 species of fern and fern allies, countless types of flowerless plants, mosses, fungi, algae, land lichens are found in the sholas of the Nilgiris. No other Hill station has so many exotic species.
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 and extensive commercial planting and harvesting of non-native eucalyptus and wattle plantations Acacia dealbata, Acacia mearnsii and cattle grazing. In addition there is one large, and several smaller hydro-electric impoundments in the area. Scotch broom has become an ecologically damaging invasive species.
Threatened plants of the Nilgiris include the Vulnerable species: Miliusa nilagirica, Nothapodytes nimmoniana, Commelina wightii and
Rare species: Ceropegia decaisneana Ceropegia pusilla, Senecio kundaicus and endangered species: Youngia nilgiriensis, Impatiens neo-barnesii, Impatiens nilagirica, Euonymus angulatus and Euonymus serratifolius.
Media related to Nilgiris at Wikimedia Commons