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Coonoor

     Coonoor is a town and a municipality in the Nilgiris district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.  Charming Coonoor, the second largest hill resort of the Nilgiris after Udagamandalam (Ooty) is located about 19 km from Udagamandalam on the way to Coimbatore.  It is perched at an altitude of 1839 metres on a lower ridge of the main plateau and is regarded as an ideal health resort as the climate here is milder as compared to Ooty.   Coonoor, a scruffy bazaar and tea-planters’ town on the Nilgiri Blue Mountain Railway, lies at the head of the Hulikal ravine, on the southeastern side of the Dodabetta mountains, 27 km north of Mettupalayam. Often considered second best to its more famous neighbor, Coonoor has luckily avoided Ooty’s over-commercialization, and can make a pleasant place for a short stop.  In addition to an atmospheric little hill market specializing in leaf tea and fragrant essential oils, there are also plenty of rejuvenating strolls to be taken in the outlying hills and valleys.  Coonoor loosely divides into two sections, with the bus stand (regular services to Mettupalayam, Coimbatore and elsewhere in the Nilgiris), railway station and market huddled together in Lower Coonoor.  In Upper Coonoor, Sim’s Park is a fine botanical garden on the slopes of a ravine, with hundreds of rose varieties.

      Visible from miles away as tiny orange or red dots amid the green vegetation


, tea-pickers work the slopes around Coonoor, carrying wicker baskets of fresh leaves and bamboo rods that they use like rulers to ensure that each plant is evenly plucked.  Once the leaves reach the factory, they’re processed within a day, producing seven grades of tea. Orange Pekoe is the best and most expensive the seventh and lowest grade, a dry dust of stalks and leaf swept up at the end of the process, is used to make the tea “dust” used in chai.  To visit a tea or coffee plantation, contact UPASI (United Planters’ Association of Southern India), “Glenview”, Coonoor.

      Around the town, rolling hills and valleys, carpeted with spongy green tea bushed and stands of eucalyptus and silver oak, offer some of the most beautiful scenery in the Nilgiris, immortalized in many a Hindi movie dance sequence.  Cinema fans from across the South flock here to visit key locations from their favorite blockbusters, among them Lamb’s Rock (5km) and Dolphin’s Nose (9km), former British picnicking spots with paved pathways and dramatic views, of the Mettupalayam plains.  Buses to both from Coonoor leave every two hours, but its good idea to catch the first one at 7 am, which gets you to Dolphin’s Nose before the mist starts to build up. It’s possible to walk the 9km back into town via Lamb’s Rock an enjoyable amble that takes you though tea estates and dense forest.  The Sim’s Park is the major attraction, though small it is well maintained and contains varieties of plants not to be found in other hill stations. Lamb’s Rock, Lady Canning’s Seat, Dolphin’s Nose, St Catherine Falls, Law’s fall, Rallia Dam, The Droog, Pomological Station, Kallan Agricultural Farm and Burliar Agricultural Farm are the other important view points, picnic spots and places of tourist interest in Coonoor.