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Nilgiris (mountains)


Nilgiris (mountains)

This article is about the mountain range. For the supermarket chain, see Nilgiris 1905.
Nilgiri Hills
View of Nilgiri Hills
Elevation 2,637 m (8,652 ft)
Translation Blue Mountains (Sanskrit)
Location Tamil Nadu, South India
Range Western Ghats
Type Fault[1]
Age of rock Cenozoic, 100 to 80 mya
Easiest route NH 67 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 with at least 24 peaks above 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), in the westernmost part of Tamil Nadu state at the junction of Karnataka and Kerala states in Southern India. They are part of the larger Western Ghats mountain 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: 11°22′30″N 76°45′30″E / 11.37500°N 76.75833°E / 11.37500; 76.75833. It has an area of 2,479 square kilometres (957 sq mi).[2]


The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has started evaluating the Western Ghats, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (6,000+ km²) for selection as a World Heritage Site.[3] Such a site would include all of Mukurthi National Park in the south-eastern corner of the Nilgiris.

The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which includes the Nilgiri Hills, forms part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.


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.[4]

The original inhabitants of the Nilgiri Hills were the Toda, Badaga, Kota, Irula 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.

The first Europeans to attempt the grueling climb to the Nilgiris included an enigmatic Jesuit priest, Father Fininicio, in 1603. They struggled up the mountains, avoiding elephants, tigers and other wild beasts, and met the Todas at the top.

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 criminal's 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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

Peaks in the Nilgiris

Doddabetta Peak, 4 km east southeast from Udhagamandalam, 11°24′10″N 76°44′14″E / 11.40278°N 76.73722°E / 11.40278; 76.73722 (Doddabetta Peak), 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)) 11°26′N 76°46′E / 11.433°N 76.767°E / 11.433; 76.767 (Snowdon) 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 / 11.39861; 76.71083 (Elk Hill) 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)), 11°19′N 76°53′E / 11.317°N 76.883°E / 11.317; 76.883 (Hullikal Durg) In the 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.

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))11°25′N 76°53′E / 11.417°N 76.883°E / 11.417; 76.883 (Rallia Hill) is in the midst of a reserved forest and almost equidistant from Udhagamandalam and Kotagiri.

Dimhatti Hill (height: 1,788 metres (5,866 ft)) 11°26′N 76°01′E / 11.433°N 76.017°E / 11.433; 76.017 (Dimhatti Hill) is above the Gajalahatti pass, which provided a short cut from 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.

Nilgiris Peaks in Mukurthi National Park

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)) 11°23′29″N 76°31′38″E / 11.39139°N 76.52722°E / 11.39139; 76.52722 (Mukurthi Peak), Pichalbetta (height: 2,544 metres (8,346 ft)) and Nilgiri Peak (2,474 metres (8,117 ft)) 11°24′0″N 76°30′4″E / 11.40000°N 76.50111°E / 11.40000; 76.50111 (Nilgiri Peak) are the important heights of this area. These three hills of the 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.

Maruppanmudi hill (height: 1,528 metres (5,013 ft)) 11°31′N 76°27′E / 11.517°N 76.450°E / 11.517; 76.450 (Maruppanmudi hill) is 10 km northwest of Gudalur.

Other heights deserving notice are Needle Rock, Hadiabetta Hill (height: 1,155 metres (3,789 ft)), Glulur hill (1,148 metres (3,766 ft)).

Chinna Doddabetta (height: 2,392 metres (7,848 ft)) 11°28′N 76°45′E / 11.467°N 76.750°E / 11.467; 76.750 (Chinna Doddabetta) is about 5 km south of Udhagamandalam. Konabetta: (height: 1,880 metres (6,168 ft)) 11°30′N 76°46′E / 11.500°N 76.767°E / 11.500; 76.767 (Konabetta) is about 5 km, northnortheast of Udhagamandalam. It is also called Sigur Peak. Koodal Betta (height: 2,183 metres (7,162 ft)) 11°28′N 76°50′E / 11.467°N 76.833°E / 11.467; 76.833 (Koodal Betta) means 'Echoing rock'. It is about 13 km north-east of Udhagamandalam. Kundah Betta (1,998 metres (6,555 ft)) 11°07′N 76°43′E / 11.117°N 76.717°E / 11.117; 76.717 (Kundah Betta) is about 10 km south-southwest of Udhagamandalam. Kundah Mugi (2,344 metres (7,690 ft)) 11°24′N 76°51′E / 11.400°N 76.850°E / 11.400; 76.850 (Kundah Mugi) is about 11 km east of Udhagamandalam.

Dolphin's Nose 11°22′N 76°51′E / 11.367°N 76.850°E / 11.367; 76.850 (Dolphin's Nose) is a promonotory over the Kotagiri valley about 6 km east-northeast of Coonoor. The place provides an excellent view of the Catherine falls and a vast expanse of verdant plains. Ibex Hill 11°27′N 76°35′E / 11.450°N 76.583°E / 11.450; 76.583 (Ibex Hill) is about 17 km west-southwest of Udhagamandalam. It is a straight cliff in the proximity of Sigur Pass.

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

List of peaks in the Nilgiri Hills

No. Local name Height English name Location
1 Anginda peak 2,383 metres (7,818 ft) 12|26|N|76|27|51|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Anginda Peak


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) 26|N|76|01|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Dimhatti Hill


8 Doddabetta Peak 2,637 metres (8,652 ft)

11°24′10″N 76°44′14″E / 11.40278°N 76.73722°E / 11.40278; 76.73722 (Doddabetta Peak)

9 D Dolphin's Nose 22|09|N|76|51|33|E|region:IN-TN_type:mountain name=Dolphin's Nose


10 E 2,466 metres (8,091 ft) Elk Hill 23|55|N|76|42|39|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Elk Hill


11 Glulur hill 1,148 metres (3,766 ft) 28|N|76|45|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Glulur hill


12 Gulkal Malai 2,467.7 metres (8,096 ft) 14|47|N|76|28|1|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Gulkal Malai


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 19|N|76|53|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Hullikal Durg


16 I Ibex Hill 27|N|76|35|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Ibex Hill


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. 30|N|76|46|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Konabetta


21 Koodal Betta 2,183 metres (7,162 ft) Echoing rock 28|N|76|50|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Koodal Betta


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) 07|N|76|43|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Kundah Betta


26 Kundah Mugi 2,344 metres (7,690 ft) 24|N|76|51|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Kundah Mugi


27 Muttunadu Betta 2,323 metres (7,621 ft)
28 Mukurthi Peak 2,554 metres (8,379 ft) 23|29|N|76|31|38|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Mukurthi Peak


29 Maruppanmudi hill 1,528 metres (5,013 ft) 31|N|76|27|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Maruppanmudi hill


30 Nadugani Peak 2,320 metres (7,612 ft) 13|48|N|76|27|37|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Nadugani Peak


31 N 1,438 metres (4,718 ft) Needle Rock
32 Nilgiri Peak 2,474 metres (8,117 ft) 24|0|N|76|30|4|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Nilgiri Peak


33 Pichalbetta 2,544 metres (8,346 ft)
34 R 2,248 metres (7,375 ft) Rallia Hill 25|N|76|53|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=Rallia Hill


35 S 2,530 metres (8,301 ft) Snowdon 25|27|N|76|43|45|E|region:IN_type:mountain name=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) 27|39|N|76|59|13|E| name=


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.[2]


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.[9]

The Nilgiri tahr animal can be found in the hills.[10]

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.[11] In addition there is one large, and several smaller hydro-electric impoundments in the area.[12] Scotch broom has become an ecologically damaging invasive species.[13]

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.[14]

Visitor information

The Nilgiri hills can be reached by the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.[15]

The best trekking seasons are April–June and September–December.[16] Application for trekking permits should be made in advance with the Wildlife warden.[17]


External links

  • , Frontline, Volume 24 - Issue 12 :: Jun. 16-29, 2007

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