Like any other place in India, Ooty is rich in history, though a lot of it is lost in transition and still very little is actually recorded in government files. To actually speak the truth, when a place is so full of scenic beauty and cultural heritage, a majority of the tourists are not actually too keen to know the history of the place. But if go digging deep into the vaults, the History of Ooty is quite fascinating and bound to throw a surprise or two.
The Ooty we see today is quite the anti thesis of what it used to be, say, half a century ago. In fact, all the development activities that you see around, once you reach the main town were not initiated until quite recently. When you talk about the history of Ooty, not much is known apart from what was recorded by the English when they ruled India. Thus history of modern Ooty begins when the Collector of Coimbatore, John Sullivan, sent up two surveyors, Keys and Mc Mahon, to survey and explore the place.
Neither of them was ready for the visual treat lying before their eyes and not long after that Sullivan himself undertook an expedition to further explore the Ghats in the Ooty side. Finding the place quite habitable and, maybe foreseeing the potential of the place as a tourist destination, he built the first English house in Ooty which is known as the Stone House and even today is one of the most famous tourist destinations.
To increase the accessibility of Ooty to the outside world, the English undertook several initial development activities like lying of the roads and clearing forests and so on. The English were so impressed by the scenic beauty of Ooty that it soon became the summer capital of Madras Presidency. The importance of Ooty grew further more when the Madras Regiment of the Indian Army was stationed there, and the station remains there till now. Even though the history officially begins with Coimbatore Collector John Sullivans expedition, the presence of indigenous tribes in the area like the Todas, suggest that Ooty has a long history which was long lost due to the lack of records.
Although there are no known records of the place coming under any kingdom, probably because of the tremendous forest cover that spreads across the entire region making it totally inaccessible to any outsider, there are traces of cave hideout build by king of Mysore Tipu Sultan in the region. This suggests that the kingdom of Mysore had probably extended its boundary to cover Ooty and the surrounding areas as well and used this place as a possible hideout, in case they were outrun by enemies. The impenetrable Western Ghats have a major role to play in the place remaining undiscovered for a long time in history.
The forests fabled for the different variety of flora and fauna made it absolutely impossible for anyone to travel through them in the past. All this changed when the British came and started their development activities and thus gave us this wonderful place to visit and enjoy.