Nilgiris

The Nilgiris District is in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Nilgiri (English: Blue Mountains) is the name given to a range of mountains spread across the borders among the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. The Nilgiri Hills are part of a larger mountain chain known as the Western Ghats. Their highest point is the mountain of Doddabetta, height 2,633 m. The small district is contained mainly within this mountain range; the administrative headquarters is located at Ooty (Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam).

Nilgiris District ranked first in a comprehensive Economic Environment index ranking districts in Tamil Nadu (not including Chennai) prepared by the Institute for Financial Management and Research in August 2009.Tea and coffee plantations have been important to its economy. As of 2011, the Nilgiris district had a population of 735,394, with a sex-ratio of 1,042 females for every 1,000 males.

The district has an area of 2,552.50 km2.The district is basically hilly, lying at an elevation of 1000 to 2,600 meters above MSL, and divided between the Nilgiri plateau and the lower, smaller Wynaad plateau. The district lies at the juncture of the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats. Its latitudinal and longitudinal location is 130 km (Latitude : 11°12 N to 11°37 N) by 185 km (Longitude : 76°30 E to 76°55 E). The district is bounded by Chamarajnagar district of Karnataka to the North, and Wayanad, Malappuram and Palakkad districts of Kerala to the West, Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu to the South, and Erode district of Tamil Nadu to the East. In this district the topography is rolling, with steep escarpments; about 60% of the cultivable land is slopes ranging from 16° to 35°. The rolling hills of the Downs look quite similar to the Downs in southern England, and were formerly used for such activities as hunting and picnicking.

The elevation of the Nilgiris results in a much cooler and wetter climate than the surrounding plains, so the area is popular as a comfortable retreat and is good for tea cultivation. During summer the temperature reaches a maximum of 25 °C and a minimum of 10 °C. During winter the temperature maximum is 20 °C and the minimum 0 °C.The district regularly receives rain during both the Southwest Monsoon and the Northeast Monsoon. The entire Gudalur and Pandalur, Kundah Taluks and parts of Udhagamandalam Taluk get rain from the Southwest Monsoon, while part of Udhagamandalam Taluk and the entire Coonoor and Kotagiri Taluks get rains of the Northeast Monsoon. There are 16 rainfall registering stations in the district, and the average annual rainfall of the district is 1,920.80 mm.

The principal town of the area is Ootacamund, also known as Ooty or Udhagamandalam, the district headquarters. It has several buildings designed in the British style, particularly the churches, many of which were designed by architect Robert F. Chisholm.A road junction became known as Charing Cross (after famous intersections in London and Lahore). The other main towns in the Nilgiris are Coonoor, Kotagiri, Gudalur and Wellington. Several tourist spots in Coonoor include Lambs Rock and Sims Park, where a Fruit Show is held during each summer. Ooty too has an annual summer flower show.

According to the 2011 census, the Nilgiris district had a population of 735,394 with a sex-ratio of 1,042 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929 females.A total of 66,799 people were under the age of six, 33,648 males and 33,151 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 32.08% and 4.46% of the population, respectively. The average literacy of the district was 77.46%, as compared to the national average of 72.99%.The district had a total of 197,653 households. There were a total of 349,974 workers, comprising 14,592 cultivators, 71,738 agricultural labourers, 3,019 in household industries, 229,575 other workers, 31,050 marginal workers, 1,053 marginal cultivators, 7,362 marginal agricultural labourers, 876 marginal workers in household industries and 21,759 other marginal workers.

Tamil is today the principal language spoken in the Nilgiris, but many thousands speak and understand English too. Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi and Hindi are also used to an extent. The Nilgiris is also home to a dozen tribal languages, all Dravidian languages. In earlier times Badagu was the lingua franca of the area. This language, which has no script, is spoken by about 135,000 Badaga in some 432 villages here.