Sunday, 20 September 2015

Ferrnhills Royal Palace - colonial legacy, Ooty,India

 At Ooty, Tamil Nadu.Ferrnhills RoyalPalace,
Many Indian rulers, rich people and the British higher-ups during the colonial days had a summer residence or retreat built exclusively for them on the near by hills to escape from the scorching  summer season and relax  in the cooler areas of the hill
Ferrnhills RoyalPalace,
 station.  The vast expanses of undulating lush, wooded  hills and  meandering valleys with cool weather offered the people from the hot areas all the comforts they needed during their stay there. It was a good respite for them, a change from the monotonous life in the office building to exhilarating life in the cool shadows under the trees. When the temperature was hovering above 100 (F) degrees plus with out air-conditioner, it was difficult a century ago to work in a hot building.  During the British rule in the late 1800s and early 1900s most of the Judicial courts in India  used to be closed for a month during the summer. So were many other government departments.

 Udangamandalam or Ooty is an important and famous hill (altitude above 7500 feet) station in India. It is in the Nilgiri hills that form the Western Ghat Mountain chain. Attracted by majestic peaks, charm and grandeur with lush green, tall trees and flowers, every year more than a million people visit this paradise on earth. John Sullivan, the then collector of East India company stationed at Coimbatore was the founder of Nilgiri hills. Ooty and and the surrounding places still retain the colonial legacy and flavor. With the arrival of Europeans, tea plantation gained popularity and gave job opportunities to the locals. There are buildings that were constructed during the British rule. Breeks Memorial Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary school, St Stephen's church, the Nilgiri Library are worthy of mention.

Fernhills Palace in Ooty, Nigiri District of Tamil  Nadu  was once the erstwhile summer residence of the Maharajah of Mysore kingdom. The young prince (just 12 years old) in 1873  bought Fernhills properties  comprising 40 acres of land for Rs.10,000.00. His Highness Chamarajendra Wadiyar was the first Indian Royal to have bought  an English holding in Ooty. At that point of time, tea estates and small properties in the Nilgiri hills were mostly owned by British citizens, rest were tribal lands. First  built in 1844  by Capt. F. Cotton as a private residence in mid 1860s,  it changed hand  and served as one of Ooty's  earliest country club.  Almost very much similar to  a Swiss Chalet, its architecture,  carved wooden barge boards and ornamental cast iron works   enhance its  appearance. The palace has a remarkable  alpine look of the place with its well landscaped and manicured gardens, firs and cedars surrounding the bungalow. Another interesting feature is the indoor badminton court in the palace. Mysore Royal family still owns the Bungalow and the properties.

The Palace  ground is now spread out over 50 acres (200,000 m2) of green lawns, landscaped gardens and dense woods, offering a stunning view  of terraced tea gardens and lush green valleys. Once you are on the hills, you will never want leave the cool place; perhaps, you may be craving to stay there for good