Many people choose the hill station of Ooty to spend their holidays and vacations. Both children and grown-ups are equally allured by the floating mist and the nip in the air of the popular tourist destination. But there is gem of a place that should never be missed while travelling to Ooty. The wonder world of O’Valley in Gudalur in Tamil Nadu is an enchanting place that doesn’t often find mention on the itinerary of most of the travellers from Kerala.
O’Valley is a shortened name for James Ouchterlony, the man behind tea plantations in the region. This beautiful place is tightly hugged by mountains and a number of cascades flowing from the hills make O’Valley a paradise on earth. While travelling to O’Valley, which is located between Mudumalai National Park and the New Amarambalam Reserved forest, one could get the opportunity to savour the charm of cardamom, clove, pepper, tea and coffee plantations. The region is also known for rich varieties of flora and fauna.
Lush greenery and milky waterfalls would greet you as you reach the mountain top after going past hills, villages, elephant herds and forest. The Santhana Malai Murugan Temple, which is an amalgam of piety and nature, is the main attraction of O’Valley.
What’s in store
Obviously, Santhana Malai (sandalwood hill) got its name from sandalwood trees as this region, years ago, was replete with sandalwood trees. Later, many trees were lost due to rampant sandalwood smuggling. The Murugan temple is very famous in Nilgiris and scores of devotees and travellers come to this place of worship. One can reach Santhana Malai in O’Valley by taking the Nilambur-Nadukani-Gudalur route.
Santhana malai, which could be termed Marayur of Tamil Nadu, is around 20km away from Gudalur. If the sandalwood trees of Marayur in Kerala are protected by iron fences, then the aromatic wood is guarded by elephant herds in Santhana malai. As elephants would be roaming around freely, make sure to trek down the hill before 5pm. Gudalur has basic lodging facilities but they are very minimal in Santhana Malai.