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Ooty (Udhagamandalam)

Ooty, 'Queen of Hill Stations', mixes Indian bustle and Hindu temples with beautiful gardens, an international school and charming Raj-era bungalows (which provide its most atmospheric accommodation). It may be a bit hectic, but it doesn't take long to escape into quieter, greener areas where tall pines rise above what could almost be English country lanes.

Memorably nicknamed ‘Snooty Ooty’, it was established by the British colonialists in the early 19th century as the summer headquarters of the Madras government. Development ploughed through a few decades ago, but old Ooty survives in patches – you just have to walk further out to find it.

The journey up here on the celebrated miniature train is romantic and the scenery stunning. Even the road up is impressive. During the April-to-June 'season', Ooty is a welcome relief from the steaming plains. Between October and March, overnight temperatures occasionally drop to 32°F (0°C).

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