Also known as Udhagamandalam and Ootacamund, Ooty is one of the prettiest places in the Western Ghats. Its rolling hills, lush tea plantations, misty realms, shimmering lakes and cool climes have given it the nickname, Queen of Hill Stations. In addition to being extremely scenic, the hill town is also home to several colonial buildings as well as the UNESCO-listed Nilgiri Mountain Railway. But, one thing which is often shrouded by the regular tourist attractions, are the many magnificent temples in Ooty. So, whether you are planning a short road trip to Ooty from Bangalore or any other nearby city or a full-fledged holiday, plan it accordingly to keep some time aside for an intriguing and calming temple tour.
Read ahead about the most beautiful and revered temples in the hill station:
Best Temples in Ooty
1. Elk Hill Murugan Temple, Ooty
Perched atop a small hill and enveloped in immense lushness, Elk Hill Murugan Temple is as much a sanctuary of god as of serenity. As you reach here, an around 40-feet high statue of Lord Murugan (Kartikeya), the presiding deity of the shrine, catches your eye. If not for its magnificence, then it might catch your fancy owing to its similarity to the idol at Batu Caves, Malaysia. Along with the sculpture of Kartikeya, the temple also houses those of Goddess Shakti (Kali), Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva.
- Location: Elk Hill
- Timings: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
2. Mariamman Temple, Ooty
Mariamman Temple might seem small, considering its temple tower or Gopura, which has only five storeys, but its significance among locals is immense. The shrine is dedicated to the goddess of rain, Mariamman, who is also the chief deity of the town. Apart from the presiding deity, her sister, Kaliamman, is also worshipped here. Every year in April, a festival honouring the deities is organised at the temple, wherein devotees walk barefooted on burning coals.
- Location: Main Bazaar, Upper Bazaar
- Timings: 6:00 am to 8:00 pm
Just so you know, the Upper Bazaar area is home to some of the best restaurants in Ooty, so after you have sought blessings at the temple, you can go in for a nice meal.
3. Vasupujya Swami Shwetambar Jain Temple
Obscured by the sheer number of shrines dedicated to Hindu and regional deities are several Jain temples as well, including Vasupujya Swami Shwetambar Jain Temple. A richly carved facade of shining white marble leads you inside, to a place of nothing but calmness. Devotees believe that this temple has the potential to drive out all the negative thoughts from one’s mind, hence flock it in considerable numbers.
- Location: Upper Bazaar
- Timings: 6:00 am to 9:00 pm
4. Annamalai Murugan Temple
Another temple with a picturesque setting atop a hill, this one is again dedicated to Lord Murugan. The temple has been giving away free food to the needy every day for the last 30 years, and the distribution is done by people irrespective of cast and religion. There is even a small gazebo near the temple, from where you can catch magnificent views of hills all around and a valley below that many would normally associate with a place like Kashmir!
- Location: Kundha (35 km from Ooty)
- Timings: 5:00 am to 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
5. Muniswarar Temple
Situated amidst the hustle-bustle of the hill station, this temple is again built in reverence to Lord Shiva. It is not only a significant religious site, but also a popular tourist attraction, visited by people from within the country as well as outside. It is built in the traditional Dravidian style with a pyramidal tower or gopura above its main entrance; the tower is richly decorated with colourful sculptures of Hindu gods, goddesses and other mythological personas.
- Location: Bombay Castle, Davisdale
- Timings: 6:00 am to 10:00 pm
6. Valparai Linga Temple
The list of temples situated in scenic surroundings seems never ending, with Valparai Linga Temple also falling in it. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the shrine is in the shape of a linga, his iconic symbol. Along the outer perimeter of the sanctum are small, colourful statues of hermits depicted them as meditating or blessing devotees. Further, there are small Shiva lingas all around the premises, which is surrounded by greenery and tranquillity.
- Location: Ooty Hills
- Timings: Open throughout the day
7. Toda Temple
Not all temples in Ooty are dedicated to deities of mainstream religions like Hinduism and Jainism; there are few dedicated to the local tribal deities as well. This is why Toda Temple is one of the most unique places to visit in Ooty, not just for tourists, but also history and culture enthusiasts. It is essentially a small hut with an arched structure, thatched roof and local designs on its facade. Apart from visiting this hut-shaped shrine, you can walk around amidst the lushness and enjoy some moments of calmness.
- Location: Vannarapettai
- Timings: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
So, if you are looking for things to do, other than visiting the regular museums, garden, churches and lakes of Ooty, then you can certainly give these temples a try. Just remember, if you are coming here in summers or even winters, accommodation might by a little tough to find, since these are the peak tourist seasons. So, book a hotel in Ooty in advance so you don’t face any hassles later.