Charing Cross, Ootacamund. Hilly landscape with bungalows in foreground
Artist: Bellasis, George Hutchins (1807-1862)
Water-colour painting of 'Charing Cross', Ootacamund (now called Udagamandalam) showing bungalows in the foreground by George Hutchins Bellasis (1807-1862), 1852. Inscribed on the front in ink is: '(1) 'Charing Cross'; (Ootacamund.) 1852.'
The Nilgiri Mountains (nila meaning blue and giri meaning mountain) are situated in the south of India. They are often enveloped in a blue haze and possess a pleasant climate and spectacular scenery comprising of rolling hills, waterfalls, green ferns and patches of woodland. The area has traditionally been home to the Toda people but in the 19th century East India Company officials from Madras came here to escape the heat of the Indian plains; they found the climate and scenery of the Nilgiris reminiscent of much of Europe. By the late 1850s Udagamandalam was a prosperous and expanding community, and in 1861 became the summer capital of the Government of Madras. The town developed an English character complete with Anglican churches, schools and administrative buildings and acquired a reputation for festivities and exuberance throughout British India.