A General View of Ootacamund
Artist: Barron, Richard (c.1798-1838)
Medium: Aquatint, coloured
This is plate 2 from Richard Barron's 'Views in India, chiefly among the Neelgherry Hills'. Ootacamund (or Ooty) is situated about 7,400 feet above sea level. One of the principal towns of Nilgiris, it was founded in 1829 by John Sullivan as a sanitorium for Europeans. It was built in an extensive valley enclosed on all but its western side by the Nilgiri range of hills.
The illustration offers us a view of the station as it appeared less than a decade after its 'discovery'. Barron writes that this scene "comes suddenly on the stranger coming up from the low country at one moment, and while stationary, after ascending from the plains of Coimbatoor, he beholds a little European colony of cottages, beautifully dispersed on the nobs of hills, and almost in the woods. The figures in the foreground are the Brigarries, who principally supply the Cantonment with grain, and are, in costume, a Spanish-like looking people. They transfer their supplies on small bullocks and sleep under very badly constructed tents." The Badagas (meaning northeners), referred to as Brigarries above, were mainly herdsmen and tillers and the largest of the indigenous communities inhabiting these hills.
Near the middle of the drawing is the gothic-style St Stephen's church and cemetery, which built by the Governor of Madras, Stephen Lushington in the same year as the founding of Ootacamund. To its left, further up, is the Ootacamund Club, established in 1836.