144 years ago, this day, the Viceroy of India, Lord Lytton arrived in Ooty at 5.30 pm. Elaborated arrangements were made from the morning.
A Triumphal Arch was erected at Charing Cross to welcome him. This was the first visit by a Viceroy of India.
The entire European population of Ooty as well as a sizable number of Todas, Badagas and Kotas assembled at Charing Cross. The Viceroy stayed at Woodlands.
The Viceroy had squeezed in a visit to the hill station during his tour of the Madras presidency to review the famine relief work.
The annual exodus of the Madras secretariat was cancelled for two years due to the famine. However, Governor the Duke of Buckingham came to Ooty with his daughters to receive the Viceroy.
In his address to the Viceroy, Mr W.E.Schmidt, the Municipal Vice President said, “In most other parts of India the Englishman is simply a sojourner.
He leaves his native land to fulfil an official or commercial career, and then returns to his home. On these Hills, however, we find Englishmen devoting their capital, their energies, and their lives, to the permanent development of the resources of the country. They have made the Nilgiris their home”.
The Municipal Council also pleaded with the Viceroy for, ‘a Railway from the foot of the Hills to Ootacamund.’
In his reply to the address of the Municipal Council, Viceroy Lytton paid glorious complements to the town.
He said, “The Duke drove me in his pony carriage this morning to the first stage of our little journey hither. The morning was fine and for the first time I have seen Ootucamund. Having seen it.
I affirm it to be a paradise, and declare without hesitation that in every particular it far surpasses all that it’s most enthusiastic admirers and devoted lovers have said to us about it.
The afternoon was rainy and the road muddy, but such beautiful English rain, such delicious English mud. Imagine Hertfordshire lanes, Devonshire downs. Westmoreland lakes, Scotch trout streams, and Lusitanian views !”
Prior to his departure, Lord Lytton sent to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and the Friend-in-Need Society donations of Rs. 500 each.
Nilgiri Documentation Centre.