George Nathaniel Curzon was a British Conservative statesman who served as Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905. He was the second Viceroy to visit the Nilgiris, in 1902.
The Viceroy reached Ooty on August 13. On his departure on August 16 a public farewell was given at Charing Cross where the Viceroy made his famous remark that he “came, saw and was conquered” by the charms of Ootacamund.
Pouring lavish praise on the place, he said, “ever since I have been in this country I have heard such repeated assertions of the superiority of Ootacamund over every other place in India, or, I believe some would say, on the face of the earth, that I have felt an irresistible impulse to come and judge for myself. Now that I have come, and seen, and been conquered, I will merely say that it has been a great delight to me to visit, even for so short a time, this exceptional spot, and to observe the public spirit and enterprise that have been applied to its development”.
There was even speculation that the purpose of the Viceroy’s visit might be a reconnoitering trip to shift the government of India to Ooty ! But Lord Curzon assured that he would not misuse the beauty of Ooty saying, ‘I believe that some people were afraid that my visit might portend a descent of the Government of India in full and permanent panoply upon Ootacamund. Gentlemen, let me reassure you. No such audacious speculation has crossed my mind. I dare not expose the Government of India to the temptations that would beset it in this favoured locality. We shall continue to cling to the sterner surroundings of our Himalayan home.’
An outcome of this brief visit was the establishment of Pasteur Institute at Coonoor through the kind donation of Mr.Henry Phipps, an American philanthropist who came to India to attend the Delhi Durbar at the invitation of Lord Curzon.
Nilgiri Documentation Centre