The quaint little town of Wellington is a peaceful, lesser-known place nested in Tamil Nadu’s Nigiri hills near Coonoor. This serene settlement is home to an important defense institution and a center of oldest regiment of the Indian army. If slow travel excites you, here are the things to do in Wellington and experience tranquility.
1. Explore the Madras Regiment Museum
Did you know that the oldest infantry regiment of the Indian Army is the Madras Regiment? Raised in 1750s, the regiment participated in campaigns with the British Army and post-independence Indian Army. The Madras Regiment Museum pays tribute to the regiment’s rich history and contribution across the world in war and peacekeeping activities. The officer guides you through the double storeys of the museum narrating the brave stories and achievements of the Madras Regiment.
P.S- Mobiles and cameras are prohibited inside. Though you can use mobile camera around the museum building.
Amenities- Wheelchair friendly, washroom, drinking water, canteen. Behind the museum building lies a mock bunker which you can enter, wear the real uniform and hold a real gun. (Obviously you can’t fire it)
Timing- 9 am to 1 pm and 3pm to 5 pm, The museum remains closed on Tuesday.
2. Defence Service Staff College
The Defence Service Staff Collage is an institution to train officers from all wings of Indian Defence along with officers from civil services. Since this is not a tourist attraction, you would need special permission to visit the Insititute. Unless you are an employee or have contacts in the defense, you would not be granted entry to this beautiful campus.
3. Watch the Madras Regiment Parade practice in the regiment premises
The Regimental center is also not a tourist attraction. However, on special requests or recommendation you may be allowed to watch the parade practice in the premises. Watching the young officers march in unison feels extraordinary which very few people get to experience.
Opposite to the regiment command gate are elements of the regiment’s symbols which are of historic importance. Photography is allowed in this area.
4. The War Memorial
The war memorial across the Staff College gate pays tribute to the fallen heroes who fought various battles for the country. The memorial wall and pillar are in the middle of the road with no parking space around. Open all the time, you can pay your tribute to the brave men of the Indian Defence.
5. Visit Wellington’s 100 year old Post Office
Right opposite to the Madras Regimental Centre next to the tiny Bus Stop is a quiet but functional post office which is a century old. While Whatsapp and emails have replaced the art of writing letters, this tradition is still alive in Wellington. Nothing can replicate the old world charm of writing to loved ones and preserving the memories.
The post office also offers pension schemes, saving scheme, insurance, parcel delivery, passport application, and money transfer facility for the residents and relatives of armed personnel. We felt a dash of nostalgia hit us as we set foot into the post office premises. It was a short but sweet visit for us.
Timing: 9 am to 5 pm from Monday to Saturday.
Entry fee- None
6. Wellington Lake
Maintained by the Wellington Cantonment Board, this gorgeous lake in the middle of the town is a beautiful picnic spot. Home to trout fish and several species of birds, the lake has a well-maintained park blooming with flowers and play area for kids. You can go boating in the lake, devouring the colorful flora, unusual fauna. We spotted a small water snake and that by far was the most exciting sighting for us. Boating in the lake is among the most recommended things to do in Wellington. If you want to watch the musical fountain show, it begins at 6.30 pm in winter and 7 pm in summer.
You can walk from the bus stop to the lake or drive to the lake premises. There is no parking fee.
Timing: 10 am to 1 pm, 3 pm to 7 pm
Entry fee: Rs 20 for adults, Rs 10 for aged between 5 and 12.
Boating charges: Rs 50 for adults, Rs 30 for children
7. Explore local bakeries and small eateries
Enjoy lunch or snacks at the little eateries and cafes near the regiment center. The prices were surprisingly low. The Nilgiris have a traditional bakery culture. Try some from a bakery in the market place. The rest of the market is not a touristy marketplace but a place for grocery and daily household items.
Please note– Wellington is a cantonment board. Henceforth consumption and sale of alcohol, rash or unsafe driving and littering are punishable offences.
How to reach Wellington
By Bus- Hop onto a local bus from Coonoor. It barely takes 15 minutes to Wellington and the bus fare is Rs10 per person.
Via Private taxi or self-driving
By Flight- Nearest airport is Coimbatore (72 km ) or Mysore (135km)
Via Train- Book your seat in the Nilgiri Mountain Toy Train that runs between Ooty and Coonoor. The train journey through the pristine landscapes of Nilgiris will leave you stunned. Like the Himalayan Mountain Railways, the Nilgiti Railways is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.