Multi Cultural Divinity of The Nilgiris
Hette, the weeklong annual worship of the ancestress of the Badagas of Nilgiris, which begins today, coincides this year with several auspicious days – the Vaikunta Ekadesi, Milad-un-Nabi and Christmas- underlining the multi-cultural divinity of the Nilgiri mountains.
Abbe Dubois, the French pundit of Hinduism wrote in 1848 , ‘There is one of these holy mountains in the district of Coimbatore. It is called Nilagiri-malai…the Hindus have made it a punyasthala or place of virtue…as it is very difficult to reach the top of this mountain, a view of the summit alone is considered sufficient to remove the burden of sin from the conscience of any person who looks at it, provided that he looks at it with that intention’.
According to an account, the famous Kalighat temple of West Bengal had its origin in the Nilgiris. A devote named Brahmananda Giri who was alone meditating in the Nilgiri hills decided to commit suicide as Kali would not appear to him. Goddess Kali not only appeared to him but also took him along with another devote to the present Kalikshetra.
It was in Kotagiri that the sacred Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, were first rendered into English by Rev. R.T.H. Griffith between 1880 and 1899.
Dargahs of famous Islamic saints who lived in the Nilgiris are still worshiped in places like Pandalur and Ooty.
Guru Nanak is believed to have visited Nilgiris on his second ‘Udesi’ around 1507 on his return from Sri Lanka. He is said to have passed through Cochin, Palghat and Srirangapatnam.
Shri. Aurobindu Ghose visited Ooty in 1895 at the invitation of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwar of Baroda.
Sree Narayana Guru visited the Nilgiris in 1926 and suggested the location for the present Gurukula at Ooty.
The Ramakrishna Mutt in Ooty is believed to have a special vibration among all Mutts in the country. Young J.J. Godwin, the stenographer of Swami Vivekananda, lies buried in St. Thomas’ Church at Ooty.
Rabindranath Tagore visited Nilgiris in 1919 as part of his tour of south India and stayed in Ooty about ten days
Since the British days, the Nilgiris has been an important centre for missionaries from several countries. Rev. C.F. Andrews, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi stayed in Kotagiri for several months in 1942.
[ Mahatma Gandhiji had visited the Nilgiris in 1934 and stayed at Mount Pleasant, Coonoor, as part of his South India tour. He himself has written about this in detail – Wg Cdr JP]
The Nilgiris has also been the home of Theosophists from their beginning from Madam Blavatsky to Dr. Anni Beasant.
Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri