Another picturesque location near Ooty is Pykara. Pykara is the name of a village and river 19
kilometres (12 mi) from Ooty. The river Pykara is considered very holy by the Todas tribes. The
Toda people are a small rural tribal community who live on the isolated Nilgiri plateau. The river
starts from Mukurthi peak, flows northwards, and then turns to the west after reaching the
edge of the plateau. The river flows through Pykara, Murkurti and Glenmorgan dams, and forms
part of an important hydro-electric power project.
The river flows over a series of waterfalls, the last two of 55 metres (180 ft) and 61 metres
(200 ft) being known as Pykara Falls. The falls are approximately 6 kilometres (4 mi) from the
bridge on the main road. A boat house on the Pykara reservoir is an added attraction for
tourists. The main attractions are Toda settlement, good wildlife habitat, large grassy meadows,
Pykara Dam, and waterfalls.
The dam is near the main Ooty–Gudalur road and includes one of the oldest power station in
South India, the Pykara station still functions, generating about 60 megawatts. The first unit of
6.65 MW was commissioned in October 1932. Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyar, Diwan of
Travancore, worked with the British regime in 1920s and 1930s in the setting up of the Pykara
The Pykara Station, declared as a heritage plant in September 1997, triggered the
establishment of more hydro-electric power stations in the state. Today, the Nilgiris district
alone boasts hydro-electric stations with an aggregate installed capacity of 837 MW. Five
decades after establishment of the old plant, the Electricity Board (EB) authorities came up with
a plan for the Pykara Ultimate Stage Hydro Electric Plant (PUSHEP), containing three units of 50
MW each. The construction of an underground powerhouse, 17 tunnels and the hydraulic
head of 1,039 metres (3,409 ft) are the special features of the new plant. According to the EB,
the hydraulic head is the highest in Asia. The access to the powerhouse is a tunnel 1.5
kilometres (0.9 mi) long.