The area also produces eucalyptus oil, vegetables, and parts of many Indian movies are in part filmed there.
The altitude of the Nilgiris results in a much cooler wetter climate than the surrounding plains, and so the area was popular as a retreat from the summer heat, particularly in the days of the British Raj. The rolling hills of the Downs look very similar to the Downs in Southern England, anw were used for similar activities, for instance, hunting.
The Chief town of the area is called Udhagamandalam, although the old british name of Ootacamund, shortened to Ooty, is often used. In the town there are many buildings which look very "British", in particularly the Churches. There is a road junction known as Charing Cross (a well known place in London).
The other main town in the Nilgiris is Coonoor.
There are several tribes living in the Nilgiris, whose origins are uncertain. The best known of these are the Toda people, whose culture is based upon cattle, and whose red, black and white embroidered shawls, and silver jewelry is much sought after.
There is a railway running from Mettupalayam to Udhagamandalam via Coonoor, which is a great tourist attraction. It was used in the film A Passage to India as the railway to the caves. It is a Rack Railway as far as Coonoor.