Neilgherry Hills (Sansk. Nilgiri, blue mountains), a group of mountains in southern India, comparatively isolated from the other mountain systems of the country, hut connected by an elevated ridge with the adjacent table hind of Mysore, and thus with the Western Ghauts, and by hill ranges also with the Eastern They are situated between lat. 11° 10' and 11 38' N., and Ion. 760 30' and 77° 10' E., in the W. part of the province of Madras, of which they form a political district (pop. in 1872, 50,194). The region to which they be-long was transferred to the British in 1709 on the downfall of Tippoo Sahib. At an elevation of 5,000 ft. the group has a maximum length of 42 m. measured from N. E. to S. W., and averages 14 m. in width. Its general outline is triangular, with one side fronting Mysore and the other Malabar. On the south, at Palghat, the Neilgherries overlook the pass known as the gap of Coimbatore, which separates them from the hill region at the S. extremity of the peninsula. The surface of the mountains varies greatly in aspect and elevation, from undulating slopes and low ridges to grand peaks of lofty height.
The highest is Dodabetta, 8,760 ft. above the sea, which was long supposed to be the loftiest summit in India S. of the Himalaya, but is now known to be surpassed by a mountain in the Annimalli range further S., which is a few hundred feet higher. Of the other peaks in the Neilgherry hills, five are more than 8,000 ft. high, four exceed 7,000 ft., and there are six over 6,000 ft. Granite is the prevailing geolo-gical formation, and the soil generally is black, rich, and fertile. Peat occurs in some localities. The unhealthy forest belt at the base of the group was long an obstacle to exploration; it is the haunt of numerous wild beasts, including the elephant and the tiger. In the hills the wood districts are open and park-like, while at the higher elevations is a well watered grass country with the vegetation of the temperate zone. The native Todas of this region differ both in appearance and language from all other races in India. They are tall and well formed, with light complexions and strongly marked Jewish features. Infanticide and polygamy prevail among them. A Hindoo tribe known as the Badakars, however, constitutes a prosperous, influential, and numerous portion of thy population. Several other tribes are met with, sunk in the depths of degradation and superstition.
The most important pursuit in the Neilgherry district is the cultivation of cinchona, introduced by the British government 71 1860, and now also carried on by private planters. In187l-'2 the government plantations covered 950 acres, and contained more than 2,500,000 plants which yielded 72,983 lbs. of bark. There is also a government teak plantation; and magnificent plantations of Australian gum trees (eucalyptus) have been formed under the direction of the Madras forest department. The principal European station is at Utakamund, a small town 7,300 ft. above the sea, in lat, 11° 24' N., Ion. 76° 47' E., near the centre of the group.