Since the early 1980s, Indian historians, availing themselves of an abundant archive of colonial records, have identified the state as one of the most powerful agents of both the transformation of nature and its conservation. It is in this dual yet paradoxical sense that one needs to invoke the nature state in India or its provinces. In the course of three decades of busy archival scholarship, the state has emerged as a much-maligned, monolithic entity. This chapter, which examines the management of the grasslands of the Nilgiris in southern India in the first half of the twentieth century, aims to complicate this discourse by revealing the variety of competing interests and perspectives which shaped official policy with respect to this one area. The Nilgiris represent an exceptional territory in relation to much of the rest of India. Prevalent explanations do not adequately describe the region’s history, for nature conservation here was based on neither purely utilitarian (commercial) nor idealistic (environmental or conservationist) motivations, but a set of aesthetic and amenity-based judgements largely made by the colonial elite. Moreover, conflicts about the use of this land did not occur, as might be expected, between the state and local communities, but rather among bureaucrats pursuing different goals.