Sunday, June 27, 2010

Come to Coonoor……………..

Its 12 midnight and I am sitting in a large bedroom of a bungalow called Wallwood which sits in a place that’s tucked away behind a very heavily guarded army cantonment. Also to add to this - please also consider that this place is I am guessing 5000 ft above sea level. Welcome to Coonoor. Its nice, simple, reasonably commercial and not in your face and very very pretty.

Its midnight when I have started writing this blog. I am tucked away for the next three nights in this paradise called Wallwood Garden, a 100 year old bungalow ( an indian term for a big house but comes across more as the famous british hangover). This place we stayed in is a few miles (three to be precise) away from oh so pretty coonoor, which itself is another gem. Thanks to its big cousin Ooty getting all of the attention and being over commercialized Coonoor manages retains its old world charm. Am unsure whether this is about coonoor or about how wonderful a place, we stayed wallwood garden is !!

The trip:

A six seater Innova (Toyotas contribution to making indian families come together and have six or seven people travel at a time irrespective of the fact that the person sitting in the cramped last row is tall or short). A dvd player (another must have in indian vehicles that are taken on hire for long distance travel). Some of the popular ‘family value enhancing movies’ are always played on such trips. We saw the movie 3 idiots. Actually, not exactly something u can watch with the family as the male protoganist has actually proclaimed chase excellence and not academic success. For the average middle class south indian boy there was one motive in school. First rank always and if I did badly maybe second rank. Hence, the movie was a lil ‘bold’ may I add.

The journey:

I. Bangalore to mysore – 142 kilometres. On the way one sure has to eat at any of the following places and they come in the way in the following order

• Kamat Abhuruchi – about an hour from bangalore
• Indira Dhanush - about an hour and a half and has a coffee day so the Phoren Cousins in case you are travelling with any will feel easy
• Adiga – about two hours from bangalore.

II. Mysore to Bandipur – 80 kms - you will go past nanjungud, gundulpet. Eat nothing on this stretch. Enter the reserve……

III. Bandipur being a forest reserve is an excellent drive and looks gorgeous.
• We drive in the bandipur range and then cross over into the tamil nadu area. The first stop that we come across is the office of the forest department in the Bandipur post. As we proceed on the we come to Theppakaddu.
• From here two routes can be taken to ooty.
o At theppakaddu take a left – goes thru masingudi and a very steep route take you to ooty. Take this if you are a young couple or just a group of friends travelling. This drives through the heart of the forest and in case the any one travelling with you feels sich, stop midway offload them and carry on.  That advice though would primarily apply to a group of boys travelling though. Masingaudi is very nice place to have a holiday. Its below a nice mountain range.
o At theppakaddu continue on the road – longer but less treacherous route. Take this if u have a family and elders. This is the one that goes through Gudalur to ooty.

IV. Ooty – from ooty there are sign board showing directions to coonoor. You go past wellington and then enter coonoor form there. The scenery on this route especially from Bandipur is breathtaking. No regrets on the views on display.

The parties: The father, my wife`s father in law, my wife`s parents, my in-laws, her sister, my sister in law. We all went.

The place we stayed:

Wallwood The ‘non hotel’ hotel:

This place is not a hotel and thank god for that. If ure going to coonoor then I suggest that avoid hotels and thank fully there are not many in its true sense. The place three miles before the coonoor town. It’s a bungalow with rooms which people can stay in. The bigger ones which are two rooms in total with a smaller one as you enter leading to a master bedroom and toilet comprise a quite. The place is a bungalow in the true sense. Nice high walls, red oxide flooring, big bath rooms (and depending on the weather its get cold. It is cold in winter but we loved it. ). The place has 9 rooms and 2 suites. The suite rooms are enough for three people and being spacious are ideal for families. Ure Parents, ure inlaws and you guys. Works perfect for all.

The main building has seven rooms and adjacent to this bungalow (about ten steps away) is where the other rooms are. The main area has a common tv room, a dining area with a huge dining table that seats six and also another rooms with glass one one side which also can be used as a dinner room. Dinner breakfast and lunch is normally from a set menu. They have veg and non veg choices. Sometimes if the intake is good continental as well as indian is there to choose from. Don worry about the taste of the food here. My mother in law who is an excellent cook (eats only veg but cooks non veg also) herself admitted the food was excellent. And my father in law who has eaten what she has cooked rather may I add sheepishly added the food is good. Repercussions for such bold statements by any man always await him back home one once the trip is over .

Throughout the day some snacks can be ordered from the kitchen. Coffee/tea is served generously. The area in and around Wallwood are excellent for taking a walk. Being on what I call the outskirts has its advantages. As for what all u can do in and around this place.

It starts with the fact that as this place is on the way to the biggest reason why u goto coonoor. The drive though the tea plantations and just do as they do in the movies (that by the way if u did not get it was meant to be sarcastic).

Kothagiri – is the place that you will see boards leading to and you will as most tourists try to go but will never get there for the following reasons. On the way the following difficulties will be faced.
• The breathtaking scenery and the drive through the tea plantations will make sure you stop as frequently and ensure that you will never actually get to knowing what kotagiri is. Some of the sights that you will see include clouds over the mountains or between them. Tucked away between these mountains are the tea plantations at a lower level or higher level of the plantation are the houses of the workers. It will leave u wondering for that moment …………that u wish u stayed there. That minute your career growth prospects, the selfish ness of your careers, the job insecurities will all take a back seat. We bot team from a place which was located at some insane altitude. We took snaps form where we could actually see mountains, yeah mountains below. see the snaps to trust me on that.
• Dolphins nose : this place is tucked away somewhere between the Adderley tean plantation. The scenery to get to this point is worth the drive. This guest house/homestay is worth paying for. The website is self explanatory.
• Walks : just around almost everywhere. Absolutely anywhere is fine.
• Explore: I firmly believe as that a place has to be known by best just driving around and talking to the locals. I did just that. when the family retired to the room on the pretext of a quick smoke (being a social smoker has its advantages – for starters holidays are social ocassions) the driver picked up his friend form what coonoor calls a mall. We just drove around and got a flavor of the local look and feel. He told us how much price was paid for the houses that were sold. How the sale actually takes place. We also got to see some very nice interior places. We randomly picked the names of the plantations to enquire if they offered to have homestays. The point about being well dressed and having a command over English with a cigarette in your hand is that one does come across as the arrogant, well off and I know what I am doing person. So the manager of the plantations treats and speaks to you with respect. I saw the home dale plantations (no stay allowed here), the tiger hill cottages which are privately owned, the tantea factory (the one owned by the TN government).

So there u go. By reading till here u have realised that if u want to unwind and detox ure mind and like to read books, ure in the right place.

Why Coonoor…..
• Wallwood : elegant, excellent, a nice cold and damp bed (when raining outside makes it possible to sleep all the time). The food is excellent. Read in your room and when bored walk down to the t shop at the SIMS park. Have a cup of tea and come back to your room. The other roads lead to nowhere and therefore u wont be lost. U will come back to where u started and that’s why this is the place to stay. Am glad it not a hotel. They allow u to carry ure alcohol and keep it in their fridge. The kitchen shuts at ten so u will inculcate some good habits.
• Ooty is 20 kms away. For all of the commercialization that Ooty is accused of its has some sights. Some of the wonderful things that it has to offer are the following
o Have a meal at the kings cliff.
o Walk around the charring cross
o Shop at modern stores for some of the best combinations of the chocolates and some local jams
• Coonoor has a coffee day, sit there and read the whole day and no one will care. I was only told to smoke outside and that’s a fair request
• Wellington: the army guys have a great life. If u want to know how that great life is taken to the next level, see it at wellington. This army camp in wellington is not just an army camp. It’s a lil piece of heaven. There is nothing exceptional about this army camp but the place where it is located makes it picture perfect.
• The laid back coonoor teaches u to be content. I like laid back holidays and this place taught me more.
• As U2 said walk on…………………….

1 comment:

Nishant said...

I liked the way you brought the entire trip alive to the readers with the details and expression..I felt part of the experience..Looking forward to more