Hello, there! It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog post and thenceforth, I’ve been trying to write this one but I just couldn’t get myself to do it. These few days have been very difficult and uninspiring for me, so much so that I feel unambitious and weighed down upon, personally and professionally. It’s hard to concentrate or work towards anything – a bad space. I felt like everything was going slow, work wasn’t getting done and, I felt small and insignificant. Do you ever feel like something is controlling you? It’s not your own mind or heart and you don’t know what it is, isn’t it scary? Demotivation is a frequent visitor especially when you live away from home and unintentionally, surround yourself with people or things that are rather confounding. Although I’ve come to the understanding that distancing is key, what’s more important is to learn and imbibe from the discomfort and strangeness. I once read somewhere, “If you want to create the mindset of a happy, successful person, you have to accept that the best things in life happen at the exit ramp of your comfort zone.” Disappointments and setbacks are a way of life, a speed-breaker on the road to success.
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.” – Unknown
So, let’s finally get down to my journey to a misty mountaintop! My trip to Coonoor was an extension to the Coorg road trip along with my mother. Once we left the district of Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka, we drove further down south along and over the Nilgiri Ranges, of the Western Ghats, towards the state of Tamil Nadu. The state border cuts across the massive Bandipur National Park, abundant in organic, natural vegetation and untouched beauty. On this beautiful journey, you are sure to spot a few animals of the national park. What’s funny is that, you may not spot any animal on the safari rides into the forest but, on your way out of the park, a surprise may be waiting! Crossing barren lands, basin valleys, ascending slopes and hairpin bends we reached Ooty, a popular hill station for both, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Originally, we were to stay in Ooty and then go to Coonoor the next day. To our surprise and disappointment, we were rather taken aback by the sight of it all. Over crowded, over populated, noisy and dirty are a few kinder words I’d choose for a description, but it wouldn’t be fair to judge the book by its cover, so we looked around for a while. We tried looking for a slightly quiet place to stay the night, a small café or restaurant to eat but we were so let down by the dearth of such places; that we decided to drive directly to Coonoor, even if that meant arriving late.
Descending a few meters, swirling around mountain edges and dodging vehicles coming from the opposite end was somewhat fun especially since it included four drastically different views from either directions of the hill. Rolling my window down and sticking my head out to feel the ice-cold wind and moist clouds flying by, it was like a dreamy winter setting. Often, we would pull over and go walking into the tea plantations; enjoying the smell and watching the lush green leaves that surrounded us. Coonoor main town is also very populated and congested but, not as much as Ooty. We stopped over at 5 hotels and each time we left the reception, we hoped for something better in the next one. Very picky, must say! Funnily, while driving along these roads, my mother came across a familiar pathway leading to a cliff, a place she had visited almost 10 years ago. I found it fascinating, that she could remember a particular road and even a turn, considering the fact that she seems to forget details I’ve told her only days ago. There are times when I sit with my grandma and she tells me stories of her childhood or even my mother’s and I’m amazed with the power of memory! So, mom and I decided to go down the lane to wherever it took us and you’ll be astonished with what we found! We bumped into the perfect villa, over-looking an insane view of Coimbatore city, with the sun setting over the horizon. The signboard that led us into the plot read “De Rock, Jungle Living – Coonoor”. Doesn’t it sound exciting and inviting?
When we entered the property, we met the owner and he said it was full for the next three days but there was a small hut/tent available because, nobody really preferred it to an air-conditioned, fancy villa, yet, for us, it was just perfect! I fell in love with the place at the first sight of it. It centered a huge tea plantation slope. It over-looked Coimbatore, framed between two slightly shorter mountains, offering a view of the horizon in the background. The clouds would occasionally cover our view of the city yet, giving us the privilege to watch the open sky and let us dream! That evening, we soaked in the view and watched the sun tell us its story.
De Rock is known for its quiet and serene locations accompanied by an extremely kind and hospitable staff. Since they have properties that are in remote places and prefer only a hand full of people staying with them, they bring fresh foods and meat every single day. Everyday, we were asked what we’d like to eat the next day for all three meals so that they could organize everything on time, without any compromises. How sweet is that? They took such good care of us, that we extended our stay to three days!
The next day, we were looking for things to see or do, in or around Coonoor. A friend of mine suggested we visit Lovedale near Ooty, a cute little hamlet accessible by the even cuter Nilgiri Mountain Railway, known as the “toy train” by locals and travelers alike. And, my mother wanted to visit a shop that we passed by called, “The Pony Craft Store”, famous for its craft materials, wools and knitting needles. So, that day, we visited these lovely places while the weather was even better than the previous day! It rained and poured the entire time; the perfect weather for a cup of hot chocolate! The other two days, we spent relaxing and absolutely enjoying the weather, view and everything about the place!
We also found out that De Rock has another property about 2 hours away from Coonoor; and guess what? We stayed there too! Located in the heart of a national park, amidst mountain views and forestry, it provides a safari experience into the depth of the forest for morning and night slots. The accommodation is in bungalows with open-air buffet dining. For those who enjoy daring adventures and thrills, a lot of elephants, deer and other animals may come knocking at your door!
- For those who like to stay away from the crowd, tourists and noise, I’d suggest you opt for Coonoor over Ooty.
- Just above The Pony Craft Store is a European restaurant, ‘The Culinarium’ that serves mouth-watering food and also has its own bakery for the bread, pie and dessert lovers!
- De Rock, Jungle Living also has another property in Masinagudi, Tamil Nadu. It is located in the Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary also declared tiger reserve in the Nilgiri Hills.
- If you are in or around Ooty or Coonoor, do visit Lovedale and experience the toy train ride from Lovedale station to Ooty railway gauge. (Before taking the ride, recheck the return train schedule)
- Cheesy lover – In Coonoor, there is an organic cheese-making farm called ‘Acres Wild Farmstay’ and it also has a homestay facility. Do go there for fresh, organic cheese tasting!
- Since we were living in a tea plantation area, we were able to see and smell the fresh tea leaves but I must say, you should experience the process of the plantation and go tea tasting!