The school vacation of my daughter was about to get over in 10 days and it was time to take the family on an outing. After the usual debate, we zeroed in on Yercaud.
Yercaud is a hill station on the Shevaroy hills about 230 kms from Bangalore. Being a Club Mahindra member, we got a booking at short notice in their affiliate Lake Forest resort for 3 nights. Otherwise, one has to book at least a week in advance in any hotel in Yercaud. We started late in the morning and reached Salem, 200 kms away. The route is quite straight, starting from Bangalore and passing through Hosur, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and onto Salem. At the first circle, you take a left towards Yercaud. The distance from Salem to Yercaud is just 30 kms, but the drive is just fantastic. We climbed up a mountain with 20 hair pin bends and numerous zig-zag curves. The drive was so beautiful, that we stopped at one point to admire the view and even had lunch there. Yes, we carried our own lunch.
On reaching the top, the first thing you see is the lake and our resort happened to be just half a km from the lake. I have to devote some space to describe the resort because it is simply fantastic. It has around 10 bungalows depicting British times. The bungalows are in fact in the erstwhile Eastlynne Farm Estate. One of the bungalows ( now a recreation room) was built in 1896 and belonged to Charlotte Rosario. I don’t seem to remember her historical significance. The resort is surrounded by a forest having tall trees and coffee plantation. The main lobby and the dining area is dotted with antiques dating back 50-100 years. There is a bicycle ( iron wheel, one small and one big, wooden seat), an old tiffin carrier( with a coal stove beneath it), antique irons( for ironing clothes), Modern Theatres old movie camera, a fan which used to run on kerosene, many old wall clocks, an antique lock. The collection is amazing. The bungalows are designed in an old fashion. In fact, our two rooms were in the same bungalow and a stump of a tree protrudes on either side of the common wall.
Antique movie camera
Enough of the resort description. One has to make the customary visit to the lake. The lake is clean enough with a garden besides it. We did not go for any boating ( have done a lot of it).
We visited the botanical garden which is in a run down state and not maintained at all. The other tourist attractions are the Pagoda point from which you get a beautiful view and the Lady’s seat from which you can view the uphill road and bauxite mining activity through a telescope. One can also visit the Shevaroy temple. Though the façade is like any other temple, but once inside you realize that you are actually in a cave. This temple has been cut in a rock and you have to bend yourself and cannot stand up straight. The view of the valley from the temple is also worth mentioning.
We were looking for something different and here, Prince( Mahindra rep) came to our help. He is a local and knows of spots which the tourists are not aware of. Now, there are beautiful drives in and around Yercaud through deep forests and that is where Prince sent us. The first was to another temple about 10 kms away. Excellent drive on narrow roads through coffee plantations and forests. This temple is on top of a hill and the view was very good.
There was just one more family ( from the same resort) and absolutely no crowds. Near the temple is a well and we freaked out on drawing water from the well using the pulley rope and a bucket. This was my first time with this contraption whose invention probably dates back ages and ages.
On another day, Prince sent us on a 15 kms drive, again through dense forests to spot where there was a small stream. Infact, we had a to walk down from the road to reach the stream. We had some fun there splashing around.
This area is full of teak and the area is known as Allampatha. First time we had seen a teak forest.
Our evenings were spent just relaxing and playing some games organized by the staff. Other times, we just sat on the portico, listening to sounds of insects getting ready for the night.
Well, such bliss cannot go on and on. The fourth day we started back and going downhill on those hair pin bends was equally good. Reached Bangalore in the afternoon and beat the evening rush hour.