I am keeping my promise of a travelogue. It has been 2 days since I returned and the Yercaud trip high is beginning to wear out, but I am still going to do this.
Yercaud had been on my list ever since I saw all that mist in someone’s Facebook album last year. In fact a few days before the trip, the weather prediction for Yercaud did not look extremely exciting and I was beginning to worry if I should have done Coorg all over again. Thank God I didn’t. Because Yercaud was heavenly. Just what I needed during rains, and just what R needed after his incessant working over the last few months.
|The road to Yercaud|
|And thus begins Tamilnadu|
As usual, the plan started out with wondering if we should take the train, because of those rains and the much hyped hairpin bends on the way to Yercaud. But all plans to not take the road on weekend getaways don’t really materialize in our household. And I am glad, because the roads were impeccable. There is something about the TN part of the drive that makes you realize that the state really takes pride in its tourism. Because the road is not just pretty and lush, but very, very well maintained. I must warn you though that you should carry enough change for the many toll booths on the way, each of of them change not more than Rs 50.
We left from Bangalore a little after 7:30 am, and fortunately did not find much traffic at the Hosur Junction. It is after a few minutes from the junction that you see lush greens on both sides o NH 7. All you have to follow the road, till Salem. We wasted some time in Salem because of the road blocks due to some political rally in the town that day, and there were no easy road blocks too – even the GPS gave in after a few random twists and turns. But the yellows around town and the rain and the traffic jam that came with it didn’t bother me, because I was on a holiday!
|A very crowded Salem|
|The uphill climb|
Finally we found our way in the crowded Salem and the uphill climb began. I don’t know why the hairpin bends are so hyped, because it was a fairly easy drive in spite of the mist and the bends. In fact that is what made this experience so worthwhile! In all of 5.5 hours, including that whole round of Salem town centre, we were in Yercaud. I must tell you though that the place is as awesome as the journey one makes to this place. So make sure you enjoy the drive as much as you want to enjoy the place. After about 12 bends, there are these two stalls that sell tea, boiled corn, and the original bhutta. I highly recommend stopping there because it is blissful – rains outside, hot corn inside. I think that was a moment stashed in a dafe locker in my memory.
|The last hair pin bend|
|Our cottage at Grange|
We had our bookings in the Grange Resort. The cottages there are to die for. And the best thing about this resort is how quiet and secluded it is, unlike Lake Forest Resort which is just next door! Having said that, there is practically no service at Grange. Nobody offers to carry your luggage to the room, there is no room service, the pool is dry.
But you can take the car all the way to your cottage, the food is no good so you would end up eating out, and the weather, at least when I was there, was too cold for me to even want to picture a swimming pool in my head. If you planning to enjoy the weather, I would recommend Grange so that you don’t spend all your time cooped up in the hotel with a hot cup of tea. Trust me with those plantations and sheer lushness of the property, staying cooped up inside wouldn’t sound like a bad idea if the service and food were any good. My only grudge is that I should have opted for the cheapest accommodation there. Because there isn’t much difference between the cottages except in the view, and the view of the plantation from the balcony of our cottage was not too different from the garden view in more inexpensive cottages at Grange. But then again, for Rs 3000 a night for the cottage, even the most expensive cottage in the place was not exorbitant, especially because it was very well kept. One doesn’t see such sparkling window panes in touristy places! Anyway, we chucked our things in the cottage, freshened up, and we were on the road again!
Lunch was at Lake Forest. A full meal buffet for Rs 250 per person, I wouldn’t call that a bad deal. But what is better than the food is their absolutely English style property. Quaint, pretty, but extremely crowded! The restaurant has the option of buffet and a la carte. More on their food later, because we returned to Lake Forest for all our meals.
|The restaurant at Lake Forest Resort|
Lunch was followed by a nice ride on the All Terrain Vehicle on the tracks owned by Grange. It was fun, because the terrain really was something I am not used to. Hell, I am not used to riding, driving, and rough terrain, so this was especially exciting for me. And a tad bit embarrassing to have the trainer and the husband around through the ride, because I don’t think that ATV ride would be so challenging for anyone else!
|View from the cottage – Orange and coffee plantation as far as you can see|
We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around in the cottage and left for the roads late evening. It was pretty cold by then, although I had been shivering through the afternoon. I would suggest carrying light warm clothes if you are travelling during monsoon. One thing that amazed me about Yercaud was the seclusion. You can drive on for 10 minutes thinking you are lost in wilderness, and then suddenly from nowhere you will see a house or a grand boarding school in the middle of nowhere. The night drive was especially exciting because of the number of times we almost got lost. When you are in the main market, don’t forget to check out this really tiny tea stall in the middle of a 100 others, and ask for lemon tea there. It will drive away any monsoon laziness you may be feeling during your stay in Yercaud.
|My favourite place in Grange|
Later that night we returned to Lake Forest for a meal, but we were full from lunch, so we got sandwiches packed instead. And played Brainvita to remember schooldays while they worked on that sandwich. I must put in a word about their chicken sandwich – yummylicious! The lack of service was made up by the extremely warm, never-say-no reception we got at Lake Forest every time we went there.
We returned to the room with our food, talked for a long time, and somewhere in the middle of talking and exchanging silence, we dozed off and started early the next day. There is not much to do in Yercaud if you don’t want to check out the view points. And I think that really is the best thing about the place. We randomly, and this time willingly, got lost a few more times in the many bye lanes of Yercaud, drove some more, walked some, clicked silly pictures, and then returned to Lake Forest for breakfast – the best thing about weekend getaways! Another brilliant buffet was waiting for us, for Rs 175 per person this time.
|Something like that to look at during breakfast – words fail me!|
Fortunately this was a one night trip, because 2 nights would have meant an overkill of doing nothing. I must point out the lack of service at Grange was by now beginning to irritate me – not getting warm water to bathe in a chilly touristy town does that to me. And to most other people I guess. We packed up and left the cottage at 11:30, checked out a view point for heck of it,and then we were on our way back. We were home by 5 pm, just in time to catch a few episodes of 24, and sleep in time for Monday morning. It is funny, just about surviving 5 days of a week for the 2 days or the occasional 10 days of awesomeness. But then, good things in life are never free.
|Yercaud, in all its glory|
I am glad I wrote this post, it brought back the pretty memories of Yercaud for me to chew on until R gets home!
Distance from Bangalore – Approximately 235 kms.
How to get there – Route: NH7 – Bangalore >> Hosur >> Krishnagiri >> Dharmapuri >> Thoppur Ghat (Adayar Anand Bhavan) >> Omalur >> Salem >> Yercaud
Cost – Roughly Rs 7000 for a one night getaway for 2 people, including food, stay, and fuel.