The amphitheatre at GRT Nature Trails, Yercaud. The Missus and I went on a sudden trip mid-winter. The mist and cold made pretty much all activities redundant though.
Yercaud is also known as the Poor Man’s Ooty. It’s quite uncalled for. It is nothing like Ooty. If you discount the lake. And the hills. And the boarding schools. And… so, fine. It is a lot like Ooty. But it is a heck of lot closer to Bangalore. At 230 kms, it is a good 100 kms closer than Ooty. Plus Ooty does not have Suhas and family and their heavenly food. But more about that later.
The Yercaud trip was was with a group of friends from work. And for a change, we decided to drive down ourselves rather than take the 20 odd people in a bus. Solid common sense and financial issues also played a hand. The TN govt. has mandated that all who enter its fine state need to cough up 11000 Big Ones if they are visiting in any vehicle which seats more than 13 people. So the second option of packing 20 people in 4 vehicles was exercised.
It was quite fun actually. We decided to leave office by 6.30, come hell or high water, so we left at 7.45. Hey, co-coordinating with 20 people is difficult OK? The drive was excellent, take the Hosur road (NH 47) upto Salem, turn left at Salem, and take the state highway up the hills for the last 25 kms. We were put up at the “House of Peace” a missionary, which lets out rooms at 150 Rs. per person per night. Of course, with 20 of the best and brightest of the travel club, for the next two days, it was anything but the House of Peace!
Yercaud, again, is not a place where you go to do things. It definitely affords a two days break where life goes on at an extremely leisurely pace. You can take walks in the town or around town with its long, winding mountain roads with tall conifer, kurunji trees and coffee plantations. Yercaud grows coffee. There, you got your difference between Yercaud and Ooty. While Ooty is famous for its tea plantations, Yercaud is known for its coffee plantations. Admittedly, tea plantations are more picturesque. But hiking in a coffee plantation is quite pleasant.
And this is exactly what we did. We were met by Suhas, who was our host for the duration of our stay, who took us on a short hike across Yercaud. The hike was quite pleasant and not at all strenuous and took us to through the outer edges of the town, across a wooded area and ended in a coffee plantation. The weird thing is, with all the coffee growing around, the only coffee you get is the instant variety! After the hike, followed an important – nay the most important part of any weekend. A 3 hour siesta. The evening, we went to the various points that any self-respecting hill station has. Don’t miss the Ladies Point. Don’t ask me just why this was named so. It looks over Salem, and since we reached around 8.30 in the night, all of Salem was laid out below us like a million stars and there was a gorgeous full moon lighting up the sky. It was a sight to remember. Nightfall saw a campfire where a spirited game of Dumb Charades was enjoyed by all. It ended with both sides claiming victory.
Now comes the important part. The Food. Suhas has a coffee plantation and also conducts short treks all around Yercaud. His wife cooks for all the people who join his treks. And boy, can she cook! The reason this travelogue is short on details is I spent the time just gorging on the food. For any of you interested in a weekend getaway to Yercaud, do contact Suhas at go2yercaud.com. His family will give you a great treat of a lifetime.