With no respite from either the summer heat or work pressure, was feeling upset the kids' vacation would get over soon with no outing what so ever for them.
A work related visit to Bangalore on Friday meant a small chance of clubbing some outing for the weekend may be around the Nilgiris with family. Had blocked myself something in Coonoor for Saturday & Sunday. The plan was to may be comeback to Chennai on Monday.
Thursday early morning the plan went into a toss, Bangalore trip had to be postponed which meant new set of plans, new destinations and more confusions. Finally decided to take off from work on Friday & Saturday instead of Saturday & Monday.
Only issue is finding accommodation in 24 hours notice in peak vacation season. A quick search through the travel portals just confirmed the worst, nothing good available in any of the hill stations. Thursday evening 6 PM was able to fix up with Eco Escape - Home through booking dot com only for Navin from Eco Escape to call and inform the rates listed in booking.com is old and they have been trying to get their property unlisted from the site. The rates are Rs.4,000/- per person instead of Rs.3,000/- per person per night as quoted by booking.com. He also confirmed both my kids would not be charged extra since they were under 12 years old.
After some thinking I confirmed to Navin that am coming down, he took down details like the favorite choice of biscuits, chocolates, soft drinks etc. for the kids.
So there we are we finalize our vacation plans at 7 PM and intend to start our vacation at 4 AM the next day morning. What a way to have your vacations. I tell my wife we are going to Kilavarai village for our vacation, if only looks could kill. We were supposed to stay here -
When we crossed Dindigul it was about 11:45 AM, we were late by about 45 minutes from my original plan.
The constant diversions on the Dindigul - Theni road added more delay to our already delayed schedule. When I reached Perumal Malai I called Navin who gave me directions to his Brooklyn Bungalow on Convent Road.
At around 2:30 PM we reached Brooklyn Bungalow. They offered one cottage in Brooklyn as well. Fairway Inn - Home. The cottage looked fabulous with an old world feel to it. May be for my next trip to Kodai I will use this place. The best thing about this place is even though it is less than a km away from the lake, the place is quite and peaceful. It would be apt for those who prefer to spend time sitting on the lawn reading a book or may be just spend time with oneself in peace.
All of the below pics were taken by my kids.
You would have to pass through Poomparai, Mannavanur, Kavunji, Poondi & Nattampatti villages before reaching Kilavarai. The roads were decent all the way except for a few patches.
As we made our way through the road went on and on, after almost an hour we reached Poomparai, by this time my wife started complaining about how far the place is away from the town. As we went up and down the hills, crossing over one mountain after another, each time a valley appeared the views were spell bounding as terraced farms were visible everywhere with houses here and there.
There were no high rises to block your views, you could see the valleys as far as your eye sight could take you.
Time for us to call our caretaker, I pick up the phone only to find Airtel not working, fortunately my BSNL 3G datacard SIM came handy to call Durai, who was to be our Man Friday for the next couple of days. He guided us to the property.
So a good 14 hours after we left Chennai we reached "Eco Escape". It was just about getting dark when we reached there, giving us no time to check out what the place was all about.
The first statement the kids made was "Appa No TV?". First time I thought it would be difficult to spend two days in a place without TV for the kids, now that we have come here there is no other go, lets hope the kids are not at their worst over the next two days.
The view as we step out of the cottage.
With nothing much to do we had a simple dinner of Veg Pulav and subji and retired for the day with the plan to wake up early in the morning to explore the place. The night was cold but all of us had long snuggled under the blankets and we were sound asleep quickly. By about 6 in the morning my daughter is already awake, while in Chennai we would have to wake her up with lot of efforts for her tennis classes, here she is the one who is waking us all. After a quick cup of tea we decide to explore the property.
Eco Escape has a bit of everything around it, organic farms, wild stream, waterfall, forests. Slowly we make our way around when our Man Friday Durai points us to something on the other side of the river, a Nilgiri Thar as per him while for me it looked more like one from the deer family.
The place is a "Veg Only" place and the food is made from the locally grown vegetables. On Friday night Navin had arranged for pastries from Kodaikanal with strawberry topping from his farm. A lovely way to pamper your guests.
The entire area is divided in patches, each one of them numbered individually. The date each patch is sowed is maintained on a computer to keep a track of harvesting dates. This also ensures that almost at all times all the vegetables are available by proper planning of sowing time table.
Slowly winding up we reached back the cottage for our morning break fast.
After break fast it was time to get to the water. The property has a stream running through it and in a couple of places it does allow for some canoeing in a small way.
After a simple lunch which had chappatis and one of the best subjis I have had made out of Brocoli & Cauli Flower, we decided to trek into the nearby forest, it would be a first time for the kids to trek into the forest. Though I was sure there would not be any animals of note that could be sighted we were all quite enthusiastic to do the trek.
It was during this trek my wife and kids had their first exposure to leeches, though we were able to find all of them before they could show their true colours, the damage was already done, wife was scared to do any more trekking. In hindsight it was a good decision as we reached the cottage right in time for heavy rains to strike the place for a good hour or so. If we had decided to continue our trek am sure we would have got caught in the rains with no where to hide. But the trek did provide us an opportunity to see such a beauty, what a sight it would be when the rains are in full flow.
We thanked Durai who had taken care of all our needs over the last couple of days, showing great temperament with our kids, a perfect Man Friday.
A panaroma shot of the Mannavanur Grass lands taken on the way back to Kodaikanal.