I spent a very chilled out weekend in a hill station called Coonoor which is nestled in the Nilgiri hills of South India. The clouds floated pleasantly close to where we stayed and the green mountains were bathed in a bluish shade.
But here was my first impression of the place as soon as we got off the bus – “wow, what an ugly place”. And that’s pretty much how you feel when you look at a lot of hill stations from their bustling bus stop. Once you move away from the main market below and hike a little upwards, that’s were beauty begins.
The hotel where I stayed at was called Wallwood Garden, an old but pretty-ish property that was away from the maddening crowd, but comfortably close to Sim’s Park. The park is the most visited tourist spot in Coonoor and rightly so. It’s a sprawling park with huge trees and lovely flowers. You feel calm and happy as you walk around there.
I didn’t go to a lot of tourist spots this trip and spent some time in a cemetery called Tiger Hill Cemetery on Day 1. A lot of 19th century folks are buried there.
It was about 3 kilometres from the hotel, but we chose to walk the distance. It took a little over 30 minutes to get there by foot. The cemetery is right next to a tea plantation and the view from there is gorgeous. It’s very quiet and feels relaxing but I can imagine the place feeling eerily creepy once the sun goes down.
So day 1 was just the cemetery and the adjacent tea garden. Had dinner at a random restaurant and the food was pretty blah, despite us choosing local cuisine. Lunch was pretty good though, it was a chinese place called Jharoka, very close to Sim’s park.
On Day 2, we first went to Sim’s park. Did boating. There were two very annoying couples who loudly kept talking about “oh, how are we going to shoot our tik-tok video?”. The kind of tourists who are so busy making videos for their social media pages that they barely experience the beauty around.
Anyway, after spending some time at Sim’s park, we walked to a tea plantation which was about 2.5 kilometres. Since the weather was great, the walk was very enjoyable, despite being slightly uphill. A lot of independent but charming looking homes were around the place.
After exploring the tea plantations, we headed to the Wellington Gymkhana Club, because a lady had told us about an annual winter fair taking place there. Cost us Rs 50 (less than a dollar) by auto to get there from Sim’s park.
The venue was very scenic & we ended up spending over 2 hours at the fair. We checked out all the stalls and then headed to the food stalls. I tried a plate of chicken 65 which was being sold for just Rs 60 (less than a dollar), it was so damn good, that I had another plate! That’s very rare for me to do. I don’t know when was the last time I ordered a dish twice.
We tried Chhole Bhature (a kind of fried bread with spicy chickpea curry) at another which was very average. At another stall, we tried a dessert called caramel coffee cream cheesecake, which was AMAZING. I went ‘mmmmmmm’ every time I took a bite, savouring the flavours.
Well, after the fair, we didn’t really have anything on agenda, so we just went back to our hotel. Picked our bags, chilled in two different cafes. Finally had dinner. And took a bus back to our normal lives.
Verdict – It’s a good weekend getaway for people like us who live not too far away. Definitely not something people should plan exclusively if they are staying more that 12+ hours away. Or travellers who are doing a long south-India tour can make it a part of their iterinary.
P.S – I published a poetry collection called “Death & Darker Realms” which is available on Amazon, please check it out. Following are the links to the e-book-