Almost every summer I take off on a solo trip. It’s my time for solitude. This year I had one coming up in October and plus, summertime was also about school holidays! My son was at home for 2 months and after a lot of planning we ended up zeroing on Yercaud. Funnily, the trip was going to happen after the school reopens, thanks to the clashing schedules of the 4 adults involved.
Abhinav had gone to Yercaud the year before on a bike trip and had stayed at the Carlton house. He and our good friend Nikhil made high recommendations, so we went ahead and made the booking. We chose to drive down, because honestly we drive down almost anywhere. Abhinav would drive down to the USA if he could (rolls eyes). My sister was worried to do a 16 hour long drive with a 2 year old. I, the veteran of motherhood and road trips convinced her, and we were ready to roll!
We were supposed to leave Hyderabad on the morning of 8th June. My sister and her family had come over the night before so we could get out early the next day. There was a power cut the whole night and we somehow wrapped up the packing and getting ready the next morning. As expected, we forgot multiple things and had to keep going back in the house to get them. We even drove back after we had left as we had forgotten the baby’s milk!
Finally off at around 6:15 we took the Bangalore highway. We were planning on bypassing Bangalore city and go via Krishnagiri . The route was longer but was definitely better than going through the turtle paced Bangalore traffic.
Hyderabad- Madenapalli – Krishnagiri – Salem – Yercaud
The plan was to halt as sparingly as we could. I had cooked and carried breakfast, lunch and some snacks for all of us. We had a super quick stop for all the tea drinkers in the morning and continued. The plan was that the driving would be shared between Abhinav, myself and Sunil. Around midday I got my turn at the wheel, and as my luck is with every road trip, there began the worst roads of the whole trip. I had to drive on single carriage motorways, which is nothing but your usual lanes through villages. After battling cattle, kids, tractors and slo-mo village buses for 4 hours, I decided to take a break. As I sat cursing my bad luck with the roads I get at every road trip, Abhinav calmly reminded us that he knew the route and the condition of the road. He had travelled through this a while ago. So, basically he cheated me into driving the worst section!!! His justification was that I was the most experienced, in terms of number of kms driven in a period of time (I used to and still drive really long distances for work every day) and hence the perfect candidate to drive the worst of roads!
Once we hit the Ghaat section, Abhinav was behind the wheel again. Felt more confident with him driving through the hair pin bends. You have to go through 19 hair pin bends from Salem to Yercaud. We arrived at the Carlton house at around 10 in the night. We were shown our room which had two double beds, a smaller room attached with 2 singles and a bathroom. As we were settling in, an incredible home cooked dinner was served out in the lawn. We had left a temperature of late mid 40s in Hyderabad and now we were in the mountains with cold breeze and a temperature of 16. I was chilled to the bone.
I was up and about with the kids early in the morning. I was still not ready for the cold and unsuccessfully kept trying to drag the kids back into the room. I and Abhinav were the only people without any warm clothing with us, after we being the ones who told the others to carry one (rolls eyes at self). Aunty was too sweet and lent me multiple sweaters and shawls. We took a tour of the whole property and loved every nook and corner of it! Carlton house is a 118 year old bungalow set in around 5 acres of land. It’s a home stay, with Aunty taking care of the day to day Operations, while Uncle manages the upkeep and their son takes care of the bookings and marketing.
We all turned into little kids on the swings till the breakfast arrived. There were a lot more guests staying as it was a weekend and the breakfast was served in the lawns again. We ate like there was no tomorrow and now, had to convince ourselves to get out instead of going back to take a nap.
Our first stop was supposed to be Pagoda point, but we lost our way and came back to the town center. My friends Vanita and Swathi had recently gone to Yercaud and highly recommended going to the Cauvery Peak coffee house. I am not even a coffee person and oh my my!!
So place no 1: Cauvery Peak Coffee house
After a few cold coffees, Ice coffees and a ton of photos we were on our way to the Pagoda point. It was packed with people and parking was a nightmare. After playing around with archery and shooting, we took some (understatement) pictures of the breathtaking view. Try going there early in the day and preferably on a weekday to beat the crowd. That brings us to….
No.2 Pagoda Point
Now we were hungry. How?! Honestly, I wasn’t! So, we head back to the town center to go to the Green park restaurant which came highly recommended by our hosts. This place is open only on weekends with one of the best views of the lake. The food is mediocre and the service average. Only for the view.
No.3 Green park restaurant
Time to be a tourist again. We looked up the Gent’s and Lady’s seat, which are not really seats but viewpoints and went on our way. We skipped the Lady’s seat as there seemed a lot of rush there and directly went to the gent’s seat. This is a beautiful spot for viewing the sunset. It was too early for that, but we definitely got a view of a lifetime. Sun-rays peaking through the clouds. Long winding roads playing hide and seek through the canopy of trees. We stood for a long time taking it all in. Absolutely must do,
No.4 Gent’s seat
Our host had suggested us to go to Heaven’s ledge, a campground with the most iconic view. You couldn’t just go and chill there unless you were a resident. So, we went in bypassing the reception. Watched the sunset which wasn’t very visible because of the cloud cover. Despite that, the view was just stunning! (I am running out of adjectives now) There was a bench and we all took turns posing on it. Myra was extremely sleepy and poor baby threw a major tantrum right then. We shamelessly continued our photoshoot while her mother struggled with her. 😛 An old man, who looked like the care taker came running to us and asked our purpose of visit. In my broken Tamil I lied saying we are checking it out for a future stay. Poor guy gave me a phone number which we pretended to be interested in. After another few hundred pictures, we started to leave. On our way out, some more people stopped us. We lied through our teeth again. 😀 So, if you are ready to be a cheater like us…
No.5 Heaven’s ledge
We drove back out through the loop road as the rain started pouring down. Loop road is a 32 km loopy road with a lot of view points through it. As the rain fell down, we saw steam rise off the road. Maps weren’t working and we went back home old school style, using our memory.
No.6 Loop road
Once we got home, aunty had another feast prepared for us. We all sat with the couple and had a few drinks together. They shared their stories of how they came to be married and settled in Yercaud. We spoke about India, being a woman and a lot of other really interesting topics.
Up early in the morning and it’s time to work out! I had a nice session which took away any chill I could feel in the mountain weather. Aren and Abhinav were busy playing basketball. Later we all got together and played every game that was available. The ring, table tennis, basketball. We couldn’t play badminton as the wind was really strong. We could have even played football, but luckily we didn’t remind Aren about it. So, my next must do in Yercaud is the stay at The Carlton House. If you are looking for some old school hospitality, absolutely delicious home cooked food, living in a 118 year old house and having enough activities to keep you occupied all the time, this is the place to go!
No.7 Stay at The Carlton House
After a relaxed morning, we got ready and headed to the Lake Forest for lunch. Recommended by my friends again, we had a nice Indian meal. We wanted their famous wood oven pizza which was unfortunately only available for dinner. After a really long and heavy meal, we went in the search of a path my friend Swathi had recommended. She was raving how beautiful and calm the walk had been. We couldn’t find the exact place I think. All we came across was littered, scary, thorny, narrow path. We gave up and left.
Next on to the Annamalai temple. Again, beautiful view. We tried some hilarious and disatorous panoramic pictures of ourselves. The wind was super strong and I was too scared to let the kids out of my grip for even a minute. There were some people who had come there and were having a picnic. Seemed like such a wonderful idea!
No. 8 Annamalai Temple
The craving from yesterday’s coffee was back and we went back again to Cauvery Peak coffee house. After a nice double dose of coffee, we went back to our home for this holiday. We all just chilled, me reading a book, the kids playing. Aren was glued to the basketball court as usual. Our hosts had a billiards table in their house and invited us to play there in the evening.
The men played, I tried to learn and the kids got access to TV for the first time in the past few days. Aunty got us some super yummy snacks. This was the life!
I asked Aunty to suggest a place where we could go and eat an authentic Tamil lunch. She offered to make us one! So, to get ready to eat that meal, we all hit the grounds. Work out and a few rounds of basketball later, we hit the lunch with a vengeance. And the spread!
In the evening we went for a walk around the Tipperary bungalow as suggested by our host. It’s not a proper walkway so be prepared with some good, sturdy walking shoes. Most of us climbed up as high as we could for….. of course the view!
No.9 Spot near Tipperary bungalow
Post that, we went to a tiny, family run jam/pickle store called Kitchen on call. I went a little nuts as usual and bought quite a few unique flavors like Kumquat jam. My sister bought some chocolates too.
No. 10 Shop at Kitchen on call
We had an early night so that we could be up and ready to leave the next morning.
We were ready to leave by 6. Our hosts wanted to pack breakfast for us, but we didn’t want to give them any more trouble. After a round of pictures with them we were on our way back to Hyderabad. A few hours later, they contacted us to tell us that my sister had left her handbag!! They were just so sweet and promised to courier it to us soon. We had a very uneventful, but beautiful drive back home.
All in all, a really fun and and relaxed holiday. If you are looking to get away from the city’s madness and nestle up in the tranquility of the mountains, Yercaud is definitely a place you should visit.