Jani Jermans Blog

February 11, 2021

Weekend in Kotagiri, Nilgiris

Filed under: Travel — jani @ 4:00 pm

About Kotagiri: Kotagiri or Kothagiri is a taluk and a Panchayat town in The Nilgiris District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the third largest hill station in the Nilgiri hills.

The trip was more of, spending time with our friends {Anil, Manisha, Vinit and his 2 kids (Vir & Sara), their Nanny Seema, Suprita, Sur and myself} rather than visiting the location as we had already visited Kotagiri. Suprita and Manisha zeroed in on La Maison, Kotagiri and we just tagged along.

E-Pass: Due to Covid situation, we need to register for the E-pass and this is still mandatory for Nilgiris. Please ensure to get the pass before you travel or else you would be sent back until you have the e-pass. Please find below the link for the same.

https://nilgiriscovidcare.in/entering-nilgiris/

Day 1: Usually we start early but our friends suggested to start the trip by 7.30 AM. But due to delay from some of the friends who couldn’t reach on time, we started only by 9.30 AM. It was a good drive and it was fun to catch up with friends as Sur and myself was in Anil and Manisha’s car. Vinit, his kids, Nanny and Suprita came in Vinit’s car. We had a pit stop at Kamat Restaurant for the breakfast, which is a go to place for many when you are on the road trip and it was good. We enjoyed their Dosas and Utthapam along with a filter coffee and started our drive back. Then our friends wanted to stop over for lunch in Radisson, Mysore and we took a lunch break. That was one disappointing lunch ever from Radisson. Having dined at Radisson, Bangalore this came as very disappointing and am sure my friends from Bangalore Radisson would be very disappointed to hear about this as well. After such a bad experience, we started our drive back and hit the Bandipur forests. We spotted lots of Deers and Peacocks that made us all excited and happy. Not to forget the monkeys who have encroached most of the places and an elephant which was tied up near Mudhumalai forest area. When we entered Mudhumalai, there was a check for our e-pass and our friends had misplaced the hard copy, while they were searching, the forest officers also searched our car and then they found the carton of soda bottles, since plastic bottles were not allowed in the hills, we were fined. Still we couldn’t locate the hard copy of the e-pass and then Sur came to the rescue and showed the soft copy. I stepped out with the soft copy, filled up the registry details in the check post and then started the scenic drive again in Mudhumalai. The sight of so many peacocks were wonderful. Then we had to hit the not so interesting drive of hairpin bends of Ooty as couple of us had motion sickness so it made it worse. Once the harpin bend was done, we still had Kotagiri hairpin bends, thankfully they were not bad as Ooty one, so we felt better. Then we had to follow the instruction from the hosts of La Maison property on how to reach there. Since it was already sunset and was getting darker, it made us little difficult to locate the property. The reason, the property doesn’t want to put the sign board outside as they do not want to have walk in guests. If you put the google map, then it stops you at least 2-3 Kms away from the property and tells you that you have reached the location, even though you have not reached. Finally we reached the property and Vinit and team did miss the road and they reached almost an hour late which was not a good experience travelling with kids and driving in the hill station in the dark. But when we reached the property, we forgot all the trouble that we had in locating this as it was such a beautiful property and the building dates to 18th century which got renovated. Then Sur recommended later that there was tea factory next to this homestay and if we select that in the google, then it takes to the right place, so that helped us for the next 4 days while travelling in and out for our lunch and dinner which our friends had prebooked outside the homestay.  The hosts Mr. Benoit & Ms. Monu were excellent hosts and we were welcomed by a drink made from pineapple. We refreshed and then sat for the Indian dinner which was ready to be served. Then we just crashed for the night as we were too tired.

Day 2: Woke up to the beautiful morning, enjoyed the beautiful garden around and enjoyed the breakfast in the garden. We enjoyed Idly, Dosa, homemade bread and eggs. Then we stepped out for a mini hike behind the property. Walking around the tea garden, listening to the birds, enjoying the morning mist, we couldn’t ask for anything more. Then our first lunch drive started to The Culinarium, Coonoor. Travelling out of that property and going all the way to Coonoor was not fun with the small kids around, as every lunch drive was taking almost 4 to 5 hours, up and down. So except the driving part, which is not fun in the hilly terrain was time consuming and not worth as we were just wasting our time on the roads rather than enjoying the location/homestay. Finally we reached the restaurant and this is also my favourite one in Ooty as we had dined here earlier. We had a great lunch and I was looking forward to their collection of pastries for purchase. Unfortunately due to covid, they had very limited pastries for display. So I couldn’t pick up any. This place is a must visit if you are in Ooty, after such a heart-warming meal, we started our drive back after a quick stop at the grocery store. We reached the property after sunset. By now we realized we cannot drive again for dinners in this hilly terrain and am glad others agreed to cancel all the dinner plans that they had planned outside the property. We relaxed at the property, enjoyed their bonfire and had French dinner served which was good and then crashed for the night.

Day 3: After waking to another beautiful morning and delicious breakfast, we headed for a mini hike next to the homestay. There was a tea factory and we went to visit but it was closed. So we walked next to that as we saw a waterfall on the opposite side. So went down for a little walk. There were couple of homestays nearby and then we ended up a chatting to the owner of one of the homestays and then he showed us the shortest route to the waterfall where the water was coming to his property. It was hardly 20 minutes of mini hike. Since other friends were not keen, Anil, Sur and myself went to the waterfall, enjoyed sometime and then we returned back. Then our lunch drive started for Taj Savoy, Ooty. Taj Savoy was such a beautiful property, we enjoyed the greenery around and then headed for lunch. We ordered A la Carte and it was good and then Vinit and kids left for the homestay and we went to Earl Secret Restaurant to check the availability for next day lunch, however they were full as they had an event. So we then started our long drive back and reached the homestay. Sur came to know his best friend, Gaurang was in Wellington, Ooty. Since they have not met after he came for holidays, we asked him to join us for dinner. Gaurang joined us for some time and Unfortunately he had to leave without having his dinner as others were still not ready for the dinner. We had asked him to stay back, but he didn’t want to stay back as there are wild animals roam around his property, so he had to be back home. I was relieved to know, his backup dinner had been arranged at his place in Wellington. After we sent him off, we relaxed some more time, had another good spread of dinner, enjoyed the bonfire  and crashed for the night.

Day 4: Woke up to another beautiful day and had the delicious breakfast. Then we headed to Gaurang’s place in Wellington to spend a day at his place and others went for a trek closeby with our host as the guide. As we started to drive to his place, we realized the Kotagiri road was closed for maintenance. I had enquired with a mini truck driver who was also stuck there due to road closure for alternate route to wellington and he showed us another route which was in opposite direction of our homestay. He also mentioned that it was the forest road. We thanked him and started the alternate route. On the way we found lot of bisons which was enjoying the sun in the tea factory. The alternate route was very narrow and within half an hour we hit the forest, that’s where my nightmare started. There were hairpin bends, very very narrow roads, steep bends and you had to reverse for every turn at the hairpin bend. Sur was worried as the car was Vinit’s and he didn’t feel comfortable to drive that car in such risky roads. We were just praying that the car doesn’t get stuck or wild animals do not cross as these were thick forest with little light and there was no signal at all. Since we were not sure how far this forest was and we were scared whether we got lost in the jungle as there was no movement of people/vehicle. We were thankful that no other vehicle came from opposite direction, then both of us would have been stuck in this road for some time as manoeuvring in this stretch was quite tough. Also we were not sure, whether we were in the right route. Sur was trying to keep his calm which was remarkable during such storm.  Finally at the last bend, we saw a small temple and that scary forest road ended and we were in the open close to the residential area. Even those roads were narrow, we were ok as it was open and we were out of the forest. After such a scary drive, we finally reached Gaurang’s place. We spent some time with him and I went to enjoy the garden while both the best friends were catching up with each other. We were served delicious lunch. We decided to leave by 4 PM from his place to ensure we reach the homestay before sunset. I was just wishing that I shouldn’t go to that forest road again. We left his place and started back to the homestay. We took our usual route and our bad luck the road was closed when we were just 15 minutes drive from the homestay. Now the scary part starts as we had to take the forest route but it was already 5 PM. We had to rush as we didn’t want to be in that treacherous road after the sun set. So we had to go back all the way and then take the forest road, by then it was already 5.35 PM. As soon as we saw the temple, we knew the forest road began and then this time we know the forest road is hardly 15 to 20 minutes of drive but we were worried we should get out of it before sunset. Since wild animals are aplenty specially the bisons, this was not at all a fun drive. Now I was more scared of any wild animals on this road since it was close to sun set, so I asked Sur to honk, even though I know that’s a bad since we the noise disturbs the wild animals in their habitat. Even though Sur doesn’t like to honk normally, he just honked once. It was such a coincidence that there was a bison trying to climb the turn which we were entering, since it heard the sound, it just stopped for a second and we saw the head so close just few inches away from me. Of course, we were at the mercy of the bison here as neither you could not speed in this road as there was hairpin bend so close to each other. I was relieved that we were saved from the bison and after 10 minutes we were out of the forest to the open. We just reached the homestay just after the sun set and it took some time for me to remove the picture of the bison head out of my head. That was one hell of a scary experience with the wild. Sur got another chance to make fun of me and he also was relieved as car didn’t get stuck anywhere and we reached safe to the homestay. We were narrating to the hosts and for them this was normal and yes, they recommended not to honk, which I completely agree especially with bison as their temper is really bad. We just had our lucky day. We also spoek to our friends about their trek which we missed, they had a memorable trek as even the kids could go for it and after a little break, it was a barbeque dinner of beef, chicken and paneer. That was one of the best dinners, enjoyed the bon fire and crashed for the night.

Day 5: Woke up to the beautiful day, had our breakfast and by then Gaurang also joined us as he also was heading for Bangalore and we tagged along in his car for the return journey. Suprita joined in Anil and Manisha’s car. Vinit was alone with the kids and nanny.  Once we came to know Vinit was alone, I decided to join Vinit for company but he didn’t have a place as kids needed the complete back seat to sleep. So I had to join back to Gaurang’s car. Thanks to Gaurang, we took another route which avoided all the hairpin bends of Kotagiri and Ooty. We were going slow since Sara was not feeling well and we decided to take a break near café coffee day for the refuelling. Since Anil, Manisha and Suprita were ahead, we thought will catch up with them for lunch as they had planned in Radisson, Salem for a lunch stop over. Since Vinit and us didn’t feel of stopping for lunch as we had a heavy breakfast and also Gaurang had packed few rotis with egg burji which was good during the drive. So we skipped the lunch and we went ahead as Vinit also told us to go ahead . So all the 3 cars came by ourselves and we reached ahead in Bangalore after a very short coffee break near Krishnagiri. We stopped at Gaurang’s place, said hello to Kangan and his kid and then took an Uber back home. We were so relieved once we reached home.

Stay Safe………..

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