Mountains have a way of getting into some peoples’ veins. For them once they have lived in the hills, planes are just temporary residences. The heart is truly happy only when the feet are stepping -on turning paths. The mountains keep calling and the people keep visiting. I am smitten.
We had taken a time share recently and in these times. Foolish, impulsive. And the tension was mounting once a couple of months passed. We were worried we will not be able to use it. Long week end of March was nearing. Mountains of Yercaud were calling. Black beast was cleaned, waxed and gleaming to tires. Heart was happy.
On the Sunday we loaded the car with food, clothes, toys and set off – Wify dear, dotty dear, a pair of parents and the beast. With me driving and a packed breakfast from the local SLV (take-away). The 52 weekend breaks book said it is some 350 k.ms from Bangalore, off Salem. Net suggested a route via Omlur. NH7. We took the nice road and hit NH7 towards Chennai.
There is an abandoned reliance petrol bunk after Hosur where we would usually park and eat. This time however we were asked not to stay but move on by the sleepy attendant. As we drove I saw a lake and a mud road on the left. Took it. Some scary moments and an early morning angry glare from the co-passenger got to a “imli” tree. Breakfast. There a couple of village kids got interested in us. WE talked to them in broken Kannada gave then few pieces of apricot and were back on the road. Three hours of hard driving took us into Salem. We kept looking for the left after Omlur, as suggested by our book, but reached Salem.
Had to seek directions. People told us to look for “Unji road” junction to reach Yercaud. The five way junction it was. From there a tight left to the state highway took us to the ghat road that promised the mountains at the end of a score of hairpins.
As we neared the place air was crisper. At 3500 feet over MSL, it was cool. Checked into the Lake Forest hotel. This resort takes its name from the meaning of the place Yercaud. A new hotel modeled along the Raj times on a live coffee estate. Prince was the guy who made us comfortable. He told us to laze around and go to the big lake for the day. He is of the opinion that, this is what the place is meant for. A lazy meditation.
We are made of wonder lust, so lazy recommendations do not cut it. Resort or otherwise. So we set off, boated and drove to the ladies seat. Very neat sight. You can see Salem. As dusk settled and night progressed the magic of city lights come on. Gently and slowly the grey turned to navy blue and dark. The lights in the city come on shyly and boldly. Cars on the bendy roads were two headlights or a streak of red tails. While it was fascinating it was also getting cold. We ignored. Set off to the next seat, a little higher and of opposite gender. The view from here was spectacular. The three day crescent moon hung over horizon, the million sapphires lit the sky and hundreds of fluorescents and neons lighted Salem. Cars moved slowly. Cold got bit more creepy. I was looking for a flat ground for my SLR to get the night and was cursing for a Tripod. Wify dear patient. Dotty shivering. Few deep breaths later purring beast took us back.
The resort in the dawn was very good. Birds were exchanging gossip and few looking for the mate. Breakfast. Explored the place a bit more. An old “Large front wheel and tiny back wheel” chained cycle. A very old, very big camera, lot of watches. Wooden birds and animals. Good food.
Got hold of the prince and bugged him for a place that is not some point and that will give us a good ride. Had read this article about a tribal temple and a river on the net and was pressing about it. He then very dramatically sketched a map and told us so many marks and little details to know the way. His voice seemed to travel the route as he spoke. And that is how we went to Kadai Rama temple and the teak forest beyond. On the way back we saw Anna Salai temple. This is open only on Full moon. The place is open, quite and un-crowded. There the black beast met a black dog. He was jet block, tip to toe. Eyes were dark diamonds. Very play full. Pagoda point was marked for the last item on map. On the way there is a ghost town. A hosuing board colony of nice duplex housed. Unoccupied. One of them has custom tiles and wood. Gohsts live there now, as there is no water. Pagoda point gives the best view from hills. Nice breeze, good pagoda to take views.
Lunch. Rest. Drive to the highest point at Shavaroy hill and the Shavaroy temple. This temple is 2000 years old if you believe the priest. Vishnu and Lakshmi blessed us. Way back we saw Rajerajeswari temple and bought aloe vera cream and herbal shampoo for fairness of the skin and health of the hair, now that the souls were taken care of.
Next day was time to wrap up but there was time enough for a ride on a quarto through the coffee estate and a visit to the small lake that is fed by seven lakes and two visible. Did a u turn at Montford school and set course homeward.
Yercaud is a cute little place. A usual Patel can cover it in a day and have time for lot of chai somosas and a good lunch. Do not go there to see points. Go there to look at sky reaching tress. Chattering birds. For a drive that will let you breathe deeply and for sharp tingy mountain water. Simple people and crocked roads. Teak forest.Black dog. And To draw water from a well in a forgotten manner.