This holiday was a long time coming..But everything fell into place when we purchased a new Maruti Ritz car recently.
We booked at Hotel landmark for 4000/= for a four bed- room non AC ( if AC is required, why go there..Thankfully it wasn’t!) for Saturday evening for 24 hrs.
The Hotel guys were more than enthusiastic in response and gave us all the info required to make the stay pleasant (Visit http://www.hotellandmarkyelagiri.com/).
We hired a driver from a Call driver agency in Chennai and we started off with all the josh expected of a family itching to embark on the first road trip in our new car from the sweltering Chennai to the not too far away ‘cool hills’.
The driver was competent and took us through the Chennai- Bengaluru highway along Kanchipuram- Vellore- Ambur route.
Naturally I sat next to the experienced Driver Narayanan and tried to get some tips on driving properly on highways (Just re-learning these days, you know). My wife and children Chinnu and Sannu made small talk and relaxed in the comfortable rear seat.
I took the opportunity of driving for a long stretch of some 10 to 15 kms on the highway with driver giving me occasional tips. I must say I really enjoyed the experience and look forward to become a competent driver sooner than later.
The road to Tirupattur leads towards Ponneri junction, a pretty good stretch of road and then ascends the green-looking hills. It is better to buy snacks, ad beverages etc here itself as the driver warned that the same things cost the moon at the Hill town.
Besides there the Highway dept has put up a board sternly informing the tourists to ‘fill fuel here itself as there are no petrol bunks beyond this point’ (God knows if and when they will open one at Yelagiri, because the board looked sort of permanent!)
There are 14 hairpin bends up all the way, each named after old Tamil poets and we could see many vantage points en-route from where the natural scenery can be observed and enjoyed with some group photos. A sign board nearby read ‘Don’t Drunken Drive!’, a Tanglish warning to drivers…
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We managed to take some pics on the way besides feel cool afternoon winds promising similar things in store.
The travel took about 5 hours for these 235 kms , with 22 kms of it on the hills. It included two tea breaks too. We had started at 1 pm and had reached by 6.15 pm.
Small hilly villages welcomed us when the road straightens out on top. And a cluster of small hotels and eateries all named after hills or Yelagiri show up.
There is only one SBI ATM there and on weekends it gets dried up quite soon, we were warned. Most major mobile networks do function here except the recent ones like Uninor , Idea , they say. Ours was Airtel and no problem was faced.
We took small hilly twisting road beyond Travelers bungalow to our Hotel landmark which sort of nestles independently on a lone hillock.
The building looks trendy and spacious looked quite airy and bright as we drove into the parking lot.
The formalities were quite swift with the Manager Murugesan in charge and soon we were led over a garden path with stone tiles down to a block of rooms.
My children were obviously pleased with the spacious and comfortable room at first sight.
It had two double cots, a bathroom with shower and EWC and a small dining with a Table and wall mounted LED TV. Two garden windows look out to the hills outside… Yeah it was pretty nice.
We freshened up quickly and drove 2 km to the Natures Park where a Musical fountain show was planned. By now it was really cool we did not even need car AC. Cool breeze wafted in and kissed our faces delighting us.
The Park has some 10 bucks entrance fee and through a twisting green path we walked on to an enclosure where they charged us again 15/- again for the fountain.
The gallery seats were already filled by 7.30 pm and a central pool of fountains started making colorful twisting patterns up and down as music played on. The songs are the recent Tamil, Hindi film hits and even a Kannada film hit …all fast and thumping…But then sadly the fountain has only 4 to 5 set-patterns and keeps repeating no matter what music is played. So much for Musical fountain!
We spent some relaxing time, sitting and chatting on the green grass in the early night 8.00 pm time.
The weather is just cool, much like Bangalore’s cool days but not too chilly like a real Hill station say Ooty or Kodai!
We returned to Hotel and there was feast of buffet items Veg/ Non veg spread out there, with a little space between the two
We had a good sumptuous Veg dinner to our liking and retired to bed.
We did put on the two ceiling fans one above each bed and that was sufficient for a comfortable sleep.
There was a gap in the compound wall through which a few stray dogs entered and caused some nuisance and hotel staff boy with a staff in hand tried to chase them out in vain.
We awoke at 7.30 am thereabouts as we had decided to take things slow and easy here.
(Our Driver had slept in the car and had freshened up by 9 am).
After bath and breakfast at Dining hall which was now a buffet of Idlis, vadas, Pongal, Kitchdi and Dosas that delighted the taste buds, we left to visit the lone Murugan temple atop a hillock near the Hotel. It was pretty blusteringly windy and cool on the temple premises. After taking in the scenery though camera eyes we came down and started to the Lake for a Boat ride in our car. By then it was 10.30 am.
Unfortunately the ticket counter informed us that boating was cancelled from last few days as someone had committed suicide by jumping off the boat in the middle of the lake and died…Someone said there were four of them and one died (was he pushed?)..Any way a Police case, so no boat ride now!
We took Rs 5/ tickets to the surrounding lake park which has the usual children pay area of assorted swings and slides like Cubbon Park Bal Bhavan in Bangalore.
We did have a look at the calm serene lake waters… a small one by any standards and I wondered how anyone could think of death in such a pleasant place…Hmm, it takes all kinds to make this world. But, one word on the boats:
Suicide or Murder, the boats did not have any safety arrangements at first glance…Very old fashioned wooden row boats! When will we learn?
There are some funny Tanglish boards here too like ‘Drinkards Not allowed as per their Regulachions!’… Whatever!
We spent more time in the cloudy noon time in Narure Park opposite the Lake where last night we had seen the Musical fountains. I did manage to get some quality relaxing time now sitting below a tree by myself and listening Rudram mantras. It was still keeping very pleasantly cool all through the day.
Lunch at our Hotel was once more some veggie buffet and we gorged ourselves well. The food was nice.
We went back to room an hour of siesta, awoke at 3 pm and manage to check out by 3.30 pm.
The return journey down the hills is equally nice in the dusk and we hit the highway by 5 pm.
The journey back home with a couple of tea breaks consumed same time and we were home by 8.15 pm.
So Yelagiri hills as a medium-grade small hill resort scores big time in weather; though there are very few places to see, the emphasis is only to spend quality time with family and unwind.