When most residents of Chennai think of a weekend getaway, images of Pondicherry, Ooty or Kodaikanal inevitably pop into their minds. So, when I heard about an Eco-organic property in the forests of Sholayur, just an hour’s drive from Coimbatore, I was initially skeptical. I had lived in Coimbatore for 3 years and had never heard of such a place. However, a very close friend was getting married and we didn’t have a lot of time to choose a weekend getaway for the friends before the wedding. So, on impulse, we decided to spend this important weekend in Sholayur.
For those who might not be aware, Sholayur is about 40 km from Coimbatore across the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. On Friday night, we took the train (Cheran Express) from Chennai to Coimbatore. We arrived early Saturday morning at about 6 AM. Somewhat surprisingly, the property offered to pick us up directly from the station, but we chose to be picked up at about 11 AM from R.S Puram.
Within an hour of leaving Coimbatore, we arrived at the property itself, a beautiful home complete with a lawn, its own river and a lake with beautiful lilies and ducks to complete the picture of bucolic calm. Instantly, our phones lost signals, and I heaved a sigh of relief! No one could call me while I was there!
This host actually has a few properties in the area, but we stayed at the Highland Eco-organic Cottage.
What you can expect
1. A beautiful house with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen. Very clean, but no frills here. It can accommodate 6 people with the extra beds and mattresses that are available.
2. A single night at Highland Eco-Organic Cottage costs INR 10,000 and this includes pick-up, food and all experiences that are arranged.
3. It has a lawn that is perfect for picnics, lounging, doing yoga or working out – whatever floats your boat. Children can play here while parents lounge around sipping wine and reading books (that’s just my image of what children and parents might like to do :P).
4. A space where you can have a campfire and a barbecue in the evenings. Just notify the extremely helpful staff, and they will arrange everything for you.
5. Multiple hiking trails that will take you through gentle hills with colorful flowers and a stream that would turn into a river during the monsoons.
6. Other activities include a visit to a spice plantation and picnicking by or bathing at the nearby Siruvani river.
7. A small hill that you can climb at night and is absolutely perfect for star-gazing.
8. Staff on the property who stay a short distance away and will accommodate your every request.
9. The cottage mostly provides simple, home-cooked, Indian food . You can also request them to purchase Kerala food from a nearby restaurant. Both are lip-smacking delicious. I have to say that they have excellent cooks at this property.
10. This is a single cottage, so you will not be sharing with anyone else. That makes it perfect for a family, or a group of friends.
11. If you will be drinking, I would highly recommend that you carry your own alcohol. While you can purchase alcohol around the place, it will be of the local variety. So, avoid the hassle and carry what you need.
How I feel about the stay
The best part of a stay at The Highland Eco-organic Cottage is truly the ability to be completely cut off and just….slow down. I have outlined numerous activities above, and you could spend a moderately busy two days here, but honestly, I would just relax. Lie down on the lawn and listen to the birds or take a short walk down to the river while the dogs on the property try to playfully chase you. At night, pick your way up the small hill behind the house to star gaze and wake up to see peacocks strutting on your fence.
Remember what life was like before smart phones and Netflix, when gratification was never instant and when we were bored, we had to make up our own games to keep ourselves entertained. Let your imagination tell you what shape the clouds are, and make up a story about animal gods and celestial nymphs for your children.
I'm glad that I am not a child in the present, where there are barely any trees to climb, any animals to chase, any paths to go on lonely walks. 🌴 🌴 🌴 I'm sad that I'm an adult in a world where the chirping of birds is a rarity that causes unprecedented joy, where the gurgling of a stream is a song few have heard and to simply be amidst grass and a few trees, one must "get away". 🌿 🌿 🌿 And yet, "get away" is what I did this weekend, away from the reach of satellite connections and an incessantly chattering world. I went to a beautiful home in the lush forests of Sholayur, where star-gazing simply meant stretching out on the lawn. Where sitting by a beautiful campfire, watching the mesmerising patterns that the fire makes was an everyday occurrence. Where spotting a pea-hen did not happen on a wildlife safari, but rather in your own backyard. 🌳 🌳 🌳 Yes, such places exist. I went to one of them. @ecorganic_farmstays definitely makes you think nature might not be so elusive after all.
That is the true charm of this place. Somehow, the second you set foot here, the air seems to become lighter and time seems to move forward at a different pace. The very fabric of your day seems less structured.
We also spent a very nice morning visiting the spice plantations, seeing Elaichi and pepper still on the trees, walking through dappled sunlight and smelling the incredible perfume wafting through the place. I would highly recommend you do this if you have the time for it.
I will be the first person to admit that the hosts need to work on a few things like the logistics, but these are easily fixed. Being here, you will feel this undefinable relaxation. Almost as if all your muscles become instantly languid, and that is GOLD! If houses were people, this one would be a grandfather sitting on his rocking chair, contemplating the world through his glasses with wisdom and deliberation….never in a rush. Steadily rocking. Peace and calm are not words to him, but his inherent nature. That is what you will feel at the Highland Eco-organic Cottage. If you feel like you could use some of that tranquility, check them out here: www.ecorganicstays.com7