It’s been almost a year since I last travelled to Coonoor, and the unpleasant arrival of summer in Bangalore made me reminiscent of this dainty place. A place i would base my contemporary Malgudi on, if I ever did. It is where you go to unwind, and I’m not using the colloquial phrase for the urban cliché it represents but the feeling of being absolutely undone by the utter simplicity of nature's calligraphy. To support my fact I present the following data; small hills, petite lakes, narrower roads and townships out of time, an insane amount of green, eucalyptus and infinite bushes of tea leading to a point where one views a trickle of a waterfall. Find anything special yet? That's what every hill station has, right. Hell, that’s almost what Ooty has too and most of us have heard of it. So why Coonoor? Because it’s the best kept secret of the Nilgiris, and as I have been saying, it’s a place out of time, of a different era with the vintage touch. Isn't that what all the classics are made of?
When it comes to travelling to Ooty-Coonoor, I have done it all. The train, the bus and the road trip, and each of them have their own "mazaa"(fun/charm). I am so biased to the wholeness of Coonoor that i'm not even going to pick a favourite. The real conundrum is the toy train ride from Udagamandalam to Coonoor, encompassing one Lovedale, Wellington and several other timeless tiny stations or the heavenly road trip from Ooty to Coonoor with all the twists and turns, the Nilgiris and cute little bistros like, Culinarium on the way. Both offer a helluva view and while the Udagamandalam station has that small canteen that serves plates of South Indian delight called "Breakfast", the highway offers the chance to step out and capture some of that serenity, I’ve been talking about.
Once you reach Coonoor, thanks to the recent commercialisation of the place, you find that usual humdrum of a tourism town, but don't let it put you off. You need to stop, look around, to find that complacent charm of the place. Trust me, it'll rub off on you. In one of my visits, I stayed at the eclectic Tea Nest, which is notoriously 'always booked' and for good reason. It’s not a big place by any means but it is one of the loveliest you'll find as any hill station in India. There is that one small yet high window in the passage, leading from the hall to the dining room, you could see a green slope of tea bushes up the hill. The property is right bang in the middle of a tea estate and the ride itself to the secluded mini heaven will win your heart. Waking up to misty mornings, having breakfast in the middle of tea estate and a view, that at any hour of the day would make you wonder if you ever could turn a "shayar". It’s a home-stay, which makes you feel at home with their flexibility and courteous hospitality. It is the true representation of what Coonoor is to me, and i would like to thank my dear friend, Ajay Sarpal for introducing me to this place and for his exquisite stories about this place.
There are many 'spots' for tourists to explore, I'm sure google would help you with that, but Coonoor is more than that. When you reach here, your life feels different, like an alternate universe, making you question your choices, which for me as a traveler is the high point of any place i want to be at. Life is slow and there are simple pleasures like, that unseen flower in the botanical garden and that variety of 'chai'. Just the pace on a whole, slows down and lets you enjoy the most elementary entities much like Malgudi, the place we all imagined to be true in our own ways