Last Christmas we finally made time to return to India after being absent for far too long – it was also a great excuse for us to actually take the kids to experience a little piece of India for the first time. Much to the dislike of the kids we ended up booking flights to visit the Nilgiris right on Christmas, (flight availability and leave restrictions forced our hand)…and so with a mini pre-Christmas celebration at home (santa managed a very special early delivery) we headed off to spend time in the Nilgiris.
The Nilgiris, known as the Blue Hills , is a mountain range located in the South of India between the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The area’s better known towns are Ooty, Kodaikanal, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kotagiri. The Nilgiris are truly beautiful and offer a very different travel experience from the regular trips to the plains of India. The hills were made even more popular at the time of the British, when they would escape from the heat to their favourite Hill stations in the peak summer months. I have fond memories of school camps on the shores of Lake Berijam near Kodaikanal. The Nilgiris once covered by dense south Indian rainforests or Sholas which now only has pockets remaining – The area is also well known for its prolific tea plantations that give the area its beautiful green rolling hills.
We arrived late into the city of Coimbatore (flying Singapore Airlines/Silk Air) – and were met by a driver and vehicle to take us to Kotagiri – the kids were welcomed with a garland of scented jasmine and marigold flowers – I knew we had arrived home the minute I smelt that jasmine,it was as though I had never left India. We spent 4 days at the Farview Mountain Resort and Villas in Kotagiri. There are currently two Villas – a 2 bedroom Villa and a 3 Bedroom Villa. We had been kindly upgraded to the 3 bedroom Villa – which had two bathrooms, a living area with TV and heater, dining table, mini bar fridge. The 3rd bedroom is upstairs with great views of the Nilgiris ranges.
The owners have put in an enormous amount of attention to detail into having these villas built. In such a remote location to have a piece of luxury built to such high standards is a credit to the Henderson family. After speaking to Mark, the family member who looked after us, about the challenges they faced in having the villas built you gain an even greater appreciation for your accommodation.
A stay at Farview Villas is not the cheapest option, however the service and quality of our stay certainly made up for it. We were treated like royalty, nothing was ever too much trouble for Mark to organise for us. The food was prepared in their main kitchen and brought to us at each mealtime. The kids loved the idea that they could just order their meals every morning and ta-da we had a delicious meal served up at the requested time. The advantage of this option was that we could vary the menu, from pasta, burgers to traditional Indian food and we ate way too much each time. I must say breakfast was one of the highlights with cereals, toast and the delicious South Indian Idlis (dumplings) or Dosai (savoury crepes style dish) served up with fresh spicy coconut chutney and dhal (red lentils) every morning. Mr. Techno found himself in food heaven.
Mark had even organised some Christmas decorations and a few presents under a mini desk sized tree. The fact that they thought of the kids over Christmas was a real treat and most thoughtful.
In order to get around you are best to have a car, the staff at Farview Villas can organise a driver and car for your sightseeing and activity requirements this can be organised whilst on the ground or if you have very specific requirements might be worth planning ahead of time. As my mother lives nearby, we had our own personal guide and driver (thanks Mum) – There is plenty to do in the area if wish to be active, we took a leisurely pace with only a few days or moving around partly catching up with jet lag but we were there to see Grandma mainly.
Things to do in the Nilgiris:
- Kodanand View Point
- Dolphin’s Nose – Lookout
- Cooking lessons at Farview Villas
- Tea Plantation Visits
- Botanical Gardens -Sims Park – Coonoor
- Botanical Gardens – Ooty
- Toda Tribal Village – see a traditional ‘church’
- Nilgiris Toy Train
- Mudumalai National Park
Farview Mountain Resort and Villas - 2 & 3 bedroom villas located in Kotagiri on tea estate.
Singapore Airlines and Silk Air to Coimbatore from Australia
Drive Coimbatore to Kotagiri – 1.5 hours – car hire
- The drive to the Nilgiris is windy from the mainland with tight hair-pin bends – worth knowing if you get car sick easily.
- The weather is cooler and can be windy so great to take layers
- There is a Taj Hotel in Coonoor – they serve a great buffet lunch ideal if you want to visit the Botanical Gardens.
- See the link for some good reading on getting kids prepared to eat in India and the whole spicy food scene - My kids, India’s Food - journeys of the Fabulist