Shared by Ashwin on 07 March 2019
“We’ll be able to see the Blue Kurinji!” exclaimed my wife Firozi, while we were packing our bags for one of our annual trips at Club Mahindra last August. This time down South, at Club Mahindra Danish Villa in Ooty and Club Mahindra (Solheim House) in Kodaikanal.
Of course, you wonder what is the Blue Kurinji? Like Firozi, you don’t need to Google it, at least not until 2030 because that is when this flower will bloom next - after 12 years!
However, don’t wait till then because, even without the Blue Kurinji, Ooty and Kodaikanal should be on top of your bucket list purely because both these resorts are really unlike other Club Mahindra resorts. Believed to be former private properties of the Mahindra family, these two resorts claim to be the smallest duo in the Club Mahindra chain, with 15 and 11 rooms respectively, giving them not so much a kid-friendly ambience but more an air of elitist privacy.
Coupled with the typical Club Mahindra staff courtesy, friendliness and efficiency, the colonial British architecture and magnificent gardens abloom with flowers, they hark back to the days of the Memsahibs and Sahibs. Kodaikanal even has charming Swiss style wooden chalets. Closeted from the bustling touristy world around them and perched on hillsides, they present large 180-degree panoramas of beautiful lush green surroundings within an oasis of peace and tranquility. Perfect for a break from the maddening hustle and bustle, to just laze in the garden lawns catching up on piled up reading, watching beautiful sunsets from the verandahs or even appreciating the fog slowly creep into our rooms; remember we were there in the monsoons and fog is a part of everyday life then. Of course, there is a flip side – no swimming pool or much by way of in-house activities for children except a playroom but, as senior citizens, we weren’t complaining about the deafening silence - except for chirping of the birds.
“This really is like a Yash Chopra film” was Firozi’s monotonous litany during most of our local sightseeing, both in Ooty and Kodaikanal. Indeed, the pine forests and green meadows looked alpine country whereas the overpowering aroma of eucalyptus and hillside hugging colorful villages were very much a part of mera India.
It would take pages to describe all the experiences but we looked forward to each one of them. Both places and their surroundings had similarities: around the same elevation and climate, a central lake with a promenade, impressive temples and churches, a mixture of British and Tamil names all around, abundance of pine and eucalyptus forests, waterfalls, jungle lakes, colorful flora and fauna, tea and vegetable plantations, botanical gardens, markets with an overdose of fruit sellers and homemade chocolate and spice shops, etc. But, despite this, each place was different and alive.
If you are into wildlife, like we are, make the trip to Mudumalai Tiger Reserve from Ooty. Besides the animal sightings, just the to-and-fro drive is worth it.
Also, don’t forget the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, the blue train made famous by Chaiya Chaiya! We made this memorable 1-hour trip from Ooty to Coonoor and then hopped into our taxi enroute on our 7-hour drive to Kodaikanal and it was worth every moment.
The icing on the cake was a special born-fire experience which the Chef and staff in Kodaikanal organized – as per my wishes – on the eve of our departure for Mumbai. The next day being Firozi’s birthday, the team organized a private 4-course dinner of the local cuisine, on the lawns under a beautiful moonlit night – a perfect end to an unbelievable holiday!
And yes, we did see the Blue Kurinji - in Ooty and in Kodaikanal!
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