It’s noon and the hills look cheerful. The valley is a riot of colours — golden yellow daffodils, mauve jacarandas, reds, pinks — and adding pleasure to the view is yet another round of rains. We are in Udhagamandalam, and a 10-minute drive past the Collector’s Office gets us to Sabol Holiday Resorts. It overlooks the giant Baudha Hills and the dense green sholas, the drinking water source of Udhagamandalam. At a distance are matchbox-sized Badaga hamlets.
N. Nandhakumar and his team greet us with a welcome drink as we walk past a display of a black-and-white photograph of the Connemara Road (where the resort is located) taken in 1920 and other vintage photographs on the red brick-tiled wall. The entrance wall is done up with miniatures of antique cycle rickshaw, motorcycle, and bicycles to create a feel of the outdoors.
Lunch at the multi-cuisine Glass Room restaurant is a double treat — hot rotis with mixed vegetable curry and pepper mushrooms, and an amazing view of the rain-washed hills and acres of carrot and potato farms with their plump yield.
Sabol Resorts has 28 rooms that come with modern décor, wooden floors, an elaborate living room, pantry area, with a single, double or three bedrooms, and a private lawn with colourful flowers. There is a conference room too that can hold about 60 people.
The cottages are named after birds…. I cross kingfisher, bulbul, and check in at blue jay. In the living room, a portrait of blue jay packs information. I learn about the distinct alarm-like shrill call of the blue jays.
The evening gets chilly, and I take a short trek to the nearby Maarlimund Lake, located in the middle of the reserve forest. I breathe in pollution-free air and soak in the silence. Back in the room, I bite into crisp and hot onion pakoras, drink tea as an inky darkness settles over the hills.
M. Ramesh, director of Sabol Holiday Resorts, says guests can go on treks and explore nature, try adventure activities or visit farms in the vegetation zone, tea gardens, and tea factories, where they can watch the green leaves turn into tea grains in a step-by-step process.
You can also play shuttle at the open-air court, which doubles up as an open-air movie theatre. Watch birds, cycle around the property or go for long walks. But I prefer to wake up to a crisp morning and stare endlessly at the misty hills. It’s bliss.
Name: Sabol Holiday Resorts
Contact: 164, Connemara Road (next to Maarlimund Lake), Pudumund, Udhagamandalam.
Ph: 0423-2440051, 52, 53 or 9842828000/ 95785-88000; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.sabolholidays.com.
Tariff: Rs. 3,850 plus taxes for deluxe cottage with living room, includes breakfast. During off-season from June to September, the tariff is Rs. 2,850. Rates vary for honeymoon and other packages that involve adventure activities such as rock climbing, biking and wildlife tours.
We Like: Watching the cloud-kissed mountains while dining.
The lawns, where you can laze around on garden chairs and listen to the chirping of birds. In the mornings, a number of sparrows sit pretty on the pigmented-tiles of the roof.
We Diss: Nothing much. May be they could cut down on music that plays from speakers at the garden.
(The writer was at the resort on invitation)