HILL COUNTRY RESORT

LOVEDALE

USP: A wonderland with misty hills and toy trains

W ith the heat of Bengaluru becoming oppressive, a holiday in the hills seems a good way to beat the heat. So we head for Lovedale, a few kilometres from Ooty, that is still untouched by the milling crowds.

The resort is 12 years old and has wonderful views of the vast expanse of Lovedale Valley, with the Nilgiris in the distance. Clouds and mist languidly drift in and out of the the green expanse of tea gardens, interspersed with silver oak trees, their leaves glinting in the rays of the setting sun. A place for Nature lovers, Hill Country envelops you with the heady perfume of the hills — a blend of ferns and ancient cypress trees.

Wrapped up warmly, camera in hand we sit at Hill County's vantage point, waiting to see the quaint toy train that chugs along its narrow gauge tracks at a leisurely 33 km per hour. Suddenly the ‘cooo-cooo' of the train whistle echoes in the valley and the train, that was conferred UNESCO World Heritage status, appears over the crest of a hill.It chugs past the resort and disappears into a tunnel, that the resort manager says runs right under the resort. Jump on the train — it's a romantic ride that takes you through untouched countryside right upto Coonoor.

Ask for local Badaga cuisine at Orenda, the resort's restaurant. The Badaguru koi udaka (Badaga chicken curry) and steamed rice, finished with Tuppathittu (banana pancakes) are must-haves. For those who find spicy food hard to handle, a variety of cuisines including Continental and Chinese are available on order. The sweet corn chicken soup with freshly cut celery, straight from the garden, is perfect for a cold day.

The rooms are beautifully maintained with crisp white sheets and towels and a spanking clean bath and toilet.

Carry a shawl or a cardigan because, at any time of the year it is chilly and temperatures dip sharply at night.

MARIANNE DE NAZARETH

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