There isn’t a word that can describe the beauty of this place. There isn’t a phrase, There isn’t a sentence. There isn’t enough I can say about this place. No matter what I write, will I really be able to do it justice?
This beauty of a place is unheard of. I never heard of this place before. I am pretty sure most of you who stumble across this wouldn’t have heard of it either.
Sunrises are always beautiful. Sunsets are always beautiful too. But, then I tell you the sunrise here is priceless. It’s not the sun setting over turquoise waters, nor sun rising over sandy beaches here. It is over tea plantations, and little cities far below from where you stand. It’s where the winds are so cold that you think you may freeze. It’s where the sun rays embrace you in a warm hug. It’s the Shola Crown!
Oranges hanging right on the tree from your balcony, beautiful white flying ducks to welcome you, set amidst cardamom plantations, this boutique hotel is one of my very best travel experiences to this date. Mr. M would definitely agree to it as well no doubt.
Where Exactly is Shola Crown?
I am sure by now you would be very curious as to where this place is. The Shola Crown is on top of Bodimettu – a hill from when you get down to your left is Tamilnadu – flat lands at sea level with tropical weather, and onto your right Kerala- cold misty hill stations – A beautiful mix where you could experience both hot and cold.
Day 1 at The Shola Crown
We arrived at The Shola Crown on Wednesday evening. When we got there, it was already dark, and raining. It wasn’t supposed to be raining there according to the weather that was in tune there. But, it just so happened that day. We went on a jeep safari to Tamil nadu that evening. During our ride we had to go through 17 hairpin bends. I have never rode a safari jeep like this one before. We could even open the windshield.
When we started, of course the window wasn’t open just because it was misty as we were on the hill top, and it was hard to see through it. Half way down the hill, and the weather started changing from cold to warm. The way of nature is so much to ponder about, and draw inspiration from! On our way down, we stopped to see two towns from a view point – Theni, and Bodhi.
We then went all the way down to Bodhi. Bodhi is a small town, and the town was very much alive even at night.
We then came home to a home cooked dinner. Due to the rains, the power access had gone off, and we ended up having what was a candle light sort of torch light dinner. Did I mention the place wasn’t open yet, and we were getting a sneak peak before everyone else?
We then went off to sleep. Next day was going to be long, that’s all we knew! There were no mosquitoes, no need for air con. The cold was perfect. All you needed was soft bed, and nice warm blanket in a place like this.
Day 2 at The Shola Crown
We were up as early as we could to catch the sunrise. However, due to the rains we decided we would just go to the view point we were at the previous night. Just because, after the rains, the chances of witnessing a sunrise is literally close to zilch. And, so it was the case. We really couldn’t see the sunrise, and the sky only cleared up by the time the sun was up.
Our guide for the day was Mr. Reji who was also the Hotel Manager. He was a great guide who was very well informed of the many flora and fauna.
After what was a very unsuccesful sunrise view, we decided to move on. We stopped to have this drink from the very first shops that we saw when we entered Tamilnadu.
We did have a pretty interesting drink – a special kind of coffee made with a mix of dried ginger, turmeric, cardamom, and jaggery.
We also stopped by to have local food from street side shops. There is no better place to try the local food than those small shops on the way now, is there?
We moved on to explore some beautiful sights around the area. From beautiful landscapes, dams, and hidden waterfalls, we didn’t know what to expect at every place we went. This was one of the least documented places on the Internet. All I heard from the team was all I knew about the place.
We then returned to have a sumptuous breakfast. After which we were scheduled to hike to a tribal village. This journey was tiring. Our hike was upwards, and climbing even the staircase up is never easy. Let alone hiking a mountain up when you don’t know where you are going to place your next step. Either a hole dug out by some animal, or maybe dung, or anything you can’t see while walking through those plants which cover your walk way. And of course, being the blogger I am, I wanted to capture all the memories. Not just because I am a blogger, but, I also love going back through memories like these. I did fall down twice but thankfully nothing happened. Alhamdulillah! I just got up and walked again. The hike was beautiful, but definitely tiring.
We were finally arriving at the Tribal village. And, we could see hints of how they lived even before we entered the place where their homes were. They protected their vegetation from animals by tying their clothes around the plants. The ladies, and the children of the tribe started rushing away to their houses as they wouldn’t talk to outsiders without the consent of their Leader who was referred to as Mooppan or Kaani. “Muthuvans” ( Aduvilunthan Kudy) was the name of the tribe – one of the very few tribes in existence in Kerala. The tribe isn’t too big either- Only 51 Families live there. And, barely 14 children are getting proper schooling.. Rest of the children go for work at a very young age to make both ends meet.
The Kerala government has started initiatives to improve basic housing of this tribe.The tribes normally lived in Huts. The initiative started by the Government aims to replace houses made of mud and Bamboos by Concrete Houses. Yet some still chose to remain in Huts, and we could even see abanadoned concrete houses. The visit to Aduvilunthan Kudy was a beautiful mix of Trekking through the premises of Mathikettan shola national park as well as an experience of how the people in the tribe live.
What is luxury to me might not be luxury to everyone else. We find comfort in the way we live, and so do they. They found comforts within their huts.
Travel teaches me a lot. More than often a reminder of how not to judge others, and how to be tolerant. And, also the fact that what we think is a way to live is not everyone’s way of life. Who are we to impose on other’s decisions. We can help, we can support, and we can share good things always!
This experience was quite memorable, and isn’t going to end in one post I realised. I will be sharing the rest of my experience in the next post. Let me know what you thought of the place, and my experience.
If you are going to India, make sure you check them out http://www.sholacrown.com/
You will not regret anything about this place.
Disclaimer: This post was prepared in collaboration with The Shola Crown. I was a guest at the hotel prior to the opening. All pics and opinions here are my own!