Postcards from the Past

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

The small are easily overlooked. So is Yercaud, Tamil Nadu’s third hill station after the famed Ooty and Kodaikanal. Gently caressed amidst the Eastern Ghats and Shevaroy Hills, an hours drive away from Salem thrives a lovely and quaint little hill station with all year pleasant climate and beautiful antiques left by the Raj since 1820.

It was in 1820 when Mr David Cockburn, District Collector of Salem stumbled into this beautiful town. In Tamil “Yeri” meaning Lake and “Kaadu” meaning Forest which ultimately christened to Yercaud. Mr Cockburn established the first plantations of apples, oranges and coffee in the 1830’s

The town can be easily walked around in a day. One can visit the small yet charming lake in the middle of the city. There are some beautiful view points called “Ladys Seat”, “Gents Seat” and “Childrens Seat”. However to top all of them is the famed “Pagoda Point” which the locals mispronounce as “Pakoda Point”. The Shevaroy Hills with an altitude of around 5325 Ft offers breathtaking views of sunrise and sunsets.

Yercaud is home to a a number of beautiful colonial bungalows and convent churches and schools. The Fairholme bungalow still makes delicious guava jellies first made by some Miss Pops in the early 1800’s.The towering Montford school established in the early 1900’s with its huge playground is a sight to behold. The Sacred Heart Church and Retreat Church with their adjoining cemeteries paint a picture from the early 1800’s. Some of the earliest hotels of Yercaud include the famed “Lake House Hotel” deep inside the forests beside the lake now run by the Indeco group. The “Grange resort” an estate bungalow takes way from a lonely road covered with thick forests on both sides.

On one end of the town is “Tipperary Estate” known for it delicious coffee. “Tipperary” meaning “the end of the road” in Spanish was established about 130 years ago. The 70 acre property housed an English Clubhouse, a servants quarter for the club and a hospital. The house was later brought by the nephew of Charles Dickens and then became famous as the Dickens House with Dickens referring to the house as “Salem House” in one of his novels.

Presently the property is owned and managed privately as an authentic estate homestay. The charming colonial bungalow has an unmatched view from the sunny porch. The master bedroom has the vantage point for the best views in the entire bungalow housing 5rooms in all. One can spend days here sipping estate coffee or dozing off with a book on the sunny porch overlooking the valley with the scent of freshly bloomed roses from the adjoining garden.

Managed by a lovely group of staff they leave no stone upturned in ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay. With lovely homemade food and estate coffee twice a day everything falls in place as the entire valley below glows with the night lights of Salem. The sight is truly breathtaking, like a thousand diamonds on velvet. As night falls, you hear only the faint rustle of leaves and night birdsongs.

One can also engage in the various estate activities offered else just soak in the strange warmth of the place doing nothing.

Prices are Rs 2800 per person with simple and delicious homemade meals and coffee or tea. Yercaud is amazingly comforting, refreshing and nostalgic. As one walks through its winding lanes dotted with lovely colonial bungalows and quaint churches meeting simple people one realises life is not just about running ahead, but savouring it in the present and also admiring the past. Time has stopped here a long time ago and that gives me a strange feeling of contentment.


Address: Tipperary Rd, Yercaud, Tamil Nadu 636601

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