Nilgiris – the freshness of the name is spread across the length and breadth of the hills. From neatly manicured tea gardens and undulating slopes of lush green valleys to relics from the colonial past with slices of British history amalgamated into modern travel preferences, the varied charms of this quaint, sleepy town still enthralls visitors leaving a lasting impression.
One such charm belongs to Glendale Tea Estate and their bungalows – Runnymede and Adderley. Located 3 kms from the Coonoor town, Runnymede offers stupendous views of the heritage train running through the tea estates. Guests staying here can experience this spectacular site of the smoky train crawling through the carpet of lush green tea estates and capture that picture perfect postcard scene to take back home.
The bungalow here has an arched entrance with a veranda, tiled roofing, and miniature windows that allow fresh mountain air to float in. The garden view overlooks the Blue Mountains that form the background while the tea estates stay in the foreground.
Rooms are snug and cozy with the ample space to enjoy the view from the bed. The light from the miniature windows in the dining hall enhances the experience while relishing the sumptuous food cooked by the Man Friday cum cook, fondly called Shekar Anna by the visiting guests.
Loyal to the Glendale family since the early 90s, he has traveled and learned different types of cuisine from Sri Lanka and elsewhere across Tamil Nadu; the personal touch in the food can be felt when they are savoured. He whipped up a treat for us that night featuring his signature dishes he has mastered over the time. Taking inspiration from the cooking style of the native Badaga tribe, he served us a dish called Avare, made using Potatoes and beans.
There are multiple varieties of tea to experiment as a drink but Shekar Anna with his expertise has added a creative twist to the most favourite South Indian snack, the bajji. Tea Bajjis, as he calls them, when served piping hot with a cup of single estate Tea from Glendale, will have you praising him for his ingenuity at every bite. The flavor of tea leaves, when tasted as a Bajji, blends well with the misty cold weather of Coonoor. Another signature dish of Shekar Anna is the Tea Chicken where tea leaves are cooked with the Chicken and served with Rice/Chapattis; the aroma of tea leaves hits high with every bite and the flavor lasts on the fingers.
In the morning, we were taken on a tea tasting tour by Mr. Shyam, Assistant Manager at the Glendale factory with an experience of 15 years as a Tea connoisseur. Here, we got to taste and understand the plucking and processing techniques of 12 varieties of tea that are produced in Glendale.
Located in another corner of the town, about 12 Kms from Coonoor town near the very famous Dolphin’s Nose viewpoint, is the oldest and the main bungalow named Adderley, built in the year 1880. The music notes from the birds sway through the rainforest, muddy roads offers the bumpy ride as we zigzagged through the clouds and mist, following the sign of Dolphin’s Nose to reach Adderley.
On arrival, we were welcomed by the shade of a very big tree and a beautiful garden filled with colorful flowers. Clouds were clearing up at the right time as the Sun rays showered on the bungalow. The architecture of the bungalow speaks the times of colonial era – tiled roofing, spacious rooms, each with a fireplace, offer the warmth and also speak of the conversations that happened around it.
The lawn outside is the place to watch the misty clouds hover, spot colorful birds, bees and butterflies hopping from one flower to another. During my time here, I also undertook an alluring climb up the watchtower that’s erected down below the garden to soak up views that were equally enchanting; a bird’s eye view of Mettupalayam town can be seen from here.
In the evening, our guide for the day, Velusamy Anna, in his early fifties, took us for a walk through the tea estates, explaining about the hills around, the wildlife and the people who have made it their home.
At the end of the twenty minute walk, at a pace that was hard for us to match, he took us to a labor settlement where we met Padma Akka, who’s been a resident there for the past 10 years. We caught her cleansing the front yard of her house with cow dung when we reached. The walls looked like the newly painted clear sky and we caught up with her kids Praneesh and Pradeesh who were busy playing after returning from school. She greeted us with a welcoming smile and offered us her special black tea as we cherished random conversations with her and her small family before we walked back to the resort while taking in breath-taking scenes of the spectacular sunset over the hills.
During our time at the Glendale Bungalows, as we got used to the surroundings that became increasingly tranquil with every passing minute, we felt like we left the world behind and got used to being amazed as the norm of life. Glendale Estate offered us all an immersive, reflective experience as we were enveloped in the serene silence of the hills around.
The Glendale Bungalows here might have lost the earlier colonial glory, but within its several layers of modern travel comforts, one can still detect a faint scent of nostalgia from the illustrious past.
FOR BOOKINGS CONTACT