Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yercaud - Lake Forest Hotel

See my previous posts on Yercaud - Yercaud - The Drive, and .
Yercaud offers places to stay for all budgets. Among the more comfortable (read more expensive) places, GRT Nature Trails- Sky Rocca, Lake Forest Hotel, and Hotel Grand Palace are some.

The Lake Forest Hotel, Yercaud, is located "in a live coffee estate on the bunds of the Yercaud lake. The guest bungalows are set in the “Eastlynne Farm Estate” in and around the “Bungalow” built during early 1800s by Henrietta Charlotte Rosario who was residing in the Shevroy hills."

The hotel offers close to 50 rooms, in four varieties - Bungalow Suite, English Suite, Royal Suite, and Eastlynn Garden - at listed prices ranging from Rs 4000 per night to Rs 15,000 per night. That's expensive. For a place often called the 'Poor Man's Ooty', a room going for 15 thousand a night is expensive. Indubitably.
So what does this Royal Suite look like, the room that costs close to US$300 a night?

Well, as the name suggests, it is a suite. The entrance is to a living room, with a bedroom on either side of the living room, and the view opens into a wooded area of the coffee plantation.

Specifically, a two bedroom suite, with ample appointments of furniture and antiques - both real and faux. There is a bedroom each on either side of the living room.

Given that both bedrooms are the same size, it is ideal for a family with grown up kids.

This carving of a lion has been done from a single piece of wood, and felt absolutely solid to the touch. Maybe of ebony?

Another look at the royal suite's living room.

There is a liberal sprinkling of genuine antiques all over the hotel premises. One of the most fascinating items, for my money, is the "Sitting Walking Stick", pictured below.

"This English Planter's walking stick is unique, for it contains a makeshift seat as well. And the English planter used it notoriously. He would never talk to a native standing. For it made equals of the two. He therefore chose to open the attached seat, sit and then command or order. Strange but true."

The Lake Forest Hotel web site has a short but fascinating history of Yercaud. While it is worth reading in its entirety, I have reproduced some of it below:
David Cockburn, the Scottish Collector of Salem between 1820 and 1829 can be rightly called the "Father of Yercaud". Expansion of coffee to the Nilgiris and other coffee growing areas of Tamilnadu is said to be from the Shevaroys. The first survey of the Shevaroy hills was undertaken in 1827. Elephants were common in the Kolli & Shevaroy Hills and disappeared by the end of the 19th Century.

In the meanwhile there took place at Salem a very unusual turn of events when Mr. G.F. Fisher a European of German origin purchased the Salem Zamindar in 1836. He was the first and only European Zamindar in the Presidency. The area of his zamin was 1,25,000 acres.

The Shevaroys as per the local inhabitants consisted of Selanadu (Area south and east of the Shevaroyan Temple) Muttanadu (Land in and around the shevaroyan Temple) and Moganadu (area North of the Temple). In 1842, after the death of the Pattakarar (Tribal Chief) of the Shevaroys there was trouble between the various Malaiyalis. This struggle for succession finally resulted in the British bringing this area under their rule in 1842.
The Grange Yercaud was built in the 1820's by M.D. Cockburn & after the Indian Mutiny in 1857, fearing trouble, The Grange, Yercaud was fortified & ramparts built to accommodate gun placements & canons were installed. An underground cellar to store food for over 6 months in the event of a siege was also built & stocked. All Europeans in the area were to assemble at the Grange in the event of an uprising.

© 2009, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.