A Step Back In Time
Nestled in the Shevaroy Hills in Tamil Nadu, India, is a place where time seems to have stood still. The Lake Forest Hotel takes its name from the place – Yercaud, which in Tamil means ‘lake forest’. The main structure dates back to the 1800s and as you step in, you find yourself transported to a time long past. Sixty cottages are tucked away under a luxurious green canopy nearly five thousand feet above sea level and around every bend there’s a bit of history, remnants of an era long gone. Each room is done up differently, in an old world style with a few antique pieces and the rest of the furniture made to look like period pieces.
Along the slopes of the mountains, coffee grows in abundance, punctuated by silver oak trees. Temples have existed here for hundreds of years but the cool climate brought the English up here and it is said that Robert Clive came here to spend his summers. Most of India’s hills stations were developed by the British so they could escape the heat of the plains in summer and on many of them, tea, coffee and spices are grown.
The Lake Forest Hotel we went to has a story unlike the rest of this British summer resort. The estate was won in a bid by a lady of Portuguese descent – Henrietta Charlotte Rosario and the old bungalow still has the old four poster beds and furniture from the late nineteenth century. The coffee estate was named Rosar after her and the old coffee pulping and powdering machines are still around.
The reception area in this charming hotel is like a treasure trove – old clocks, an old bronze table fan and even ancient film shooting equipment. Now why on earth would there be lights, mike stands and blowers straight out of a thirties or forties film set, we wondered.
Huge black and white blow ups of photographs brought back the past and above our heads, an old fan moved gently with the breeze – the manager told us that all they did was to change the cloth when necessary.
The great thing about this place was how well it blended in with its surroundings. The landscaping was wild and wonderful not structured and manicured. And the sign said it all. This was a place where we had to live in harmony with nature, where the old and the new existed together without any sense of discomfort, where the air was fresh and pure and green stretched out before you and above. Good friends, good food, beauty all around us – we couldn’t have asked for more. It was the perfect recipe to get us back to work refreshed.