@Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India.
It is the right thing to give tea an opportunity to sweep you off your feet; not just once, but again and again until a certain boundary is reached, and this boundary which is to be set at the beginning of a tea lover’s life was never set by me, as it was impossible considering the immense power and beauty of tea and its ability to enrich one’s life beyond the boundaries of all available dimensions. Coonoor is that land of tea which is often forgotten due to the popularity of Ooty as a hill station, for the latter is a place which can be called the most well-known hill stations of South India, a title which is not officially given, but is commonly talked about. But popularity doesn’t make any place better, except for the rush of tourists, which create no effect on a mind which is set on that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” knowledge passed onto the common mortal by John Keats through his ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’. All other material things should be of concern just for the people of commerce and science, as arts would deal with that beauty, as it would be known to them, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever” as said by the same wonderful poet in his ‘Endymion’.
The talk about Nilgiri Hills would first bring the name Ooty to the tip of one’s tongue, and that sword-like weapon would add to the popularity of that place, but the significance of Coonoor is not to forgotten and buried in a corner. It is on the way from Coimbatore/Mettupalayam to Ooty, which makes it a good place to stop and take rest, have a look around and capture some scenery. As immensely beautiful a scenic place Ooty is, the same can be said about Coonoor, but situated at a lower altitude which would make it a little less cold and also a much needed stop before going to a higher area. Most of the things in Ooty can also be seen in Coonoor including the colonial architecture dating back to the early twentieth century as well as the viewpoints, greenery, waterfalls, gardens and surely tea. I would consider them twins, one of them just a little taller and sharper, named Ooty; and the other one as more of an extrovert who helps his hermit brother in being in contact with the people who are from outside the family, being the helper that is Coonoor – brothers in birth or brother in action; or may be both of them – they seem to compliment each other so well as if they are alive and overflowing with brotherly love and affection.
The journey from Mettupalayam to Coonoor is one of the best, not in terms of travel quality, but due to the breath-taking views one encounters. The journey by the train might have the edge in beauty, but the road travel is not that far behind, as the view of Nilgiri hills is not something which could stay hidden. The Dolphin’s Nose Viewpoint is just about ten kilometres from Coonoor, and it not only provides a panoramic view of the Nilgiri Hills but also that of Catherine Falls. Lamb’s Rock Viewpoint is on the way to Dolphin’s Nose, and about six kilometres from Coonoor, and is another vantage point to view the wonderful landscape and the tea plantations which prove to be more than just random greenery. The edges of the place would be risky, but might not be as risky as the life itself, which is more unpredictable and inconsistent than Ajit Agarkar used to be, during his time in the Indian cricket team. One should let the lambs of that world do the jumping, and not humans, as it would damage the name of the place. Law’s Falls is another tourist spot adding to the beauty of the landscape. The ruins of Droog Fort stands far away from the world of ease and laziness, as that would need another route to follow, not much taken and not followed by many.
Coonoor has the Sim’s Park which might be its most well-known tourist destination, as it is a park as well as a botanical garden, a combination which would suit a day’s rest. There is greenery and there is colour, a combination which would inspire nature poems as if powered by Lake District. The cold breeze could add to the effect and might create an army of Wordsworths, if there is art and literature in minds and the beauty of inspiration in the hearts. This tropical mountain climate would be suitable for the growth of all these trees and plants, but it would be even more suitable for the growth of seeds in the mind of a young poet; for what John Keats said about truth and beauty is of universal significance. There is no limit to imagination and inspiration, and it doesn’t matter if that path is twisted or not taken, even if it is thousands of kilometres away. Just like the blood is of the same colour everywhere, so will be the imagination, as it takes over the mind and creates that wonderful work of art even without the host knowing much about it; that is the beauty of creation by inspired imagination, and that should be where the best works should arise.
St. Antony’s Church at Coonoor would add the much needed spiritual flavour to the journey; it is that old church which celebrated its one hundred and twenty five year anniversary last year and continues to be the most attractive sight at the top once one gets down from the bus and look around. As one of the oldest churches of the diocese of Ooty, this not only have that element of antiquity, but also that of simplicity combined with beauty – painted white with some blue outline elements, not something which attracts people with its grand style, but by its location and age. The same can be said about the CSI Church even as it looks younger in age, may be due to its newer yellow paint with white outlines. Both churches have graves nearby, and the latter has Celtic crosses which would give more of the British effect. May be if it was not for the paint, the second one would have looked older of the oldest ones around. There can still be no question about its old age as it looked more colonial in nature than any other old structure which blessed Coonoor with its presence. How spirituality would contribute to the imagination of any living person inspired by God’s world, is something which needs no further description; may be a few zombies and Twilight vampires would disagree, but that is the case of dead, mindless people.
Katary Falls, the third largest waterfalls in Nilgiris is just ten kilometres from Coonoor. That would add to the tourist attractions, but the most significant thing in Coonoor is undoubtedly tea. The town depends heavily on tea trade, as one can understand from the large number of tea gardens which blesses the photographers with its beauty, before the tea leaves make the mouth of the tea drinker sacred. The trees, mountains and the small sheds which surround the tea would make it such a combination where there is certain amount of harmony in nature and man is also part of it; forget global warming, pollution and deforestation, as this would be a moment of glory for both sides, thanks to the immortal drink that is tea. The birds seemed to agree as they were also flying in harmony. Thus the last place to visit and the right place to end the journey on a high, was Swamy & Swamy Plantations Private Limited – High Field Tea Factory, to buy all the needed tea and also those chocolates; tasting them – Masala, Chocolate, Ginger and all varieties was always fun, and this time, the opportunity was at a time when there was the most need for tea – what more can one expect, surrounded by tea and drinking the same thing like never before?
Diving out —>