This summer, we decided to crash our friend Deepshika’s getaway in Nilgiris for a weekend. Deepshika mentioned that she, along with two other moms, and their children had rented an Airbnb in Kotagiri in the Nilgiris for a month to beat the unbearable and dry Hyderabad heat in May.
Unable to resist the allure of the hills, Padma, whom you may remember from our Portugal trip with our naughty toddlers, and I unabashedly decided to show up there for a weekend with Neel and Arya. Kotagiri is a short 2-hour drive from Coimbatore airport and far more peaceful and serene as compared to some of the other hill towns in the Nilgiris like Ooty and Coonoor, that are now more commercialized. Fun fact: Kotagiri used to be a summer resort for the British so you will see some beautiful colonial architecture in the town.
Here is why I loved the weekend, and would totally do this again:
- Gadget free days: with no working internet, limited cable tv, and barely functioning mobile phone reception, the kids had to be creative in entertaining themselves. We took a tent to give them the jungle camping feels, they created pretend armies out of rocks and twigs, chased butterflies and caterpillars, and accompanied us for short walks in the hills.
- Exposure to nature: the Airbnb was the only house on a hill surrounded by tea gardens. We took the kids for a short hike to the top of the hill through the tea bushes. It pushed them out of their comfort zones as they traversed the bushes, and watched (and even helped us) figure out the fastest way to the top of the hill. We picnicked on a clearing under a tree at the top and watched squirrels and birds share the space with us. They even befriended a wild cat that frequented our villa.
- Carefree time for Moms: with no husbands in sight, no work, colleagues, or home chores to manage, we would wake up, and live on our own timelines and terms. Hang in our pajamas, no makeup, enjoy peaceful tea with a lovely view, drink mojitos at 11am, and gossip about the world and laugh ourselves silly! Absolutely therapeutic!
- Bonding time for kids: its one thing to see your friends for a few hours at parties, or dinners, but hanging out with them over a weekend, particularly when there is absolutely nothing much to do, no gadgets, no video games, etc. is a way for kids to form better bonds with each other, and learn from each other.
Tips for those planning a trip to Kotagiri:
- Airbnb or other short term rentals are the only decent accommodation options (we didn’t see any decent hotels) and frankly that’s the best way to spend a few days in the hills.
- Plan to take ample supplies – in terms of food and alcohol, and a few games/toys for the kids as some of the villas are so secluded you literally would have to walk 2 Km in hilly terrain to get to the closest shop
- Hire help – if there are many of you it might make sense to hire local help for cooking and cleaning – just cleaning those houses everyday can be a huge task – and this will give you ample free time to relax
- You can drive to nearby waterfalls, hill towns of Lovedale, Ooty or Coonoor (an hours drive) if you want to visit the local attractions (Catherine falls, Flower Garden, Lamb’s Rock, Dolphin’s Nose Viewpoint, Kodanand Viewpoint are the recommended ones), cafes, or even have a nice dinner out.
- AVOID GIVING MILK to kids right before the winding drive up or down the mountains – we made that mistake and suffered! On the way back, both kids puked all over the cab, their clothes, our clothes, and even the driver (who I am sure swore never to have children) – it was a smelly disgusting mess! We stopped at the side of the road to clean but had to quickly leave because we were attracting curious monkeys!
So yeah, barring that last point… go ahead plan that detox trip with your Moms gang!