Of a lovely weekend, returning to our roots, quietude, cheese, clouds and a leopard

The last weekend, the OH and I escaped for a couple of days of relaxed nothingness in the hills. We took Friday off work and went off to Ooty for three days. And, boy, was it beautiful?!

We have been to Ooty a couple of times and have seen all the tourist spots there (the OH has gone there LOADS of times, sometimes on work. Now, who would want to work in Ooty? But that is a different matter altogether!). This time around, we wanted to do something different from the usual. We wanted a lot of peace and quiet, nothing commercial, and a lot of greenery around. So, we headed off to Acres Wild,Β  the organic cheese-making farm in Coonoor. I can’t thank Sandhya enough for suggesting this place to us! Thank you so very, very much, Sandhya! πŸ™‚

I LOVE Ooty and wouldn’t mind visiting it any number of times. I love driving down to the place rather than taking a train to Coimbatore and then hiring a cab to Ooty from there. Of course, passing through the beautiful, beautiful Bandipur and Mudumalai forests on the way has everything to do with it! πŸ™‚

We have never had a chance to visit a hill station in the rains, but were able to do so this time around. And, it was totally worth it! There is greenery all around in Ooty as well as enroute, and the views get even more spectacular!

This is a tea garden that we spotted in Ooty. Isn’t is oh-so-pretty?

The minute we reached Acres Wild, we were charmed. It is such a lovely place, nestled in the midst of the hills, quite secretively, away from the crowds, and full of peace and quiet. It is THE perfect place to nurse your soul back to health. We knew we had come to the right spot right away.

The farm has three cottages – Colby, Haloumi and Cheddar (all named after cheeses) – with a total of five rooms to be let out to guests. Apart from that, there is a cowshed that houses about 10 cows, a cottage for common dining, the house of the owners Tina and Mansoor,Β  and a cottage where the cheese is made.

This is the cowshed. Lovely, no?

Much to the disappointment of the OH and my glee, we were told that there are no televisions or computers in any of the cottages, and no room service. That ensured that we were not stuck up in our rooms the whole day. πŸ™‚

There is a games room and a small library inside the premises though, which guests are allowed to use. There is a common TV set in the games room, too, which guests can use if they get too bored, though there is really no possibility of that.

The cottages are small and neat, equipped with basic facilities like a washroom, a kitchen, a refrigerator, a few vessels, salt and sugar, milk, and an induction stove. Guests are welcomed to bring their own supplies in case they wish to cook in their own cottages.

In fact, I loved the way Mansoor and Tina make every guest feel welcome, and encourage them to do anything they want to – from roaming around their sprawling property and exploring the process of cheese-making to planting saplings or milking the cows. I loved the fact that there are no restrictions here – you can pretty much go wherever you want and spend time as you want to. You can play with Tina and Mansoor’s Labrador, too, if you choose to.

There are sit-outs built all over the place, and you can just sit there in the quiet and soak in the atmosphere around you.

Every so often, the clouds rise up from the hills. Slowly, slowly, slowly, they envelop the entire place till all the things around you are covered.

This was the view from our cottage….

… and this was how things looked after the clouds had taken over.

There are flocks of birds all over the property, and it felt extremely good to wake up to their twittering in the mornings. A nice and welcome change from city life. πŸ™‚

There is a pond in a corner of the property, which is full of natural water from a stream, and it makes a lovely place to sit and relax and read. You have got to be careful of the leeches, though. I ended up being bitten at several spots on my legs, and now have deep holes where they bit me. The OH somehow escaped. Gah!

You get to listen to the squawking of the ducks and the geese as they gobble up their food and watch you sitting by the pond with a cautious eye. It makes for a pleasant change from listening to the horns of vehicles. πŸ™‚

There are flowers all over the estate, and you can spend hours just looking at them. Some of them are wildflowers, and some have been cultivated.

This is the flower of the tea plant. It has a faint, haunting smell that is nothing like tea!

I fell in love with the cottages, small and basic as they were. And, of course, the view from the window. Someday, I would love to settle down in such a place, in such a cottage, sit by such a window and write to my heart’s content.

The view from the window reminded me of Ruskin Bond, and how he says that sitting by a window is crucial to his writing and how he cannot imagine a house without a window looking out to a wonderful view. πŸ™‚

The place also reminded me a lot of Frances Mayes and Under The Tuscan Sun. I began to understand what it would have entailed to buy a ramshackle villa in the midst of hills and then restore it, plant trees and bushes of your choice, and watch it slowly coming to life.

Mansoor told us of how there was absolutely nothing around except trees when he first bought the property. He and his wife were the ones to get the roads and the cottages constructed, take an electricity connection and put up more plants around the trees.

Acres Wild is a place where sustainable living is practised to the maximum possible. Skylights and solar lights are used in the cottages, to minimise the use of electricity.Β Even the bricks used in making the cottages have been made on the estate.

The vegetables used in the food that is served to the guests is grown on the property itself.

The cows on the estate are allowed to graze on the grass and plants growing there – which grow without any artificial pesticides or fertilisers – and the milk from these cows is used in making the tea and cheese that is served to the guests.

The dung from these cows is used to prepare gobar gas, which is then used to cook the food.

Impressive, isn’t it? Both the OH and I were thrilled to see this way of life, and endlessly discussed how we would love to resort to the same, too. Oh, well, someday….

We got a glimpse of the way cheese is made as well, which is quite an interesting thing to watch.

This is soft cheese hung up from the ceiling to remove the excess water from it. Acres Wild serves a dollop of fresh soft cheese to all its guests in breakfast every morning. They have different flavours of soft cheese, and they are yummylicious!

This is the pantry where cheese is stored till it ages and is ready to be cut. The smell here is overpoweringly cheesy. πŸ™‚

As charming as all of this was, we were scared to the pits of our stomachs to know that snakes, wild elephants and bison are often spotted on the estate. Not that they harm anyone, but still, it is frightening, right? The most recent addition to this list of predators on the estate is a leopard – a guest spotted it slinking around in the night near our cottage.

One pitch black night during our stay there, when we were walking down to the dining room for dinner, armed with flashlights, we heard a sound of something moving around in the bushes very near us, followed by the sound of something running at lightning speed and jumping into the valley nearby. The OH saw a big, cat-like animal, but was not sure what it was in the darkness. I did not see it, and neither was anything captured in the photographs that the OH desperately tried to click when I was perspiring all over out of fear. Darn the man!

Till date, we do not know what that was, but the footprints that we saw at the spot the next day were quite big and cat-like, and much like a leopard’s. Our hosts reassured us to no end that the leopard was harmless, and that it does not attack humans or animals taller than itself, but my heart was stuck in my throat that night, till we returned to our cottage, switched off the lights and slipped under the duvet.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience – full of emotions ranging from awe to happiness to fright.

A highly recommended visit, for sure.

54 thoughts on “Of a lovely weekend, returning to our roots, quietude, cheese, clouds and a leopard

  1. My official places-and-books-reviewer…this is a wonderful description!! The pics, the activities, the atmosphere all are self-inviting πŸ˜€

    One question though – Is it value for money or do you think they overcharge you?

    Leopard 😯

    Both of you are made of steel TGND πŸ˜†


    1. @Visha

      LOL @ official-places-and-books-reviewer. πŸ˜€

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

      I did feel that the prices are a little more – not too much, mind you. They provide only breakfast complimentary with the cottages, and milk, sugar and salt. That is about it. Food is extra. They do welcome you to bring your own supplies and cook your own meal. There are some vessels in the cottages, but you would have to get most of the other stuff. That said, the price is definitely less than what a resort would charge for the same kind of place and ambience. As Acres Wild’s website clearly states, it is a farm-stay and not a resort. We have, in fact, paid more than this to stay in a similar room in a similar place.

      The OH felt that the room was complete value for money.

      Oh, no, we aren’t made of steel, honey. I was scared out of my wits. The OH was busy clicking pictures, and did not even notice me shivering. 😐 He would have been like a little kid who has been given a big jar of chocolate, if only he had managed to capture the leopard (if it was one!) in a picture!


  2. This sounds so much beautiful and fun TGND…thanks for sharing the details…

    I could imagine roaming around the sprawling property, cooking in the cottages and milking the cows? really? Of course this all actually must feel like owning the pretty place to yourselves right? Must say amazing experience πŸ™‚

    The line from Ruskin bond is so true…when I got my seat allocated at this new work place,by the window, I was more than glad though there is not a wonderful view outside my window but still sitting at the side of the window and working is a pleasure in itself πŸ™‚

    lovely post…so happy and so positive πŸ™‚ YAY and the pics? as always pretty and tempting to make that trip right away πŸ™‚


  3. Amazing pictures Ma’m ! Have never been there but that is going to change some time soon now πŸ™‚
    But you know what these people say about Ooty, Shimla and such hill stations right ? Going alone might not be a good idea ( with wife maybe, when she comes around ). But it will definitely be a good place for my book writing πŸ™‚ What do you think ?

    PS- I can send my parents on a trip there though :)- just struck me !


    1. @Tatsat

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

      Oh, solo travelling has its own charms, you know? You might want to try it out sometime. I haven’t done solo travelling yet, but would love to sometime. πŸ™‚

      Of course, you can always make a trip again with your wife and see the difference. πŸ˜€

      It would be a great idea to send your parents on a vacation to this place, especially if they are in need of a break. It is a lovely place for a relaxed couple of days.


    1. @BlueMist

      We haven’t found the food that great anywhere in Ooty, actually. Or maybe we haven’t been eating at the right places.

      One recommendation would be the South Indian food at Nahar’s, near the Ooty market. Pretty good food.


      1. @BlueMist

        Honestly, we haven’t experimented so much with food in Ooty. We usually go for Nahar’s South Indian food or Dominoes, to be on the safer side. Maybe it is time to try out other outlets!

        Yes, Acres Wild serves meals. It is a bit in the interior and far from the market, so you cannot really go out for every meal.


  4. Wow, what a lovely post, TGND! Loved the pictures and the description is so dreamy.

    Glad that you went, feeling good that you took up my recommendation. You have to thank, Choxbox, though, as she is the one who told us about this place. She and her family had spent some time there, and she was raving about it, about the hosts and their library. Will pass on this post to her.

    And that was quite a scare you guys had. Our vehicle had been charged at by a wild elephant on a Bandipur visit once, and it was all the driver of the safari vehicle could do to drive fast enough to drive away, while we kept screaming at the back in fear!


    1. @Sandhya

      Yes, yes, loads of thanks to Choxbox, too. πŸ™‚ I am glad we took you up on your suggestion, too. πŸ™‚

      Oops, being charged by an elephant would have been so scary… We were scared even when the leopard probably had no intention of attacking us. And we don’t even know if it was a leopard!


  5. Wow, Ooty!!! As always your pics are great πŸ™‚
    On our way to Ooty from Banglore we saw an elephant on the road, though we were sitting in a car, i really got a fright!!!


  6. Lovely post, and superb pics. I know of how it is to nurse a soul in a place like this πŸ™‚ We stayed at a similar place at Munaar. Homestays, with hosts and some cottage industry are so refreshing!

    I would have been like your OH too πŸ™‚ running to get a click of the big cat!


    1. @Arch

      Thank you, Arch. πŸ™‚

      It does work miracles on your soul to stay in a home-like place, have friendly conversation, and eat home-cooked food. πŸ™‚

      Errr… we did not have to run to click a picture of the big cat! It was right in front of us.


  7. Oh my God!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those ducks look so beautiful. and then and then, the room – I really did not read your description and thought of RB too ! Such lovely captures and a wonderful travelogue!
    My eyes are glued to the cheese πŸ˜›
    I so badly want to go to Ooty and was planning it for this december but I guess it may have to wait for anothe time. Mansoor and Tina define hosts – such a lovely weekend getaway you and OH have had TGND ! πŸ™‚


  8. What a beatiful beautiful place! I should recommend it to people who are always looking for nearby places to drive to πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for writing about this place and posting the pics (that are SO amazing!)

    ..and err…that leopard story really SCARED me!


    1. @Snippetsnscribbles

      Thanks, SnS. πŸ™‚

      I was scared out of my wits at the possibility of having a leopard within a 10km radius of me. The people there have learnt to live with them, though, and some of their fearlessness rubbed off on us, too.


  9. Wow! what a refreshing vacation it must have been when the travelogue and the pictures could cast a spell on me πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
    Leopard with cheese and geese ….what a deadly combo πŸ˜‰
    Loved the way you described the fragrance of a tea flower…haunting!!


  10. LOVED this post… the lovely pictures and your description of the place and stay πŸ™‚
    I would love to visit such a place.. far, far away from the madding crowd πŸ™‚ …except for the leeches πŸ˜›
    Sounds like a perfect farmstay…. with cows and ducks .. … and home produced milk, butter, veggies, cheese.. and no TV or computers! Wow!


  11. superb πŸ™‚ i am going this weekend and i wish i could have heard about this place before:( neverthless .. i will stay in this place next time πŸ™‚


      1. well i have arranged my stay at Delightz inn.. so after seeing this blog am sure i will be going to this place next time πŸ˜€ but this is my first time to ooty πŸ™‚ so ny info on must visit places? that would be helpful πŸ™‚
        Thanks for the blog πŸ™‚


  12. Beautiful read and beautiful pictures. I am also looking forward to such a trip. And I love watching fog rising from the hills. I find it very romantic. πŸ™‚


  13. Wow!! Can a holiday get better than this? I enjoyed reading this post as much as you enjoyed being there! πŸ™‚ Very beautifully written and the pictures are totally awesome.

    I would want a similar holiday, that is not commercialized. πŸ™‚ But but.. did you just mention leopard in your last para?!?! sounds very scary 😐


    1. @Greenboochi

      Thank you, GB! πŸ™‚

      It was an awesome holiday – far away from touristy spots, crowds, noise, pollution and commercialisation. And in the lap of nature.

      Yes, there are some wild animals out there, but you’ve just got to accept them as part of the overall scene. Honestly, we learnt to be less scared of them after this trip.


  14. This was sucha lovely read and such nice photographs. Mansoor as in Khan na? Have heard about his farm a lot.

    And that leopard spotting must have been a scary experience!!! I had goose bumps when I read that!


    1. @Smita

      Yes, Mansoor as in Khan. I heard of his farm for the first time via Sandhya. He and Tina are such hospitable hosts and extremely friendly.

      Ah, that leopard spotting scared me out of my wits. Made me reconsider whether I would want to stay in such a place or not. I decided I would want to, ultimately. πŸ™‚


  15. Love love love it! The place, the natural surroundings and your description! Have sent the name out to some friends who live in Blr/Chennai and I hope to visit it myself someday soon πŸ™‚


  16. Wow! thats superb…so THIS is what you did in the weekend eh? lovely rey…I would love to go there if not for anything, for the variety of cheese available eh?


    1. @R’s Mom

      Yes, THIS is what we did over the weekend. πŸ™‚

      Oh, you should totally visit this place. You will love the peace and tranquility there, not to forget the cheeses. And, of course, you can shop for home-made chocolates at the Ooty market. πŸ™‚


    1. @Bikramjit

      Yes, it was a lovely trip. Thank you! πŸ™‚

      It has been a long-time wish of mine too to see a leopard in the wild, but maybe in a safari. Not like this, right in front of us! I almost died that day!


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