Tiger hill is a famous tourist destination in Coonoor and our plan was not to visit any famous tourist places since it tends to get crowded and most places offer a very limited experience if it is the view of the valley or others. But, Coonoor is a very small place and it was easy to walk to places through the misty mountains and the moving fog which provides the perfect climate.
So, one fine day in Coonoor we decided to go for breakfast in Bedford and then to somewhere and that somewhere turned out to be Tiger Hill for the day. By now, we have a small place where we usually ate our breakfast and other snacks.
Google map showed only 1.8 kilometers to Tiger hill and then we enquired rates for an autorickshaw ride till there. They said around Rs.300 and we didn’t feel it was necessary. So, we decided to walk since the weather is too good and we were already looking for a good hike for days.
Though Bedford was the main center we went to most days, the road to Tiger hill was another direction that we never went yet. The turns, as usual, were beautiful with large stone walls covered with creepers and flowers. This area seemed like a place where the normal folks lived unlike the huge bungalows on the other side of Bedford.
We were expecting 3 things from Tiger Hill:
An old cemetery
How To Reach Tiger Hill?
Tiger hill though a well-known tourist destination and viewpoint, we didn’t find any direct buses that go to the place. There are taxi or autorickshaw services that take people there. There are packages that will show you around every spot in Coonoor in a day and they are pretty cheap considering the other options.
We were walking all the way to Tiger Hill not really knowing the way and without a tour guide. But, it was really fun and from Bedford, it was really close. However, in the starting, we didn’t know that.
When we reached this place with the signboard “GLYSDALE FARM”, we were pretty clueless about which way to take further. There’s a road that went straight and one to the right. Local people here are really helpful and we confirmed the route from them.
It was this route to the right to be followed to reach Tiger hill and there are autorickshaws available here too. We came to know it was a few (1 or 2) kilometers from there and decided to walk even though the shop owners thought we won’t be able to walk that far.
This corner is actually a side of the valley. A small valley that is densely populated. There were small colourful houses that were close-packed and a stream that flew in between those houses.
Going up, the number of houses reduced and it started to become a single lane with houses on both sides.
We saw this stone-paved steps and a small gate. There was a cross visible at the top from there which meant there was a church. We decided to follow the steps and it opened to a place quite stunning with the stone houses.
It was the quarters of the people who worked there and the small steps led to the church, which again is built with stones. It was a beautiful church with old architecture. It seemed like a functioning church that was completely closed and locked at that moment.
Even the rooms that were attached to the church were of the old centuries and the colours also gave away a feeling of the olden times. The windows, doors and everything about this church was beautiful and well maintained for its age.
We were a little lost with our way to tiger hill since there were different roads we found that went from this church and its surroundings. It is in such places where Google Maps is not of much use.
Taking another set of stone steps from the church we reached an even more beautiful place. It felt really out of place with the flowers and the buildings.
Turned out it was an orphanage and the entrance was very beautiful with a garden and doves and all. Photography was not allowed inside and we confirmed which way to go for Tiger Hill from the staff there.
There was this one old building on the side of this place which looked really old and beautiful with its colour and windows and the pink flowers. There was a small gate that opened to a paved way and we decided to go there to see where it goes.
There were huge trees there and very aggressive monkeys who screamed at us and we went back. Lesson learned: Never cross our boundaries especially when monkeys say so!
Continuing our hike, this was the last place with houses and from there it was a forest-like area. We had already enquired about safety. People said it was okay to go there but they were more worried if we would be able to walk that far. Otherwise, they only asked us to be careful about animals which is not a daily issue.
Anyway, we continued through the road, then came this area of dense trees on both side of the road. Most of them were tall eucalyptus and the Christmas trees. There were small ones too. It was really silent except for the sound the foliage made with the wind.
The Abandoned Tea Factory
It was a sigh of relief finding a place that looked like a tea factory and inhabited by humans. More than that, it was absolutely gorgeous to find this place which was the top of the hill, surrounded by other huge hills and the fog that moved across these hill ranges.
The gate was open and we went inside the tea plantation. Chi, as usual, tried so hard to find a lucky cloverleaf. No luck though :D
Someone came up to us after some time and asked why we were there. It was from him we knew it was a tea plantation that is been shut down due to bankruptcy. These days, it is functioning as a training institute for college students to learn about agriculture. Since it was holidays no one was there.
He also mentioned about bison coming up the hill and warned us to be careful going alone. In the far, he showed us one bison having a good time in the tea plantation. It was huge to be noticed clearly from such a far distance.
We asked about the cemetery to the people we met in the factory and it was pretty close to the tea factory. It was also on the way to the tiger hill so we continued to the cemetery. From the videos I have seen a year or so ago I knew it was closed but there’s a way to enter. Also, it is an abandoned place and lacked any maintenance.
The only fear I had was about the animals being inside the cemetery. There was this angel statue in the middle of the cemetery and steps that led to it. The tombs are laid in lines around and concrete crosse over it.
One interesting things happened inside the cemetery when we were there. The wild squirrel, the one I spotted in the Asurankundu forest in Kerala, was there on a tree. They are very rare to find especially in the presence of humans. They usually run away.
But, this one was very cool with we being there and carried on with its business. However, there was no way to take a photograph of it since it was on a very tall tree and moved on later. It had a perfect orange tail.
As expected, the whole area was filled with tea plants. Both sides which ran up the hill and then down to the valley of the mud path we were walking was filled with these plants and no one else was there.
The fog that moved fast cast a shadow in some places and then moved to another place which then was lit by the sunlight. It was just the perfect weather with low temperature, enough sunlight and moving clouds.
Later we came to know these tea plantations belonged to TANTEA, which is one of the small tea stalls of which we became the regular customers. I wrote a blog only about this tea stall since it was one of our favourites in Coonoor.
It was from here I learned that TANTEA was something given for the Srilankan immigrants who were here after the partition. They cultivated tea in these lands and lived out of it and TANTEA was a corporation they used to sell their tea.
The very hill we were at was “Tiger hill”. The place used to be a continuation of the Shola, the forests here are called Shola, down the hill. Tigers from there used to come in these hills and hence the name came as Tiger hill.
We sat there on the huge rocks there and had our snacks we packed from our snack place in Bedford. It was the best place to sit and relax and enjoy nature, which was at its best. The clouds were moving so fast and casting shadows in different areas.
Fog also filled the area with mist and cool mist. It was like being engulfed by a cloud each time fog surrounded us and the place we were sitting. The one side of the tea plantation was green with fresh leaves and the other side brown, with leaves lucked and branches trimmed. Both sides had their beauty.
Sitting there, we spent almost an hour just being there. Breathing the fresh air and going into the fog. Then it was time to take pictures, obviously :D Another half an hour went clicking pictures with the tiny white flowers of the volunteer plants here.
From the day we arrived in Coonoor, we heard of a bison roaming in the village from everywhere we went. Since the guys at the tea factory showed us a bison at the far I was expecting something in every turn we took.
The whole of this place is beautiful not just because of the tea plantations but with the colourful flowers. So, I was taking pictures of this turn when we were going back from the hill. Chi was a little ahead of me. That is when a guy came in the opposite direction shoo-ed at us and asked to be silent.
He asked us to walk back and be silent. He was a young lean guy and seeing his dress I understood he is either police or a department of forest employee. He didn’t say what was happening and asked us to move back and be silent.
In some time, more of them were visible. A few in the uniform followed the guy who was on our road and few others two rows above us. Through the row in between both was a huge bison. And that was the moment when we met the Villain we were warned for days in Coonoor.
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It was huge, very angry with the people who are leading him and ready to attack. Very soon there was a pack of forest officials who followed him on both sides were visible and they made the animal walk to the edge of the place, right where we were sitting before and made it walk down to the forest.
In the meantime we managed to talk to one of them and they said the hill got its name from the tiger roaming around the place which is not usual these days. I also wanted to know if I could follow them till the Shola and they said they’ll be moving through the forests and come up to another part of the town.
We returned back from the hill. And knowing not to expect a bison anymore and that the people are well aware of an animal being close gave a little relief to walk back. But it was really sad to leave the place because it was really the most peaceful place and the clouds, that is something we would miss so much!
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I was more interested to know how they manage to be aware of the animals when they go through the forests. All of them seemed very casual not carrying any weapons, maybe not visible. He said, they take note of the smell first and the footprints and practice make things easier.
We traced back our way to the church first and then the road we came through. It was a great experience, the place, people, wildlife and the misty mountains! We took our time to breath many "one more time" before leaving the end of the road to the village.
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