Our journey to Pollachi was not about visiting an entirely unexplored Indian destination, but about meeting extraordinary people living ordinary lives in a tiny little part of “Incredible India”. It turned out to be an unexpected experience.
Credits – Keerthana Balaji
At first, when Christopher, a friend of my colleague here in France, suggested a visit to Pollachi, I was skeptical. I have never heard of or come across such a place while planning our trip to India. However, something urged me to give it a try. Having serendipitously chanced upon this trip we had no idea that it would impress us this much. We do indeed regret not having stayed longer in the beautiful villages of Pollachi. But that’s no issue, I’ll come back for a longer holiday and cherish every single day of it then.
Thoovanam falls, Chinnar
Our adventure in Tamil Nadu started by meeting Lingesh, our Naturalist from Thadam for the trek at Thoovanam falls. Lingesh is one of the most courteous and friendly guides we ever had. We had a wonderful walk through the scrub jungle to reach the spectacular waterfall. We walked along the Pambar River at ease, with Lingesh’s help, who discerned and interpreted the jungle like an expert. It was impressive how he could smell, see and hear the jungle – it was vivid. We relied on him entirely and felt completely safe.
Shenbaga Vilasam | Credits: Orient Heritage Private Limited
After the trek, we arrived at Shenbaga Vilaasam – our stay for the night. Tucked away in the little village of Samathur, the regal farm stay is nestled amidst sprawling green acres of traditional farmland. There are no words to describe the charm of this ancestral palace, built in the early 20th Century, with a confluence of European and South-Indian styles of architecture.
Shenbaga Vilasam, Zamin Samathur | Credits: Orient Heritage Private Limited
Bare feet, we discovered all the vestibules, one by one, and arrived at an alluringly decorated living room which had a central courtyard that opened out to the sky, allowing the play of natural light to spread over the vermillion floors. Bedrooms are scattered to the corners of the living room, spacious, pleasing and enchanting. Exploring the place, I felt like a child again!
The place had in it all the comforts to relax and unwind luxuriously- we felt so at home that one of us even cried before leaving.
Ripe Cocoa pod at Thenarasu farms, Aliyar | Credits – Keerthana Balaji
We went on to visit Thenarasu farms, an Organic farm maintained by Mr. Raja at Aliyar. Apart from the fascinating experience of getting to know the nuances of cultivating coconut, cocoa, cardamom, pepper, nutmeg, and seeing the incredible climbers at work, the most satisfying part of the farm visit was having met this one elderly lady.
At Thenarasu farms, Aliyar | Credits: Audrey Nardi
In her late nineties, she could barely speak but gave me the most beautiful smile ever. It’s this kind of cultural experience that you can’t put a price tag on. Living out of this tiny hut at such an old age, she had the courage to put up that beautiful smile for us, it meant so much to me, and will remain a valuable life lesson.
“I saw the extraordinary in the ordinary, and I thank her for that”
Our Pollachi adventure ended up in the Handloom Weaving Village at Negamam, with the warm, welcoming people being the best part of the visit. Of course, the machines, the technique, the coloring, the artistry are all awe inspiring but they wouldn’t exist without these extraordinary people.
A few hours spent there may not teach me the techniques of weaving, but the smiles the people wore, are forever etched in my memory! We sat down to share some fruits with a weaving family and posed for a picture with amused kids who were just arriving from school.
Voilà! And that was the end of our holiday extraordinaire at Pollachi . The warmth and hospitality shown by the people are the highlight of the whole experience- I want to come back!