This post is meant to be an ode to our Homestay Silver Hills Farm for the reason that it spiced up the entire trip and also for the life lessons one would encounter there.
Silver Hills Farm is located near the small village of Nittur, some 20 kms from Kollur, famous for the Mookambika Temple. Why Nittur of all places? Because it is located on the foot of the Kodachadri Mountain which is a trekkers’ paradise. Homestays are a convenient, economical accommodation option, especially in hill stations. They give you a “feel” of the area which a typical hotel may not. At Homestays, you live the life of the locals, their discomforts and all. Most of these Homestays are located in tea/coffee estates and the surroundings are beautiful. There will be some inconveniences but instead of being expected to be treated like royalty, the fun of staying in a Homestay is to go along with the flow, like once at a Homestay in Chikmaglur, we had to bathe with muddy brown water because when it rained, the pipes got clogged with slush ! The important point of staying in a Homestay is not to expect too many state of art facilities, if you are the kind of traveler who prefers all the comforts of a hotel accommodation, then stay away from Homestays !
Silver Hills Farm is one such Homestay, a small cottage in the middle of tall betel nut trees and greenery around.
It has a large hall, two rooms for families and a bigger dormitory kind of room for 3 people. This room reminded one of the general ward in a hospital. The place is painted to look like a police station/railway station/jail ward with its arches and red bricks ! But it is very cosy inside and the cottage has a very sylvan feel to it complete with fresh early morning smoke from chimneys. There is an attendant who takes care of the guests and also acts as the local guide. For security, there is a dog, we don’t know if it was the Homestay’s watch dog or just a stray dog which made the place its home. For reasons best known to them, some of the guys named it “Cocktail” ! One of the quietest, most dignified dogs you would ever find, that, coming from a dog phobic, is saying something !
Each room at Silver Hills Farm comes with an attached bathroom. A bathroom like no other. The kind of bathroom whose dimensions end where they begin. A very interesting point of this bathroom is that it is roofless and open to the ceiling, the kind of bathroom you found in villages once upon a time, when as a kid you stealthily climbed on to the terrace to make fun of those bathing in those roofless bathrooms ! Thankfully, these bathrooms are attached to the bedrooms, so there is no risk of pesky kids.
Having said that, the bathrooms are not trouble proof. Of course, they have all the facilities you can ask for in that tiny space. There is a tap for running water, another tap connected to the hot water boiler outside the cottage, hanger for placing your clothes, a shower and an ultra-modern “you-know-what”. Impressed? Yes. The only small issue is that all of these are placed right above “you-know-where” (YKW). If you want to use the shower, you may have to stand almost inside YKW, makes you wonder if the plumbers mistook the shower for the flush ! Thank God for small mercies like a tap and bucket. Hot water tap, clothes hanger, bucket – right next to YKW, it looked like a miniature solar system, the sun and the planets revolving around it ! Also reminded one of Harry Potter, where Muggle toilets were used by Wizards to flush themselves into the Wizarding Ministry of Magic ! One of the bathrooms is an Indian version and a lot more convenient.
We had to get ready by 6.30 AM for our trek to Kodachadri Peak. Preparations began at 5 AM. How to use a roofless bathroom in the quietness of the early morning was a troubling question everybody had to deal with. The bathroom taught people to let go of inhibitions and just do what needed to be done !
Just when this writer went inside to take a bath, the water stopped. There was an issue with the motor/boiler, whatever. After waiting inside close to 10 minutes, better sense prevailed and the ritual was completed with the 3 mugs of water that had been miraculously saved before water stopped. What 3 years of studying Economics could not make one understand the meaning of optimum utilisation of natural resources, that bathroom taught it a matter of minutes !
When finally water supply was restored, people also learnt the art of planning, management and co-operation. The bathrooms were so co-operative with one another that if you opened the tap in one bathroom, the other taps went dry, this meant we had to learn to manage the water availability for 12 people and plan who had to use the bathroom when so that there was no waste of time in waiting. Such character-building stuff !
We joked, laughed and played – they have badminton equipment and the hall is spacious enough to be turned into a badminton court. Overall, it was a great time. The whole thing would have been a disaster if we chose to nitpick and complain but who wants to complain when you are on a fun trip, just enjoy whatever comes your way.
The night before, we had informed the attendant that we wanted to set off on the trek by 6.30 AM, breakfast, we were told, wouldn’t be ready before 7.30 AM and the jeeps to take us to the trek point wouldn’t come before 8.30 AM. We admired our negotiation skills when he agreed to get everything done at 6.30 AM. We were all promptly ready but neither the breakfast nor the jeeps were in sight. The jeep apparently came and went at 6.30 AM, while were still in our management classes.
Breakfast finally arrived at 7.30 AM and what a breakfast it was !
The Bisibelebath, the ChowChow bath and Rava Kesari were simply out of the world, it felt like there was nothing to this world except us and the food, we almost licked the vessels clean to save them the trouble of washing them later !
The jeeps arrived at 8.30 AM and only then we realised that, no matter how enthusiastic we were, things took their own course at Silver Hills Farm.