Camping with Comfort @ The Pear County, Kodaikanal
As the rhythm of urban life is becoming faster day by day, people’s state of mind is gradually getting pressurized. Even if one spends a few days on a hill station, it is still difficult to feel completely relaxed and gain peace of mind. In our recent trip to Kodaikanal, India we knew Kodai Lake at the center of town is the most happening place in this lovely hill station. But we wanted to stay at least a day away from the touristy crowd, isolated on the hills. We discovered the perfect place in the lap of nature which could help anyone unwind, energize and rediscover oneself while giving an offbeat experience. We discovered – ‘The Pear County’.
The Pear County is a conceptual speciality lodging located in the outskirts of Kodaikanal in Shenbaganur village. The said concept revolves around experiencing the best of nature by shooing off the unpredictable issues of camping out in the hills without losing the comforts urged by an urban dweller. How they manage to provide a camping experience with basic amenities was something we were curious to see.
We happened to visit this property in September 2017. The Pear County is located right opposite to the TNEB sub-station, about 9-10 kilometers away from the Kodai Lake. We took a diversion from the main road and just a few meters of drive on the ‘kutcha’ road brought us to this wonderful property. Car can be driven right to the location of stay. Mr. Shanmugam, who manages the resort, was in constant touch with us since morning to guide us with directions. As soon as we reached at around 4 PM, we were very warmly greeted by him and offered a welcome drink. The reception cum dining area of Pear County was a whitewashed building which also included kitchen. After few basic check-in formalities we were escorted towards other end of the dining area which happened to be a recreation room. Stepping out of recreation room, the moment we got the first glimpse of the property, we knew we would love it. Levels of green grass and pear trees with spaced out tents on the right and a valley with a view of Kodaikanal on the left. It felt better than what we had seen in pictures.
We were then escorted to our tent. The tent was a Quecha 3+, big enough for two people to cosily fit in. A comfortable mattress was well laid out with clean linen, pillows and blanket. This wasn’t just what it was. Right next to the tent was a door which opened to a small changing room attached to a clean private restroom built in brick and mortar. The changing room also had space for keeping luggage. Necessary toiletries and clean towels were provided and the bathroom also had hot water facility. The thatched roof over the tent provided security from the rain. We also had chairs laid out towards one end as a tiny sit-out area. The moment we saw the tent, all our apprehensions of camping, staying in a tent with no proper washroom facilities, the mosquitoes, noise of the crickets, cold weather, everything seemed just unreasonable. The Pear County provided the right balance between adventures of camping with comforts of a hotel. Our tent also offered a scenic view of the Kodaikanal hill which was right opposite to us.
The weather was quite cool and the experience of cruising through the fog was explicit. Everything was covered in greenery and the clouds were coming down to kiss the hill. Yes! We were on a hill. A pear farm hill – Almost the whole hill was owned by the family of Mr. Vishal Sudhakar who conceptualized Pear County few years ago. It houses 4 tents in total – two for couples, one four-membered and one five-membered tent. All tents have their private washrooms and changing rooms. Apart from the tents; they also have 6 cabins which are just like hotel rooms with double beds, an attached bathroom and a TV. The tents and cabins are all located right in middle of pear orchard. The well-lit walkways connect all the tents which are very thoughtfully spaced wide apart to offer privacy. The cabins – cute and compact are located at higher levels with a wonderful sit-out area and each of them offers an excellent view of the Kodai hill. A huge cart wheel was laid in the front of one of the cabins on which tiny plantations were grown. They also house few pet rabbits and birds which kids would love playing around with.
To our luck, it was still the pear season and all the trees were loaded with plenty of them. So many that when the wind blew heavily many pears just fell off the trees with thuds. They allow the guests to pluck as many as they want. In fact, they even teach how to identify the right Pears hanging on the trees and how to pluck them. We had a small campfire arranged right in front of our tent which we planned to lit in the evening. While we were sipping coffee, heavy rains started. We were provided two big umbrellas by the staff to securely roam about in the property. The sun had done its work for the day and was descending. Kodai hill was covered with fog and clouds and slowly all the lights on the hill lit up offering us a splendid view. It was time for a barbeque. As it was still rainy, the staff decided to get the barbeque ready for us all by themselves, while we played games in the recreation room.
The recreation room was filled with all sorts of indoor games and activities. Sofas and bean bags were laid over in the room for ones who just wished to sit and relax. Story books, novels, drawing books and puzzles were stacked in one of the shelves for the guests. The indoor games included archery, carrom, snakes and ladders, and turnball. They also had speakers installed and you could play songs right from your mobile. As we enjoyed trying out on a few games, our barbeque was done and served hot to us right there. It was mouth-watering and we quickly gorged on it. Soon the dinner was ready and a large home-made buffet was spread in front of us and we ate to our heart’s content. The food was tasty and delicious but we need to specifically mention the pear custard which was made with freshly plucked pears from the orchard.
It was time to call it a day. We weren’t in luck, but I’m sure if the sky was clear, we could have certainly spotted various constellations and celestial bodies. We however did get some amazing long exposure shots of Kodaikanal in lights as the clouds and rains added some haze to the view. We decided to sleep early for we had our next morning planned for trekking. Despite heavy rains, the tent was warm from inside and we had a really good night sleep.
In the morning we woke up with chirping of the birds. The clouds were making way for the sun and the hills were slowly getting conquered by the sunlight. The gardens were blooming with colorful flowers and the tall trees were swaying with gentle wind. We were soon served hot coffee after which we wore our shoes and got ready for the morning trek up the Pear County hill. Nerson, a boy from the staff, guided us for the trekking. Slowly we started climbing the hills passing small waterfalls and various fields. The whole hill was full of trees laden with pears. We were informed that the farm owned 90 acres of property out of which maximum area went into pear plantation. We crossed a small village at the top of the hill and then climbed down someplace further to a very beautiful view point. The whole valley behind the pear farm hill was visible to us here. It was full of lush greenery and a few waterfalls here and there. The clouds were moving in between the hills creating a beautiful array of sunlight and shadows throughout. We took around 2.5-3 hours to complete the trail while clicking lots of pictures. On returning, we were surprised to see the breakfast buffet spread. The excellent chefs, Ashrita and Jansi Rani, had prepared various cuisines for us. The food was finger-licking.
Later, we were accompanied by Pilabson who is also a chef, to show us the rest of the property which lies below the Pear County. We went slightly down the hill riding a bicycle towards the farms. The owners are also engaged in organic farming where they grow potatoes, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and avocados on a rotation basis. We also saw a beautiful stream of waterfall flowing down the hill. We realized how big the property was from these lower areas as the whole hill towered in front of us with few green roofs that outlined the presence of our tents
It had been less than 24 hours since we arrived at The Pear County, but we felt so comfortable. We had interacted with most of their staff and could call them through their names. Even their pet cat had become so friendly that it followed us around. We knew so much more about Pears and farming that our daily lives back in city was a distant thought. Variety of blooming flowers added a unique charm to our stay amongst nature. But the highlight of our stay was the amazing views in the distance as a blanket of clouds kept covering Kodaikanal every now and then ensuring the charm of this lovely hill station stays intact. We could even see as far as Vattakanal falls on the other side. Areas of improvement we felt was the size of the changing or luggage room. Given how big the property is, we felt little congested with luggage, clothes etc. Though we always carry a multiplug extension piece when we travel, some guests might find one charging point difficult to manage with multiple mobiles, camera charger etc. Also location of charging point could be more convenient so that devices could be kept on table.
Mr. Shanmugam had arranged a cab for us to drop us at Kodaikanal. They also arrange car hires for sight-seeing trips but we had other plans. We had a great time enjoying all the activities which were really very well planned and executed by the staff. The small trip included everything as advertised within the package - the stay, bonfire, barbeque, dinner, trekking, farm tour, pear plucking and breakfast. Everything was clean and managed pretty well by the staff. All in all, The Pear County makes a lovely place for everyone, be it hyper adventure lovers or lazy nature lovers. Travelers of any kind - solo travelers, honeymooners, couples, family with kids, a group of friends and even elderly people would enjoy this offbeat setup and would have a good time.
Before leaving, Rajkumar, Preetiraj and Kirtiraj from the staff plucked and packed us a few delicious pears as a token of affection. The uncompromising and unconditional service of the staff made our stay memorable. A special shoutout to the owner, Mr. Vishal who went out of the traditional way to create such a beautiful offbeat location, away from Kodaikanal yet very close to it. This enchanting natural beauty coupled with the serene ambience makes for a perfect getaway and we would surely recommend it to everyone.
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Note: All opinions expressed in this blog are our own and not influenced by The Pear County in any manner