Yercaud Skywalk

It was one of those gloomy September evenings at Coimbatore. The holidays were drawing to a close and it was time to drive back to Chennai (where we had moved a few years ago), for another few months of hectic, noisy, polluted metro life. Then the brainwave struck. Lalli’s suggestion to break the monotony of the drive back by a visit to Yercaud, was music to my ears. A couple of phone calls to friends at GRT and we had a Grand room at GRT Skywalk, the latest from GRT stable, waiting for us.

The drive from Coimbatore was smooth, though the slow moving early morning truck traffic right until Avinashi, was a huge dampener, especially for my speed hungry Civic. A small break before Salem, to munch on mom’s lovely fluffy idly’s, and we were soon on the road from Salem to Yercaud, which was a breeze. Born in the racing / rallying town of Coimbatore, our weekend drives to the various hills and ghat sections around the city made me a seasoned Ghat / Off roader and this little stretch was not even an appetizer. Before we knew it, we had crossed hairpin bend 20 and were at the gates of the lovely GRT SKYWALK, almost a couple of KMS before the town of Yercaud.

The first look of the hotel is relatively simple but elegant. A deep slope from the road, a sharp turn and a rather dull yet cozy main porch greets you. The simple reception, with a rather cramped layout does make you wonder if all the hype and reviews were an overdose. However, step into the lift and be escorted to your room, you are literally transported to a different world.

A dark stone walled room, with matching décor greets us and quick eyes take in the nicely done details of the amenities and luxury laid out in the room and the bathroom. Open out the private balcony door and the sheer charisma of the setting knocks the daylight out of you, as we gape in awe at the huge expanse of valley, stretching right across the city of Salem blending out into the horizon.

The rest of the hotel is amazing as well. Well manicured lawns at every level open out into the same valley with breathtaking views, while the pride of this place is a SKYWALK, a raised Glass walkway, which forms a kind of a bridge over the valley. The glass floored walkway is a nice experience, on the lines of the Grand Canyon walkway, though nothing compared to it in terms of height, length or the sheer depth under your feet. A small library, a couple of indoor games, a conference hall, a gym are other facilities here, apart from the morning treks into plantations and bordering reserved forests.

The food here lives up the wonderful GRT standards. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are buffets, though the room service option is available. They do have a well stocked bar and the service, as with the rest of the GRT chain is nice.

Yercaud, as a town is a relatively small, calm and laid back hill station. The weekend crowds from Salem throng this place which is otherwise deserted on weekdays, except during the holiday season. There are a few viewpoints like the Pagoda point, Lady’s seat etc. The roads to these places, including the Shevaroy temple, are extremely narrow and two vehicles are enough to cause a traffic jam. Otherwise, it is pure nature all around.

Morning treks down plantations and valleys are awesome and a large variety of birds color the clear blue sky. The plantations are well maintained and the valley presents some wonderful photography options. The wonderful ambience of the hill station, the lovely location of the resort, good food and nice service make this an ideal getaway for a relaxed weekend on the laps of mother nature.

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