A small hamlet perched atop the hills of Selvalayan, Yerkoud is a weekend getaway destination for many in Salem and nearby districts. The winding road leading to the summit is dotted with silver oaks adorned with bushy pepper vines. Evenly grown coffee trees are a common sight in this heavenly abode.

My husband and I decided to take the first hill station long drive to Yercaud. Our eternal guide, Google Maps, estimated our journey at her 6 hours. We set off early on Friday, hoping for a calmer day.

We reached Salem in 4 hours and started our ascent. Salem is scorching hot and just below sea level. After the first hairpin turn, the monster-shaped grain of doubt disappeared. A cool breeze sneaked in through the slightly opened window. The scenery changed in an instant, and it felt like Alice had gone down the rabbit hole. Hues of green were sprinkled everywhere, with colorful flowers adorning every twist and turn of the hill. Especially the pair coming from the concrete jungle is a sight that hurts the eyes.

We have discovered gems by avoiding places crowded with tourists. The coffee plantation tour was not only stunningly beautiful, but also informative. I learned a lot about coffee, from cherries to cups. We have learned that coffee trees absorb the flavors of the plants around them. Thus, you can find peppers, cinnamon, oranges, cloves and other plants growing around it.A short guided drive through coffee plantations followed.

Leaving without buying local souvenirs is like taking all the bills home and leaving the experience behind. So we made sure to buy raw honey, balm, essential oils, a box of chocolates and some spices, but like other tourists, we fell into the trap of business gimmicks and decided to buy spicy food. Bought a packet of white pepper to satisfy my food cravings. Note that white pepper is less spicy than black pepper. Well, the shopping didn’t end there. My growing fascination with the red, shiny, pebble-like coffee berries has driven me to buy coffee trees.

Still, as they say, all’s well that ends well. This trip was extraordinary, experiencing the magnificence of nature, walking through the maze of coffee plantations, and taking home many precious memories.