Derived from the Tamil word “colai” meaning “grove”, the Shola trees are species of stunted tropical montane forest found primarily in high altitude grasslands. If you are taking a hike across the Nilgiri Hills, you will able to spot a thicket of trees that grow close to the ground, spreading in layers surrounded by undulating grassland patches.
Once famed for its 25 varieties of Shola trees, the Nilgiri Hills began losing its natural fauna when urbanisation came in full swing. As Sholas are stunted, they have no timber value, resulting in deforestation and reintroduction of exotic tree species such as the Eucalyptus and Cinchona trees. Many endangered species of wildlife and unique flora started dying out or moving away from the grasslands, making the once sprawling beautiful scenery now a dull landscape.
When Mother Nature strike back, she strikes hard! In response to the uprooting of the Shola trees, nature sought out to dry up the once lush, free flowing water bodies across the valleys. Eucalyptus trees are known to be high water consumers and continued to creep along the hillside blocking up many water sprouts. On the contrary, Shola trees have high water retention capacity, making it the most precious source of water in high altitudes.
Realising the error of their ways; many residents of Nigiri Hills have taken upon themselves to restore the lost glory. With a little help from the Forest Department, areas such as the Elk Hills in Udhagamandlam, have seen a return of the Shola trees and with that, the comeback of favourite wildlife like the barking deer, leopard, gaur and langur. The regrowth is happening in such a delightfully quick rate that the local trees are overtaking the exotic species.
Conservation of the Shola trees is a positive step to making the Nilgiri grasslands thrive again, and to experience such a miracle, one can always book a stay at the Elk Hill Resort.
A room with a view
Situated right at the heart of the lofty Nilgiri peaks, the nature-hugging Elk Hill Resort provides the perfect rest-stop for all who have come to witness the mountainous spectacle. Whether you are on a strict business trip or a journey of personal rediscovery, you will find a home-away-from-home at the resort.
Members of the resort are treated to a plush setting of studio, one bedroom or two bedroom apartments, while guests get the proper treatment with a Classic room or a range of suites. For the foodies, there is much to love, with dining options ranging from local Nilgiri cuisine to Indian, Chinese and Continental foods. If you are the active type, you will be treated to a whole host of fun. There is a standard play area for children and a range of outdoor and indoor sports in and around a huge clubhouse. The adventurous type will be treated to daily treks organised by Lovedale and CairnHill.
Elk Hill Resort is also a party place for big crowds. Bonfire evenings, barbeque nights and discotheque parties will keep you entertained, and there is even a huge 30 seater hall to host weddings and private parties.
Are you planning your next big adventure? Book a stay with Sterling Holidays to get the ultimate holiday experience.