ABOVE ALL ELSE
Situated at the top of a mountain in Tamil Nadu is a 160-year- old bungalow offering the perfect retreat.
Situated at the top of a mountain in Tamil Nadu is a 160-year-old bungalow offering the perfect retreat.
High on a plateau lies Tamara Kodai, a 160-year-old Jesuit monastery-turned-luxury resort. It’s located in Kodaikanal, a hilly, crisp-aired and pristine region in the southernmost Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The heritage resort is situated on the site of Bayne’s Bungalow, presumably Kodaikanal’s fifth oldest house built around 1847, a century before India’s independence. Back then, the area was predominantly occupied by tribal natives. Bayne’s Bungalow evolved into a monastery, whose ecclesiastical founders are evoked in contemporary art depicting three cowled figures gracing the resort’s preened front gardens.
Sensitive restoration of the historic structure meant retaining the high ceilings, and restraint in the interior styling. The result is an understated look, where effusive finery cedes to a liberating sense of space. This is complemented by retrochic earth-coloured leather sofas enclosing stone firepits.
Under the vivid red-tiled slanted roofs lies an elaborate geometry of dark wood beams resting on vintage metallic wroughtiron poles. The stained glass artwork above the doorway adds a splash of colour to the dark, earthy tones.
A HILLTOP SPLENDOUR
The resort’s suites are located within a two-tiered lot on the property, with each tier comprising four lake-view suites. To access them, visitors take a path along a flight of dark wood stairs tessellated with vibrant Spanish tiles.
Views of the breathtaking scenery at almost 7,000 ft can be enjoyed from all areas within each suite, so guests do not have to brave the low temperatures outside in order to enjoy the scenery.
It may be nippy outside but the golden-yellow walls evoke the feel of warm rays beaming down. A lotus-like pool lies monumentally on a raised platform surrounded by lofty walls and is connected to the award-winning Tamara spa next door.
One of its restaurants, Bistro 1845, can be found in another building with a lily pond. A library with leather-bound books on the all-day-dining restaurant’s higher level preserves monastic ambience, while an impressive chandelier comes gushing down from tall wrought iron beams – onto amazing buffet layouts.
To enjoy the serene surroundings, take breakfast outdoors on a quaint patio overlooking nature’s glories.
Dinners are served at La Providence, another restaurant on the premises, which features restored stone walls and antique doors. Here, a brigade of 15 chefs creates the restaurant’s lavish cuisine encompassing tonguetickling South Indian, rich North Indian, Continental and surprisingly good Pan-Asian, complemented by cocktails from the award-winning barman, Prince.
Pampered with the best that man and nature provide, it’s little wonder why many are flocking to this getaway, making it a top destination for well-heeled holidaymakers.
Under the vivid red-tiled slanted roofs lies an elaborate geometry of dark wood beams resting on vintage metallic wrought-iron poles.