ABOVE ALL ELSE

Sit­u­ated at the top of a moun­tain in Tamil Nadu is a 160-year- old bun­ga­low of­fer­ing the per­fect re­treat.

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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.

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