December 11, 2022

Stay: Tamara Kodai - Comfort & luxury at 6500 ft above sea level

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Kodaikanal is a sought-after destination for both tourists and parents with children enrolled in its well-known boarding schools. Often referred to as the Princess of the Hills, the name "Kodaikanal" translates to "The Gift of the Forest" in Tamil. The initial inhabitants of Kodai were the Paliyar tribe, joined later in the 1800s by American Christian missionaries and British bureaucrats, which is evident in the local architecture. Situated atop a hill at an elevation of 6500 ft, The Tamara Kodai is conveniently distanced from the main market, preserving its nostalgic old-world charm.

The Tamara Kodaikanal is one of two establishments owned by the Tamara Resorts group, with the second one situated in Coorg. Originally named Baynes Bungalow and owned by the British District Judge, Mr. Baynes, this structure was among the first houses constructed in the area. In 1860, it underwent renovations and was purchased by Father Louis Cyr, reopening as La Providence. Initially serving as a rest house for priests from Nagapattinam, this remarkable building, now a 42-suite hotel, remains steadfast even after 150 years.

The accommodations feature opulent Colonial-style design, complete with seating areas, en-suite bathrooms, and balconies. Equipped with contemporary conveniences such as televisions, Wi-Fi, a mini-bar, and around-the-clock room service.

La Providence serves as the all-day dining cafe, offering buffet breakfast and dinner, complemented by live food counters. Bistro 1845 features a welcoming bar with outdoor dining options, presenting a blend of European favorites and local cuisine. Indoor and outdoor games are available for your leisure. The numerous bonfires and fireplaces scattered across the property create a cozy ambiance, inviting you to find a corner, perhaps with an Agatha Christie book, and bask in the comforting warmth like a comforting embrace.

The hotel store offers a variety of local brands, and the assortment is quite impressive. I got myself a bag crafted from banana fibre, a set of Birds of Kodaikanal that serves as a memory game, and wild Cerana honey from Hoopoe on the Hill.

You can take a walk around the picturesque lake and head to the market to try local food and stores.

Recommendations:

Junior Kuppanna - Mutton Biryani and Mutton Balls.

Kodai - For all kinds of cheese especially the Smoked Cheddar.

The Skylark Shop - Smoked BBQ sauce, whole grain mustard and pickle relish by George's Gourmet (A local brand that also has a cafe serving sourdough pizza).

Wild garlic and passionfruit from the local market.

Take-away: The beds are exceptionally comfortable, the bathrooms are equipped with his and her wash basins, and guests can enjoy the convenience of a buggy ride around the property, as well as a temperature-controlled swimming pool.

Room Rates start at Rs 15,000+ per night.

Getting There: Madurai is the closest airport about 120kms away. Trichy is another option. You can also fly into Coimbatore airport and take a 4-hour drive up to Kodaikanal.