A weekend to remember at

The crowds, the heat, the dust – everything that is wrong with city living, Mumbai has in spades. It was obvious that my wife and I needed a change of scenery; the greener and colder, the better. Kodaikanal was the obvious choice, and we roped in another couple of friends to join us for the trip.

But where do we stay in Kodaikanal? After a lot of research, Wunderhaus Artist Getaway and Homestay was the answer. It looked cozy and inviting in the pictures, and all of us were really excited about our stay. But little did we know that the pictures of the location and of the house itself do no justice to the actual experience that awaits as you drive up the rocky path towards house.

 As our little car chugged up the path and the house appeared on the right, I was torn. Torn between the picturesque house with its fresh, green lawn and the awe-inspiring valley view that seemed to stretch forever. The valley won, for now, mostly because I wanted to take my time exploring the house itself, the pictures of which had piqued my curiosity.

When I was finally able to tear myself away from the view (there was plenty more time for that), I joined the rest of the group through the front door.

Shoes off (I approve), and you walk into the sitting area that is cosy, yet open. And no matter where you choose to sit, you have a view of a magnificent branch snaking down from the roof, artistically decorated with lights. An idea I’m definitely going to steal, there’s a lot more to this room. Old cassette tapes line the walls on one side, while the biggest wall is dominated by an oil painting that melds and morphs the longer you look at it. Quirky pictures and ads for obscure brands dot the house, sometimes at the most unexpected places, putting a smile on your face when you stumble into one. There’s even an old shop hoarding from a textile trader that time has forgotten. The two bedrooms we occupied were decorated in the same vein, with cozy blankets to keep you warm through the cold nights.

While the inside is great, what really made our Wunderhaus experience one to remember is the outside. Especially in the morning. Sitting on one of the chairs, looking out into the valley and the hills in the distance as the sun shines down, the peace and quiet just washes over you. The lawn is also sprinkled with curios, with two sinks repurposed to form tiny ponds, as well as wooden trunks arranged together to create a comfy area to sit and sip your tea as you take in the hundreds of eucalyptus trees that cover the hills right opposite. What makes it even better (even though we thought it couldn’t) is Pandi Amma’s home-cooked breakfast of dosas and chutneys, that sets the tone for the rest of the day. A day spent soaking in the beautiful vista and basking in the sun.

As night approached, however, we all scrambled for our jackets. Without the sun, the cold creeps up on you. And while it is invigorating, especially after the humidity of Mumbai, soon it will force you indoors. But that’s where the fireplace comes in handy., I didn’t mention the fireplace? I saved the best for last then. Once the sun sets, Pandi Amma brings in firewood and starts the fireplace. As the room heats up, it gets incredibly cozy and warm, almost like the perfect hug. I would suggest sitting around the fireplace playing one of the many board games available there like we did, curling up with a good book right or just taking a little nap (like we also did).

If you can tear yourself away from Wunderhaus, which we barely managed, Anto is there to help you with everything you need to know about the surrounding area. Be it a seldom-used path into the forest, out-of-the-way points of interest, or just places you can order food from, he made sure we had the best trip possible. He’s also great company if you want to just talk, and definitely added to our experience at Wunderhaus.

As we packed up the third day, it was obvious that none of us were ready to make the journey back to reality. Wunderhaus, with its decor and location, feels like a slice of peace, calm and beauty, served up just for you. Your experience changes along with the day, the rising and setting of the sun revealing everything the house has to offer.

So if you ever ask yourself the question – “where should I stay in Kodaikanal?”, I would suggest you give Wunderhaus a visit. But if you’re looking for a hotel experience rather than a home stay, give Villa Retreat a try. A sister concern of Wunderhaus, Villa Retreat offers the same experience, similar awe-inspiring views and hospitality you will love, all set within walking distance of Kodaikanal’s most beautiful and famous tourist spots.

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