FARAH MAGI INTRODUCTION TO KODAIKANAL
Nestled in the Palani hills, shrouded in mist and cotton clouds, Kodaikanal is referred to as The Princess Of Hill stations and rightfully so. You can’t fully appreciate the meaning of the word surreal until you find yourself in this little colonial town watching the sky change form in the most beautiful ways.
I wasn’t sure what to expect at first because in Bangalore, Kodaikanal was almost synonymous with ‘magic shrooms’.
But with the help of a culturally-packed 3-day itinerary by the lovely folks at Villa Retreat, I was able to explore a lot more of Kodai than what I had expected.
Driving down from Bangalore to Kodaikanal was quite an arduous journey as we had to cover roughly 465 kilometres on road. Little did I know that there was a pot of gold at the end of the tunnel! We reached Villa Retreat (which was easy to locate as it was right at the entrance of the famous Coaker’s Walk) past midnight and all I did was cosy up to my bed and got lost in a long deep sleep.
It took me a while to take everything in as I woke up. I drew out the curtain to allow the 10 AM light to set my room aglow. I spent the first half of the day sitting by my window eating muesli for breakfast and sipping on some chai- engulfed with the most wholesome sight of cotton candy clouds, lush green grass, beautiful flowers peeking at me from the window.
My suite at Villa Retreat was everything my sweet little imagination had expected- a little lounge area with a fireplace and a warm and cosy fluffy bed underneath a wooden ceiling. I went on to check out the rest of the rooms the Villa had to offer- a Deluxe room (reserved only for couples) with spectacular views of the valley and a Family suite- consisting of a master bedroom, a regular bedroom and an additional room just to indulge in some family time. (Monopoly anyone?)
I went on to learn that Villa Retreat was nearly 150 years old! It was an abode for the then British governors and it felt incredible knowing that I was staying in such a heritage property. The stone walls with creepers, a beautifully manicured garden, the stone pathways, the fencing and the overall design- all stood testimony to the very same fact.
Lunch time cometh and I was excited to dine at their private dining space (which is open only for the guests- no outsiders allowed) and more importantly because all their dishes were prepared using fresh and locally sourced fruits, vegetables and poultry.
My meal consisted of some delicious chicken 65, pineapple & tomato salad and roast chicken with home-made sauce finished off gloriously with a poached pear + ice cream dessert. A wholesome meal and a lot of praises for the chef later, it was time for a brief afternoon siesta.
I woke up close to sunset time, tied my shoe laces and hurried along to take a sunset stroll at Coaker’s Walk as the entrance was attached right to the entrance of Villa Retreat. The sun was beginning to set and the sky was turning into a purplish-orange, undulating its colours on the Kurinji flowers splattered along the slope.. a beautiful lavender flower that only blooms once in 12 years! I considered myself lucky enough to have gotten a glimpse of it.
Back to the villa and I spent the rest of the evening just listening to jazz tunes, sipping on some wine, warming myself up by the fireplace in the restaurant while relishing on Malabar chicken stew with baturas. Life was good.