Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bungalow & Farm Holiday – Part I

The ancient charm of a colonial bungalow, the rustic charm of a farm resort

April 21-23, 2012

It was a journey amidst a hectic schedule. A harried couple of months at work, followed by a weekend getaway plan, what with sis bil in town. Leaving behind a pile of work that would be sitting a pile higher when back from holiday. Kids, Bob and I along with my sis and bil hit the road early in the morning.

A whirlwind visit of Bharananganam the resting place of Saint Alphonsa en-route to Vaghamon. 

The highway on four wheels and six spirited souls (six abs none!) continued on the dreary drive uphill.

The first casualty (of motion sickness) turned out to be my 3 yr old daughter Becky (the youngest of the lot) who threw up without warning. But I held up the mug in the nick of time saving our clothes and the car insides…phew! (A mug is handier and less messier than the pukey bags/plastic covers, and so accompanies us on all our car journeys)

The rest of the journey passed by quite uneventfully, save the beautiful sights around us - the mist clad hills, rocky mountains, views of the bottomless valleys, tea plantations….

And lo and behold…we arrived at our first destination – Vaghamon – A right turn from the T-Junction and about 500 metres down the road is the Estate Bungalow of MMJ Plantations - our exotic place of stay.

A bit more about the Bungalow...
Built in 1927-28 by the then Chiefs of Vaghamon (Travancore) Tea Company Mr. Hammonds and Mr. Gardinier (Brits), this Bungalow is situated inside 2000 acres of Tea, Cardamom and Coffee Plantation at an elevation of 3100 feet above sea level. The wooden floors are fixed 3.5 feet above the ground level.

Most of the Bungalow remains quite intact with no major renovation having taken place, except perhaps for the modern bathrooms adjoining the two guestrooms, and the regular maintenance and cleaning around.
We were welcomed with a cup of steaming hot tea served in the cozy settings of the living room in all its colonial splendour. All rooms in the Bungalow have a fireplace that adds an exotic charm to the place. We quickly had a shower in the modernized bathrooms and took a quick tour of the Bungalow. It has a visitor’s room, living room, library, 2 guest suites with attached bath, recreation room (caroms, chess, cards...), dining room, kitchen, storeroom and a caretaker’s room. Each room spacious, and each nook telling a resplendent story of the yesteryears.

We played a few rounds of caroms (had been ages since the last time I played!), had some refreshing drinks, then went out for a walk in the garden. 

They have a beautiful garden of medicinal plants and flowers of all kinds and colours that make it picture perfect. With organic farming, everything locally cultivated and farmed, and a poultry farm, our lunch was nothing less than perfect. It was then time for a siesta, short yet sweet.

The fresh tea refreshed us and we were ready for the drive around Vaghamon – A place called Pine Valley (acres of Pine Trees) the perfect picnic spot and a scenic place popular among cinematographers in South India, then proceeded t to Mottakunnu – again a picnic spot, a seemingly endless meadow with little hilly mounds. The weather was rather pleasant.

Drove back to the Bungalow, enjoying the sights around. More rounds of caroms followed. Then, sumptuous dinner. We were ready to crash. After a good night’s sleep, we woke up early, walked around the tea estate (covered not even 1% of the 2000 acres perhaps!) and the veg garden.

Many photo-ops later, and after bread, butter, eggs and tea we hit the road, heading to our next destination – Thekkady.

[This post begs for a Part II, so I’ll be back…Hope you’ll be back too!]


Rachna said...

Where have you been? It's been pretty long. The pictures are breathtaking and your holiday seems to have been really wonderful.

Aleta said...

Oh my gosh, it sounds heavenly and a very charming place to stay :)

Jon said...

hey long time....sorry me totally out of toouch..
I simply quit following due to lack of time...but i keep on posting

Annd as a coincidence me work in Pala nowadays
Next time post larger icons

Insignia said...

Glad to have you back. Vaghamon is a heaven. I have been to this place 4 years ago; and I was astounded by the deadly hilly terrains and then the greener pastures.

Visited an institution and diary run by nuns. Forgot its name.

Balachandran V said...

It is nice to see you back after a long time. Vagamon is a beautiful place - or should I say, 'was'? Tourism has marred the virginal charm of that place. Great pictures. Wish you had one of the building from outside.

Bikram said...

WOw look who is here ..

I hope you remember me ..
beautiful pictures and yes does need a part 2 ..

and wlecome back how you are regular now ..


Shilpa Garg said...

Wow! Good to see you back! How have you been!
Looks like a wonderful and simply beautiful vacation place!!

The Holy Lama said...

Waiting for part II. Last pic on this post is really good. With new camera?

RGB said...

Thanks :P Sure was a wonderful holiday!.

Heavenly indeed. You must plan a trip to this part of the world sometime.

Gr8, so you are closer to these places I mentioned. Have you been there before? If you click on those thumbnail pictures, you can view it bigger.

RGB said...

I can always count on you for dropping by. Thanks a bunch:P

Nice to know that you've been to Vaghamon too. Lovely place no doubt. We didn't go around much except for the 2 place I mentioned. The stay at the Estate Bungalow was an experience in itself!

RGB said...

It's been ages, but yeah...I'm back! Another place that seems to be exploited of late owing to tourism hype is 'Gavi'. Been wanting to go there myself! Most pictures seem to have our mugs on it, so wasn't able to upload an exterior view of the Bungalow!

@ Bikramjit,
Good to be back. And of course I remember you. If not 'regular' I at least hope to be able to check in every once a while. Part II following soon...

RGB said...

Beautiful it is! Overwhelmed by the warm response to my coming back...almost feels like a resurrection!

@Holy Lama,
Part II coming up...No "new" camera, the same old Sony Cybershot :P

Rama Ananth said...

I have the same question which others have already asked.
Welcome back to blogging, I really missed you. I haven't gone through your recent blogs, but would surely come to read them soon.
Bye for now, rama

Destiny's child... said...

Vagamon is a really beautiful place and your pictures tell the whole story. Now, I'll jump straight to part 2. :)

Nona said...

Nice pictures. :)

RGB said...

Thanks for the warm welcome. I hope I can stick around a bit :)

@Destiny's child,
Sure is. Enjoy the ride :)

Thanks to our good old Sony Cyber-shot!