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Hilly retreat

Drive up the winding road to Kodaikanal and check out two sterling resorts
Road to Sterling Kodai Valley
Road to Sterling Kodai Valley
Malancha Dasgupta

Malancha Dasgupta   |   Published 06.11.18, 04:23 PM

Munch at Sterling Kodai Lake

The evening was more chilly than I expected, but when there’s some rum beside a barbecue, you are sorted for the night. The barbecue corner overlooks the valley; on the menu were a variety of kebabs, Hariyali Machhi to Chicken Teriyaki and Tandoori Mushroom. This experience is a must, specially if you are on a romantic getaway.

For dinner, there was the Kodai special Ambur Biryani. Being a stickler for biryani with aloo, I had my doubts, which vanished when the Ambur Biryani arrived and I finished it in one go. For this dish, the mutton and rice are prepared separately and then cooked in dum style. It is served with raita, fried crisps and sliced onions. 

After an eight-hour journey, which included two flights and a car ride, all I looked forward to was a cosy bed. But all I did after checking into my room at Sterling Kodai Valley was sit in the balcony with a cup of tea for hours, till the sun went down. Nestled in the misty valleys of village Villpatti in Kodaikanal, Sterling Kodai Valley is a 6.06acre resort that is ideal for destination weddings and family vacations. But as we found out, it’s great to spend some me-time too.

Things to do

Turn the wheel

Apart from checking out popular tourist spots like Guna Caves, Kodai Lake and Coaker’s Walk, Sterling offers the option of doing something creative, like trying your hand at pottery at the Potter’s Shed, located 5km away from the hotel, towards Pallangi. At the kiln built by master potter Subramaniam, pots are baked 24 hours at 1,300 degrees Celsius. Potter’s Shed is open Monday to Saturday, 2.30pm to 4.30pm. You’ll need to shell out Rs 500 per person to visit and Rs 700 if you want to get your hands muddy. 

By the lake

Sterling Kodai Lake is a 20-minute drive from Sterling Kodai Valley. The 3.52acre resort is located near the famous Kodai Lake and you have the local market nearby to shop from. Before heading to my room at Sterling Kodai Lake, I was offered a herbal concoction, a lemon-flavoured drink that is prepared in-house and is the most energising sip you can have after a journey.

If that is not enough to pep you up, head to the Subuthi Spa for some pampering. Ayurvedic treatments, body wraps, massages... there is a variety to choose from. I opted for the Subuthi Signature Massage and remained in a blissful state for the next one-and-a-half hours. 

Adventure zone

Add adventure to your trip at Sterling Kodai Lake and you’ve got your adrenaline rushing. A minute’s walk from the resort is the X-Treme Zone, which is home to quite a few adventure sports like land and body zorbing, ATV, bungee trampoline, archery and paintball. 

Play for pleasure

Don’t want to step out? Sterling Kodai Lake has lots of options to keep you busy within its property. Pick from video games, pool table, air hockey table and board games. There is also a library for bookworms. Leave your toddlers at Trunkey Club, the play area, and sign up for magic, dance and virtual DJ workshop. There are lots of painting workshops for kids going on, like glass painting, stone art, pine art, canvas painting and coffee painting that uses coffee powder and water as paint!

Visit a temple

The Kuzhanthai Velappar temple is a very old place of worship, and on the way my cab driver narrated the history of the

“3,000-year-old Kartikeya temple”, situated in Poombarai, a small village in Kodai.

Outside the temple, you’ll find vendors with heaps of ginger and honey. Tamil Nadu is famous for its ginger, used for its medicinal values. What catches your eye is not just the ginger but the colourful vegetables and fruits that are being sold on either side of the road. 

Bonfire under the stars

Imagine relishing barbecue dishes by the bonfire with some good music, after which you can tuck under a cosy blanket in a tent! Sounds surreal? This is exactly what you can do here. Sterling Kodai Lake organises the ‘Under The Star’ experience at X-Treme Zone. Be sure to get a forest-y feel here at night. And the food is to die for, from vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes to grilled desserts. 

Where: Sterling Kodai Valley, Pallangi Road, Attuvampatti, Kodaikanal

Getting here: Nearest airport is Madurai (125km) and nearest railway station is Kodai Road (80km)

Season: Mid-April to mid-June, mid-December to January

Rooms: 121, divided into Classic (44), Premier Suite (34), Privilege Suite (33) and Luxury Suite (10)

Amenities: 24-hour room service, laundry, cyber cafe, Wi-Fi connectivity, florist, doctor on call, travel desk, car rentals, beauty parlour, fitness centre, spa, indoor and outdoor games, local guided tours and treks

Cuisine: Indian, Chinese, Continental and Jain meals at Valley View, the multi-cuisine restaurant

Price range: Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 for two nights per couple 

Off to strawberry farm

When we had set out for the strawberry farm, I imagined it to be like any other plantation but the closer we got, it started looking anything but a manicured farm. The roads meandered through the hills and after a point all you can see is wild nature and rolling hills. This strawberry farm is in the middle of nowhere and that’s the best bit about it. The owner explained the process and gave us strawberries to taste. They also keep freshly-made strawberry jam and jelly that you can buy.

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