5 views of Cardamom House - Athoor, India
There's a reason why so many great writers are Indian - it takes a certain genius to write about a country so aptly named by it's tourist board as Incredible India. For a mere muggle like me, it's impossible to describe the enchanting colours and warmth that envelope you when you arrive somewhere like Cardamom House, a lakeside eco homestay hidden in Tamil Nadu's Western Ghats. Instead, here are five photographs that capture Cardamom's essence sprinkled with only a pinch of words.
The countryside around Athoor is jumping with life with the lake a catwalk for diverse birds such as these Painted Storks. Once you have explored the lake, there are more hikes up into the Ghats.
The view from Cardamom's roof has a fairytale quality at sunset served with a side order of early evening drinks. As night falls, the roof is the setting for a feast of spectacular local food.
Cardamom's rooms are simple, cool and comfortable with nothing to distract from the view which changes with the light throughout the day. The afternoon heat can be dozed away on the verandah.
At Cardamom's heart is a proper working eco farm mixing traditional farming methods with solar panels, vermicompost and recycling.
With all local employees (some balancing the arts of firewalking and hospitality!), the homestay is an important part of the village community and works hard to make sure that tourism is sensitive and positive. Cardamom also support a project working to improve the lives of destitute children.
- www.cardamomhouse.com Re-opening, this year, in mid June.
- Cardamom House wouldn't be quite so special if it wasn't a long way from anywhere with a stock exchange. The journey dissolves with the rum and fresh orange that you are given as soon as you arrive. To fly from the UK or the US, the best bet is either Jet Airways to Madurai (via Mumbai and Chennai) or Emirates to Dubai and then Jet from Dubai to Chennai then Madurai. You can also go by train to Dindigul Junction. As always, go to seat61.com for train information about India or anywhere else in the universe.
Francesca with photographs by Chris Lucas