USP: Back in grandma's lap
Imagine waking up to a kolam on your doorstep every morning. And lingering over a mug of strong Kumbakonam filter coffee while stretched out on the good old thinnai with the rain drumming on the roof and a sixty-and-odd birds calling out to you! This is just one of the many indulgent vistas that Mantra offers the weary city-dweller with escapist whims.
The eco-friendly resort combines an antiquated charm, aesthetic beauty and traditional hospitality to let you reignite romance and revisit the past. From wooden seats in the breakfast room, watch fairy lights crop up from old world lanterns that dot the landscape. Or, soak in the tranquillity at your own private backyard. For a purely magical experience, enjoy the deliciously cool water gush down from the open shower, while knowing that your ceiling is nothing but a mantle of stars.
Setting foot on Veppathur village in Kumbakonam is like stumbling upon a well-kept secret. We are escorted across a charming bridge to the resort where a brass bell tolls to announce our arrival and a traditional arathi awaits us. There are no couches in the reception but as we sink into the swings with inviting silk cushions, dhoti-clad men wait on us with foot massages, fresh towels and warm smiles.
Built in true Tanjore style, the resort is fashioned to resemble an agraharam with a temple tank at the heart of the property. The Mantra Illam and Mantra Twin come with an elegant bedroom-cum-living room, thinnai and powder room attached. The Pannaiyar Illam is the suite equivalent and if you have languished in apartments for most of your life, then revel in the sheer luxury of space. For a stay at the Illam is like moving into an individual bungalow flanked by mango trees, with bedrooms in silken splendour, a majestic oonjal, private terrace and butlers to boot!
The restaurant, Annaprakshana, serves only vegetarian food but the sumptuous South Indian thali is a banquet by itself. Be it the refrigerator stocked with nannari, the snack basket packed with seedai and murukku, Thanjavur dolls on bedside tables, antique telephones poised on polished wood, red post-boxes mounted on random trees or the rosewater handwash before your meals — at every turn, the resort invites you to commune with Nature.
And if you're that blend of tradition and romance, then CEO Subhu has an offer that might be hard to refuse. Picture exchanging your wedding vows under a lush canopy of trees with only bird song and breeze for accompaniment. Only, you may have to book the whole resort!
With true Tamil hospitality, the folks at Mantra don't send you back empty-handed. Besides a trove of memories and cosseted languor, you return with tamarind rice, assorted pickles and the no-one-can-have-just-one yummy homemade rice vadagams!
As I sit in the courtyard biting into crunchy paruppu vadas that a Kumbakonam maami plies me with, I gaze at the lamps floating on the water beneath my feet. And I cannot help but agree with Browning that ‘God's in His heaven and all's right with the world'.
How to get there
The nearest airport is Tiruchi while the Kumbakonam railway station is just 20 km away. Veppathur is six kilometres by road from Kumbakonam.
Things to do
Hop on a bullock cart to get a glimpse of village life.
Enjoy traditional folk performances such as thappattam on the open air stage or play uriyadi (pot breaking) in the lawn.
Try your hand at pottery, mehndi or kili josiam, which local artistes are only too eager to teach you.
Rejuvenate at the village spa, Punarjanma.
Go for a Nature walk or pick a trail for bird watching.
Kumbakonam is the land of temples and there is one at every footfall. Whether your spiritually inclined or not, visit them for a taste of timeless art and architecture.
Mantra Twin: Rs. 6000 /7000 (single/ double)
Mantra Illam: Rs. 7,000/ 8,000(single/ double)
Pannaiyar Illam: Rs.12,000 (single and double)
Special rates can be availed at the time of reservation
For details call 98412 88000 or 044 43009898, or visit www.mantraveppathur.com