Wayanad, the highland destination of North Kerala is a plantation district which produces spice, tea, coffee and paddy. Tea was introduced in India by the Scots and popularized its plantation by the British in a big scale in India. The British had their own practices and methods to run these labor intensive plantations, the estate managers used to stay within the plantations and that’s how the plantation bungalows came into existence.
It was during my visit to splash 2013 ( a tourism meet to promote destination Wayanad) that I came across Ms. Malini who give me an impressive intro about these two plantation bungalows located in their respective Estates close to Mananthavady, Wayanad. The very next day I got my chance to visit the place, I would say this is one the most spectacular places to stay on your visit to Kerala. These century old plantation bungalows are being renovated with modern elements, retaining the old historic charm and heritage. The Cherakara estate bungalow with 4 rooms and the Talapoya estate bungalow with 6 rooms are amidst the tea plantations. You are the guests of the Estate general manager and enjoy all the privileges of being a real guest.
I would say, the rooms of both Cherakara and Talapoya estates are huge and go by the principle, big is good…it’s the old British way of construction and architecture, like the bathrooms have the size of your present day bed rooms. Both these are just 5 kilometers away from each other. There is an estate club house that was once the estate officer’s club which is now a club for the guests as well. It houses a terracotta tiled tennis court (I am not sure whether you can play tennis there), a century old snooker table (old fashioned) an array of books more than hundred and fifty years old, and a table tennis board.
Cherakara has 4 rooms, a living area which showcases some of the very old collectables; there is a beautiful chandelier right in the middle of the living room. All the four rooms are named separately after trees, like Silver oak, Gulmohar, Frangipani, and Jacaranda. I recommend the west wing rooms which have a view of the plantations with chairs laid to sit. Food is made locally by local bungalow assistants, Our lunch at the Estate bungalow was pretty good I would say. The cutlery, the plates and the surrounding are just a replica of what existed there once.
Talapoya houses six rooms, these are bigger rooms with a extension to the gardens. A lot of effort has gone to make the room look super good. Its combination, of heritage, luxury and elements of contemporary style gives more charm to the rooms and the Estate bungalow. The corridor is so wide, that you could conduct a hundred meter sprint, I don’t think I have seen such a large corridor anywhere else in South India. There is a swimming pool and that is an added specialty as there just a few properties which have a swimming pool in Wayanad.
The Estate tea factory is open to visit for the in house guests; tea tasting and other programs are conducted here. There are walking routes like the Madam’s walk, which is a walking route around the estate, that was once the walking route of the Estate manager’s daughter. The planters walk, a long walk thought the tea gardens, Elephant hills walk, they say this walk offers sighting of Elephants far away across another hillock (purely subject to your luck 🙂 ).
The meal plan is full board and I think the rooms are perfectly priced, not too low, not too high for the value and ambiance it delivers. And for sure, they are going to give you a bag with a combination of different tea products from the estate as a farewell gift. I Recommend this place for a minimum of 3 nights..dont rush, relax and enjoy what is awaiting you there..
Written by Benjamin John