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Rajakkad Estate, or more correctly the Pallam Palace that sits within the Rajakkad Estate, is a wonderfully tranquil place to stay in the beautiful hill country of Tamil Nadu.
The 18th century building, complete with the original beams, has just seven large bedrooms with en suite bathrooms leading off a courtyard, and each room has its own access to the lush gardens. The interiors themselves are an exercise in understated elegance, complete with colourful Uzbek carpets and Indian cotton towels.
The chef at Rajakkad specialises in delicious dishes fusing southern Indian and Mediterranean cuisine, mainly using ingredients from the farm on the estate, and served either on the shaded terrace or in the dining room, and there are few better ways to kick start the day than with a freshly brewed coffee using freshly ground beans from the estate coffee plantations while enjoying views of the surrounding hills.
Activities on offer at the estate include yoga and meditation classes, walks around the estate's many pathways, visits to the coffee factory, lake and village, swimming in waterfalls and bird watching for the 200-plus species indigenous to this part of Tamil Nadu. Further afield (but very doable as a day trip) is the culturally fascinating city of Madurai, while nearer at hand is the charming hill station of Kodaikanal.
Why we love it
The entire main building - built to a traditional Keralan design and consisting of 20,000 pieces - has twice been taken down, moved and reconstructed in a different location over the past two hundred years. It would be harder to find a more picturesque spot than where it is now, 3,000ft above sea level in the Western Ghats's foothills.
Miranda, Original Traveller