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A slice of ye olde Englande
by Marianne de Nazareth

If you have never visited Ooty which is officially known as Ootacamund or Udhamangalam, then a trip should be on the cards when visiting Bangalore. Just catch a Volvo bus from the KSRTC bus stand at 10 pm and you will arrive in Ooty around 5am in the morning. Known as the “Queen of the Hills” it is cold at 7,600 feet above sea level and woolies are advisable at any time of the year.

Glygarth Villa

Since Ooty was the watering hole of the British during the days of the Raj, colonial mansions and manors still abound with their delightfully stiff upper lip names like, Bournemouth, Dingle Dale, Gorse House and Glyngarth Villa. We were booked into Glyngarth Villa a heritage boutique hotel which is a couple of kilometers out of the main town, for a couple of days. “ Get off at Finger Post,” advised Shahid the young owner of the resort,” and Adrian will collect you from the bust stand and you can walk up to the villa.”

In the nippy cold of half dawn we alighted at Finger Post and trundled our overnight cases into the driveway of the villa along with a smiling Adrian. There, rising majestically against the slowly brightening skies was Glyngarth villa, with its turrets dramatically silhouetted against the back drop of brooding cypress trees. A beautiful colonial mansion built in 1850 by Sir Walter Mound, the heritage property is a boutique hotel today to be enjoyed by those who revel in history and the days of the Raj.

The hotel was quiet when we arrived, walking through the large verandah with its hat stand and up the sweeping teak staircase, to our room. A huge brass urn filled with Freesias and blue lilies welcomed us in, along with the smell of fresh coffee being brewed. There seemed to be a lot of burnished teak everywhere from the wooden flooring to the paneling on the walls.

Ours was the nicest room in the house with a large four poster bed and an enormous fire place. Since Glyngarth is on top of a hill the vista spreading out before us from the bay windows was breath taking. Situated 4km out of the town this area is still untouched and retains much of Ooty's old hill station charm. The house has just five huge bedrooms, so clearly Glyngarth is no ordinary resort for the masses. This is a boutique hotel meant to give visitors an authentic feel of colonial India and a chance to live in a well maintained relic of the raj.

The copious use of Burma teak was the hall mark of Raj bungalows and Glyngarth is no exception. The floors the walls, the wardrobes the fire places are all of burnished teak imported from far away Burma. Sit out on the lawns in the pretty garden surrounding the house and you notice that even the front porch has been made with teak. Shahid has added an old Hillman car perfect to the last detail which stands in the porch and in which he takes visitors for a spin around town. A 150 year old Oak tree dropping little acorns stands to one side to the garden. A white picket fence puts the final English old world charm to the place. Let your imagination run and one can almost picture a smart carriage trotting up with Sahebs and Memsahebs elegantly turned out driving in for a stylish sit down dinner in the huge dining room. Sir Mounde certainly recreated a piece of England and as the story goes, he finally sold it to an Indian classmate at Oxford whose family still lives in the UK and retains the deeds to the house. Apparently all the rich and famous of the world holidayed there including Pandit Nehru.

The baths have been modernized with tiles and flush toilets. However old style teak bath towel stands are still in use and one can enjoy a hot 'bucket bath' if preferred. In the old days the jamadar unobtrusively came in from outside to clean the toilets and baths, so Glyngarth has a winding staircase in the turrets, which was the servants entrance and which still exists. The dining room is dominated by a huge table which can effortlessly seat 16 at a time. Bakes and soups waft out of the kitchen and Shahid has a cook who is a whiz with Anglo Indian as well as regular Indian fare.

“When I took over the house I had to replace over 300 glass panes of the 450 in the house,” explains Shahid. “ The house had been given out to film crews for shoots and they vandalised the floors and used the rosewood shelves in the cupboard for firewood. This has been a labour of love to bring the house up to scratch and make it livable again.” The garden is filled with snap dragons, roses, freesias and fushias all blooming in gay abandon. A huge variety of birds chirrup and call all day and one can take nature rambles down to the lush green golf course and Ooty Golf Club.

The guest book shows that people from all over the world have come in to enjoy the beauty of living in a colonial mansion. “Mine is a niche market,” says Shahid, “and only visitors who enjoy the heritage of Ooty can enjoy Glyngarth.”

ooty1 Tariff: Off season: 1650 + taxes. In season: 1850 + taxes. Package 2 nights: off season: 3999 + taxes, in season : 4999 + taxes.

Getting there: Bangalore is the closest city to access the Blue Mountains or the Nilgiris. The either use a taxi service via Mysore or a direct Volvo bus. Call: Glyngarth Villa Resorts, Golf Club Road, Finger Post, Ootacamund The Nilgiris - 643006 or email:;

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