A sweet scent of Eucalyptus filled the air as we drove past the gate. Vibrant flowers in abundance laid out a flowery carpet to welcome us. As we curved through the narrow path adorned by the lush, bushy flora, the scene opened up to a colossal vintage British bungalow with a huge garden in the foreground. After parking the car in the shade, while walking towards the bungalow, I couldn’t stop admiring the various types of plants adorning the garden. A quick mental note to self – explore this vast garden in detail.
A short walk later, we entered the historical SaffronStays Milton Abbott home and were instantly impressed by the pop of colors that adorned the veranda. Next to it was a beautifully decorated hall with a cosy fireplace – just what was required for the chilly Ooty weather. We were ushered into our room by the caretaker, Mr. Rajmohan, who coincidentally is a walking, talking encyclopedia – about Ooty and the home. He talks so passionately about the house and its history, it feels as if we are transported to the bygone era. We learnt a great deal about Ooty in its non-crowded days, the construction and history of SaffronStays Milton Abbot home.
Ours was a two bedroom apartment with two separate rooms and a huge bathroom – which is just perfect for families with kids – it’s like, we all are together, yet have that much required privacy. In fact, there are four such apartments in SaffronStays Milton Abbot home in Ooty – three of them have two bedrooms and the fourth one, a single room. If you think of it, this home will be a perfect home away from home to holiday in an exotic location like Ooty with your cousins, friends or even extended family.
Long windows brought in a lot of light into the room and the tasteful décor just added more energy to the space. I sat by the chaise next to the window and grabbed my favourite book from the handbag and sank deep into the plot. I was disturbed by the rumbling stomach and took a break to see if the lunch was ready. First, I had to find out where my husband and son were off to! My son was fascinated by the small children’s play area in the backyard under the shade of a big walnut tree. My husband watched my son play in glee while resting in the patio.
We peeped into the dining hall and saw that the cutlery was laid out and Mr. Rajmohan emerged from behind the curtains and invited us to the dining table. And what followed was a culinary delight cooked by Mr. Rajmohan’s wife, in typical Sri Lankan style cuisine as they hail from there. Hot chapatis went well with the special chicken curry and the organic beetroot side dish was finished in minutes. The rasam too was cooked very differently and needless to say, we loved it too!
After a scrumptious lunch, we were strolling in the lounge and found a space with lots of trophies. Upon asking, Mr. Rajmohan informed us that these were the awards won by SaffronStays Milton Abbott during the Annual Rose competition held by the authorities in Ooty. No wonder this well maintained garden scoops up so many awards – it has more than 100 varieties of plants growing in here, including a green rose!
A beautiful evening beheld us. We walked through the path that circumnavigated the garden, spotting and photographing lots of flowering plants. While my husband and son were in the opposite side of the garden, learning more about the organic vegetables grown here which is used to cook food for the guests. Fresh beetroots, carrots, radish, strawberry, lemongrass, cilantro, rosemary and much more made this kitchen garden an interesting one. While they were engrossed in the kitchen garden, I found a silent corner that overlooked the deep woods, which was a perfect spot to dig into a novel. Check my Instagram highlights to find that place.
As the sun rested for the day, Ooty chill set in, pushing us into the cosy SaffronStays Milton Abbot home. We chatted quite a bit about the home with Mr. Rajmohan. He passionately speaks about the house and its construction – of how there are no pillars or a foundation for this 150 year old house built by British but the inmates were German. The entire house adorns teak wood flooring and wardrobes. Mr. Rajmohan showed us an old tile, like the ones which are laid out on the roof. The speciality of this tile is that it was manufactured in 1865 and it looked very new. In fact, we were surprised to hear that the new tiles that were replaced when the original ones broke, were cracking while many of the old ones are still going strong!
Below the floor, in 5 feet depth each, there are big holes dug up at some places in house to keep the house cool. There is an inlet near the entrance of house and it connects every hole and runs through the whole house before passing out through the outlet at the far end of the house. This ensures proper ventilation throughout the house and keeps the floor cooler and does a better job than an AC could do. The caretaker, Mr. Rajmohan says, the house has been designed by British in such a way that in spite of heavy rains, there is no seepage or leakage anywhere. Isn’t it surprising? Well, architects these days have a lot to learn from our ancestors.
A quiet dinner later, we dozed off in the comfort of cushy pillows and soft bed. And when the morning arrived, fresh flowers from the gardens decorated every vase in the house, adding more charm to the décor. A dewy morning walk awaited us and we soaked up every bit of the serenity that the home lovingly offered us – forgetting every single of the umpteen worldly worries. We loved the house so much that we didn’t even go out for Ooty sightseeing. This isn’t the first time we have been to Ooty, so we have done the regular touristy stuff. This time, we wanted to experience Ooty’s old world charm, just like how it was back in the days before people swarmed here. And I’m glad to say, Saffron Stays Milton Abbott home totally lived up to that expectation and much more!