temple of tamil traditions
Madurai is one of the many temple towns in the state which is named after the groves, clusters or forests dominated by a particular variety of a tree or shrub and the same variety of tree or shrub sheltering the presiding deity. The region is believed to have been covered with Kadamba forest and hence called Kadambavanam. The city is referred by various names including "Madurai", "Koodal", "Malligai Maanagar", "Naanmadakoodal" and "Thirualavai". The word Madurai may be derived from Madhura (sweetness) arising out of the divine nectar showered on the city by the Hindu God Siva from his matted hair. Another theory is that Madurai is the derivative of the word Marutham, which refers to the type of landscape of the Sangam age. The city definitely showing modernization in everything is still the fulcrum in terms of Tamil tradition due to the Pandiya Dynasty and their rich heritage and traditional values. The city during my visit showed a lot of drastic changes but still a strong dosage of regional influence due to its rich traditional values.
30 Kms from the city on the foothills of Alagiri Hills, towards Natham, is located this holistic and nature-friendly rustic resort named "KADAMBAVANAMM RESORT" which we stayed on day #3 of our Madurai Food tour. Aptly captioned to be "Temple of Tamil Traditions", this resort tries to bridge the closeness to Mother nature and slowly disappearing Tamil traditions in all possible forms of festivals, beliefs, cultural traditions, and even food. Food is the religion of Mother Nature and it has to be adaptive of the vegetation in the region. Hence any regional cuisine plays a big role in its authenticity based on what grows in the region. This resort as we checked-in at midnight didn't excite me much than being dark foresty place to reside in. We checked in and I found the rooms to be individual cottage homes which gave all the privacy you need and it had all basic amenities. As it dawned after a good night sleep, I woke up to hear the chirps of birds and greenery everywhere in daylight. Surrounded by mango trees everywhere, the whole aura of being amidst nature kicked in. The place offers much more than stay.
They offer a lot of packaged experiences including the tour of the property which we took post freshening up. Manager Mahesh walked us through the 23-acre property and first, we visited their temple with an array of deities properly maintained and performed pooja traditionally on a daily basis. Also, they seem to celebrate all Hindu festivals in this premises without any pinch of modernization impact which impressed me. Next, we went into their auditorium which by itself was very huge and the ceiling artistry immediately caught my attention. It's all depiction of various childhood good-deed stories depicted in a single frame including King Paari sacrificing his Chariot for a jasmine creeper and many more. The owner being an architect himself has designed this model and I love the traditional values depicted in them as they say "a picture speaks more than a 1000 words". The hall does host a lot of cultural events and media celebrations and also used for corporate packages to entertain the guests and also at the same time inculcate the importance of rural cultural forms.
We then got to meet Mrs. Chitra Ganapathy, MD of the property and she gave a detailed history about the place, its aura, its conceptualization and even how they integrated this thought process in their food offerings as well. Their in-house restaurant by itself was another proof of how cuisine should embrace nature. Also offering typical corporate day outing packages and regular buffet, their core menu still boosts natural ingredient based dishes which is mostly on millets and fruits which can grow well in such hot and humid temperatures. How aptly does Tamil culture depicts "Food is medicine by itself", their menu offerings did improvise on this point The scenic beauty of the property by itself was a testimony of their core values. I can keep talking about her vision of this property but I guess it would be apt for you to check out all the details of their offerings, cultural events at http://kadambavanam.in/.
Also, special mention of the cottage room we stayed has to be shared. #1 - their naturistic Shower (open-air style) and that was a shock for me at first but then it doesn't get more natural than this, with birds chirping, natural breezing winding by, your otherwise ordinary shower becomes an experience. Don't miss this and also each room has an artistic depiction of core values from various scholars who have shaped Tamil literature, culture, and society by itself. The artwork again stands out to show how unique Tamil artistry is and how simple but yet the effective depiction of a serious thought can be conveyed is still magical. In a nut shell, the property is a city by itself where you are transported to another aura of being close to nature and culture.
After an enriching and insightful tour of the property and its vision with core values, it was time for us to relish their offerings. They had arranged to showcase their dishes which reflect the culture and regional influence in it and it was one of the most soulful complete meal I have ever seen put up on a traditional banana leaf. The first sight of it is phenomenal and you so want to dig into it. We sat down and started with kollu soup (horse gram lentil soup) which is so apt for nasal issues and also keep the heat of your body intact and sweat indeed. The main array boasted many dishes and each dish stood out on its cooking style and flavors. Main picks for me were Kori soru (mutton gravy mixed with rice), Pazham Payasam (Banana mashed into kheer like consistency), Era Thokku (Dry prawns curry) and many more. Omlette Panniyaram, Soya beans kola urundai (soya balls) and Nattu Kozi kolambu (country chicken curry). To end with some natural refreshments like fresh and juicy jackfruit and mango. Each dish in the meal made sense and overall lunch experience was pure soul nirvana. Wrapping the whole meal with betel leaves n fragrant betel nuts in served in traditional way couldnt have seen a perfect finale like this. I should say the dishes were soulful, not so spicy, no heart burns and felt light on our palate and tummy as well. We didn't feel bloated at all throughout the meal.
A Hearty conversation with Mr. Ganapathy, co-founder of this property on his view of this resort and his architectural experiences was another value add for us to see insight from the owner's perspective and their passion to get things right not just to a sector of the audience but to satisfy all walks of life.
Overall the whole experience of stay, property tour, detailed discussion and interaction with Mrs. Chitra Ganapathy, a hearty meal , heartwarming service, rustic cottage stay, aura of being amidst the nature and overall the feeling inside a forest property away from the madness of the urbanization really refreshed and replenished my energy levels both physically and mentally as well. The resort is worth the recommendation for anyone who wants to get out of the city buzz and madness and be yourself with Mother nature at the same time get a glimpse of our own traditional values and refresh our values and get closer to our roots. Thanks a ton for the property for making this 1 day staycation a memory to cherish for our lifetime. Kadambavanam is one of a kind stay experience and DONT MISS IT!!!!!