The white and powder pink flowers gently nod from the Chinese honeysuckle creeper resting on a bluish pillar….the faint smell lingering in the air…the sound of gurgling water in the heart of town distracts you and a sideways glance satisfies your curiosity and surprise as you spot stone spouts disgorging clear water in a stone channel…. and then fresh bright red roses and jasmine buds floating in a pot surrounded by ‘kolam’ or ‘rangoli’, a beautiful traditional floor design, greet you as you step in the entrance porch of this hundred year old bungalow that now sports a fresh look albeit a traditional one.
“Svatma” is one place which strives to introduce the essence of what Thanjavur is all about.
I had long wanted to visit this heritage resort but the trip materialized only in October 2016. The staff at resort was little apprehensive when I requested to shoot and be taken around the property…they wanted my visiting card to prove I really was a travel blogger! Well…a lesson learnt, and I have started the process of selecting the design for my visiting card. In absence of the card, I had to show them my blog and my profile page before they showed me around!
A Mix Of Traditional and Modern
Krithika Subrahmanian, an acomplished Bharatnatyam dancer, architect and the owner of Svatma Resort has woven her design skills and her passion for showcasing traditional and cultural heritage of Thanjavur into this resort.
The 100-year-old bungalow has been renovated so that it neither has lost its old world charm and yet is tastefully modern.
I am guided towards the dining area of the bungalow first but my attention is drawn towards the pool area just outside the dining space. The water spouts are there as well spilling water in the pool….the surrounding walls are adorned with traditional motifs and a false entrance sports an antique door panel. The lounge chairs are right inside the water and a high wooden bed fit for maharaja sits there smugly near the pool.
The wooden rafters and lattice of sloping roof, pillars fashioned out of jack-fruit wood and antique wooden corbels mounted on a stand as decorative pieces…all give that ethnic yet modern look to the area and I am quite impressed….I loved it in fact ‘coz its my kind of design!!
The use of traditional motifs, bronze statues of Thanjavur, Thanjavur paintings, musical instruments continues in rest of the property which transforms the interiors of even an adjoining contemporary building that houses more suites and deluxe rooms. Antique pieces in their rustic glory dot the resort’s premises strategically so placed that those doesn’t seem out-of-place at all..
The Luxury Quotient
This boutique hotel boasts of 35 tastefully done up rooms and suites, an exclusive boutique, art gallery, gym and spa, three fine dining restaurants and a banquet hotel.
Rooms and Suites
Contemporary interiors decorated in easy color palette with local art and artifacts gives a warm feel to the rooms. The suite with four-poster bed, a huge bathroom and a covered terrace is the perfect celebration of traditional and modern look (but doesn’t fit in my budget!!)
Gym, Spa, Boutique and Art Gallery
Named ‘Arokyam’ and ‘Soukyam’ the gym and spa are exclusively for resort guests. With trained masseur and traditional massages for hair and body, it is a wonderful way to pamper oneself.
The boutique ‘Sri’ and art gallery ‘Gautama’ showcase traditional arts and crafts of Thanjavur along with many contemporary interpretations of folk art.
The Gastronomical Delight
The three fine dining restaurants are ‘Aaharam’, ‘Palaharam’ and ‘Nila’.
Once the introduction formalities were over and I had been shown around the property, I was definitely hungry and the managing staff insisted on hosting me! I was not expecting such pampering…perks of being a travel blogger I guess!
I was told that the restaurants served seven different meal menus for the week. So there I sat for a gastronomical pampering with the menu for the day, waiting for the delicious food to arrive.
First up, I was served with ‘Javvasiri Payyasam’, a sago pudding and then came a variety of vegetarian preparations in a meal thali accompanied with a two trays of ingredients used in the meal. A junior chef explained us all about the preparations and its ingredients. A new concept indeed….and with the names of dishes that I mispronounced most times, it was a relief to know the vegetable used so I could ask for more…!!
After the gratifying fulsome meal, there was no scope of hot beverage that the resort offered.
Introduction to Traditional Arts
The resort arranges for various tours and experiences within and around Thanjavur to introduce the guests with the traditional and cultural side of the temple town. The day begins with a complimentary chanting session of ‘shlokas’ and ‘vedas’ for the interested guests.
A guided tour to the Brihadeshwara or ‘Big Temple’, visit to Bronze casting for world famous bells and statues, visit to craftsmen of musical instrument ‘veena‘ and a culinary class are some of the experiences which the resort offers to its guests. Nearby town of Kumbakonam for temple visit is also arranged as part of temple tour.
‘Svatma’ resort is one fine example of modernity married seamlessly with tradition. A stay at this resort definitely connects you with the cultural aspects of the temple town Thanjavur.
Next time I visit, it will be for a Maratha meal for sure….
Facts to know:
- Thanjavur is well-connected by rail and road to major cities like Chennai, Trichy and Madurai. The nearest airport is at Trichy where a domestic flight connects to Chennai.
- Places of interest around Thanjavur are Kumbakonam, Darasuram, Kodiakarai Sanctuary, Velanki