Review: The Tamara Kodai - The most luxurious resort in Kodaikanal!

The Tamara Kodai is an exclusive luxurious resort located in the gorgeous hill city of Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu. The resort is built at one of the oldest houses in Kodaikanal, and retains that class and grandeur even today. I recently stayed at the resort and this my review from the time I spent there.

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India
The Tamara Kodai

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India
La Providence at The Tamara Kodai

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, chukku coffee
Chukko coffee - my welcome drink when I checked in

Here's a video of my entire experience in a travel vlog.


The last time I was in Kodaikanal, I had come to the town alone (didn’t know the term solo traveller then) because all my other friends wanted to party during the holidays. So I packed my bags, took a bus and came to Kodaikanal without any plans whatsoever. The new few days were spent in bliss - I never quite felt alone or unsure of what to do. Somehow I knew exactly what solo travel feels like, and I really really enjoyed it. 

So years later when I got a chance to visit The Tamara Kodai, it was bought back so many memories. After all this is where it all started for me in a way, so Kodai will always have a special place in my heart.

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India
An evening view at the hotel

A little bit of history

Kodaikanal is the only town in India that was first settled by the Americans. This was back in the early 19th century when American missionaries came from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) looking for a refuge. They first settled in Madurai, but were devastated by diseases in the hot city. Finally with the blessings of ruling British government, they were allowed to settle down in region of Palani hills and that settlement later grew to become Kodaikanal. Eventually British also settled and the town sort of divided into the American and British settlements, and later even Germans, French and even Swedes came and settled here. It used to be quite a cosmopolitan society back then.

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India
An ode to the history of the place - the three priests

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, old house
An old American House in Kodaikanal

One of the first fives houses of Kodaikanal was built where the hotel is now located, and over its history it changed hands many times. It was originally called Baynes Bunglow, and later it was a guest house for the priests and was known as La Providence. Eventually the house was taken over by the Tamara group, renovated and expanded and in 2018 it opened  as the uber luxury resort - The Tamara Kodai.

My room at The Tamara Kodai

There are three categories of suites at The Tamara Kodai - Luxury, Superior Luxury and Neelkuranji (only one). I stayed at the Luxury suite this is how it looks.

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, bedroom
My bedroom

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, living room
The living room of my suite

Food at The Tamara Kodai

Food was one of the highlights of my stay at the resort and there were so many excite culinary experiences that it’s hard to pick one. The main dining area is ‘Bistro 1845’ and you can sit both inside as well as outside for your meals. I loved sitting outdoors, but Kodaikanal can be quite cold in the evenings and that’s when the warmth indoor is so inviting. The Bistro also has the bar and award-winning mixologist Prince makes some of the best drinks - I recommend trying out Prince Passion and Hot Toddy (evenings are the best time for this spicy hot drink).

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, food
The most exotic dinner at the Levinge Lounge 

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, food
I loved all the desserts there!

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, food
This one too!

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, food
The North Indian food here was absolutely delicious! 

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, food
I often ate pooris for breakfast - they were that good :)

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, food
For the drinks, I always went with recommendations of Prince the mixologist :)

Another space for meals, especially buffets, is La Providence named after the old name of this house.

The Elevation Spa

When I am travelling, a visit to a spa is one of the best way to relieve stress and rejuvenate. The Ayurvedic Spa experience at the Elevation Spa was extremely relaxing and exactly what I needed then. Apart from Ayurvedic massages, you can also try out many other Western and Eastern therapies too.  

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, elevation spa
The Elevation Spa

The Pool

I was initially apprehensive about going into the pool as Kodai was quite cold during my stay, but thankfully the pool is temperature controlled. 

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, swimming pool
Temperature controlled pool - can't ask for more!

Curated experiences at The Tamara Kodai

I genuinely feel that a hotel is as good as the curated experiences that it offers to it’s guests as most guests visit a destination to also explore it in the best possible way. Tamara scores really well on this front too with a series of curated experiences that it offers to its guest. You can also tailor then based on your interests and that’s exactly what I did too. Here are some of the experiences that I got to try here.

1. The Lake Walk

The crown jewel of Kodaikanal is the Kodai lake. It’s a manmade lake and was built in 1863 and rte credit for the same goes to Mr Henry Levinge - the then collector of Madurai. Today the lake is unarguably the most visited spot here, and also the most loved. The main town is also located right next to the lake.

Tamara Kodai, hotel review, Kodaikanal, luxury hotel India, lake
Kodaikanal Lake

The curated Lake Walk from The Tamara is is a journey back in time. It starts at the property itself which itself is one of the oldest houses built here, and takes you through the first road that was built here when the town was first settled - Consumption Ghat. This road previously connected the British and the American settlements and the oldest church was also built here. 

2. Explorations around Kodaikanal

Poombarai Murugan Temple 

Poombarai is a beautiful village with colourful houses and terrace farms all around, and the crowning jewel is the iconic temple at its heart. The presiding deity at the temple is Lord Murugan - he’s considered the son-in-law of the region as one of his wives hailed from here. The town also produces Malai Pondu - it’s a variety of garlic which is found only in this part of the world and is also now GI tagged. I bought some of this to make pasta at home.

Murugan temple, poombarai
Natraj at Poombarai Temple

Kookal Lake

Kookal Lake is beautiful, but what’s even more beautiful is the journey to the lake. The road is lined with tall trees and since not many people go there, it’s usually pretty empty. It’s a great place to cycle as well and The Tamara actually organises it for you - the cycles are loaded on a pickup truck, and then you can get on them on the approach road (about 5km long) to the lake and cycle down. I didn’t get a chance to do it, but if you love to be in nature, this is a great way to experience it. At the lake you can sit by it’s side and enjoy the view, and also get some chai or roasted corn.

Kookal Lake, kodaikanal
Kookal Lake

Mannavanur Lake

Located about 35 km from Kodaikanal, Mannavanjur Lake is a natural lake which is protected and maintained by the forest department. The best place to see the lake is from the Lake View Point at the Sheep farm - start there first and then you can come down to the lake, park your car and go inside the compound. THere’s an entrance fee (and a separate fee for cameras) and you need to pay in cash so keep some change handy. There are a bunch of water activities you can do in the lake like Coracle ride and kayaking.

mannavanur lake, Kodaikanal
Mannavanur Lake

3. Churches of Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal is truly a city of churches - there’s one on every street and they all are old and extremely beautiful. The history of these churches is linked to the city’s own history and it’s evolution in the last 100+ years. The oldest church built here no longer survives, but you can still visit the cemetery where it once stood. Since both the Americans and British lived here, you find north Protestant and Catholic Churches here, often in close vicinity to each other. 

la salted church, Kodaikanal
La Saleth Church

If you looking for more detailed explorations of these churches, do reach out to the staff at the hotel. Many of them actually belong to the city and they can share all tidbits and stories about the place - these stories are what makes a destination, right?

Dolphin Nose (BONUS)

This isn’t a part of the curated experiences, but I would absolutely recommend this if you are morning person who also likes to hike a little. The nose is a natural rock formation which looks like the nose of the dolphin and is great place to walk to and enjoy the sunrise in nature. You do need a bike or a car to reach the parking place at Vattakanal and then there’s a short 1.5km walk to the rock. Do it early in the morning before the crowd comes in, and later enjoy your breakfast at one of the numerous cafes on the way to the rock. 

I had earlier stayed The Tamara Coorg a few years back and I can say with confidence that this resort also lives upto the impeccable standards.

Reaching Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal is easy to reach by road, rail or airplane. The closest airport is Madurai and Kodai is about 3 hours away. The closest station is Kodai Road. The road connecting Kodai to all major cities is excellent and coming here in your car or bike is perhaps what most visitors do.

Reservations at The Tamara Kodai

You can make your reservations here - The Tamara Kodai.


Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I visited the property on invitation of The Tamara Kodai. All views expressed are my own and based on my personal experiences.


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