This charming little hotel is famous for its exceptional cuisine and historic, family history. Situated in the heart of the bustling and intriguing town of Karaikudi, The Bangala has a long history and has been prominent as a home and a place of ‘gathering’ and socialising for nigh on 100 years. Originally the rambling home of the prominent MSMM family (in Chettinad all families are known by their initials), and dating back to 1917, after World War II times became hard and it became the town club, famous for its tennis court and active rummy table. Remaining such for some time, it was not until the pioneering and visionary Meenakshi Meyyappan saw that Chettinad had a huge amount to offer the visitor in terms of culture, architecture and exceptional rural tourism and decided, in the 1990’s, to convert Senjai Bangala into The Bangala, a delightful little heritage hotel.
The Bangala has 21 simple but charming rooms scattered all around a rambling building which is made up of various wings and annexes. Meenakshi herself has been heavily involved in the design and decoration of the bedrooms with much emphasis put on retaining the local flavour and traditions of Chettinad décor. The style here is very much her personal taste and the furnishings have an old world charm which is fast disappearing from many a modern hotel. The rooms centre around a central garden, looked upon by an open sided dining room which offers up unbelievably delicious and world famous Chettinad cuisine. Meenakshi Meyyappan herself is a famous chef and has written books on her family’s and the region’s distinctive cuisine. The garden then leads through to a very pretty swimming pool in a walled garden which, in turn, leads into a lovely, peaceful, leafy vegetable garden which is a treat to stroll through seeing all the produce that one is about to consume growing in gloriously organic surroundings.
There are airy verandahs and winding corridors and spacious roof tops and the ‘club atmosphere’ of old still permeates the premises – a bit of a time warp! The building’s history is displayed on the walls and staying here gives one a very strong sense of being a part of the past and of something special. It’s wonderful to be able to walk out into the bustling market square without having to get in a car, and to explore the fabulous antique shops and fascinating architecture of the area. A veritable feast for the eyes in every way.
When not trying out delicious local dishes or relaxing by the pool, there is a huge amount to do immediately on your doorstep as Chettinad has a varied and fascinating history and covers a large area in central Tamil Nadu. Many of these stunning buildings are now in decay but can still be seen today, and the area is slowly undergoing a renaissance as a result of growing tourism and awareness of the huge cultural diversity and heritage of this little visited area.
The emphasis here is all about bringing the local culture, cuisine, crafts and the countryside alive. The owners’ passion to tell the world about the wonders of Chettinadu culture and cuisine pervades the property and, if wanting to get under the skin of the area and to really ‘live’ it there is nowhere better than here. The Bangala is run as a household and a home, rather than as a formal hotel. A guest immediately feels welcome and involved in their ambition to reveal the region’s secrets to you and it is a treat to stay here. It fits in beautifully with a visit to Svatma in Thanjavur and Rajakkad in the glorious hills and coffee estates above Dindigul.
They have a strong social awareness and environmental policy with all water being solar heated; all kitchen and garden wasted composted; all paper recycled; purely organic vegetable gardening; and they employ only local staff.
For reservations please contact your tour operator, your local travel agent,or the hotel direct.
Try the famous Bangala banana leaf lunch. Eaten with one’s hands it is truly delicious and great fun.
By air to Trichy or Madurai followed by a 2 ½ hour road journey.
By train to Trichy followed by a 2 ½ hour road journey.
By road from Rajakkad, Madurai, Trichy, Thanjavur, Pondicherry.