Stanmore - Valparai

The term “Bungalow” is normally associated with a regal British home and has its roots in India. In the province of Bengal, single-family homes were called bangla or bangala. British colonists adapted these as summer homes. The idea was to cluster the kitchen, dining area, bedrooms, and bathroom around a central living area. These sprawling houses often have all the trappings of the British era. Wrought iron bath tubs, Doulton wash basins; Shanks flush tanks, fireplaces in all rooms, brass adjustable light holders; all within large rooms and even larger bathrooms.

The quintessential British bungalow - Stanmore, part of the Woodbriar group, is certainly one of those quaint world charms, hidden within the Anamalai Range, just past the Valparai town. A sprawling 7500 square feet property, it houses 3 massive bedrooms, each with huge windows opening out into the lap of mother nature, huge bathrooms with all modern amenities, attached dressing rooms and individual fireplaces. A couple of equally enormous living rooms, a few dining rooms, kitchen, store and a large servant quarters at the rear complete this massive summer home of the British royalty. The highlight of this property however is a large verandah that surrounds the main building running around the entire bungalow, which is complimented by a massive lawn, adorning the front and sides of this fairy tale home, hugging it like a proverbial green carpet.

You can choose to enjoy a relaxed, laid back vacation and chill out, or you can choose to just pull on your hiking shoes and head for the hills, valleys or the wonderful river running below the tea plantations, a walk able distance from here.

If you are a bird watcher, you are in for a treat. A wide variety of Minivets, Bulbuls, Barbets, Tailor birds, along with the common Mynah are permanent residents of the gardens and wild bushes, while the rarer Oriental White eye, Orioles, Crested Serpent Eagles, Leaf birds, Bee Eaters, Hornbills and Paradise Fly catchers make the occasional appearance. Quite a few owlets and nocturnal birds are found during late evenings.

The wildlife is no less exciting. Being part of the borders of the Anamalai wildlife sanctuary, the tea plantation is frequented by herds of Bison, elephants and Wild Boar. Leopards are found amidst the plantations while the Malabar Giant Squirrel, Langurs are found in abundance.

Stanmore just lingers on you. You will need to experience the ambience to understand the uniqueness of the setting, which plays out a large canvas of options – Brilliant valley views of green carpeted tea plantations, towering hills, snaking rivers, bordered by thick jungles, all of these from within the comforts of all modern amenities. Time really stands still at Stanmore.

Location: Past Valparai Town, take the road leading to Roti Kadai. Ask directions to Injiparai and here you will find a board pointing to a snaking road into the plantations leading to the Stanmore Bungalow.

Getting there: The route from Coimbatore would be through Pollachi – Aliyar Dam – Attakati – Water fall – Rotti Kadai – Injiparai – Stanmore. Total distance is around 130 KMS. The drive from Coimbatore to Pollachi (45 Kms) is nothing significant. However, it is best to stock up essentials at Pollachi, for this is the last big town (though Valparai does boast of a few large stores, they are basic and are often not fully stocked). From Pollachi, the drive to Valparai is mystical to say the least. You pass through Aliyar dam, Monkey falls, the Attakati EB, Kadambari project all pepperd on an extremely scenic route of 40 hair pin bends before you reach Valparai. The roads are excellent and the drive takes around 2.5 to 4 hours (depending on your driving skills). Buses ply this route as well and normally do this in 4 hours.

Clothing: Perched at around 3500 to 4000 feet above sea level, Valparai is pleasant during summer but can get really cold during winter. Cottons during summer and woolens during winter would be apt. Do pack a your trekking shoes along with trekking and don’t forget your leech socks (if you plan long treks) along with anti leech lotion. Do pack your ruck sacks with torches and spare batteries. You’d be cursing yourself if you did not take your camera along.

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