When you think of Tamilnadu, the first thing that strikes you as a traveler is the rich heritage of temples and ancient architecture that spreads the length and breath of the land. But beyond all the noise and drama of these tourist spots are locations where the land’s natural beauty takes over. One such place nestled between the hills of Palani is a quiet little village called Athoor, where lush greenery and tranquil surroundings make it a nice little getaway for humans (and the bird population). Athoor is about a hour and a half’s ride away from the temple city of Madurai and it is home to the beautiful Kamarajar Lake that attracts over 154 varieties of birds many of which are migratory.
Homestays at Athoor
One of the best ways to spend a weekend at Athoor is to take up lodgings at one of the few homestays at Athoor; there’s the Double Dutch Resort run by a couple from Holland, which is rustic in nature but located in the beautiful Kamaraj Valley surrounded by the Palani Hills on 2 sides and the stunning Kamarajar Lake on the other. Lakeside is a well maintained farm property run by a British couple and there’s the more posh looking Cardamom House established by a British physician Dr. Chris Lucas over a decade ago.
These homestays are the perfect hangout for trekkers, birdwatchers, people who want to experience a rural lifestyle, or anyone who just wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and relax in a quiet tranquil environment. Wherever you do decide to stay, you can experience life in its most relaxed and unhurried form in Athoor.
Life begins quite early in these parts…so if you want to catch the kingfishers and herons hunting their prey, you’d want to make sure you’re up with the larks. Head over to the marshlands bordering the lake and you’ll catch them all in action.
You can also take a stroll around the lake and enjoy long walks past paddy fields, through mango groves and coconut plantations; visit a nearby cave temple and a lovely little waterfall where the rainbow sometimes makes an appearance. Fishermen frequent the lake in their coracles carting their local produce of coconut and cardamom, and you can hitch a ride with them for a unique boating experience.
It can take you all day to visit the entire area around the resorts by walk. You could however simply decide to laze around the verandah of your homestay and the birds and butterflies will come a-calling. If you happen to have some bird feed on you, you may even get lucky to entertain some peacocks, squirrels, doves and what not!
Most of these homestays will offer you a guided tour of the village to experience the rustic life in the heart of Athoor. Motorbike excursions or homestay arranged transportation will take you to the villages where you can check out the indigenous industries such as brick making, rope making, pottery making and so on.
If you do decide to make a quick getaway to this tranquil village, make sure you have comfortable walking shoes, your binoculars, swimwear (if you enjoy a dip in the pool), sunscreen and mosquito repellent. As always, it is best to avoid travelling alone especially at night. Although tigers have not been spotted around the area for awhile, wild boars, cheetahs, and leopards have been sighted often by locals especially during the summer when they head to the lake to cool off!
There’s nothing much to do at Athoor, but a weekend away will definitely leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated when you head back home.0