Coorg Homestay: Jade Hills
Perched on top of a hill, in Galibeedu village 7 kms from Madikeri, Coorg, is architect H.C. Thimmaiah’s home away from home. Doubling up as a homestay this interesting home is exceptional in terms of location as much as the design and architecture. At first glance, the place looks like a well maintained ancestral home, but Mr. Thimmaiah quickly cleared my misconception by pointing out that the house is just 8 years old. I was truly amazed! Coorg Homestay
The credit for identifying the place goes to Thimmaiah’s wife but it was no love at first sight for Thimmaiah, as the barren hill and difficult terrain with practically no approach road to speak of was a huge deterrent. Trekking up the hill, sticks in hand, doubts persisted, but once they reached the top, the spectacular view took their breath away and the deal was sealed.
Thimmaiah ( Thimmaiah Prabhakar is an architectural firm in Bangalore with many reputed projects to their credit) and his family, especially his daughter Kavya, who is also an architect, were all actively involved in the design and architecture of this beautiful home set on a four acre property. The architecture is quintessential Coorg done by the acharis of Kerala. Burnt orange laterite stone coupled with rough plastering on some walls, was the basic framework and the construction was all done by local masons. Timber and beautiful carved furniture as well as the other artefacts were all sourced from Coorg and Pondicherry from old homes which were being demolished to make way for new construction.
Every piece of furniture traces a history to another home and lineage making this home an amalgamation of histories intertwined in a singular vision—to create a living space founded on the principles of sustainable design without taking away from aesthetics, functionality and a sense of history.
This home is a treasure trove of surprises in terms of innovative ideas : Scrap yard wood for ceiling rafters.
In the bedroom, cloth was stretched across the ceiling to filter the glare of direct sunlight, giving the impression of a false ceiling.
An old marble slab sourced from Coorg is used as the dining table top.
The main house has two bedrooms and the two cottages have two and one bedroom respectively. All the rooms exude an old world charm and are furnished in an elegant yet understated manner to echo the culture and architecture of the region.
The flooring requires special mention— oxide in shades of yellow and blue with eye catching inlay of handmade tiles sourced from Jaipur. The use of oxides as a treatment on concrete floors is a common historical tradition in the southern region. Here, the added touch of Rajasthani craft not only provided embellishment but also reins in another cultural tradition into the design scheme.
Every room has something with a history. Apart from the comfortable rooms, unique location and wonderful view, guests at Jade hills are served mouth-watering Coorg cuisine and looked after by the caretaker family residing on the premises.
The verdant forests and numerous slopes and valleys with natural streams make for excellent trekking opportunities. The surrounding areas, home to many indigenous birds, are also bird watcher’s paradise.
Bylakuppe Tibetan settlement, Rajiv Gandhi wildlife sanctuary at Nagarhole, Abbey falls, Omkareshwara temple at Madikeri and the elephant camp at Dubare are some of the other popular tourist attractions.
Another interesting feature is the black dotted border on a yellow oxide wall in one of the bathrooms. I was impressed when informed that this border is made of marbles stuck on the wall – what a clever idea!
Thimmaiah still remembers the flabbergasted look on the shopkeeper’s face when marbles were purchased by the kilo from his shop.
Thimmaiah proudly states that no steel was used in the construction. Instead, wherever reinforcement was necessary, fencing posts made of stone became the substitute, adding to the rugged ambience.
Keeping in mind the heavy rainfall and high velocity winds, the outer walls have been chemically coated for protection.
All the furniture was sourced from old homes being demolished or from antique furniture markets
As you sit in the gazebo enjoying a cup of piping hot tea, taking in the un-interrupted view of the countryside and surrounding forests and listening to the chirping of the birds, you cannot but marvel at the Almighty and his creations and how his supreme creation –man, thinks of innovative ways to carve out a paradise for himself!
Kudos to Thimmaiah and his family for creating this paradise on earth – Jade Hills.