When we were planning a ten-day trip to the Tamil heartland, we were looking for a place to stay that was both comfortable and was in tune with the surroundings. That’s how we found Indeco Swamimalai. Situated right in the center of ancient Chola country, as well as bang in the middle of the sacred geography of Tamilnadu, the resort is a walled off part of a local village where the houses and spaces are preserved and brought back to life.
Each room was either a cottage or a room in one of the restored buildings of the village. Every piece of furniture is a genuine restored piece. Animals and birds roam the property, and your time there will be filled with birdsong. Most of the staff are from the local community, and you get to experience the genuine hospitality of the region. Some evenings there are performances of local arts. Staying at Indeco Swamimalai is like staying in a local village in the area.
The resort also plays host to busloads of tourists from Europe and around the globe, who stop there for a night in their ten-day or two-week coach tours around India. Because of that, the kitchen serves a well-structured dinner buffet every single day. So, if like us, you planned on staying there for ten days, you’re in for a bit of boredom. When we told them about this, the kitchen staff took it upon themselves to ensure we would have a good time, and made food specially for us. Nothing was on any menu – everyone in the kitchen contributed ideas and they made food for us that their grandmothers had cooked for them. We had a fine time with the food after that!
We also had the wonderful privilege of meeting and spending time with Steve Borgia, who owns the property. What a wonderful and interesting man he is! Deeply concerned about every little bit of how his place was run, he also is a brilliant storyteller with deep knowledge of the area and all its treasures. Thanks to him, we found some really hidden gems of temples in the area, and our stay was made infinitely richer.
Swamimalai, the village where the resort is located, is itself famed as the home of the Chola bronzes, and there is a workshop very near the resort. They are very happy to show you around and explain the process of making a bronze statue. You can see the craftsmen at work, engaged in all stages of making the statues. You can also buy your very own Chola bronze, or even commission one – they will make it and ship it to your home, wherever you live in the world!
Overall, staying in Indeco Swamimalai is the best thing you could do if you are in the region. You will be happy and comfortable, supporting the local communities and supporting sustainable and responsible tourism!