Madurai is a place which is very close to my heart – not just because I have many relatives and friends, but because I spent a good 4 years exploring this ancient city during my under-graduation days. The city is the epicenter of Tamil culture and has managed to retain its link with its roots. I usually stay at my relatives place while visiting Madurai, but this time around found a good reason (most of them were out-of-station) to stay at the “Taj Gateway, Pasumalai”.
Over the years we have visited Madurai on numerous occasions, and seldom have we chosen any other mode of commute other than driving. The road condition from Bangalore to Madurai is excellent and the 400 odd kilometers can be easily done in 6 hours if you can go without any breaks. This time around it was no different. Followed the same routine that we usually follow – start from Bangalore at around 6AM, take a breakfast break at A2B restaurant at Sholinganallur, proceed without any further breaks to Madurai. Based on the traffic condition, we usually manage to reach Madurai anytime between 1PM to 2PM.
This time around the drive was no different, we were able to reach the hotel by 1:30 PM. The Taj Gateway hotel is located on a hillock and is around 10 KM from the city center. During my undergrad days, this was considered as the outskirts of the city and was the hotel where we used to have all our parties. This hotel in the past has hosted many of our college parties, and I am very well familiar with the layout and facilities available. Having said that, most of my previous visits were for lunch or dinner and I never got an opportunity to stay overnight.
Check-in was a breeze and we reached our room within few minutes. It is always a good feeling to have your room ready after a long drive. It was just around the monsoon time and the greenery all around was so soothing to one’s eyes. After having the customary welcome drink and refreshments we were handed over the keys for our room which overlooked the pool area. My little one was in for a surprise as she got couple of goodies at the front desk.
The resort as such is not very big, but is situated in an enclosed areas of around 62 acres. It is perched on top of Pasumalai hill and overlooks the Madurai city. One can still get a clear view of the magnificent “Meenakshi Amman Temple” from the restaurant area. This Gateway was once the grand residence of Sir James Doak, British MD of Madurai Mills. Before the Taj group took over this property, it was simply called as the The Pasumalai hotel.
The room that we were allocated was overlooking the pool area and is it 2-3 min walk from the main building. The room was pretty clean, but does have a worn out look. Considering that the hotel is pretty old, it would not be a bad idea to renovate the rooms and add few modern amenities.
We had booked a Superior Room King Bed Garden View. The room was spacious with bay windows and great view of the swimming pool. The booking included, accomodation, a buffet breakfast and free wifi on 2 devices.
One has to take a short walk to reach the restaurant which overlooks the city. If you happen to book a table by the lawns, you would have a great view of the city. The view from the restaurant is mesmerizing and this is one area which has not changed over the years. Having dinner at this place brought back those wonderful college memories.
If you are in this part of India and do not taste the authentic south Indian dishes, you definitely are missing something. As soon as we settled down, my first question to the chef was if “Kotthu Parota” is in the menu. This is a dish which is a delicacy in Madurai and is something that I would never miss while visiting Madurai. The moment I voiced this question, I could see a smile on the chef’s face – guess he could sense the excitement in my question. Would recommend you to try this dish out (do keep a check on the spice levels if you are not someone who has spicy food). I recommend you also try out Chettinad cuisine, which is know for its mouth watering dishes.
Food recommendations: Kotthu Parota, Chettinad Dishes
The highlight of our stay was our interactions with the Peacocks who roam freely around the resort. These wonderful birds are very friendly and the resort takes very good care of them. Some of them infact are so friendly that they put up a show the moment they have your undivided attention 🙂 . My little one was fascinated by these beautiful birds and kept running around pillar to post to spot them
The resort also has amenities like a tennis court and ayurvedic Spa. The Spa area was not very inviting and was located at one corner of the resort. I do not think many visitors use this service and hence looked neglected.
This place does hold a very special place in my heart and it was indeed a pleasure to spend 3 days. Never in my wildest of dreams would I have dream during my college days to be spending a family vacation at this place. I do visit Madurai frequently and would definitely make it a point to visit this place again. Will I recommend this place to fellow travelers? Absolutely. This was and still remains one of the best places to stay in and around Madurai.
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