Thanjavur, December 8 (NIA): The town of Thanjavur is considered to be the seat of Tamil culture – think Chola temples, Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam, Tamil Nadu’s traditional dance.
The town’s most iconic landmark is the Brihadeeswara Temple, built over 1000 years ago by the Chola King, Rajaraja I .It is considered one of the world’s major architectural feats and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
North of the temple is the Old Thanjavur Quarter with its Royal Palace, built by the Marathas, who occupied Thanjavur in 16 th.century AD. The town is also famous for its contribution to the world of art, in the form of Tanjore paintings, a style developed by the Marathas.
The Thanjavur experience needn’t necessarily start and end with the monuments. There’s much to be savoured in the town’s heritage hotels.
Svatma means ‘one’s own soul’. This luxury heritage home lets you immerse yourself in the charms of Tamil Nadu, fittingly in the town of Thanjavur, writes Kanishkaa Balachandran.
Svatma is a restored 100-year-old residence, with tiled roofs, open terraces, arched doorways, columns and arches. The traditional residence has seven rooms, while the remaining 31 are in an adjoining block that also houses the pool, restaurants and spa.
All 38 rooms are unique. The four-poster beds and antique furniture gives the rooms a period art. The paintings and installations in the common areas reflect the character of the region. This can also be savoured by the vegetarian Tamil cuisine served in the three restaurants. Aaharam, the all-day restaurant, has a traditional display kitchen overlooking the pool. Palaharam, by the verandah, is the place to savour delicious tiffin items, while sipping traditional filter coffee. For terrace dining there’s Nila, ideal for romantic moonlit nights. Both Nila and Aaharam have bars attached.
The swimming pool is hard to resist with its design – walled inside the courtyard, with a seated jaccuzi. The luxury spa has four treatment rooms (including one for a couple) following traditional ayurvedic therapies and treatments. The setting is also perfect to practice yoga, with tutors on hand to guide you.
The Svatma Experience lets you go deeper into what makes this culture unique, via a series of activities. Learn about the culinary practices with a personal training session in the kitchen; attend a kutcheri, a live Carnatic music performance; attend a Bharatanatyam recital; witness a bronze casting demo and the attention to detail that goes into it at the Svatma Heritage Hotel.
Svatma is designed, built and owned by Kritihika Subrahmanian, an accomplished architect and designer, and a classical dancer. As an architect and designer of many clubs, restaurants, hotels and resorts, she was inspired by the extraordinary boutique properties she encountered in Europe and Asia – Italy’s in particular. Such loved the warmth and individuality in the hospitality, combined with a proud showcasing of culture and heritage. But Thanjavur, her home town, was the ultimate inspiration, she told www.greavesindia.com
“Svatma is designed for individuals with spirit, inspired by Tamil culture and art, full of mystique and allure. The look is a combination of quirkiness and classicism. Svatma is, in essence, all about surrendering to the abundant charms of ancient Thanjavur: its arts, architecture, culinary heritage and culture,” she said.
“ We wanted to evoke a multi-sensory experience of Thanjavur: from the chants of Vedas to Chola Bronzes, from traditional chamber concerts to the aroma of local coffee. It’s a beautiful heritage home environment.”
Krithika employed local people and sourced much of the decor and design from Thanjavur.
On what guests can expect from Svatma, Krithika said: “ We offer an element of discovery, and the possibility to uncover hidden corners of this extraordinary, ancient city. Guests can connect with local people for a number of experiences, from bronze casting demonstrations to performances by classic dancers and concerts by the inspired musicians of Thiruvaiyaru, all of which articulate Tamil Nadu’s rich heritage. They can also attend intricate handloom demonstrations by neighborhood weavers, see Thanjavur-style painting or handmade jewelry or take culinary classes by local chefs. For those who really want to explore the local culture, experts lead tours of monumental Chola temples. Visitors can even enjoy astrology and palm-reading sessions.”
Krithika takes immense pride in Svatma’s support for the Marabu Foundation, a local organization that promotes peace and harmony through traditional arts, literature, and education. Its activities are twofold – working with the underprivileged children of the area as well as reviving Thanjavur’s 4,000 year-old arts and crafts traditions. The foundation helps the region continually reinvest in its local talent, community development and responsible tourism.
Svatma is located at: 4/1116, Blake Hr Sec School Road, M. Chavadi, Thanjavur, Maharnonbu Chavadi, Thanjavur, India, 613001. Phone: +914362273222