Escape Into An Idyllic Retreat At The Dunnottar Bungalow In Kodaikanal

  • 17 Oct '23
  • 10:59 am by Manisha AR

With a view of the lake, ancient tall pine trees, giant eucalyptus trees, and the comfort of a spacious and cozy home, the Dunnottar Bungalow is the perfect escape. This picturesque lakeside property run by Shalini and Biswajit Puliyadi has been a vacation home for generations. In the late 1950s, the Puliyadi family spent their vacation on these premises. However, in the last couple of years, the artist duo renovated and repurposed parts of the bungalow and opened their home to guests.

With space for garden picnics, hammocks under the shade of tall trees, scenic views of the lake, and magical evenings, the house is a wonderful retreat. Divided into north and south wings, the bungalow has two suites which can be booked separately or together. Given that it is a family home, the East and West wing have been kept private. Since opening their doors –first to friends, then with word of mouth to guests, it has been Shalini and Biswajit’s mission to share the beauty of the Dunnottar Bungalow with visitors who turn into friends once they stay at Dunnottar.

Left: Drone View of the Dunnottar Bungalow nestled between the Kodaikanal Lake and the eucalyptus and pine forest. Right: The Dunnottar Bungalow is nestled in a forest of giant trees.(Image credits: The Dunnottar Kodaikanal)

1. Getting There

Since the bungalow is nestled in the hills of Kodaikanal, driving would be an ideal option. Although this is not the quickest way, it is a more scenic journey. We recommend this only if you are coming in from the neighbouring regions wherein the drive would be between 8-10 hours. If long drives are not your cup of tea, then taking a short flight to the nearest airport Madurai, followed by a short drive to Kodaikanal is the best way to get there. You can request a pick-up service should you choose to fly into Madurai. The drive from the airport to the bungalow takes 2-3 hours and only adds to the intrigue.


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The Living Room in the South Bungalow is an artful blend of prints and textures. The furniture has been designed by Shalini Biswajit, some in her studio and some repurposed from the original home. (Image credits: The Dunnottar Kodaikanal)

2. Concept and Design

Set in the monsoon-drenched hills of Kodaikanal, the Dunnottar Bungalow is a legacy property. It dates back to 1947 when the property was sold by a Scotsman named Lord Chamberlain to Puliyadi Kuppuswami Iyer. A businessman and philanthropist from Madurai, Iyer turned the Dunnottar Bungalow into a holiday home for this family. The interiors are a rich contrast of colours inspired by the surrounding greenery, a contemporary blend of colonial-era decor that has been repurposed with plenty of room for hosting and entertaining.

A cozy reading nook in the lounge Area of the North Bungalow. Some of the carpets and decoratives have been sourced from Purple Turtles.
(Image credits:The Dunnottar Kodaikanal)

The home is also full of little reading nooks, cozy chairs, and big glass windows to enjoy views of the lake and surrounding forest. Shalini, an artist and gallery owner herself, explained to us how she exercises a lot of restraint with the decor details in a bit to retain the colonial charm of the home. In some places, however, you can see she has pushed the envelope with more modern art – a sculpture that she created can be seen in the garden, a backyard patio with a pizza oven for a fun family night, and the inclusion of Chamberlain prints she inherited from the previous owners. Throughout the home, there are also several black-and-white photographs of Kodaikanal taken by Harsha Biswajit and some of the generations before who vacationed in this home. They breathe life into the space and carry a sense of nostalgia and warmth into the space.

All of the rooms at the Dunnottar have a unique colour scheme that compliments the overall colonial aesthetic of the bungalow. One of the larger rooms in the North Bungalow, this one is furnished with teak wood pieces and bathed in blues and greens. Photographs in the image are by Harsha Biswajit. (Image credits: The Dunnottar Kodaikanal)

3. Villas, Suites, and Dining

Guests of the bungalow can choose either the North or the South Bungalow (or both). The entire property includes villas both of which are 3-bedroom suites ideal for a party of 6 adults and 2 children. While North Bangalore has a private entrance and is full of cozy reading spots and a well-light open kitchen and dining area, the South Bungalow has panoramic views of eucalyptus trees and the lake. The latter has an open floor plan with a living and dining area that is attached to make familiar gatherings and dinners enjoyable. The South suite also has a large patio with scenic views and seating to enjoy a meal outdoors.

The open kitchen layout in the North Bungalow is designed so guests can enjoy their meals with a view. It has a skylight which allows plenty of natural light to enter the space. (Image credits: The Dunnottar Kodaikanal)

Both suites have private access which means two different guests can use them simultaneously. Alternatively one can book the entire property. The menu can be customised ahead of time through conversation with the hosts. Both Biswajit and Shalini spend a considerable amount of time understanding their guest’s needs to ensure they have a comfortable stable. They also have a team on the premises that prepares the food fresh. From a comforting South Indian Thali to an exciting pizza experience, the kitchen offers a variety of options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The South Indian dishes and tea-time treats were a DP favourite.


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Alfresco dining at the Dunnottar is an unforgettable experience. (Image credits: The Dunnottar Kodaikanal)

4. Recreation and Leisurely Things To Do

The bungalow is ideal for a quiet retreat or private gatherings. The Kodai Lake, Bryant Park, and the local market are all a short walk from the villa. Visitors can also request bicycles to explore the surrounding area. Shalini curates a lovely hiking tour for those interested and is happy to share it with guests on request. Inside the South Bungalow, one can also spot an illustrated map of the surrounding monuments and locations drawn by Biswajit himself that helps visitors orient themselves.

The bungalow makes for a lovely picnic spot and outdoor activities that can serve as a great break from the busy life of city dwellers. On the other hand, if you have been looking for a quiet escape then Dunnottar is the perfect place for creatives to work on a project or complete a book they’ve been itching to finish.

The entranceway to the South Bungalow at the Dunnottar. The mirror has been made by repurposing a window from the original structure placed above a table also made from repurposed found wood. (Image credits: The Dunnottar Kodaikanal)

#DP Loves

1. The location is idyllic and perfect to enjoy Kodaikanal monsoons. The surrounding trees and proximity to the lake make it a picture-perfect holiday destination.
2. The repurposed furniture and decor pieces give it a unique charm. We especially loved the doors and window frames turned into tables and bathroom mirrors.
3. The house is full of photographs, books, and games making for indoor activities and explorations. The Sun Room in the North Bungalow is the best spot to enjoy some sun or just cozy up with a book or board game.
4. The interiors are a rich contrast of colours and prints that blend design elements from the surrounding region like birds, animals, and flowers with the colonial heritage of the bungalow.
5. The food menu is a refreshing blend of international and Indian cuisine. Their South Indian Thali is a delicious amalgamation of flavors from the neighbouring regions as is their freshly baked pizza.


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