For travellers who want to get away from noisy, crowded India and experience fascinating local culture, Chandoori Sai, surrounded by rolling hills, is the perfect spot. The dedicated team at this luxurious lodge are key to exploring the remote state of Odisha.
The lodge is located next to the rustic potters’ village of Goudaguda in Koraput District in southern Odisha. The property is in walking distance of several other ethnic minority villages and a couple of picturesque hills, ideal destinations for long rural walks. Kakiriguma railway station is nearby, but Chandoori Sai is best reached by private vehicle.
Style & character
Run by Australian Leon Mahoney since 2005, Chandoori Sai is a one-of-a-kind, elegant eco-lodge in its own two acre garden. The entire building, with its large lounge-cum-dining hall and adjacent rooms was constructed with locally burnt bricks. The walls were finished with mud and cow-dung and painted in natural colours. Even the terracotta roof and floor tiles were produced on site. From ethnic minority wall paintings to exquisite cotton saris serving as ceiling cover, everything serves to integrate the lodge into its surroundings while providing a comfortable, enjoyable stay.
Service & facilities
The staff, all from surrounding villages, are efficient and very friendly while proprietor Mahoney regales guests with great stories about local life. The lodge lies in a sprawling and well-kept garden, the perfect spot for an afternoon snooze or read. There are no TVs or other modern amenities other than intermittent Wi-Fi.
Chandoori Sai is connected to Grass Routes Journeys, an Odisha based, high-end travel company, run by an Indian-Australian couple, which organizes immersive visits to tribal communities and crumbling palaces inhabited by descendants of India’s erstwhile royalty, using the lodge as a base. Their expert guides and drivers are the best intermediaries to help visitors fully appreciate Odisha’s cultural gems.
- Room service
The five rooms and a detached two-room chalet stand clustered around a well kept lawn area. The rooms, kept in the same red and ochre tones as the rest of the property, are spacious and simply furnished with huge beds, a comfortable seating area and a spotless modern bathroom with running hot water, no mean feat in such a remote area. There’s no air-con as winters, the main tourist season, are cool in southern Orissa.
Food & drink
Chandoori Sai serves a mix of continental and authentic local dishes. Everything is prepared from scratch and most ingredients are sourced locally. No processed foods are used and portions are generous. Leon’s pizzas are impressive and the apple pie is a guests’ favourite.
For breakfast, there’s home-made bread with jams, honey, eggs, fresh fruit and great local coffee. As there is nowhere else to eat around the lodge, room rates include full board.
The best place for a pre-dinner drink – alcohol can be ordered from the nearest town – are the small verandas in front of the rooms. On cool winter evenings, the lounge is the place to warm up with a glass or two.
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