Yercaud’s Tipperary Bungalow showcases heritage structure

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Like many relics of the British Raj, Tipperary Bungalow, among the many oldest in Yercaud, has a storied previous that lives solely in oral recollections. It continues to be the hub of a espresso plantation

Although it’s near afternoon after we attain Yercaud, the hill station nestled within the Shevaroy vary of the Japanese Ghats round 1,500 metres above sea stage, remains to be blanketed in late winter mist. Even the wild monkeys, relentless watchers of the freeway site visitors from the plains to the highest, appear to be in a pensive temper, as motorists swap off the air-conditioning and open their home windows to let the eucalyptus-scented breeze in.

Because of the lockdown, Yercaud’s winding roads and bylanes are quiet as of late, although the lakeside sellers of fried chilli fritters and steamed corn are again in full drive.

The current development increase has modified Yercaud ceaselessly, with its verdant fruit orchards and low plantations slowly giving solution to actual property tasks meant for the well-heeled. A number of the heritage buildings although, particularly these connected to plantations, have reinvented themselves as homestays with journey tourism actions constructed into their packages.

The Tipperary Bungalow, a colonial-era home that’s thought-about to be among the many oldest buildings (roughly 120 years) in Yercaud, is one such property, perched upon a mini peak of its personal.

The home is a part of the eponymous 70-acre working espresso farm that additionally cultivates jackfruit, avocado, banana, wild turmeric and pepper.

A photograph of Walter Dickens, family members and plantation staff taken on the Tipperary Estate in Yercaud circa 1900. Photo: Special Arrangement/THE HINDU

{A photograph} of Walter Dickens, members of the family and plantation employees taken on the Tipperary Property in Yercaud circa 1900. Photograph: Particular Association/THE HINDU
 

On any day, guests to the property — now functioning as a heritage bed-and-breakfast homestay — set in 4 acres, can count on to see native fauna like gaur and noticed deer from the veranda that opens out to views of the valley beneath from the master bedroom.

Like many relics of the British Raj, Tipperary Bungalow has a storied previous that lives solely in oral recollections. “Although my father bought this property in 1970, we weren’t actually conscious of its authentic British house owners, the Dickens household, till fairly just lately,” says N Satyendran, a former engineer and business pilot who runs the property right now.

Clan of espresso growers

Whether or not the Dickens household of Yercaud was associated to the well-known Victorian creator Charles Dickens (1812-1870) stays debatable within the absence of any documentary proof, however there’s little doubt that this India-based British clan did a lot to develop the business cultivation of espresso and different crops within the hill station.

“My nice grandfather Alfred Ernest Stark Dickens (1844-1898) got here to Yercaud in 1881; he had 5 sons and 5 daughters, and most of them have been within the espresso enterprise. Earlier than that, he grew espresso in Ooty. 5 generations of our household have been primarily based in Yercaud from the Eighties till Fifties, so there have been no less than 15 espresso plantations, every with their homes, run by us in that interval,” says Anna Dickens, over a WhatsApp cellphone name from London.

Approaching her eightieth birthday, Anna is maybe the Tipperary Bungalow’s final hyperlink to its British house owners. She visited Yercaud in 2005, and was reportedly moved to tears when she noticed her birthplace (she was born right here on August 7, 1941). In keeping with household sources, the Tipperary Bungalow was already a part of the property that Alfred Dickens had bought. Anna says that it was maintained as plantation guesthouse for a while earlier than it was used as a household residence.

A go to to the cemetery on the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Yercaud exhibits the variety of members from the Dickens household who’re interred right here.

“My aunt Gwendoline and her husband Leslie Dickens have been the final occupants of the Tipperary. They offered the property within the Fifties earlier than leaving India,” says Anna.

Unique construction

Contemplating that Yercaud bought its first metalled roads solely within the early twentieth Century, the Tipperary and different buildings of its classic within the hill station are clearly nice examples of native engineering utilizing rudimentary infrastructure.

“We’ve got tried to take care of the unique fashion of the constructing, although fairly a little bit of it was in disrepair after we acquired it,” says Satyendran. “The polished crimson oxide flooring are nonetheless the identical, and the thick stone partitions hold the constructing insulated from excessive chilly and warmth by the yr.”

Anna remembers the Tipperary as being a well-liked assembly spot for the native British neighborhood. “We have been a really musical household; and I performed the vintage grand piano that’s nonetheless there within the reception room once I visited in 2005, although we don’t actually know the way it was transported up there in these days!” laughs Anna, as she recounts listening to tales of individuals being carried up the tough mountain path to Yercaud by bearers.

The Dickens had a really busy social life, she provides. “We used to have picnics, dance and tennis events very incessantly. And folks additionally used to decorate up so much, as a result of I’ve bought pictures of my aunts in fancy costume as effectively,” says Anna.

The dance ground of the Tipperary has lengthy been demolished, however one sturdy tennis internet submit is a silent reminder of these leisure-filled weekends of yore.

Ties that bind

Anna’s father Alfred M Dickens, studied domestically within the Montfort College, like many British kids in these days, and later served within the Royal Navy. “We left Yercaud in the course of the Second World Conflict, and my mom and I stayed in Bandra, Bombay for a number of years as my father was posted on battle responsibility.

“We left India in 1947, and shortly the remainder of the Dickens household additionally began transferring out. I miss Yercaud, regardless that I used to be there for a really brief whereas. I keep in mind dal and rice being my favorite Indian dish as a toddler,” says Anna, who has labored as an actress in theatre and movies, and later as knowledgeable artist.

Because the wind sighs by the traditional willow tree guarding the Tipperary Bungalow, the mist clears, after which clouds up the world as soon as once more.

Leslie and Gwendoline Dickens, the last occupants of Tipperary Bungalow. Photo: Special Arrangement/THE HINDU

Leslie and Gwendoline Dickens, the final occupants of Tipperary Bungalow. Photograph: Particular Association/THE HINDU
 

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