A tract of dry, scrubby hillside and parched, isolated trees is the seedbed for what you see today; the house, the garden and the valley of Rajakkad.

The house came first, crowning a densely crowded outcrop of abandoned rock. This site offered the views over the surrounding plantations, the canopy of the forest and the distant mountains. Atimaram, Father Mountain, looks down, sentinel and paternal, over the village below.

We started with the terracing that falls from the front door. A small quarry on the estate has supplied the material to continue the work. Underground water tanks have been built into the slopes to catch the rainwater that is drawn from the interior pools and the steep pitch of the roof. This is our rainwater harvesting at its most simple and effective.

Everywhere within reason, we have also made efforts to consolidate our precious supply of monsoon water with check dams and low bunds, or stone walls, to maintain the moisture that feeds an altogether rich, clear soil.

Since we arrived here in 2002, there has been only a mixture of natural composting and animal waste from the Rajakkad farm that has been applied to the soil. In this time, the earthworms have returned; evidence of their work manifest in the deposits now coming up everywhere; miniature, spiraling coils of industry.

From the outset, we have planted flowering trees and shrubs to offer the shade that has helped to bring on the smaller plants. We have successfully raised plants that are a pride to both ourselves and to those that visit.

With drought resistant gardening in mind and the challenge such environmental issues now hold, Rajakkad has also actively sought out, over the last three years, the introduction of palm trees and cycads.

Rajakkad Estate, C/o Palani Hills Gardens Hotel Pvt Ltd, Perumparai Post, Manjelparappu Branch Office, Dindigul, Tamil Nadu 624212.