Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud

30th Jun 2019
Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud 1/1 by currylines

The bright yellow and light green hues of the freshly painted gate welcomed me, paint tin, brushes, thinner and all. Dominic the gardener cum handy man cautioned me about the wet paint as he quickly moved out of the way when he saw my camera emerge.

The gateway hid behind it my snug little cottage where I was going to retreat into the lap of nature for the next 3 days, amidst this little piece of paradise called the Retreat Hospitium.

The Hospitium is a stay option for visitors and is a part of the sprawling and enchanting campus of the Retreat, Yercaud that houses the Roman catholic priests who belong to the order of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB).

The Retreat is located in the folds of the charming hillstation of Yercaud. Nestling in the slopes of the Shevaroy hills of the Eastern ghats, Yercaud is a picturesque town that lies in the Salem district of Tamilnadu which is one of India’s southern states.

Enter into the hallowed and hospitable environs with me and enjoy the bounty that my hosts have generously made available to those who wish to sojourn with them.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

About Retreat Yercaud –

The Retreat in Yercaud is the home of the SDB priests and belongs to the Tiruchirapalli province. It is also a seminary, which is an Institute of Philosophy where seminarians (students who are studying to be priests) are educated in theology and philosophy in preparation for their ordination as priests. The students are called Brothers and the priests are called Fathers.

An expansive property, this is one of Yercaud’s most alluring and charming of locations. Situated at a height of 4300 ft above msl, at one time it was the only vantage point from which all of Salem could be seen, before the city expanded further in the plains.

The property was bought by the SDB priests in 1947, the year of India’s independence. It was sold to the priests by its last British owner, along with the little cottage that it housed. The current building or ‘house’ as it is termed, was constructed in 1950 and 2020 will mark 70 years of existence.

Features of the Retreat –

This elegant property sprawls across 50 acres and is a veritable paradise. A sweeping driveway leads to the main building around 200 meters within.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

This building houses the living quarters of the staff (priests), the seminarian dormitories, dining hall, kitchen, a beautiful chapel, administrative offices and classrooms of the theological college. A set of rooms have also been allocated to accommodate tribal children.

The main building is also surrounded by the flower and herb garden, coffee plantation, fruit trees, playground, view point, walking trails, kennel, animal farm, chapel, a model of Mount Calvary, a sundial, the rooms of the Hospitium, the auditoriums and much more.

In the distance, the famous elephant rock stands sentinel alongside a section of the periphery of the campus and the view of this hill along with the stunning vista of the valley that leads to Salem city, are the highlights of the Retreat.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines
Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

About Retreat Hospitium –

So what exactly is a Hospitium. Well if you have not googled already, let me quote from the definition - The term is derived from Latin and denotes the ancient Greco-Roman concept of hospitality which is considered to be a divine right of the guest to be cared for and the divine duty of the host to extend hospitality. As an extension, it also refers to the building complex that is attached to a monastery where pilgrims or other guests could find rest and shelter for a reasonable fee.

This concept is in keeping with the ethos of the SDB fathers of the Retreat, who intrinsically consider it their divine duty to care for those who are their guests.

At the Retreat, the hospitium was carved out of the part of their building that used to be used only by the Salesian priests during summer time when the college was closed for the holiday break. Constructed in 1988 to commemorate the centenary of Don Bosco, it was initially used only for the purpose of religious retreats, seminars and workshops and would lie unoccupied for the rest of the year. A necessity to make the premises and the social work self sustainable, led to the planning of earning revenue from this section and hence this was opened to the general public around 2 years ago.

Stay options –

The hospitium is divided into a block of rooms and a cottage that is separate and located away from the main block.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

These 32 rooms can accommodate 2-3 per room and in case of large groups, there is sufficient flexibility permitted to house more number of people. This is one of the great benefits of this place, especially for large groups or occasions like family reunions etc.

The rooms are mostly similar to each other and are neat and clean and furnished in a simple but sufficient manner with cots, bedware, attached bath and toilet and other basics. Geysers are provided in most rooms and a common geyser is also available for hot water.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

In addition to these rooms that are attached to the main building, there is also an exclusive villa 200 meters away, situated near the main gate. This can accommodate 10-12 people but this number is flexible depending on the situation and request. It is ideal for a large group or family.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

Things to do within the premises –

The Retreat itself is quite a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the town and one can just relinquish oneself into its verdant and pristine environs.

There are various ways in which one can revel in the natural beauty that the place magnanimously bestows upon you.

A trail has been carved through the coffee plantation and one can go on what they call a Coffee walk. Stroll through the path flanked by coffee plants and forest, to eventually reach the meditation corner at the other end.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

The Salem view point is an amazing corner to witness both daytime and night views where the during the latter, the lights of the city twinkle like millions of diamonds and the sky appears to have descended onto earth, stars and all.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines
Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

The same corner gives you an exclusive view of the Elephant rock and also what they call the Elephant’s tooth. Said to be a piece of meteorite that fell onto the earth centuries ago, this ‘tooth’ is a part of a pair of white quartz rocks, the other one being a few km away.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

The Retreat also has sole access to the Elephant rock and guests trek through the property to get to the top of the mountain to what is called the Trigonometry view, where probably heights and other measurements of the land were calculated in the past.

This 20 minute trek is gentle for the most part and is a bit steep only for a tiny 20-30 meters. The 360 deg view is breath taking and is certainly worth the easy climb.

Within the property one can also enjoy the presence of several fruit trees, flowers, streams etc.

Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines
Photo of Retreat Hospitium, Yercaud by currylines

The Retreat opens its doors to tourists from outside so that they can also enjoy the exclusive views. A very nominal fee is charged. Some resorts like Sterling Yercaud, also include a 2 hour trip with their in house guide to this place, as a part of the Local experience packages that they offer their guests.

Social and environmental commitment –

The primary focus of the SDB priests is the noble task of performing charitable acts and social work. Upliftment of society by helping children, youth, women etc is what they strive for. The proceeds from the hospitium are completely utilized for these works and there is a constant need for more revenue.

The town of Yercaud and the surrounding Shevaroy hills is populated by a large number of tribal communities. They also occupy over 60 villages that are scattered across the terrain.

Plenty of village and community development programs are undertaken to help the women and youth.

The SDB aims to empower them by working towards giving them an effective livelihood through formal and technical education and job placement.

Contact -

For booking please check this link

Please be aware that bookings are only on direct contact.

The Tariff is between 500-1000 per head and is completely flexible based on several factors. Hence direct booking is the only method that is permitted.

The proceeds are all utilized to perform social and charitable works and hence many guests also turn benefactors after seeing the noble work that is being conducted here.

This post was originally published on Currylines

I hope this post was interesting enough for you. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Find more of my stories on my Instagram @currylines and my Facebook Page @currylines