The Earl’s Secret

Once upon a time in the fairyland of Ootacamund, or Ooty as it was more popularly known, lived a charming couple by the names of Lord Reginald and Lady Maybn. Their mansion, named King’s Cliff, commanded a panoramic view of the wooded hillsides ringing the hill town of Ooty, India.  Here, the young couple lived happily, often entertaining the rich and famous of the British Raj. Then, one day a visitor in the form of the Earl of Gloucester came calling.

The Earl, it is said, was soon smitten with Lady Maybn. Being a thorough gentleman, he kept his feelings for a young, married lady to himself. So much so, it is believed that Lady Maybn went to her grave never suspecting the Earl’s feelings for her.

The Earl, however, did leave behind evidence of his passion. My friend, Aruna Trada and myself discovered that evidence when we vacationed in Ooty a couple of years ago.

We were staying at Sterling Holidays’ resort, Ooty-Fern Hill. The resort commands a stunning view of Lovedale valley. Take a look….

View of Lovedale valley from the Sterling resort, Ooty-Fern Hill
View of Lovedale valley from the Sterling resort, Ooty-Fern Hill. Image by Lata Subramanian.

We were quite happy to spend our days looking out at the view from Fern Hill as we were completely at peace there. One day, however, we decided we must venture out and experience cuisine elsewhere.

Asking around, we were recommended the restaurant at King’s Cliff, Ooty. That’s when we discovered the Earl’s Secret. And what a delight it was!

But wait, I absolutely must keep you in suspense for a wee bit more. I promise I will reveal the Earl’s Secret just after you feast your eyes on King’s Cliff – the mansion that once belonged to Lord Reginald and Lady Maybn. Now the most charming of hotels, King’s Cliff has retained an old worldly, or should I say other worldly, charm.

Aruna posing outside King's Cliff - once the mansion where Lord Reginald and Lady Maybn resided. Image by Lata Subramanian.
Aruna posing outside King’s Cliff – once the mansion where Lord Reginald and Lady Maybn resided. Image by Lata Subramanian.

You can read more about King’s Cliff in the link provided at the end of this post. Do check out photographs on the King’s Cliff website that are more than 100 years old. But before you do, allow me to reveal the Earl’s Secret:)

Apparently, Lady Maybn was a delightful cook. And, surprise surprise! The then Earl of Gloucester was quite the cook himself.

They say, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Well, it turned out that the Earl may have just decided that the way to Lady Maybn’s heart might be through her stomach as well. Or, let’s say the Earl kept his feelings to himself but showed his love for Lady Maybn through the recipes he concocted in her kitchen for her.

That then was the Earl’s Secret – displayed through recipes and cooking.

Today, the King’s Cliff mansion hotel proudly bears Earl’s Secret as the name of its restaurant.

Earl's Secret - the restaurant at King's Cliff, Ooty. Image by Lata Subramanian
Earl’s Secret – the restaurant at King’s Cliff, Ooty. Image by Lata Subramanian

And yes, the food served is delicious. More so, once you read all about the legendary love tale of the Earl. Each bite of the dishes served, whether you choose from the Continental, Chinese or Mughlai selection, takes you on an imaginary journey back in time, wondering about the Earl and if Lady Maybn suspected the feelings he harboured. She must have.

A woman always knows!

On that note, I leave you with a picture of the solace and total happiness Ooty brings. That’s me perched on a tree in Avalanche, a beautifully kept forest preserve in Ooty. You can read all about it here.

Perched happily on a tree in Avalanche, Ooty. Image  copyright Lata Subramanian.
Perched happily on a tree in Avalanche, Ooty. Image copyright Lata Subramanian.

#earl’ssecret #Ooty #Ootacamund #Udhagamandalam

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Featured Image Credit: Aruna Trada studying the Earl’s Secret menu at King’s Cliff, Ooty.

Related Links:

Discover the Earl’s Secret – http://www.littlearth.in/kingscliff/

 

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