The Bungalow on the Beach – 17th Century Tranquebar

Tranquebar is also known as Tharangambadi, ‘the land of the singing waves’ is a stunning coastal town located 283km from Chennai. Tranquebar is a Danish, British Colonial heritage town of pristine beauty and charm, established for the Danish for Pepper Exports on the Coromandel Coast in Tamil Nadu. An offbeat location with the best of breathtaking views, intriguing history, and most importantly – least of tourist buzz, isn’t that exactly what we all need at the moment?

The Bungalow on the Beach by Neemrana group is located 118 km from Pondicherry at Tranquebar (Tamilnadu, India). The beautiful property with its high ceilings, arched pathways, and beautiful colonnade speaks of its colonial architecture. The property is an 18th-century Danish colonial house that once belonged to the Governor of Danish India and is right opposite the Fort Dansborg built by the Danish East India Company in what was once a pepper trading post of Tranquebar, now known as Tharangambadi.

This was our first travel post lockdown and we wanted to be as safe as we can. With fewer tourists and Neemrana’s name attached to our itinerary, we just had to pick Tranquebar. The hotel has two restaurants that serve Indian and French cuisine. You can choose to dine-in in your room or at the restaurant. While we did not spot a menu, what we did get is special recommendations from the chef. Before each meal or your arrival, you can share your choice of dishes and let the chef do the magic with it. We enjoyed all our meals in the verandah with the sea and wind for company. Even though we were there just for the weekend, the time had slowed down as we dwelled over the sea that endlessly stretched in front of us.

Rooms: a spiral wooden staircase lead you to high walls and a room with a chandelier that leads to rooms and further opens up into a verandah. Each room is named after a ship and is equipped with a canopied bed, linen that matches the color scheme of the room, a writing desk, a vintage cupboard a relaxing lounge chair, and amenities for a comfortable stay.


Masilamani Nathar Temple– the 700 year old Masilamani Nathar Temple built in 1306 AD by the Pandya King Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan is unique in its architecture.


The Beach – One of the major attractions of Tranquebar is its rich ozone layer beach. Did you know that Tranquebar has the only Ozone rich beach in India? The ozone has a rejuvenating effect and does wonders to the tired urban body. The Bungalow on the Beach literally sits on the beach on which it commands an emblematic position. The Ozone layer here is the thickest in the country and the second thickest in the World.
Dansburg Fort
The Danish East India company was established in 1616 and the Danes wanted a fair share of the spice trade from India. British and Portuguese companies had already established themselves at various places in India. A treaty was signed between Christian IV, King of Denmark, and Ragunatha Nayak, King of Tanjore for permission to build a fort in Tharangambadi (Tranquebar). This Fort remained with the Danes in 1845 until the British took over. It is now a protected monument overseen by Tamilnadu State Department of Archeology since 1977.

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Upasna

I discovered Upasna during my year in Pondicherry. Searching for local brands that was comfortable for the humid weather i was living in, stylish and worth the money.

Upasana, an Auroville based brand is a beautiful amalgamation of creativity, fashion, design, Indian culture, social responsibility and spiritual progress – woven seamlessly together.
Clothing has power, the power to change lives. The lives of farmers, spinners, weavers, printers, tailors, designers and many more who have invisibly woven their souls into what we wear. Upasana honours them all, consciously, at every stage of crafting their products. Shifting fashion to touch the soul instead of just the body, we believe life is interconnected. Beauty is beyond vanity.

Upasna Label, aims to create conscious sustainable fashion where they take care of our environmental cost and not pass it on to the future. For them, design is creative, problem-solving. Any problem, be it post-tsunami trauma, farmer suicides, garbage littering, weavers losing their job, Upasana looks at social issues as a space to exercise for change. Out of these real problems were born the following projects:

» Kapas – organic cotton project with families of Madurai

» Varanasi Weavers – a project with the weaving communities of Varanasi

» Tsunamika – a tsunami related project providing livelihood to fisherwomen

» Paruthi – India’s local organic brand to support India’s organic farming community

» Small Steps – compact bags as an alternative to plastic bags

It is great to be sharing about brand like this, investing in something that helps nuild my conscious lifestyle.

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Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Aerial view of the beautiful Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 
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Hello from the Shanti Villa, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

The pretty town in Dharamshala, covered with cedar trees and surrounded by Dhauladhar range was my last escape before pandemic hit us. The amazing new property was a refreshing getaway and now that i look back i am so grateful i did, and an experience i hold on to as we are all quarantined in our safe spaces.

I fell in love with Mcleodgunj when i took a solo trip there. this was my 4th visit to the town and there is something about the air, the sunsets, the monks and monasteries, the beautiful cafes and familiar uphill roads that feels  now home. Dharamshala overall is a great place for leisure and adventure travelers and has a lot of options of beautiful cafes, luxury stay and treks that will leave you breathless, with the view of course. This time i was staying with new luxury property – Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort that opened in Dharmkot, which is located at slightly higher altitude that McLeodgunj.

The outdoor of Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 
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The backyard forest at Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

The world of Hyatt extends its hospitality with a refreshing new property spread across 6.5 acres, situated in the profound depths of the Dhauladhar mountain range of the outer Himalayas. The property is picturesquely ideal for family, solo, and romantic getaways and offers experiences that will give you a true break from hustle bustle of city life.

Room  of Villa Shanti, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 
Living area with a view at Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Rooms- Hyatt Regency Dharamshala is located near the residence of H.H. Dalai Lama, also known as Tsuglagkhang Temple. It features 80 well-appointed accommodations, including 4 private villas, 3 suites, 17 Club rooms, 15 rooms with balconies, and 41 Hyatt king and twin-bed rooms offering fresh Himalayan air through large openable windows. The resort also features 21 interconnecting room sets, ideal for travelling families. All the rooms have a view, either through their windows, balconies, private garden or just a n open lawn. It is incredible how centrally heated the hotel is, and with warm hospitality of the staff the experience we had was sure a memorable one.

The villa is well equipped with rooms, private verandah, dining space, kitchen area and a cosy staff room
The private lawn area, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Food – Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort offers a variety of locally inspired cuisines which provides authentic Himachali experience as well as the comforting delight of Global cuisine. Whether you are searching for local or international cuisine, you are sure to be satisfied with the choices that are to be found in the iconic area surrounded by the stunning architecture and culture within the heart of Dharamshala. The resort offers three outlets, Thym is an all-day dining restaurant offering both indoor and outdoor seating, is an ideal setting for family dining through a combination of interactive breakfast buffets and thoughtfully curated à la carte menus for lunch and dinner. Featuring the herb garden, the restaurant specialises in locally sourced farm-fresh food that celebrates the bounty of organic Himalayan farming, serving Indian and global cuisines.

Traditional food, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

2082, the bar is one of the best in Dharamshala, an ideal place for an aperitif or after-dinner drink. Centrally located at the lobby level of the resort, 2082 overlooks the landscaped garden and the snow-capped Dhauladhar mountain range. The central island bar is the focus of the area, with both indoor and outdoor seating options. With an adjacent fireplace, 2082 is a comfortable venue offering a wide selection of premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, light munches and an afternoon tea selection. What one must try are the locally infused drinks, that were refreshingly new for our taste buds and a live music performance with live counters only made our experience here one of the best during our stay.

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Infused drinks, Local singers and live food coutnters, evenings at 2082 are just magical, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

McLeod & Co. bakery and shop is the signature bakery, offering sweet delights inspired by the English-style nomenclature. The bakery is fun, fluid and blends tastefully with the lobby. It also serves as your general store within the resort with selected retail goods and souvenirs from across the region, and essential everyday items in case you have forgotten to pack them.

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High Tea at the McLeod & Co. Bakery and Shop, in hotel lobby.

Shanti Spa: The resort features three single and one couple spa therapy rooms and a wide range of relaxation therapies, from traditional, International, and other renowned contemporary massage therapies. But we recommend is the Tibetan massage that is influenced by local techniques and the use of oil that is made with the best or aromatic and essential oils.

Pool at Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 
An evening of relaxed spa, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Library & Fireplace: One of our favorite spots in the property is the beautifully done indoor fireplace at the lounge area that keeps you warm while you enjoy a read at the library which offers an intriguing selection of literature on various historical and cultural areas of interest. Read or just enjoy a cup of hot Kangra tea while you adore the beautiful Thangka painting, it is a cozy spot for anyone who wants to unwind indoors.

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Hot cuppa tea, good read in centrally heated study area! most relaxed evening of the holiday (after spa of course)
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Fireplace and lounge area, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Fun & Entertainment The resort features a ‘Home Cinema’ that can accommodate up to 15 persons at one go, delivering an intimate audio-visual experience. Camp Hyatt – Kids Zone is a designated area for children where they can enjoy games and fun activities along with special buffet meals. This will allow some free time for parents who are traveling with their kids.

Morning Trek with Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Must Experience: Bhagsu, Nature Walk, Offering an unparalleled landscape, the Bhagsunag area is a …. oGo along as they take you on a journey through sylvan surroundings where you will get acquainted with the local flora & fauna against the backdrop of a breathtaking waterfall. The resort offers this complimentary activity every day, that ends with a light and healthy breakfast, one you should not miss.

Tibetan Arts and Crafts Tour: To honor the heritage of authentic Tibetan arts and crafts, this guided tour to Norbulingka Institute allows guests to see and experience local crafts firsthand. The tour is an additional paid experience, you can include it in your itinerary while you are staying at the resort.

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Love Satpreet Kaur

 

Svatma – Luxury Resort, Thanjavur

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Svatma – Luxury Resort, Thanjavur

I love travelling, what i love even more is when the journey or destination brings an exciting story or an experience. When i chose my destination this time, i knew i would be taking home a lot of interesting memories. I picked Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore when i was in Pondicherry and it was just a 4 hour drive. We had a very amusing start, our driver was a Rajnikant fan and he entertained us through out the way, while i enjoyed the blabbering my friend found him overwhelming as she just wanted to doze off. The landscape on our way was full of palm trees and paddy fields, i din’t snooze even for a bit, i never can, in flights, in cars, i love watching the landscapes change.

Maratha history, Tamil food, Indian Art and Architecture – Thanjavur is an exquisite southern city formerly known as Tanjore. It is world famous for hand crafted brass idols and Tanjore style of painting, a traditional style that is characterized by the use of gold foil and religious imagery. It’s best known today for being home to the great living Chola temples, a UNESCO world heritage. I was invited to experience the hospitality of Svatma Luxury Resort Hotel, a restored family mansion, that gave me an experience of a magical journey that included the luxury of leisure while dabbling with arts in a traditional home environment.

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Living area, for guests to read, chill and enjoy over arts or games at Svatma, Thanjavur

Visit to local palace with at Svatma, Thanjavur

Much like Thanjavur’s temple architecture, which blends styles from multiple eras, the seven-room heritage wing at Svatma is over 100 years old and the erstwhile family home of the Carnatic musician Rama Kausalya, melds seamlessly into the new building built around it. Across the property, murals of dancers, architectural drawings of Chola-era structures, religious verses and black-and-white photographs adorn the walls.

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The restaurant that leads to patio and further to pool and other restaurant, at Svatma, Thanjavur

Beautiful mornings in this traditional Swappanam Suite at Svatma, Thanjavur

Room: Svatma, recreates the ambiance of a classic Tamil residence in a century-old home flanked by old trees. Keeping you company is period furniture, local art and craft and traditional board games like pallankuzhi. I was staying at the ‘Swappanam Suite’ the best in property with unique design and abundance of intricately carved wooden furniture and pretty balcony. it has a living area, airy bedroom and washroom with closets.

Lounge area in Swappanam Suite, at Svatma, Thanjavur

Catching up on some reading in the private veranda of the Swappanam Suite, at Svatma, Thanjavur

Traditional Thali at Svatma, Thanjavur

Food – The hotel has three restaurants serving south Indian and continental vegetarian food. Aaharam, the indoor restaurant – meaning food or nutrition in Tamil, overlooks the pool, and the outdoor restaurant Amar Chitra Katha-themed Palaharam -meaning snacks offers an excellent local and European vegetarian fare. There’s a set menu for the day, but you can expect dishes such as fried banana flower cutlets, ammani kozhakattai (spiced rice flour balls), puliyotharai (tamarind rice), a variety of rasams, and desserts such as feni (crispy vermicelli) with almond milk and boondi. The terrace bar, Nila, is great for drinks under the stars.

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Pool at Svatma, Thanjavur

Relaxed afternoon with some old old comics by the pool at Svatma, Thanjavur

Experience- Svatma offer a fully equipped gym, spa and pool that looks like a temple tank and you can spend your day around it. Apart from leisure and doing all things touristy planned by Svatma for us, the experience i will cherish forever was the live Veena performance, it was the very first time i experienced it and it blew my mind, i din’t move an inch throughout the performance by the three incredible artist in front of me, it was an experience that i will cherish forever.

Another incredible and yet another first was the sound therapy. I loved every bit of it, a unique sound therapy that was like nothing i have ever experienced, it was calming, and rush of something so new and so amazing left me in a state of zen for hours. Post spa i spent my time by the pool reading one full comic, another first (yes, i never read a comic before)

Spa at Svatma, Thanjavur

Brass Idol Making Experience with Svatma, Thanjavur

Another experience we took was of Bronze Sculpting, Thanjavur is the cradle of this ancient art form and the skill has simply transcended generations of sculptors. We watched cire purdue (was casting) live in action from casting to the sculpture taking its final form and it was just brilliant. Watching things being made from the scratch, especially when its handcrafted, makes you value the artisans and the products a lot more (well at least to me).

Check it out- Tanjore is most famous for its UNESCO-listed Brihadeeswarar Temple, an 11th century Shiva temple built in tawny granite. The edifice was built by King Rajaraja I to celebrate a military victory. Any way you look, it’s a lesson in architectural excellence: from the musical pillars, Chola-style murals and lime plaster frescoes to stucco sculptures of Lord Shiva’s various incarnations and ancient Tamil inscriptions. The central tower has 16 tiers rising to a height of 216 ft, making it one of the tallest of its kind in the world. Several shrines dot the sprawling lawns of the complex, including one of India’s largest statues of Nandi (Shiva’s sacred bull) carved out of a single rock.

Try – Tamil-Maratha fusion cuisine, Thanjavur is synonymous for the famous pulisadam (tamarind paste mixed with rice) and other types of dry rice mixes like ellu sadam, sambar sadam and thengai sadam, all of which are also served at temples as prasadams. Some locals claim that the south Indian sambar was first cooked in the Maratha royal kitchens of Thanjavur. When Sambhaji, the Marathi king and son of Shivaji, wanted something tangy for dinner, the ingenious cook substituted the tarty kokum with tamarind in a dal, threw in some sautéed veggies and the sambar was born! The Maratha influence on the region’s cuisine can be seen in dishes such as shakar biranji—sweetened pulao with almonds and coconut to ambat bhendya—okra tossed with Indian spices.

This blog is so informative, yet i feel there could have been so much more written, but i guess some things are left for experiences. I hope we get through these covid times soon and when we do, we will all travel safe, travel local and see experience the incredible India.

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Love Satpreet Kaur

Mystical Munnar

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Whenever I am given an option to go for a holiday, the first thing I do see look at the hills. Somewhere I haven’t been, somewhere, where the cool breeze hurdles through my hair, kisses my cheeks. The mere thought of it soothes my soul.

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Munnar wasn’t on my list, but I wasn’t going to say no when my girls brought it up.  The scenic hill station located on the Western Ghats, at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level, is no dearth of vistas. Munnar, as I got know from our chauffeur, in the local Malayalam language translates into three rivers.

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We stayed at The Blanket Hotel & Spa, a luxury retreat located amidst the green haven of Munnar.  Situated near the mystical Attukad waterfalls the hotel offers a seamless blend of nature – endless tea gardens, the Nilgris covered with dew and sun that peaks with beautiful strokes of rays from the heavy clouds.

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The property is a picturesque getaway and no matter which part of the hotel you are in – the resort, the room, the pool you are engulfed with the best of nature. The entire resort is cradled within a blanket of  lush spectrum of flora and fauna.

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Rooms – We stayed at the Presidential Suite, the most luxurious room at The Blanket Hotel and it was such an incredible stay. Spacious and elegantly furnished, their rooms are designed to indulge you. The natural colors and wooden decor blend with the surroundings recreating the serene ambience indoors. The view from our balcony, Jacuzzi and bed did complete justice to our luxurious getaway. The suite redefines luxury with a host of modern facilities and you can be rest assured of nothing short of an experience that leaves you wanting more. Waking up to the beautiful view, breathing fresh air from the balcony really soothes your soul and gives you holiday you have been craving for.

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Food– The dining experience at Blanket Hotel Munnar is a heavenly treat for the cuisine connoisseur in you. Their restaurant team headed by their skilled executive chef serves the most intricate and delicious dishes that will give your taste buds an experience to cherish. You can choose from a variety of local and international cuisine from our delectable menu. All our meals were at their all day, Multi Cuisine Restaurant that serves lavish buffet for breakfast and dinner and a-la-carte for lunch.  We through enjoyed their south Indian delicacies and highly recommend you to take a break from continental and enjoy the local special recommended by chef.

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Leisure – The property offers plenty of options through which you can explore the beauty of the Munnar.  You can trek with their in house naturalist who will take you through the tea plantations all the way up to the Attukad waterfalls. You can spend your leisure time indulging in Yoga, Pool or Meditation, witness Cultural Performance where you can treat yourself to traditional dance forms like Kuchipudi or Mohiniyattam.

Thulasi Ayurveda Spa –   You will notice in south Ayurveda has a huge importance and a traditional Ayurvedic therapy should be in you must-do list. We tried  their Rejuvenation Therapy an Indian traditional Massage, that helped me feel revitalized. A season where warm herbal oils depending on your dosha type are used to massage using rhythmic strokes with uniform pressure from head to toe which loosens accumulated toxins in the tissues, improves blood circulation, relaxes the muscles and counters the signs of aging

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Love Satpreet Kaur

Beleza by the Beach, Goa

 

Beach holiday in only successful for me if I am in the close proximity of the beach. When we decided to go Goa, our sole intention was to stay at a place that was walking proximity to the beach, this holiday was to just relax and not to venture out.  To feed our mind with refreshing thoughts, views that touch your soul and of course good food.  

 

We stayed at ‘Beleza by the Beach Resort Goa means ‘Beautiful’ in Portuguese, comprises of 30 rooms tastefully designed in a Villa style concept. Green, luscious hedges of foliage, groves of banana, coconut and papaya trees, and clusters of bird of paradise flowers and frangipani trees landscape the length and breadth of their resort. The clean, pristine and white sandy beaches of Colva are accessible to guests from a well-paved pathway from within the resort premises.  

 

The property is located in south Goa, and has a direct access to the beach. It is calm and away from the overcrowded side of Goa but offers a lot of activities to keep you entertained.  South Goa is greener, charming and peaceful part of Goa where you can experience the authentic tropical charm of Goa.  

 

The resort is perfect if you are looking for a leisure holiday, serene beaches and good food. The all-day dining restaurant and beach shack and bar offer a delectable choice of seafood, snacks, Goan and Indian food as well as international cuisine. Spa therapies, gym and swimming pool facilities are available to guests on appointment. 

Spa : Rejuvenate & pamper yourself with the spa available at the resort where the experienced therapists work on your tired muscles and treat you to signature Keralite treatments

 

Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

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View from the villa at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

Palampur  has been known as ‘The Tea Capital of North India’. A small city 3600 ft above sea level is a popular hill station of India, rich in historic temples, forts and  its spectacular Himalayan views. Palampur is a plantation getaway situated in the Kangra valley overlooking Dhauladhar mountain Ranges. the town is less explored and least commercialized and that’s exactly what beautifies it.

I was staying at the Norwood Green by Lamrin resort, a place where you could enjoy both- the view of  tea garden when you lower your sight and Dhauladhar range when you see up from the backyard of your private villa. The experience of spending leisure time amidst beautiful Palampur Valley of Himachal Pradesh that is yet unexplored by most tourists, waking up and spending your days so close to nature was a heart warming experience. I was here with my family and we din’t feel a need to utilize the available tv, or play any games. we spoke, went for walks, fed the pet who wondered in our backyard and revisited old memories. I think it was in the air and vibe that all we wanted to do was just hold back and breathe, an experience we haven’t had in a really long time.

Norwood Green provides you an exquisite resort that has a experience similar of a luxurious home stay, amidst the serenity of the Himalayan ranges and sprawling tea gardens. Its charming aristocratic architecture will transport you to a different era, while providing you with every modern amenity you need and your own butler, who bring everything to you on call.

There is a dedicated team at Norwood Green will take care of you from arrival to departure, your food to laundry and also help you plan any activities and walk if you wish to indulge.  Their concept is simple, they offer guests a home away from home, a place to switch off and unwind, to re-connect with each other and with nature. For all the time we were there, we all had one common thought, if ever owned a home in hills, it would exactly be like this.

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The beautiful living room at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

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The other side of living room that extends to dining area and opens up to the backyard at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

Rooms– If you are a group of four or six or more, you can have an entire villa to yourself, we were four and since the other room wasn’t booked, we had the villa all to ourselves. Each of their exquisite villas has four rooms, all of which have flat screen TV, four well equipped bathrooms, private dining area, private kitchen and living area. Apart from this one of the room comes with a spacious balcony, the others have view of the tea gardens or mountains and the whole cottage at Norwood Green has access to rear garden at back overlooking tea gardens along with mighty snow covered Dhauladhar mountain ranges.  Our evenings included sipping hot ginger lemon tea or have aloo parathas, play music and make the most out of the little moments.

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Room with a view at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

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The spacious balcony outside my room at Norwood gGeen Resort, Palampur

Charming and spacious interiors, to beautiful panoramic views of the mountainside, every moment at the Norwood Green, Palampur is peacefully delightful. While you feast on authentic, local Himachali dishes, the warm hospitality of the staff will help you retire after a fruitful day.

Activities in Palampur At Palampur you will find yourself surrounded by lush greenery and abundant rivers and streams, and a very pleasant climate that will draw you in, and make you never want to leave. And when it comes to tourist attractions, Palampur has more than enough to offer. Just a walk around Palampur will let you enjoy its beautiful colonial architecture. The tea factory, St John’s Church, Bundla waterfall, Neogal Park are interesting places to visit. The village of Andretta, 13 km from Palampur is known for its pottery. The town of Baijnath, 16 km away is famous for its Shiva temple, and the Tibetan monastery at Tashijong, is 12 km away. Adventure seekers will find trek routes leading out of Palampur and into the Dhauladhar mountains. The towns of Bir and Billing have gained international reputation as paragliding sites. Dharamshala and Mc Leod Ganj are also popular tourist places near Palampur.

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Love Satpreet Kaur

Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur 

Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

After a good few days in Udaipur I headed to Jodhpur – The sun city of India. My love for Rajasthan only increases with what I see. They told me monsoon is not the season to visit Rajasthan, but I feel every place has a unique experience in each weather (well of course, peak summers don’t count in Rajasthan) I leisurely spent my days in Jodhpur, so I din’t really miss anything despite rain, but loved every bit of monsoon.

corridor and open space outside room at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

The city of Jodhpur boasts of heritage hotels that reflect the spectacular royal status that this place once had. I was staying at Devi Bhawan a boutique property that only after, I stepped out of the reception, saw for what it is. a little tropical paradise in the heart of the city. In between its dense green cover were little blips of building spread across the area, which you won’t spot until you are in front of it. There were two little water gardens of which one was full of lotus and had a swing at the end of it, where I spent a lot of time every day of my stay just swinging and breathing  all of it.

Breakfast with a view at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Over breakfast at Devi Bhavan, I had a quick conversation with elegant Rambha Singh, who with her family owns and manages Devi Bhavan and stays in the other end of the property and is a warm host who is available for any queries in case guests need. She indulged me in details of how this property came to what it is today – Interestingly she mentioned Devi Bhavan is an eighty-year-old residence of Thakur Ratan Singh and his family.

My beautiful room at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

colours that spark joy at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Rooms: There are 20 rooms at Devi Bhawan, housed within five, two-storey buildings spread among green lawns with neem trees, flowering plants and fountains. I stayed in a deluxe room that had view of both garden and the pool, the rooms at Devi Bhavan are simply furnished, my room had a four-poster wooden bed, sofa and wardrobes. The bedspread, cushions and sofa cover all matched in colorful prints, that perked up the room. While most rooms have a private sit-out mine was on top floor and had a huge veranda with lounge on daybeds and rattan chairs. I spent most of my time out in the beautiful and spacious verandah, listening to chirping birds, sipping tea while overlooking the lush space and the pool on other side.

Pool at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Well one thing I couldn’t do was get into the pool and swim in crystal clear water. It is located at one end of the property and is great to soak in the sun on the deck chairs the pool a touristy day.

Breakfast at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Food: They have an in-house restaurant that serves all meals, or you can choose to order in room dining and enjoy your meal leisurely like me. All meals are served in the dining room at the center of the property you can also enjoy your meal outdoors where tables are decorated with vibrant sunny cloths, wrought iron chairs dotted around the garden. I only had breakfast during my stay and tried a thali for dinner. The service was tad bit slow; menu is limited but food was decent.

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Thali for dinner at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

When to go: The best time to visit Jodhpur is between October and March when the maximum temperature is around 27C and the minimum around 15C.

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Mahabalipuram


Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its exuberant group of sanctuaries, founded by the Pallava kings, was carved out of rock along the Coromandel Coast in the 7th and 8th centuries. It is known especially for its rathas-temples in the form of chariots, mandapas – cave sanctuaries, giant open-air reliefs such as the famous ‘Descent of the Ganges’, and the temple of Rivage, with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva. It is so fascinating to see structures so old, surviving innumerable natural and man-made calamities and still have power to leave you impressed.

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InterContinental Chennai is what luxurious getaways are made of, situated just 45 minutes away from Chennai. With the Bay of Bengal as backdrop, this resort property is where serenity meets hospitality. The property boasts architecture that will leave you stunned, a massive property with 3 water bodies – beach, the lotus pond and pool leave each room with a view to enjoy. The long pathways, huge pillars and coromandel style architecture didn’t want the traveler in me to step out of the property. I wanted to pass through each pathway, sit by each water body (music by the pond, morning swim in the pool and dinner by the sea)

Arrive in style– I was making my way to Mahabalipuram from Pondicherry, while it is 45 minutes away from Chennai, it almost 2 and half hours by road from Pondicherry Our experience began right from the pick-up, a BMW car with chauffeur picked us up, and making sure we had comfortable travel. The chauffeur offered us cold towels and cold beverages once we were settled and on our way.

Once we arrived, we were greeted with welcome drinks with traditional welcome, also trying a stint at blowing the horn and failing multiple times, our private butler and warm host – Arjun, helped us with a private check-in at the Club InterContinental Lounge, and led us to our suite.

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Rooms – They have 92 finely appointed rooms in various categories that overlook the grand waterscape bio pond and central courtyard, while 13 suites extend outwards with a view of the ocean, one of which we were staying in. Our room was an exquisite blend of luxury and design and came with enhanced amenities such as complimentary private bar access and a special pillow menu.

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The suite has a fully contained living space with, lavish bathroom amenities, including a bathtub (my favourite part) with separate shower space and a spacious balcony with a view of well-lit landscape at night and endless ocean and tropical trees during the day. Their ‘At Your Side’ butler services extend to planning your daily activities and scheduling your meetings, even organizing special rendezvous within and outside the resort.

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Spa: Long pillared concrete pathway lead to spa with a beautiful view of wide spread Greenland that ends with beach. The Amrtam Spa by Escenza is dedicated to meet highest levels of body care and relaxation treatments in a spectacular ocean-view setting. Drawing inspiration from traditional eastern medicines and naturopathy, their treatments are designed to restore balance to the body, harnessing all the curative effects of Ayurveda and other holistic practices. You know you are in good hands when you instantly slip into zen mode and that’s exactly what happened when i let myself go under the expertise of the well trained masseuses.

Know More – www.ihg.com

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Calcutta Bungalow

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Kolkata, the first capital of British India is a place where you can still breathe the bygone era vividly. The architecture, people, street food and cabins (now known as cafes), museums and Bazaars clearly show how you can find beauty even amidst chaos

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Calcutta Bungalow, a 90-year-old Majumdar bari (townhouse) restored and tucked in a quiet neighborhood. It is a heritage bed & breakfast with six rooms. Every corner of this three storied building boasts a mix of colonial and local architecture.  Away from the maddening chaos of the city, this is a perfect place to stay, that offers an old-world charm along with urban amenities to make your stay a comfortable one.

The intimate property has a small open courtyard and rooms that are named after old neighborhoods like Sahibpara, Darzipara, Mochipara, Potuapara (artists’ colony), Boipara (about books and publishing), Dorjipara (tailors’ hub), Jatrapara (famous for traditional theatre). The rooms dedicate a tale about the places they are named after.  Just like the rest of the bungalow the rooms too are a perfect amalgamation of vintage and modern and equipped with modern day luxuries like air conditioning, television with Netflix, WiFi an attached bathroom and comfortable bed. The place also boasts a reception, recreation room, terrace and a dining hall.

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The dining room, called Notunbazar (named after new market), a common meal space for guests has loudspeakers as ceiling lamps and books that any intellect would like to borrow. While the breakfast is included in the stay, you will have to inform them in advance for dinner or order in, the staff is warm and helpful and lay down your meal for you if you wish to have it in common room, instead of your room.

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Beleza By The Beach Resort, Goa

DSC_1484Beach holiday in only successful for me if I am in the close proximity of the beach. When we decided to Goa the first thought was I want to be in a walking proximity to the beach, this holiday was more to do just relax and not to venture out.  To feed soul with refreshing thoughts, views that touch your soul and of course good food.

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Beleza means ‘Beautiful’ in Portuguese, comprises of 30 tastefully designed in a Villa style concept. Green, luscious hedges of foliage, groves of banana, coconut and papaya trees, and clusters of bird of paradise flowers and frangipani trees landscape the length and breadth of their resort. The clean, pristine and white sandy beaches of Colva are accessible to guests from a well-paved pathway from within the resort premises.

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The property is located in south Goa, and has a direct access to the beach from within the property. It is calm and away from the overcrowded side of Goa but offers a lot of activities to keep you entertained.  South Goa is greener, charming and peaceful part of Goa where you can experience the authentic tropical charm of Goa.

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The resort is perfect if you are looking for a leisure holiday, serene beaches and good food. The all-day dining restaurant and beach shack and bar offer a delectable choice of seafood, snacks, Goan and Indian food as well as international cuisine. Spa therapies, gym and swimming pool facilities are available to guests on appointment.

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I really enjoyed my stay here, the warm staff, lush greenery, tropical vibe and scrumptious food all in one place, we really felt no need to go out and explore as everything we from spa to beach was available right here. Unwinding at the blissful is it to our tranquilizing spa. Look forward to elevating your mood in vast, green paddy fields, and delight your taste buds at our truly delectable restaurants — home to some of the choicest cuisines from the land.

 

We stayed in a superior category room that are spacious, aesthetically designed with vibrant art on wall and color coordinated couch. We had a very relaxed stay, breakfast in bed and tea in our open balcony making it a rejuvenating experience.

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La Villa, Pondicherry

La Villa, Pondicherry

La Villa, the sister property of Villa Shanti was my second stay on the trip to Puducherry. A beautiful street in French quarter leads to this 19th century French house, turned into a luxury boutique hotel.

Lobby at La Villa, Pondicherry

La Villa is much calmer, intimate and offers six tastefully done suits, each offering a completely unique experience. The property houses a restaurant, swimming pool, bicycles for rent, Wi-Fi and staff that is available throughout your stay to assist and guide you on anything.

Staircase to (bridge to) heaven- my room at La Villa

A cobbled way leads to it an open lounge area, connected to lobby that is my most favorite part of the property. The seating area is comfortable with walls adorning map of the city and shelves with well stacked books you can borrow throughout your stay.

The suite at La Villa, Pondicherry

Spacious and relaxed outdoors that comes with the penthouse suite at La Villa

I was offered one of their best rooms, pent house suite indeed ‘Bridge to Heaven’. The room surprisingly had no walls and only wooden sliding doors. So private, so close to being in an open-air environment, easy view of sunsets and sunrise. The staff informs you before they visit the floor, keeping your privacy intact, every evening they spray for mosquito (to avoid any, not that I encountered any) and light up candles for you to enjoy outdoors as much as indoors during evenings. The room has contemporary furniture designed in reclaimed old wood, a signature style bed, lounging areas, private bar, study table and a dining option and a fancy bathroom. All of it come together to offer you luxury through minimalism.

Everything about the room stands out, including the bed at La Villa 

You have the luxury to order in, just like I did as most of my time was spent exploring the city, I preferred to have a hot shower followed by dinner in room. Or enjoy a relaxing and cozy early dinner in the garden, order while you breathe in the pleasant air and notice the freshly bloomed flowers and wide spread branches.

In room breakfast in calm with only chirping birds around

Both the properties, Villa Shanti and La Villa have a very elegant amalgamation of tropical vibe and influence of bygone era in terms of architecture and surroundings. Even in term of food, they give importance to best quality of fresh and local products, the menu is limited though rich in flavor’s, colors and textures that will change with the seasons. The choice of fine porcelain, period silver cutlery, crystal and other natural materials will enhance your experience of sharing and relaxing around a delicious meal.

Long touristy day that ends with a delicious meal in comfort of my room 

The open air restaurant at La Villa, Pondicherry

My visit to Pondicherry will always be special, as it was my first ever solo trip and Villa Shanti and La Villa played perfect hosts, welcoming me with warmest of hospitality, finest food and memories I will cherish forever.

Its luxury when spa comes to your room

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Coco Shambhala, Goa

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Ariel view of Coco Shambhala, Goa

Coco Shambhala, Goa is sister property of the one in Sindhudurg and a collection of 4 luxury vacation villas in Goa, for exclusive holidays. Set in a tropical garden with a free form jungle swimming pool in their midst, the villas are a blend of architecture, design and service to excite your senses. Their villas in Goa sit in complete harmony with the local landscape. Each luxury villa has a stunning tree top living pavilion, a private plunge jet pool, 2 large bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, a kitchen and a complimentary car and driver.

Lounge area in the villa at coco shambhala, Goa

Jet pool at coco shambhala, Goa

In the jet pool area, the architect has used his penchant for relaxing and sensual spaces. By day, this tranquil space is a shady haven cooled by a ceiling fan whirring softly overhead and by night, a richly cloistered space with artistically lit pillars, flickering candles and dappled reflected light on the walls.

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Work space with a view at coco shambhala, Goa

The bedrooms at Coco Shambhala, Goa are designed to provide natural light and boast of vintage Indo-Portuguese furniture, sitting alongside the modern amenities of a television set, Wi-Fi and an i-pod docking station. Some of these come with open air shower area.

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Breakfast at Coco Shambhala, Goa

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Food: I was amazed with the most with Malvani meal i was served here, apart from which they bring to you the tastiest breakfast, lunches, and dinners right to the villa and set it all up for you. A lot of evo friendly cutlery has been used and all their food ingredients are sourced locally.

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Relax: I spent most of my time within the property until late evenings, relaxing in my villa, spending day by the beautiful free form pool, surrounded by so much natural beauty, what is even more special about this resort is that that both properties offer a range of Balinese and western massages in collaboration with Forest Essentials.

Free form pool at Coco Shambhala, Goa

Coco Shambhala has a bespoke tropical vibe that help you leave the stresses of modern life behind. This is a hidden slice of paradise and a perfect getaway for those who want to enjoy Goa, for its natural

For more visit- http://www.cocoshambhala.com

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Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

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Aerial view of Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Goa has for long known as to be the party capital of India, but there is so much more to it. The exotic landscape, virgin beaches, water sports and luxury indulgences. Named as one of the best beach villas by a leading magazine ‘Coco Shambhala’ as personally experienced is a tropical paradise with best of hospitality, amenities and privacy.

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Open air villa at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Mezze  platter served with Goan poe  bread and wine overlooking monsoon rain at coco shambhala, Sindhudurg 

Coco Shambhala has two properties, one in Goa and the other tucked away on the border of Maharashtra in a small town- Sindhudurg luckily i had my fair chance to experience a stay in both in leisure. Set in a tropical garden, barely 200 meters off the beach, Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg has villas designed as inclusive, barefoot retreats, each with their own infinity pool looking out to the sea. Coco Shambhala is a place of peace, happiness and tranquility.

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Room with a view at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Monsoon getaway at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg 

There is a lot i love about this place, but what tops it is privacy that nurtures a sense of balance, much needed in the hectic lives of today in combination with ample of nature all around us. Each villa has a stunning sea facing living area, 2 large bedrooms also facing out to the sea, a well-stocked bar in the living pavilion and its own infinity pool where i spent my day and night, sunrise and sunsets, floating in he pool under rain and stars giving me some of the most breathtaking moments of my life so far.

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Spacious lounging area in villa at coco shamabhala, sindhudurg

read, eat, play all at the luxury of your privacy at coco Shambhala, Sindhhudurg

The villas are spacious and are spaces designed for dining and lounging. It works beautifully for quiet reading, intimate and family dinners alike and group bonding over games all at luxury of your villa, while providing a sweeping vista of the sea just below, and the tempting turquoise waters of the infinity pool in front. The bedrooms are designed to provide natural light, just as the entire villa with stunning sea views and boast of artfully designed coconut wood furniture, sitting alongside the modern amenities of a luxury bedroom.

Breakfast by the pool at coco shambhala, sindhudurg

A taste of Malwani cuisine at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

The kitchen team prepares everything ahead of your arrival; Their head chef got in touch with us, post our booking confirmed to discuss our culinary preferences and make tailor menus based on your feedback. Their complimentary car and driver are at hand, to not only take you around but also, run errands for you. We were also provided with free usage of the pre-programmed cell phone in each villa to contact anyone on the Coco Shambhala team for any assistance.

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Missal Pav  for breakfast at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Their menus showcase the best of Goan cuisine, fresh local produce and sea food. From the mezze platter that’s served with Goan poe bread on welcome (which i have repeatedly ordered every evening) to the delectable spread of Malwani cuisine everything left me craving for more. They also had carefully curated an alluring collection of wines, single malts and craft beers, in the comfort of our (each) own villa. Their Director of Cuisine, Shagun Mehra, crafts new menus each season, which are further tailored to your preferences and palate.

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Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg is a destination in itself, calm beaches, water sports in the season and if you fancy being a little more energetic and can tear yourself away from the sun lounger the hotel offers option to venture out and visit local villages. After a full day of exploring, the one place we desperately wanted to get back to is the ocean followed by a sun downer at the privacy of our villa.

Infinity pool that overlooks beach and endless ocean, Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg 

For more visit- www.cocoshambhala.com

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