Kaftan vibe with Nadima Saqib

I love traveling, well that’s quite obvious but what i love more is Traveling in style. In my recent travel to Ahmedabad, i stayed at a beautiful century old property where every corner had a story.

To much the vibe of the place i chose 5he beautiful Nadima Saqib ,cotton crush kaftan. The kaftan has intricate dori work details on neck and slightly puffed sleeves with mire dori work in slits.

Long and flowy, breathable in the humid Ahmedabad weather, i lounged around the property literally getting lost in a by gone era. A place where Mahatma Gandhi himself stayed.

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Garli- An offbeat getaway

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Chateau Garli, Kangra – a cattle shed  that was transformed into a heritage property

Garli is a place where you can experience a beautiful embrace of history and heritage at one place. With travel becoming more personal, this is a perfect getaway for any unconventional traveler who likes to explore offbeat places, learn more about deep Indian roots and a slice of architecture.

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Village of Garli hold many stories of bygone era

Heritage Village Garli is marvel in every sense. There is hardly any other Indian suburb with such stunningly diverse styles of architecture on display among the mansions, temples and sarais, all of which stand testimony to the majestic existence Garli that once had. Garli is a classic example of collaborative town planning, vision & foresight of its founders. Established over a 100 years ago, many facets of a mini township were built in, ranging from education, health, to sanitation, commerce etc. examples of all these are still available to see. Today, an abandoned village, Garli is said to have been established in the seventeenth century by the Sud community of the region. Traditionally, the treasure keepers of Kangra’s ruling house.

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My beautiful corner in the room, with tinted color glass at The Chateau Garli

Where to stay: ‘The Chateau Garli’ is a heritage property, built in 1921 that has been restored to its age-old glory by carefully recreating the colonial, Portuguese, Mughal, Rajasthani and Kangri architectural influences that surround the Garli & Pragpur Village. The Chateau Garli offers a home away from home experience with additional comforts to pamper you. It is located on the foothills of Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas, in the heritage village of Garli built in 1921 by Sud family who have now restored it to heritage property. The place boasts of impeccable details, from old gramophone, wooden radio, colonial furniture, crystal chandeliers, contrasting coloured windowpanes, and antique door handles.

Rooms keeping up with the theme have wooden furniture, the paintings a lot of which depict family trees and goddess, colorful embroidered bedspreads and the vibrant windowpanes. Everything at this boutique property transports you another era, also giving you all the urban amenities.  Each of the 19 rooms in the mansion was unique and distinctive.

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Pool Side restaurant at The Chateau Garli

Food: You can indulge in some local delicacies like Himachali Dhaam and fresh trout, preferably requested a day early. From their regular menu too food isn’t short of anything but a great meal. Must try dishes are the Pahari Mutton, Mandra, Maa ki dal, Laal Maas and Kanghri Dham all served at their poolside restaurant or comfort of your room.

The town reflects the progressive planning, that includes water and drainage system incorporated nearly a century ago. The Suds established a boys’ school in 1918, a special women’s hospital in 1921, and a girl’s school by 1955. These, along with Garli Water Works, which used imported copper pipes from London, inaugurated in 1928, are still operational. At a time when the rest of India was largely underdeveloped, the infrastructure of this tiny outpost was leagues ahead of its time.

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Spa at The Chateau Garli that has rural touch

Experiences
Sunset at Beas River -Even if you can view the sunset from the hotels in Kangra but this river bed in Garli offers the best sunset view in the whole village. Dipping your feet in the Beas river bed and encountering the sun set is a must do in Garli.

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Beas River

Night Safari in the Local Forest Reserve – This is for all the wildlife enthusiasts. Taking a jeep around 9 or 10 pm and driving through the local forest reserve would be a surprising adventure as you might spot a leopard, wild boar, wild rabbits or sambar.

 

 

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Masroor Temple

A Religious Tour – There are a vast number of temples in Garli as the city situated in the ‘Land of the Gods’- Himachal. Some of the famous temples in Garli are Jwalamukhi Temple, Maha Kaleshwar Temple, Baba Balaknath Temple, Kangra Devi Temple, Baglamukhi Temple and Chintpurni Temple.

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Must try- Kulfi, there is this man who sits under a tree and famous for his frozen kulfi, it tastes real good but what is fascinating is that i have been told, he doesn’t use ice. Leaves you wondering.

How to reach: By Air : Chandigarh (180 km) approx 4 Hrs, Gaggal (62 km) approx 1.5 Hrs
For more info and bookings – The Chateau Garli

Don’t forget to check out the blog on its sister property  – The Chalets Naldhera  a beautiful stay in Shimla. Subscribe to my blog so you get all updates right in your mailbox. Also follow me on Instagram @ssatpreetkaur,  for more instant updates on all things fun, food, fashion and travel.

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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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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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Ayana Fort Kochi

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Kerala has attracted travelers, explorers and traders from all over the world for centuries, drawn to this slice of tropical South India by spices, Fort Cochin (Kochi) is the one of the best place in Kerala for a rich multicultural experience.

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The fort Kochi area has its own quaint charm, It is buzzing with tourists, but each at their own pace – this part of the city has a ‘homestay’ in every corner! I chose to stay at  ‘Ayana Fort Kochi’ for a lot of reason the main being its prime location. One of the biggest delights of Fort Cochin is just wandering and exploring the atmospheric old streets, the mosque, the synagogue, temples and churches, the colourful houses and shops in Jew town and the picturesque Chinese fishing nets and soaking up Cochin’s colourful history.

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Boutique hotels are on rise in India, they are the perfect combination of creativity and luxury, without missing out on comfort, the rooms are spacious and inviting; it is affordable yet high class. ‘Ayana Fort Kochi’ is a luxury boutique hotel with  16-rooms that showcases an ideal marriage of history with modern luxurious comfort. ‘Ayana Fort Kochi’ is a 200-year old courthouse that has been meticulously restored and then renovated to its rightful glory. The hotel and its surroundings take you on a trip down memory to centuries old history. This element of old and new, existing side by side is evident in each area of the hotel.

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With large public spaces, the property lends itself well to showcase art and the Ayana team endeavors to make the hotel a platform to build awareness towards Indian contemporary artists. The hotel’s monochromatic black and white palate lends itself to the striking artwork showcased throughout the property.  Ayana’s commitment to promoting Indian artists is clearly visible as you walk through the hotel, currently they house paintings from established artists such as Amitabh Sengupta and Dhiraj Choudhary, as well as many budding artists, displayed all over the property.

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Luxury Suite: I wasn’t expecting a big room considering the fact that it was a boutique hotel, but to my delight i stepped into a spacious room which was a welcome surprise. The interiors of my room, just like the rest of the hotel was tastefully done and looked elegant and classy. The team has paid minute attention to each aspect of the interiors. Perfect blend of designs and striking colors define Ayana Fort Kochi rooms. The checkered floors have been created using traditional Indian cement tile and give a sense of colonial charm to the entire property.

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The room has a theme of black and white that created a soothing contrast and in addition to it was a splash of blue to add some color. It had a queen size bed with comfortable mattress and soft pillows, a sofa with round table and lounge chair facing television, just beside the huge glass doors that led to a cute and compact balcony that overlooked the street below and also gave a view of port with ships leaving and arriving.

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Food: Ayana places a high priority on food and offers fresh local produce and authentic flavors. One can feast their senses at a stunning restaurant, ‘The Old Court’, overlooking a private garden. It offers a sundry menu based on organic vegetables and only the freshest local catch. The rooftop café has been designed in an Art Deco style and is filled with the exotic fragrance of the Raat Ki Rani tree, growing wild across the area. It was too hot and Humid for me to have a meal here so i choose the old court for my meals or ordered in room. From south Indian to Italian there is nothing they miss out on, however i would suggest you to go local, enjoy the appam with stew, masala dosa, prawn curry, fish and eat your heart out, because once you are back home you will be craving every bit  of it.

Experiences &  Activities: The hotel is equipped with a roof top pool and a fitness suite –that offer mesmerizing views of the sun and sea.  From attending a rooftop yoga class to sculpting the body with strenuous work out at the gymnasium or just cooling off at the roof top pool, Ayana provides for all modern-day luxuries in a very historic setting. In keeping with the luxury component, Ayana is one of the few hotels in Fort Kochi offering a full-service gym.

The hotel also offers curated activities and guided tours for guests based on their preferences and choices. I enrolled myself for an evening of  Kathakali, Kalaripayattu a traditional dance performance and a Backwater tour which is a mandatory thing to do when in Kerala.  They also offer a spice tour and a fishing tour.

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Neemrana Fort – Palace

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Neemrana Fort Palace

The Neemrana Fort Palace in India is one of the first Palaces turned hotels in India, equidistant from both Delhi and Jaipur this should be on your list of travels in India. The fort dates back to 1464 and opened its doors to tourists in 1991 to soak in the charm of its rich heritage. A luxurious 55-bedroom hotel is an enchanting building, which is located on a hillside to afford the former king views over the nearby village, boasts palace wings covering six acres of land over 12 separate levels

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Royal Mornings at Neemrana Fort Palace

True to its nature all Mahal’s (rooms) have been named after the purpose they served in bygone era and promises to give you an intimate experience with history. Each room boasts of authentic decor, traditional Indian furniture and antiques.

I was staying in Surya Mahal, uniquely done up duplex suits on first level is a royal retreat, traditional in design, themed after its name, there are bits of yellows splashed everywhere. The splurge on the Surya Mahal will give you access to two storey independent villa, with two bedrooms in addition to a private terrace, separated by long passage and jharokas; while the ground floor has a lounging area, two washrooms, study area and a dining area as well. Spacious with facilities of mini bar, tea maker, landline and missing TV was just perfect for a holiday meant truly to unwind.

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Raj Kund, Pool at Neemrana Fort Palace

The terraces are the most enchanting spaces at Neemrana, from Shatranj Bagh, the terrace right above the fort’s main entrance and ramparts to Hawa Mahal where the complimentary evening tea, is laid out with cookies. Raj Kund the pool, surrounded by deckchairs to while away your stress. There’s a pleasant open-air amphitheater where concerts and plays are often held, you will be able to experience a traditional folk music — complete with dancers in sequinned costumes and fire-spitters.

Neemrana exudes an old-world charm; it is an exploration site in itself. The long passageways, jharokhas , maharaja portraits in the rooms, old wooden doors, latches, gigantic entrances, sneaky staircases, ruined walls, steep wells, gardens that are extravagant will make you taste the royal past in lap of modern luxury. Heritage drips from every bit and piece at this fort-palace

Food & Beverage: Normally your breakfast is included in your room tariff, but since its located in a remote area you don’t have an option to step out for food. So all our meals where at the in house restaurant including the evening tea session at Hawa Mahal, where all the in house guests enjoy a cup of their choice adoring the evening beauty around.  The Meals are all buffet and they also have special thali’s on weekend. They also have a bar, in the same chamber where maharja’s used to unwind in their days.

Oriental Spa: I had the most traditional Spa experiance at their in house spa, on suggestion i chose to go with their signature Rose Treatment. A luxurious romantic rose ritual that lasted for 90 minutes. It began with a fizzy rose foot soak as a welcome tradition after which my masseuse began with rose body scrub followed by aromatic rose massage, a holiday without spa is truly incomplete and i was in a true zen mode by the end of it. i was led to for a pine steam bath, and unlike modern spa this was a box in which i sat taking in the aroma and letting the oils do their magic (also imagining that, this is how maharanis rolled) winding up with Rose Tea from Anandini and some cookies to beat the hunger pangs on rise;  It was great to embark upon a journey of ultimate tranquility accompanied with exclusive pampering. Indeed making a memorable experience.

Actitivities

  • At Neemrana they offer you a chance to experience India’s first ever thrilling aerial zip-lining by Flying Fox.
  • An on request tour of the fort for the lovers of history and heritage.
  • Enjoy  Ayurvedic massages and rejuvenation programmes available at their in-house Spa.
  • Two swimming pools
  • Table tennis facility and indoor games for residents.
  • A 5 km Vintage car ride around the Neemrana village.
  • Multimedia Tour where you can now discover the history of Neemrana Fort-Palace. Explore its hidden nooks and see how it was as a ruin.
  • A Camel ride and Camel Cart Ride from the main gate to the step-well.

Recommended: Its quite a trek moving around the fort and navigation for restaurants, so make sure you carry your shoes, otherwise the staff is always around during the day to guide you. there are no exact sign boards to guide you, so try remembering the way, i certainly felt like i was at Hogwarts trying to find my way to the restaurant.

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