PASTORAL CHARMS OF PHALTAN, MAHARASHTRA

Tucked away in the Satara district of Maharashtra, Phaltan is a hidden gem where you can get into the rural rhythm and gorge on authentic local cuisine

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The glamour of twinkling cities and skyscrapers never fails to entice us, however, the heart of India lies in her villages. As city dwellers, we often yearn to run away from the chaos that’s somehow become a part of our day-to-day lives. We are always on the lookout for places that offer serenity and opportunities to connect with our roots. And why not?

The rural setting exposes us to so many marvellous things – pristine nature, fresh air, the simple ways of small-town life, the chance to pick fruits and vegetables straight from the farms and the invigorating vast open spaces. Indeed, there’s nothing quite like the Indian countryside!

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If you’re looking at an unconventional break this monsoon season, look no furthur than Phaltan, a little town in the the land of Marathas. Located in Satara district of southwest Maharashtra, Phaltan and the surrounding region is packed with ample natural beauty, historical sights, temples and more. Famous for its tall sugarcane fields and pomegranate orchards, this little-explored town is a fresh slice of bucolic bliss. Read more

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CUSCO – FOR EVERY CULTURE VULTURE

Often regarded as the gateway to the “lost” city of Machu Picchu, Cusco in Peru is a powerhouse of culture and a living monument to Inca history

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Enter the colonial city of Cusco and the first thing that strikes the eye is its archetypal architecture and stone-walled alleys. For individuals used to living in fabricated urban spaces and cities dotted with skyscrapers, a visit to South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city is nothing short of time travel!

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LADAKH FOR THE CULTURE VULTURE

Over the years, Ladakhis have proven the fact that satisfying life can be lived even with minimal natural resources, extreme heat and cold, little or no rain, a crumbling mud-brick homestead and a cooperative spirit. You already know that journeying along Ladakh’s spectacular supernatural surroundings is an exceptional experience. Now imagine taking it all in along with heartwarming conversations with the locals about their culture and conventional ways of life! Here’s how to bond with this magnificent region beyond just sightseeing

VOLUNTEER AT A NUNNERY WITH A VIEW

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Travel does go beyond photographing iconic sites and sampling local food. Volunteer at Nyerma nunnery (in Leh) overlooking the snow-clad Himalayas and give your trip a deeper purpose. Shake off the stress of city life and live like a nun for a few days. Relax, meditate and occasionally help the elderly nuns in their day-to-day chores like cooking food, farming, cleaning up and more. If you’re good at something, share your skills and knowledge with the humble nuns who enjoy bonding over activities and conversations. By giving something back to the society as a traveller, you not only understand and respect other cultures better but also work towards finding a clearer direction in life.

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GO FISH OR GO HOME

A pleasant 45-minute drive from Boston, Gloucester in Cape Ann, Essex County is America’s oldest working seaport that beautifully blends incredible food, art, adventure, shopping and culture. The heart of this fishing town beats in the vibrant Downtown and the waterfront. There is so much you can do here to experience its real flavor and quirkiness!

All things ‘fishy’

IMG_20160404_230851_HDR (2)Start your day by meeting the mammoth local residents – the great whales who live just off Gloucester’s shores. The cold, rich waters of the North Atlantic draw whales from thousands of miles away each summer – from April to October – to slurp up tons of tiny fish and krill. Go whale watching just 24 km off Gloucester’s rocky shore or catch cod, haddock and tuna on a deep sea fishing trip. For most people in Gloucester, fishing isn’t just a way of life; it’s an addiction. They live by a simple philosophy: Go fish or go home. There’s nothing in between. Don’t forget to halt at the Gloucester’s Fishermen Memorial – a famous statue of a man steering a ship’s wheel, his eyes searching the horizon – at the scenic seaside promenade.

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KEEMALA: WHERE LAVISHNESS MINGLES WITH RUSTIC NATURE

Being a frequent tripper, “a holiday in Phuket” – at first – didn’t really sound very exciting to me. Having been to Thailand a couple of times, I had already lived the sun, sand and the sea. But as soon as I browsed the website of Keemala, what I simply wanted to do was pack my bags and head right out of that door! The property looked unbelievably enchanting in pictures and I was curious to know if something like this really existed on the world map. A large part of travel often depends on where you stay, and my stay at Keemala gave me the finest experience of the paradisaical island.

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Keemala is exactly what dreams are made of. At some point in life, we all dream of living in a dimly-lit, swanky villa; sleeping like royalty on a beautifully-carved canopy bed; and swimming in our private pool while sipping on a glass of old, pricey wine. And this rainforest retreat fulfills all these fantasies and more, in the most understated manner possible.

VILLA WITH A PRIVATE POOL

So, when I finally arrived at Keemala and checked into my Tree Pool villa, I still thought I was living in my little bubble of bliss and that someone would burst it any moment.

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My pod-shaped Tree Pool Villa

The villas come in four different categories: hut-like Clay Pool Cottages apt for solo travellers; Tent Pool Houses with wildlife-inspired interiors, perfect for adventurous nomads; pod-shaped Tree Pool Houses with an upper, outdoor relaxation space, great for a family of four and opulent Bird’s Nest Pool Villas with giant terraces overlooking the Andaman Sea.
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HONG KONG IN PICTURES

Though my recent trip to Hong Kong was a brief one, it pretty much gave me a glimpse of the noodle town which is a unique blend of Chinese and British tastes. In case you didn’t know, Hong Kong was a British Colony till 1997. I wish I could stay a little longer and soak in the old-world charm of this arguably futuristic city with frenetic energy. Yes, beyond its soaring skyscrapers, high-end transportation modes, innumerable shopping malls and vibrant nightlife, lies a different world altogether. Go on a walking trail through its remote, rural bylanes and you’ll know what exactly I am talking about. What I just couldn’t get enough of was the variety of food here. From melt-in-mouth dimsums and iced jelly teas to egg tarts, noodle soup and green-tea ice-cream, the stunning array of delicacies available here will leave you in a state of bewilderment. I could extend my stay here and solely go on food tours for an entire week or two. Eat, eat and eat all the local treats till my tummy is about to explode!

For now, here’s my photostory of the city with heavenly food – Hong Kong

IMG_20150828_184441_HDR (2)The dazzling Hong Kong skyline from Harbour City – a mall located in the heart of Hong Kong alongside the beautiful Victoria Harbour

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