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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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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TRANSFORM YOUR ATMA-MAN-TAN

buddhaMy husband and I are packing our bags for a four-day break at a newly-opened health retreat near Mulshi Lake, Pune. We are thinking of packing swimwear, laptop for checking office e-mails and kindle so that we can read some e-books by the pool to pass the time. However, we don’t end up reading a single page of any e-book and completely forget about our emails or text messages, or you can say “work”. We both are super busy, but in a very healthy and fulfilling manner. As enthusiastic newcomers to the world of luxury wellness retreats, we happily devote ourselves to the course planned for us, as per expert advice.

IMG_20160602_070611 (2)When I utter the word “luxury”, I don’t mean you’re assigned a chauffeur with a Lamborghini to pick you up from your residence or served with rich, ghee-laden Indian food in plates of silver. Here, opulence is associated with being trained by a highly-skilled fitness expert, treated to authentic massages by master masseurs and offered food that’s loaded with healthy, farm-fresh ingredients. To sum it up, before you head to Atmantan, you must be mentally prepared for a kind of a lifestyle makeover!

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GLAMPING IN MOMOLAND

Think tent with a view, tasteful luxury and otherworldly, stunning natural beauty. That’s what ‘glamping’ at Chamba Camp Thiksey and Diskit is all about

LEADThere are those who yearn to ditch all the present-day luxuries and camp with the basics in God’s flawless setting – Leh-Ladakh. They are okay with roughing it, sleeping on the cold ground, using Mother Nature as lavatory and giving up on warm, comforting showers. Unadulterated air and picture-perfect views keep them happy. And then there are some who want it all – good wifi connectivity, Himalayan earl grey tea on call and a foam mattress for a good night’s sleep – without trading off nature and it’s rugged beauty. You can call them “glampers”. A fry cry from the string of typical white and maroon guest houses and hotels with distinct dragon motifs and wood carvings that dot Leh, glamping in the ‘Land of Lamas’ is all about unrivalled understated luxury.

BE THE LUXE NOMAD  LANDSCAPE OF LADAKH
Chamba Camp Thiksey and Diskit by TUTC are set up in mesmerising locations making the surroundings a photographer’s delight. Depart on a photo tour with a local guide or a like-minded outdoorsy-type wildlife enthusiast. They will help you unravel all the little hidden treasures you wouldn’t want to miss capturing in your camera!  Read more

WALLOW IN A BREATHTAKING BEACHSIDE SETTING AT SURYA SAMUDRA – KOVALAM

Planning a trip to Kerala and looking for a setting that will give you an ethereal experience of  ‘God’s Own Country’? I happened to stay at this beautiful heritage property called Surya Samudra – Kovalam by Niraamaya Retreats with my family a couple of months ago and simply didn’t want to return. I had almost planned to apply for a job as a staff member only so that I could live in the tranquil surroundings for the rest of my life. 😉

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The jade blue infinity pool surrounded by greenery. How can you not love it?
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Some bird watching at the nearly private beach of the resort

Set in 20 acres of landscaped gardens, Surya Samudra is a peaceful retreat built at a stunning cliff-top location with dramatic views of the Arabian Sea apart from the two secluded and nearly-private beaches, yet not more than 12 km from the hustle and bustle of Kovalam. Everything from the reception to the polished wooden cottages reflect the 100-year old traditional Keralan homes and lifestyle.

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The reception of the resort has a very earthy appeal with its wooden interiors

Spaced well apart, surrounded by a number of coconut trees, the cottages are perfect for families looking for deep relaxation or even a couple looking to sharing some romantic moments with each other. In fact, a solo trip here is highly recommended too as you’re sure to come back with a lot more calm and renewed energy for your next opus. Read more