It is said that it’s your travel destination that makes or breaks the experience of a holiday. The places we travel to, the sites we explore and the memories we make; all put together determine the success of a journey. But how many times have we really participated and not just witnessed? How many times have we learned and grown with a place that was otherwise unknown? There is much more to a holiday than just good old sightseeing. By living and experiencing the very idea of a place, by embracing its true essence and respecting its intent, is how we create an intrinsic experience to the fullest. If such productive experiences are what you like, then we have just the places to captivate your mind. These places are special as they are unique; created for people who want holidays with an innovational streak.
ART INN, JAIPUR, RAJASTHAN.
A tranquil bungalow designed by a German architect, it houses six double bedrooms. As the name suggests, it is a place of art, for the people of art and by the people of art. You need not specifically be an artist in any field to stay here. If you are a creative mind looking to learn a traditional craft or simply need some space to hone your creativity, then this is the place you are looking for. Run by women only, Art Inn upholds the tradition of Rajasthani art and culture by promoting the cause of the local handicraftsmen of the region. A niche homestay, the entire show here is personally run under the expert guidance of the owners. They have an in-house terrace studio and organize workshops for traditional block-printing, miniature paintings, Jaipur blue pottery, woodcraft (toys, puppets, and furniture), jewelry designing etc. All this is done in collaboration with the local master craftsmen and women. Day trips to surrounding villages known for the practice of specific art forms are organized as a part of their outdoor activities. Not to mention the guided trips to the historic sites around Rajasthan.
Coming to the rooms, each is a statement of art. Themed around the art forms promoted by the place, each room stands true to its name. The Writers Paradise, on the ground floor with a bay window overlooking the garden, makes for a perfect setting for musings and ponderings. The Artists Retreat showcases woodcraft in different forms, reflecting the artists’ skills and expertise. The Blue Factory is an honest tribute to the famous Jaipur blue pottery in its most authentic attribute. Reflections in wood has a special art piece by the Japanese artist Yuken Teruya. Banithani exhibits the essence of the famous miniature painting itself and also has a balcony overlooking the garden and the patio if you are looking to de-stress. The Purple Sunbird is comfortably ensconced on the first floor, with a view of the garden and the birdhouse. It is suitable for writers and artists alike if solitude is what you have in mind.
- Jaipur Railway station is a 15 minutes drive.
- Jaipur airport is 13 km away.
- Delhi to Jaipur is a 5 hours drive.
- Tariff: Rs. 2100 -3000 per night
SAI (SAVE ANIMALS INITIATIVE) SANCTUARY, KODAGU, KARNATAKA.
To put it simply, this place is otherworldly. India’s first privately owned wildlife sanctuary; it is a non-profit charitable trust. Spread over an area of 300 acres the sanctuary’s aim is to preserve and protect our rich biodiversity and to teach people to live in harmony with Nature. This is definitely not your typical wildlife sanctuary where you go to spot animals in all luxurious revelry. So, if you are an environmentalist at heart, the kind who respects the earth as a source of life and not the means to an end, then this place is made for you my friend.
The cottages are basic and eco-friendly. The food served is organic and home-grown and they promote vegetarianism, out of respect every life-form. The entire place is powered by solar energy. Windmills are used as alternatives during monsoon to produce electricity.
They have preserved the ethnic trees and have planted much more. They have their own coffee plantation and cardamom trees in galore. The beauty of the sanctuary is surreal; you can never get enough of the vast expanse of green contrasted with the earthy terrain. A beautiful freshwater river meanders right through the middle of the sanctuary. The air is pure and filled with smells of forest and wildflowers, energizing every cell in the body with its refreshing powers. You wake up in the morning with the chirping of birds for alarm clocks. Sleep is silent and peaceful amidst the night sounds of the jungle. The sound of the wind and rustling of trees, the distant hoot of an owl, the reverberating chirp of crickets, an occasional roar of a tiger or a sudden trumpet by elephants, the call of a barking deer or your own heartbeat; you can hear it all in the quietness of this jungle retreat. More than 305 species of birds have made this sanctuary their home. The list of wild animals is pretty long; Asiatic elephants, Bengal tigers, hyenas, Sambhars, Wildboars, leopards, foxes, jackals, snakes, and reptiles are to name a few. If luck favors you, they might just come into your view.
The sanctuary organizes guided treks throughout the day. There are facilities provided to take a trip to the nearby Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary, Irupu falls in Srimangala and Nagarhole National Park in Kutta.
- It’s 67.5 km drive from Coorg.
- Tariff: Rs.3000 per night
THE LODGE AT WAH, PALAMPUR, HIMACHAL PRADESH.
Amidst 526 acres of tea gardens, flanked by the gorgeous Dhauladhar range, is The Lodge At Wah. The Wah tea estate established by the British is now run by one part of the Chaiwala family.
The Lodge has 8 ensuite rooms spread across 3 cottages. What sets these cottages apart is the fact they are totally organic and are made by the skillful hands of the local artisans with locally procured wood, slate, and mud. Recycled pine wood is used to furnish the cottages. In order to make the cottages chemical free, all the polishing is done with linseed oil which is created naturally. The cottages have not been painted upon and what you see is the natural color effect of the building materials used. Remaining true to its surroundings, the 3 cottages have been appropriately named after the various attributes of tea. Camelia with its 4 rooms, is the centerpiece, the melting pot for all the guests in the living and dining area. People gather here to dine, play games, and watch movies, read books or simply to relax with a cup of tea.
Oolong is just adjacent to Camelia and has 2 rooms, with a soothing view of the surroundings and a comfy little reading hideout.
Pekoe has two rooms and offers more privacy, with a view of the gardens and a discreet nook where one can lounge about in one’s private space.
Having stated the aesthetics, we now move to the activities.
The Lodge offers a well-guided tea tour, right through the different stages of tea manufacturing which ends with a picturesquely set up tea tasting session in the tea garden.
There is a beautiful picnic spot within the estate, where you can enjoy the home cooked outdoor meals with a breathtaking view of mountains and tea bushes for company. You could also cycle around within the property or make use of the telescope on a clear night if you are a stargazer.
If you are the type who is quite outdoorsy, then treks into the hills might catch your fancy. Triund, Bir, and Barot are a few sites that are quite popular for such hikes. You could also go to Billing if paragliding is of interest. Overnight camping and angling at the nearby trout breeding center can also be a good be a good bet. The potter’s village Andretta should not be missed, for the art of the potters is very difficult to resist. A class in pottery can be a lot of fun and you could bring back souvenirs that are second to none.
The food the lodge offers is organic, the range of cuisine broad. North Indian to traditional Kangra to Continental; the chef whips food up to the likes and preferences of all.
- Dharamshala airport: 1 hour away from the estate
- Nearest railway station: Pathankot, Punjab. 3 hours drive from the estate.
- The estate is well connected by road to major cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jammu, Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala.
ART ICHOL, SATNA, MADHYA PRADESH
A hotbed of creative minds, Art Ichol, is a residential retreat for artists of all kinds. It’s a place where you can be yourself and unleash your inner talent unconstrained and uninterrupted. This is no way means that the entry is restricted, for this place welcomes everybody irrespective of their interests. If you are an admirer of art and want to watch its nuances in progress, or are simply inquisitive about the lives and the lifestyle of artists or you are just looking for a clandestine getaway, then, Art Ichol, is just the place where you’d want to stay.
The institution has three estates, each unique in its design and concept. Each estate caters to a specific creative inclination while at the same time houses many guests. Let’s take a tour of this artwork in motion one by one, for a place like this needs a detailed description.
Art Ichol, the skill center
Constructed from scraps and recycled materials, this is for the skillful and is more technical; for it is has workshops and studios at the artists’ disposal. A bronze casting foundry, an open-air sculpting park, stone and wood carving workshop, painter’s studios, clay modeling room etc. are the highlights of this place. Thus, making art ichol a perfect artists’ workspace. The guests are welcome to watch the elaborate repertoire, admire the collection at the art gallery or grab a bite at the little cafe nearby.
Amariya, the writer’s retreat
A dreamy cottage along the banks of river Tamas, Amariya , is all bliss and silence far away from all the ruckus. Shady mango trees, an old bridge, and a watchtower; make the perfect excuse for a writer to sit and ponder. There are provisions for a picnic by the river if you are a guest or catch some fish or just bask in the beautiful sunset.
Maihar Heritage Home
A quaint 100 years old heritage bungalow, Maihar Heritage Home is in the middle of an ancient town of temples and mystic tales. It has comfortable artistically designed rooms along with gym and yoga facilities. The pottery and ceramic center in bungalow provides the guests an opportunity to bring out their creative streak. The quiet and calm of the property makes it a much-appreciated hideout from the din and buzz of the city crowd.
If you are done exploring the three estates and are wondering what to do next; take a cable ride to the ancient Sharda Devi temple or the hike up to the Chambal hills to the Maihar fort for a historical trek. If Khajuraho, Panna National Park, and Bandhavgarh National park are on your radar, Art school happily organizes trips to fulfill your wish.
- Khajuraho: 12O Km
- Jabalpur airport: 160 Km
- Maihar Train station: 8 Km
- Tariff: Rs.3000-6000.
Glenburn Tea Estate Boutique Hotel, Darjeeling.
If unfettered indulgence is your intent, then this boutique hotel will spoil and pamper you to your heart’s content. Located on a hillock, this luxury plantation retreat provides a panoramic view of the Himalayas which is a visual treat.
The two bungalows, the Burra Bungalow and the Water Lily Bungalow have four grandiose suites each, with richly furnished verandas, bright gardens, and sprawling terraces. The generations-old Burra Bungalow boasts of opulent regalia, with an elegant living room and a majestic dining room that hosts candlelit full course meals for the guests. The rooms here exhibit an old world charm, with fireplaces and freestanding bathtubs and plush decor.
The Water lily Bungalow has a direct view of the mountains from all the rooms. Private balconies or bay windows grace every tastefully decorated room.
Each of the eight suites is furnished with a theme reflecting the essence of the tea estate and its surroundings.
Meals at Glenburn are a grand affair; its gourmet menu ranging from Indian to Asian to Continental. They take pride in their homegrown organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables. The freshly baked bread cakes and cookies, home-made marmalades and ice-creams are nothing short of gastronomic prodigies.
When it comes to activities, there is no dearth; the estate offers experiences that are every penny’s worth.
The tea factory tour covers every nuance of the trade, exposing the guests to the manufacturing, tasting and plucking process.
In the middle of the wilderness along the river Rangeet, is the Glenburn Lodge & Campsite. Spend time fishing trout or take a dip, or enjoy a candlelit dinner down by the river side. The view from the lodge is spectacular; the campsite can even organize barbeques and campfires.
Hiking trips are also arranged, you can actually pick and choose the places that you may want to explore. Treks to suspension bridge to Sikkim, River Rung Dung Hike, afternoon walk to Shikari Dura village, Cluny Sisters Convent, hiking between Darjeeling town and Glenburn; outdoor options are various. Thus, a stay in Glenburn can be anything but tedious.
- Bagdodra airport- 3 hours drive
- New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri Railway station- 3 hours drive
- Darjeeling town center- 1.5 hours drive.
- Tariff: Rs. 25000 -30000 per night (inclusive of all facilities)
What’s more interesting, for places uncommon as these, all of them are situated in areas that have a place on every traveller’s list. So, the next time you plan a trip to your favorite destination, you may want to check out these places for accommodation.