10 Places To Celebrate
BANJAAR TOLA KANHA
Taj Safaris have brought their super-luxurious jungle lodge concept to Kipling country. Banjaar Tola, one of their two latest lodges they already run two safari lodges in Bandhavgarh and Pench)( in Madhya Pradesh, is set on 90 acres of land near Kanha National Park’s core zone—what better place for an intense New Year’s holiday? The property, located on the banks of the Banjaar river, consists of two tented camps, with nine tents each. But this is a tented camp unlike any other: walls and roof made of canvas, bamboo flooring, glass doors, a floating verandah and multiple Bastar artworks. A jungle lodge is only as good as the wildlife and Kanha’s fauna-rich jungles promise many wild encounters. The lodge will of course equip you well, with custom-built four-wheel drives and well-trained naturalists. From Delhi, fly to Jabalpur (175km) and from Mumbai to Nagpur (266km). High-season tariff: Rs 30,000 per person per night (all-inclusive). Contact: 1800-111-825, www.tajsafaris.com
The holy city of Pushkar in Rajasthan is not quite desert—it is in fact famous for its roses! But it is sandy, and close enough to the desert to make tents a romantic prospect. The Orchard combines all these elements in a rather nice resort at the edge of town. A profusion of amla trees gives the hotel its name, roses confer the local distinction and its tents—just 12 of them—supply the luxury. The tents are gorgeous, peach canvas encompassing three areas: a bedroom space, a seating area and a dressing space, apart from the bathroom. The antique effects remind you that you’re in Rajasthan and the mod-cons—thermal bed sheets, for one—underscore the cosiness factor: perfect for a wintry New Year. Pushkar is a half-hour drive from Ajmer, the nearest railway station. Tariff: $200 per tent. Contact: 9351407672, www.orchard.in. Open till March 31, 2009.
A truly get-away-from-it-all place. Shambala, a plush, many-windowed wood, stone and log studio apartment on metal stilts with a large deck, has snuck into the heart of the forest—it sits bang on the animal corridor and animals barely bother to skirt it. Wild boar come snuffling close, elephants do their brand of gardening in the yard. Birds galore: with binoculars, you can count the feathers. Sloth bears, hyenas, tigers—this is not a place to be wandering about at night. The elegant and romantic studio with a double bed and pull-out couch is maintained in pristine nick by the caretaker who also ensures that the kitchenette is stocked with provisions. Guides will take you on a trek to the many watering holes in the forest. Two all-terrain mountain bicycles are also at your disposal. Located 6km from Masinagudi town. Tariff: Rs 9,850 per night (includes frozen meals, cold drinks, two pints of beer, a bottle of wine, two all-terrain bikes, binoculars, spotlight and bird book). Contact: 9895981563, 9487132298
TUMSONG TEA RETREAT DARJEELING
Tea and the mountains, taken together, exemplify the good life. When the tea is Darjeeling and the mountain is the Kanchenjunga, you know you’re hitting sublime notes of wellness. This 5,000ft-high tea estate was planted by J.A. Wernicke in 1867. Plant a tea-bush yourself or participate in a tea-tasting session at this elegant resort, which succeeds in giving you an authentic taste of life on a tea plantation. There are a host of things to do, but the best way to treat an occasion like this is to inhale the aroma and settle with a cup of tea. Darjeeling is 3 hrs by road from Bagdogra. Tariff: $290, Contact: 033-30936400, www.chiabari.com
CASA SUSEGAD GOA
As Goa’s beaches begin to creak under the congestion, discerning travellers are moving into the interior in search of charming new escapes. True to its name, Casa Susegad, in the village of Loutolim, takes the ‘art of elegant idleness’ very seriously. Carole and Norman Steen’s bright and cheery home is set in one-and-a-half acres of grounds, and the western view to the distant jungle-clad hills from the sunset terrace is breathtaking. As only four rooms are on offer, expect personalised and extremely attentive service. Loutolim is a 30min drive from Dabolim airport.
Tariff: Rs 5,170 for a double. Contact: 9850473174, www.casasusegadgoa.com