Friday, 29 May 2015

5 Reasons I Loved My Stay At Balkatmane


When I saw its photos online I wasn’t very impressed. I thought its earthy brown exterior looked quite uninviting and I wouldn’t want to stay here for more than a day. Well, I was invited by Sai Vishram folks to spend a few days at a couple of their properties in coastal Karnataka. While I was looking forward to staying at Sai Vishram Beach resort, I wasn’t sure of this one.

Balkatmane Heritage Spa Resort is their other property, where I got to spend one night. BUT, I was totally enamoured by it. I wish my stay had lasted longer. The place that didn’t appeal to me at all in the photos turned out to be so pretty and interesting!
So why did I love it so much –

The architecture, the antiques and the d├ęcor

Balkatmane took me back in time – it’s crafted in an old-fashioned way, which is quaintly refreshing. As soon as you enter its main door, you find a swing hung in the middle of the courtyard that entices you for those lazy afternoon naps. And then as you move forward, the elements of old times hide in every corner – the black switches (that I had last seen in my grand-parents’ home), old paintings beautifully framed under the shadow of gorgeous lamps, antique clocks fixed on the patios’ walls and the lovely rocking chairs. 


The aura of quietness

Staying at Balkatmane was like being oblivious of what’s happening in the world. The place is designed in such a way that it soothes you, takes away your burdens and just lets you relax in the calm environment. I can confidently say that it's one of the best heritage spa resorts in India.  


The Spa & all the pampering

Who wouldn’t love to be pampered? Though I’m not really a spa lover, I enjoyed the experience of just putting my feet up and not thinking anything. I was told by their doctor that the products that they use for the Spa and all the beauty treatments are their own. They don’t use anything from the market. They make beauty products with natural herbs and fruits that work on your skin tenderly.


The hospitality and the comfort

It is extraordinarily comfortable to be at Balkatmane resort. The hospitality just adds to the experience of staying at a resort like Balkatmane, which is meant to give its guests a time of respite mingled with heritage.

  
The unassuming uniqueness

What truly sets Balkatmane apart is its indifference to its own uniqueness. While most plush resorts emanate certain flamboyance, Balkatmane has an air of humility that makes you feel more connected to the place. The earthy brown exterior of Balkatmane that didn’t inspire me in the photos stunned the photographer in me. My job just got easier. Who wouldn’t take nice photos when the settings are so tasteful and classy?


Would you like to spend a day at Balkatmane Heritage Spa Resort?

Practical Information: Balkatmane Heritage Spa Resort is in Beloor village, Udupi District, Karnataka. It’s around 2 hours drive from the Mangalore airport.

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Sunday, 24 May 2015

5 ‘Offbeat’ Stays In India I’d Like To Experience

I have always believed that an offbeat stay experience on your travels adds a lot of substance to your trip. Thus, you should always make it a point to choose your accommodation carefully. Like in my case, I wouldn’t want to stay in a characterless, plain and lacklustre hotel room. For me, it’s important that I get an experience in each place that I visit. Whether it’s a simple village hut in the mountains or a swanky heritage haveli in Rajasthan, I want a certain aura that I can take back home.

Offbeat stays in India

Of late, there has been an influx of ‘offbeat stays in India’. I think it isn’t a challenge anymore to find your kind of space while travelling. More and more people are opening their homes for travellers. Even more and more tourists are turning into travellers, who have the curiosity to know a place profoundly rather than just rush through it.

Well, I’m certainly one of those travellers who like to experience a place deeply, and there is no better way to do that than to discover it from a local’s eyes. Although there are so many amazing stays in India that I fancy experiencing, I’d like to share 5 offbeat stays that are on my wish-list –

Wooden Cottages of Morjim Hermitage, North Goa

Goa is so fascinating. Staying close to one of its beaches would be even more beguiling. The Ac Wooden Cottages of Morjim Hermitage are right next to the Morjim Beach in Goa. I can already imagine myself swinging in a hammock!  

Image source: Google

Bamboo House In Panamaram, Wayanad

I have been dreaming about staying near the coffee plantations for quite a while now. So when I came across Bamboo House in Panamaram, I couldn’t resist adding it to my bucket-list. I can’t wait to chat with my hosts at Bamboo House, stroll through the plantations and simply take in the lush beauty.

Image source: Google
 
Meriyanda Nature Lodge- Coorg

Staying in the midst of a rainforest would be a totally new experience for me. Yes, Meriyanda Nature Lodge is a forest lodge in Coorg. What excites me about this stay is the abundance of natural beauty around – mountain views, river, pepper & cardamom plantations and orange trees. Ah!

Image source: Google

Billy and Sanjiv's Cottage in Shimla

I have been to Shimla so many times, but I am yet to experience its offbeat side. I guess I can do that with Billy and Sanjiv’s fully furnished cottage in old Shimla. Since it’s hidden away in the quietude of a sublime valley and deodar trees, I might just get back to my love for story writing!

Image source: Google

Rani Mahal, a heritage haveli in Jaipur

I simply love heritage havelis. I’d really like to check out Rani Mahal whenever I visit Jaipur this year. And, I am glad that it’s in my budget, too. 

Image source: hotel website/google

WOULD YOU ALSO LIKE TO EXPERIENCE SUCH AMAZING OFFBEAT STAYS IN INDIA?

You may want to check out "MyIndianStay” – it’s a platform that connects travellers and local hosts in order to provide unique holiday experiences to the traveller.

And, if you like writing, MyIndianStay is running a contest for you to grab prizes worth Rs 28,000! Check out their Facebook Page for more details!

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Friday, 22 May 2015

The Laidback Vibe Of Coastal Karnataka

Karnataka has grown on me. There are certain nuances about it, which make it so admirable. The charm is not very obvious, but it’s there and it impresses slowly. I like the way things unfold in Karnataka. There is always something to surprise and amaze. And, since I like the unpredictability and spontaneity of travel, I enjoyed discovering coastal Karnataka, which has a unique beauty and thankfully, dearth of tourists.

I got to explore a few unsung places in Udupi District like Paduvari, Shiroor and Uppunda. Let me unveil some of the secrets that I found out in these places –

The fishermen colonies

I had a chance to take a close look at the fishermen’s lives – their boats, net and their house. They like to live simply even though they make good money. I guess they want to be just ‘happy-go-lucky’ people and not bother about too many things in life. As I sneaked in one of the homes, I could see some carpentry work going on and then as I moved ahead, I found a Turkey standing still under a tree, children prancing around, oldies lounging languidly in their verandas and a dog barking me away.   


The village homes

The homes in coastal Karnataka reminded me of Goa and Murud, because they have the similar vividly coloured walls and country tiled roofs. But the atmosphere they exude is totally different. Each home has a well in its front yard, which is something that I haven’t seen anywhere else. I find such attributes interesting about a place because that takes me back to those old, simpler days of my childhood.     


The countryside

The bucolic life in Udupi is pretty carefree. People usually live very quiet lives. Their cattle can be seen loitering around anywhere (even on the roads). The young boys are mischievous – always ready to be photographed. There seems to be a strange oblivion of the beauty around. I guess that’s the case anywhere. I think a dweller can never have the sense of wonder of a visitor.

The lush farmlands with the backdrop of mountains persuade you to spend more time outdoors. The more you drive towards the Western Ghats, the sceneries get better.


The backwaters

I wouldn’t say that the backwaters of Karnataka are anything like Kerala’s, but they have their own character. The speed boating is a thrilling experience, which I believe, is not so popular in other parts of coastal India.  


The Cashew factory

The cashew factory in Uppunda is one of the places worth visiting just to see the laborious process of cashew production. I was told by the factory manager that it takes 15 days to complete the entire process starting from drying the cashews to putting them into the hot chamber, cooling, cutting, cleaning and finally packing them for the market.

Also, you can pick up a few packets of fresh cashews at a really low price (250 gm for INR 125).    


The local markets

The local markets are abuzz with people in the evenings. Although it’s no different than any other local market in India, the riot of colours is a delight to witness. I saw a variety of veggies and fruits being sold at the weekly market. The eating lifestyle of coastal Karnataka seems to be quite healthy.


Have you explored coastal Karnataka yet?

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Saturday, 16 May 2015

My Last Six Months Of Travel In 20 Best Photos

Though I wish I get to travel much more, I realised that I travelled quite a bit in the last six months – December to May. The fact that I managed to travel quite consistently despite the dearth of stable income is something to reckon with. If you want to do something, you are able to do it by any means.  

So, I’m just being grateful by putting this compilation of my 20 most favorite travel photos from the last six months –

HAMPI

Waking up early in the morning is always rewarding! This photos was part of BBC Travel Monthly Photo Contests' finalists. 
One of the best sunset spots was at Shanthi Guest House, where I stayed.
It's a river near Shanthi Guest House, which just gets more enchanting in the evenings.
Virupaksha Temple Complex - one of the best temples I have seen so far.
Fire in the sky - the best sunset of my life.
Random hues left by the waning sun.

GOA

One of the best places to wander in Goa - Fontainhas
One of the best beaches in Goa - Sinquerim Beach
The sunset on a spontaneous evening stroll...

MURUD

Romance on the beach in Murud.
A taste of Konkani spices at Golden Swan Beach Resort.
On a voyage with the charming village folks...

KUTCH

The Rann Of Kutch at sunset.
Bhujodi village - a rare place where every home has a weaver.
Lakhpat - one of the most unique and interesting places I have ever visited.
Peer ki Dargah - one of the most charming spots in Bhuj.
Former Custom's House in ruins at Lakhpat.
One of the village homes I visited at Devpur Yaksh.

COASTAL KARNATAKA

Sai Vishram Beach Resort in Dombe Village, Paduvari
Only travel can give you such pure, joyous moments - one of the villages en-route Kulloor, towards western ghats.

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