The Hidden Resort in Manor, Mumbai – Silent Hills !!!

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The Pool Side, Silent Hills Resort

Sometimes unpremeditated break from the mundane city life can be a rejuvenating experience for you and your loved ones. One of the biggest challenges that we are facing is extricating oneself from the over demanding family and work life.

Deciding on where to go, what to do in your break is also a task in itself whether to go on a one-day trip, go to an amusement park with kids, go for some water activities or just to spend some leisure time by yourself with your loved ones. We have found answers to all your confusions while you decide to go on for a short break.

The Silent Hills Resort situated on the banks of the Vaitarna river lets you experience all of your holiday choices in its arena. The resort serves its guests with two options like :

One Day Picnic

Water Activities

One day picnic that goes on till the evening time which includes breakfast buffet, lunch buffet and high tea with snacks. During this one day picnic you can enjoy the property that includes the water park, play area for a small amusement park for the kids, rain dance with some DJ arrangement. The resort management provides good resting space along with lockers to keep your belongings and hygienic washrooms and changing rooms for their one day picnic guests so that you are rest assured about your valuables and personal needs.

Although this resort serves only pure veg food to their guests, you do not have to be disappointed or skeptical because they undoubtedly serve the best vegetarian food to their guests and do not compromise on the quality and the taste aspect. We can say this because, we ourselves have experienced it on our visit to the resort.

In- house Guests Stay - Rooms

Super Deluxe Rooms at Silent Hills Resorts

Silent Hills Resort has 3 categories of rooms for their guests who want to extend their stay beyond one day picnic. The 3 categories of rooms are:

Deluxe Room

Super Deluxe Room

Suite Room

The Unique Selling Point of these rooms are that their balconies open to the beautiful Vaitarna River which gives you a spell bounded scenic view of the resort and its premises. The stillness and the calmness of the Vaitarna river will instil a sense of peace within you which will be your most cherished moment of the holiday.

The Vaitarna Restaurant at Silent Hills Resort

The Vaitarna Restaurant in the Silent Hills Resort is exclusively for their in-house guests which serve some amazing vegetarian delicacies that are finger licking good. Our little tip would be to take suggestions from the restaurant staff that will guide you in selecting and deciding your food order.

The Vaitarna Restaurant also comprises of a mini bar which can be enjoyed while you leisure around. The restaurant overlooks the Vaitarna river which is a great deal of “Food with a View”

The room service is also very prompt and swift. So, if you wish to enjoy food in the comfort of your room then that also makes for a good idea. The food is presented in a professional setup that adds onto its deliciousness making it more appealing and mouth-watering.

Activities for in-house guests

>Boating
>Gym and Jacuzzi
>Indoor Games

>You do not have to worry about the one day picnic guests invading your privacy   because the rooms are located at quiet a distant area from where the one day picnic guests are entertained.

>All the rooms are priced very reasonably and the service that they provide is equally worth all the money that you spend.

>Silent Hill Resorts in its premises has two huge party/ conference halls that can be booked to host corporate meetings/ conferences, family get together, birthday and anniversary parties, wedding or reception parties etc.

>All the rooms are priced very reasonably and the services that they offer to their guests is equally worth all the money that you spend.

>Hence Silent Hill Resorts is an all-inclusive holiday spot that makes for a memorable holiday destination.

>Silent Hills Resort is situated in Manor in the Palghar district which is about a 2 hour drive from the
suburbs of Mumbai City that makes it an ideally accessible weekend getaway.

The Pool Area at Silent Hills Resorts

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3 Reasons to visit Abu Dhabi !!!

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Abu Dhabi being one of the seven Emirates of UAE and the second most populous city is the capital the UAE and is also closest to the city of Dubai at a distance of 140 kms. By road it takes around 1.5 hours to reach Abu Dhabi. You can hire taxis or cabs which are easily available to reach Abu Dhabi and also you can opt for the bus service that starts from Ibn Batuta metro station 4 in Dubai to Abu Dhabi which will approximately take 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Mosque
9am to 10pm Saturday to Thursday
4pm to 10pm on Fridays

    The heart and soul of any country is its religion and culture. As Abu Dhabi follows the Islam religion, Sheikh Zayed mosque is a very pious place for people following Islam. So on your visit to Abu Dhabi you cannot miss out on this heavenly, serene and beautifully designed place of worship. As you see and admire this superlatively white mosque which takes architectural inspiration from Persia, Indo-Islamic, Mughal and Alexandrian mosques around the world. You will be awestruck by its magnificence and glory. The prayer hall of the mosque has the world’s largest carpet handwoven by 1200-1300 knitters and weighs around 35 tons. The seven imported chandeliers incorporated with millions of Swarovski crystals illuminate and embellish the aesthetics of the Sheikh Zayed mosque.

Beautiful Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Chandeliers with Swarovski Crystals
World's largest handwoven carpet
The Prayer Hall of Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Dress code to follow while visiting the mosque women need to follow the dress code as decided by the mosque committee i.e. to cover themselves from head to toe and avoid wearing tight and revealing clothes. If this dress code is not followed you will be asked to leave the premises and hence to avoid such a situation you will have to follow the dress code guidelines or rent an Abaya or Hijab which is available in the mosque premise itself at no cost but for this you will need to submit your photo Id’s so do carry them along with you.

The mosque is closed for tourism activities on Friday mornings because of the weekly prayers. Visiting hours of the mosque for the holy period of Ramadan also differ so do check the timings before visiting during the Holy month of Ramadan 

Photography of the mosque is allowed both in and outside the mosque premises but please avoid posing for photographs which is strictly prohibited. 

Ferrari World
Open all days of the week from 11 am to 8 pm

 For all the automobile fanatics Ferrari world is the only exclusive Ferrari branded amusement park which is located on the Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. It is the most defined structure of Abu Dhabi skyline and stands out with its very own unique Ferrari shaped logo as its outer shape. It is one of the most leading tourist attraction of Abu Dhabi and hence should not be missed at any cost. It is preferred to dedicate one entire day to get one of its kind experience in the world with blood gushing rides like Formula Rossa, Flying Aces Turbo Trek, The Ferrari gallery etc. and to orient yourself about the history of Ferrari from its inception to buying original Ferrari merchandise from its own in-house shop. All this and much more can be done can be done under one roof of Ferrari world.

 

Formula Rossa is the fastest roller coaster ride in the world and when we sat on this spine chilling ride it just got our hearts in our mouths within seconds. It runs at a speed of almost 220 kms/hr and hence its only for the brave hearts so do not miss out on creating a world record for yourself. Our most favourite ride was Flying Aces which is known for having the worlds tallest non inverting loop. In this roller coaster you need to board on the military by plane and what happens next experience it for yourself. We are sure that it’ll give you the unexpected intensity of adrenaline rush so don’t miss on it.

 

There are other kids and family friendly rides which you can be informed of through the map of the theme park provided to you as you enter. Ferrari world offers a lot of cafeteria and restaurants for different food options throughout your visit. Outside food, beverages and snacks are not allowed in the park.

 

The place can be a little boring for senior citizens and for very small children but there are other entertaining options like Cinema Maranello and the Tyre change show. The Ferrari word is connected to the Yas Mall so after finishing the Ferrari world world activities and if you still have time on your hands, you can take a stroll in the Yas mall as well. 

 

Tickets for adults and children for one day park pass is AED 295 / INR 5,310

Al Ain Zoo
Open all days of the week from 9 am to 8 pm

     Al Ain zoo is a paradise for children as this Zoo with an area of 440 hectares located in Jabel Hafeet encompasses in itself various animals and reptiles like Lion, Leopards, jaguars, Monkeys, Chimpanzees etc. The Zoo hosts some special activities like Giraffe feeding, Camel riding, Elezba petting which lets the family feed and play with Camels, goats, chickens, ducks and sheeps etc. There is a bird show that starts at 7pm in the evening and goes on for 30 minutes. The zoo is also very well involved in conserving the bio diversity so it will be a combination of fun filled and learning experience. For the zoo you need to dedicate half a day and a lot of walking is required. For the tickets cost there are different packages available.

Connectivity between Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi being well known cities of UAE are well connected with daily flights from major cities of India. The flight rates fluctuate and depend on the time you choose to go like for instance, during the new years and Dubai Shopping festivals the rates are very high so planning and booking in advance will help you save on flight tickets.

Visa Procedures

We would love to hear your experiences and how this itinerary helped you to enhance your experience and made it a memorable trip for you.

All about Ferrari

To get information about our accommodation in Middle East read the accommodation in Middle East.

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The Heart Of The Middle East – Dubai

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Do you want to be on top of the world, literally ? Do you want to explore the glamorous city life and unleash your shopaholic self ? Then Dubai is exactly what you’re looking for !!! It balances both the contemporary and conventional worlds together in its cradle. From the glistening city lights, one stop shops, unbounded deserts to the glittering gold souks, Dubai encompasses all of this and much more within its arena and beyond. Dubai is a perfect holiday destination because of its proximity from India, hassle-free visa procedures and other formalities, being extremely kids friendly when compared to other foreign destinations. 

Burj Khalifa

 As you are about to land in the heart of the Middle East your inquisitive eyes instantaneously seek to see the tallest structure of the world that stands tall with pride which will make you feel like you have arrived in Dubai. If Dubai is the heart of the Middle East then Burj Khalifa is undoubtedly its heartbeat. It is this iconic structure that exclusively defines its presence among the other structure which look relatively smaller. Burj Khalifa being the tallest building stands at a height of 828 meters and holds a world record of being the tallest building since 2008. If you want to go on the observation deck situated on this magnificent structure to get a birds eye view of Dubai city alongside vast spread deserts then you need to pre-book your slots well in advance on AT THE TOP. Booking in advance will secure your slots and you should not miss out on this opportunity of being on the top of the world !!! 

Bellas Suggestion : The observatory decks are situated on 124th, 125th and 148th floor so you can decide as per your choice and budget. Also look out on their website for their prime hours as they are subject to change.

The Mighty Burj Khalifa

Ever since we planned of visiting Dubai being at the top of the world was our foremost priority in our Dubai itinerary. Burj Khalifa is situated in the Dubai mall premises so you need to walk for a considerable distance through the Dubai mall for entering the Burj Khalifa building. After passing through the security checks you are divided into groups and directed towards the elevators through a passage that displays a story, facts, people involved and the making of the structure. The elevator takes you upto your respective observatory deck in less than a minutes time and here you are at the terrace of the dreams. The observatory deck made of glass panes offers you 360 degree view of the entire city of Dubai. We visited during the day time likewise you can book your slots to witness the night view as well. The deck is breezy and spacious enough to accommodate good number of people. After the euphoric moment you can get yourself clicked by the professional photographers at a predefined cost. There is a small section dedicated to a souvenir shop wherein you can purchase some Burj merchandise for your own memories or gifting someone back home. 

Dubai Museum
8.30am to 8.30pm : Saturday to Thursday
2.30pm to 8.30pm : Fridays

It is located in the Al Fahidi Fort being the oldest construction in Dubai. The museum displays life sized statues of the local community and it is set up in such a way that it depicts their way of life in relation to their livelihood, business activities, dressing style and the general culture of the Emirates. Entry free for adults is AED 3 that is approximately INR 54 and for children AED 1 which is INR 18.

Dubai Museum

Dubai Mall

 Being one of the biggest malls in the world it is enormous in size encompassing numerous luxurious brands ranging from cosmetics, bakery, food, clothing, handbags, jewelry, shoes, perfumes and much more.

Apart from shopping it also serves other activities Dubai Aquarium, Underwater Zoo, SnowPark, Cinema experience, cafes and kids friendly zone. 

The Aquarium has more than 300 species of Marine Animals including sharks and the underwater zoo makes you feel as if you are walking under water surrounded with fishes.

Dubai mall also has Skii Dubai, an indoor ski resort that gives you an experience of a snowy destination in a desert country. The temperatures are maintained between -2 to -4 degrees and there are many rides that you can enjoy the foremost being skiing. They provide you with all the clothing and equipment to sustain and enjoy the freezing temperatures. The Penguin show that happens at fixed times is a delight for kids as they get to interact and be-friend Penguins. It is a must activity if you are travelling with kids. 

The timings for Skii Dubai are Sunday to Wednesday 10 am to 11 pm 

Thursday 10 am to 12 midnight

Friday to Saturday 9 am to 12 midnight. For the prices please visit their website as various combo offers are available.

The Dubai fountain situated at the very junction of Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa is a delightful fountain show to experience in Dubai. The fountain sprays out water in different patterns and combinations in the air on some catchy music. The fountain is lit with bright lights which enhances the beauty of dancing water. It is free of cost and the show happens every 30 minutes from 6pm to 10pm on weekdays and 6pm to 11pm on weekends that is Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The show goes on for 15 minutes which can be witnessed from every point of the lake promenade and the surrounding buildings.

Desert Safari

One of the most popular activities of Dubai is the Dune Bashing or commonly known as the Desert Safari that can be experienced in the Al Avir desert. You need to make prior bookings to ensure slot availability and you will be picked up from where you are located in Dubai City. This is an evening activity starting around 4 pm which goes on approximately till 11 pm which includes complimentary camel ride, henna tattoo making, hookahs, traditional performances like belly dance, tambola dance, fire stunts, etc. All these activities can be enjoyed with dinner which is included in the safari cost itself. The food served in the desert camp is not up to the mark and tasteless for Indian taste-buds so if you wish to carry some light snacks or ready to eat food please do so. Reach well on time for the safari camp activities because the place gets very crowded later in the evening. 

Bellas Suggestions :- Ensure that you have a light lunch before the Desert Safari to avoid any motion sickness and take necessary precautions if you suffer from the same. Since you will have to walk around in the desert sand avoid wearing shoes. If you suffer from back issues or pain in the spinal cord then prefer sitting in the middle seats of the land cruisers. DO NOT miss out on the beautiful desert landscape when the sun sets.

Miracle Gardens
9 am to 9 pm Sunday to Thursday;
9 am to 11 pm Friday and Saturday

The Gigantic Floral Airbus -Guinness World Record Holder structure

 True to its name, maintaining worlds largest flower garden with over 110 million flowers in the dessert city of Dubai is a breathtaking miracle. As you enter you will be left awestruck with the blast of various colours attracting you attention.The garden offers a treat to your eyes with mega floral structures like peacocks, a huge clock, castles, boats, floral canopies with umbrellas, heart shaped archways, teddy bears, owls, trains, cards, butterflies etc and the most iconic floral structure that bagged the guinness world record was of the shape of Airbus 380. Miracle gardens can be the best photoshoot hubs for flower enthusiasts. As the garden is spread over 7,80,000 square feet you can hire polo cars that will take you around the garden if you don’t wish to walk but the polo cars do not stop for any photo sessions. Miracle garden is operational from October to April only. Due to the unfavourable weather conditions during summers it does not operate from May to September. Outside eatables and beverages are not allowed but the garden has its own in-house cafes and restaurant services. The unique thing about miracle garden is every year they come up with varied floral structures so you never know what is in store for you when you visit.

Entry fee : Adult 45 AED / INR 810

                  Child below 12 yrs 35 AED / INR 630

                   Below 2 yrs : Free entr

Bellas Suggestions :- To get good pictures and not get camouflaged with the beautiful background avoid wearing floral prints.

Butterfly Garden

Open all days from 9 am to 6 pm

Adjacent to the Dubai Miracle garden is another beautiful area dedicated to butterflies and insects being one of its kind in the world which includes thousands of species of butterflies sourced from various locations. Its a closed area and the best time to visit is morning or afternoon. It is a delightful experience for children as they can hold and click pictures of the butterflies and also feed them. You will be happily surrounded by swarm of butterflies flying all over the place

 

Rates : 55 AED / 990 INR

            Entry is free for children below 3 years and physically disabled

Butterfly Garden- Dubai

Atlantis-The Palm

Magnificent Atlantis

   Atlantis-The Palm is a luxury resort property located at the crest of The Palm Jumeirah Island. Palm Jumeirah Island is a man-made wonder of Dubai. The island is in the shape of a Palm tree with branches protruding out and these branches accommodate some luxurious homes and villas each having their own private beach and also a few hotels and shopping complexes. Few villas belong to some famous celebrities of the world. The best way to visit Atlantis The Palm is by taking the monorail. This monorail runs between gateway station in Al Sofoun to the Atlantis Hotel and Aquaventure Waterpark. As the Dubai metro and the Plam Jumeirah monorail is not connected directly, the best intermediate way to reach the monorail station is by taking the Dubai tram. The advantage of riding on a monorail is that, it stands tall at a considerable height and distance from Atlantis the Palm which gives you an opportunity to gaze around the impressive architectural infrastructure of this beautiful man-made island. Likewise to reach Atlantis you can either book local city cabs which are easily accessible.

The monorail ticket for one way is costs AED 15 / INR 270 and return ticket costs AED 25 / INR 450. The monorail operates between 10 am to 10 pm everyday.

Aquaventure Dubai – If you are a water junky and wish to experience some water rides like aquacado, zoomerango, and a must do leap of faith etc and activities like Atlantis dive discovery, dolphin encounter, marines animals and exhibits and much more then Aquaventure is a place to spend an entire day and make the most of the holidays. 

The park is open daily from 10am to sunset and for tickets please check their website as they have various combo offers.

www.atlantisthepalm.com

The food at Aquaventure is included in the ticket cost itself.

Aquventure at Atlantis- The Palm

Bollywood Park

Saturday to Wednesday 2 pm to 10 pm
Thursday and Friday 2 pm to 11 pm

Entry to the world of Bollywood Park
A must-do activity ride at Bollywood Park, also it's our favorite ride

 “Agar Bollywood Park ja rahe ho to jee rahe ho tum”

          – Emraan, ZNMD

 

 If you wish to fulfil your yearning dream of being in some of your favourite Bollywood movies and experiencing the rides themed on some iconic bollywood movie stories then you have to visit this park which is exclusively about all things Bollywood.

“Gyarah mulkon ki police jis don ko dhoondh rahi hai, woh don tumahra intezzar kar raha hai Dubai keBollywood park mein”

            – Don

As we want you all to experience the rides at Bollywood park your way and not reveal the secrets each ride offers, we would like to recommend you two of our favourites and must do rides being Ra.One and Krrish. 

“Ham tum mein itne ched karenge ki confuse ho jaoge ki is ride mein baithe ya us ride mein”

        – Chulbul Pandey, Dabangg

 

The two iconic shows that take place in Bollywood park are the stunt show based on Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s movie Dabangg and cinematic journey from the sets of Zoya Akhtar’s movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. These are the only two shows that happen on fixed times throughout the day so if you want to experience this keep the time slots of the respective shows free for the same. You can also enjoy rides based on the movies like Lagaan, Sholay, Don etc. There are Bollywood shows and dance performances going on all day long. The Bollywood park as a whole is an entertainment package which is worth all the time and money. Food served at the restaurants is good and reasonable which is included in the entry ticket itself. 

Cost of the tickets for 1 day is AED 175 / INR 3150 (per person)

 

Global Village

Thursday and Friday 4 pm to 1 am ;
Saturday to Wednesday 4 pm to12am

Global Village, Dubai

  Global Village true to its name is truly Global as you can experience the culture of at least 27 countries at a single place. It is one of the Dubai’s “ALL IN ONE” place for entertainment, shopping and dining. The entertainment includes concerts, dance performances and some traditional stunt shows that you can enjoy while you shop and wander around this massive area assigned to different countries of the world. It is one of the world’s largest tourism shopping, leisure and entertainment project. You can shop for some authentic spices, dry fruits, traditional textiles, footwear, handbags, jewellery, artefacts, souvenirs, sweet meats, etc. All the things on display are usually sourced from their respective countries for which huge stalls are allotted. You can also experience Thai Spa therapies at an area dedicated to Thailand. The Yemen area is popular for its Spices and the China stall serves authentic chinese cuisine and so on for other numerous countries. There is a little boat ride that can be taken around the Global Village which gives you the feels of Venice. There is a corner allocated for funfair activities for children. As this place is very widespread it may be a little difficult for senior citizens to walk around but it is worth exploring as much as you can. Families with small children can take prams on hire available at the counters. There are food stalls dedicated to different cuisines all over the world so you can select from a variety of spread according to your taste and preference.

Global village usually runs between the months of November to April every year with a minimum admission fee of AED 15 / INR 270 and it is free for children below 3 years and senior citizens.

Gold Souk

Boat ride to the Gold Souk

Gold Souk i.e. the gold market is located in the Dubai’s commercial district, Deira. Dubai is very synonym to gold so if your budget permits then you can definitely go on a gold shopping spree at the Gold souk consisting of over 300 retailers. Even if you don’t wish to purchase gold you can just take a stroll around the old gold market and be spellbound by the bling around you. You can take any local transport to reach the Gold souk. We took the traditional boat ride to cross the creek from Bur Dubai to reach the Deira district of Dubai.

Dhow Dinner Cruise

To witness the glittery panoramic night life of Dubai you can board onto the Dhow cruise for your one of the most happening Dinner evenings in Dubai Marina. You can enjoy your Dinner while cruising through the fascinating tall structures decorated with sparkly rides making the town look gleamy and glamorous. The dinner cruise offers amazing buffet dinner with variety of desserts and some local dance performances and live singing jam as entertainment. The cruise begins around 8pm in the evening and it cruises you around the Dubai Marina for a good two hours. You can board the cruise from Deira creek behind National Bank of Dubai and next to the Sheraton Creek Hotel. Every Dhow cruise operating at Dubai Marina is priced differently as per their standards and hence you can book your preferred cruise online as per your budget. 

Visa Procedures

As of 1 May 2017, Indian nationals holding a normal passport valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date, and a visit visa or green card issued by the USA which is valid for a minimum of six months, can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days for a charge of AED 120 / INR 2,160 (subject to change). They can apply to extend their stay for an additional 14 days for AED 250 / INR 4,500 (subject to change)

Visa formalities and requirements keep changing at different intervals of time, so please keep yourself updated with the visa procedures during your time of visit to the UAE. 

To know about the latest visa procedures visit http://www.dubaivisa.net/online/

 

 

We would love to hear your experiences and how this itinerary helped you to enhance your experience and made it a memorable trip for you.

Thank you for visiting us.

To know more on Abu Dhabi visit, read our latest blog on 3 Reasons To Visit Abu Dhabi !

 

To get information about our accommodation in Middle East read the Accommodation in Middle East.

 

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Lachen And Lachung – A Life Threatening Road Journey

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ALL ABOUT LACHEN AND LACHUNG

Do you have the audacity to drive through daredevil terrains leading to these exotic, yet unexplored regions in the North Eastern part of India?

Have you even wondered if really, “Daar kea age jeet hai?” and if you want that the answer is “yes” to this question then you can definitely pursue the road leading to the most scenic region/ location of North Sikkim being Lachen and Lachung.

To reach these locations in the state of Sikkim, you will have to drive up to at the minimum height of 8600 ft. and if you want to explore more of the mountainous terrain of Sikkim. You can drive up to 17,000 ft. where the untouched Yumthang Valley will grace you with its beauty.  

Lachen and Lachung can be accessed from Gangtok by passing through the raw gradients of the road. We say raw because as these locations are unexplored by the tourists, the road networks are underdeveloped or under the developing stage. Lachen and Lachung is at a distance of about 120kms from Gangtok which we covered by car in the time frame of 6 hours. Though being at a distance of 120kms the roads are not very vehicle-friendly and hence you take a couple of more hours to reach than expected. The road journey comprises of passing through bridges made up of wooden planks below beside which the mighty and fiercely falling waterfalls flows. Only one vehicle can pass through the weak bridges at a time so you can imagine how difficult the road journey is. A part of your road journey will be adjoining with TESTA RIVER that accompanies you in your road journey for a little while.

In How Much Time Will You Reach From Gangtok ?

The time taken to reach Lachen and Lachung depends on varied reasons like:

  1. The time of the year you are travelling.
  2. The weather conditions prevailing during that time.
  3. The driving skills of the driver.
  4. The type of car that you take.
  5. The company with whom you are travelling
  6. The number of breaks taken during journey
  7. Your resistance to motion sickness.          

                                                                                                                                                                      We had been to Lachen and Lachung in the month of May wherein the weather was pleasantly cold during the day at about 10 degrees and it would drop by the night to 4 degrees

Rooms And Accommodation

As we started our journey we expected not a fancy stay but fairly decent as these regions are very isolated for any major development. There are no particularly professional hotels but only guest house and Lodgings which are usually operated by the locals. So, if you are expecting your stay to the exotic in this region of Sikkim then sadly it will not be fulfilled.

We stayed at Himalayan Residency which is one of the best “hotels” of Lachen but to our disappointment the rooms were below average with just one room and an attached washroom. On our arrival we were given the room situated on the ground level but on request the next day we were shifted to the 1stfloor but it anyway did not make much difference.

You cannot expect any electricity throughout the day (and there is no exaggeration to this) and the food served is very basic, home cooked, purely vegetarian food. The food was good enough but as you have travelled so far to these destinations, you expect a little more on the food quotients.

The staff functions only on their whims and schedules. Like for instance we asked for a tea at a time and hence they did not serve us the tea. The staff is overly complacent and non-adjusting to some reasonable demands of the guests. If you are lucky enough, you may get electricity during some part of the day but the T.V set is just merely a show piece on the walls. We technically stayed for one and half day at Himalayan Residency and as we reached late in the evening around 8pm we had to be in the room as leaving the hotel is not safe due to lack of street lights.

Things To Be Careful About While Road Journey

As per our plan the following day we had to leave for Yumthang Valley which is at an altitude of 1,000 ft. and which would take about 4 hours and leave the hotel before sunrise but sometimes what we plan never happens and its for good. We cancelled our plan of going to the Yumthang Valley because our driver was an alcoholic and was on his phone while driving which we even recorded to show it to the owner.

And hence to not risk our lives we cancelled going to such a high altitude with such untrustworthy driver.

Bellas Suggestion: after such an experience we would suggest you to please crosscheck the driver that will be with you on this trip who is more responsible and not lethargic with his driving skills and safety. Our driver played some very local music which was not understandable by us. We are not against the local folk music or song but on such a tough and a long journey like this you expect to listen songs you know to divert the mind. Therefore, one full day we had to spend at Himalayan Residency just doing nothing but taking small strolls in and around the area that too we had to return to the hotel before it got dark.

But if you have a good check on the driver who will accompany you, it will become easily possible for you to cover some beautiful unexplored high-altitude places like Yamthung Valley, Zero Point and Lachung.

When we were going from Gangtok to Lachen one well-constructed bridge was about to get inaugurated so we had to take the raw bridge and, on our way, back we had a relief that we were able to pass through the newly inaugurated bridge so that means at least once during the difficult journey this well paved bridge will be a sigh of relief. All said and done if you want to do something “toofani” you can take a trip to these offbeat locations of Sikkim. Also, on a side on to visit Yumthang Valley and Zero Point and some other locations which are very near to the China border where the civilians are allowed, you can keep Lachen at the centre point.

Disclaimer: The images in this particular blogpost are sourced from Google.

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Rann Utsav- Opening the Gateway of Tourism for Kutch

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Gujarat gets tagged as one of the culturally rich state in India with respect to the art forms like folk dances, handicrafts, embroidered textiles and exotic junk jewellery. But do you know which region of Gujarat contributes to it being a culturally rich state?


It is the self-effacing yet very flamboyant Kutch. The geography of Kutch is so diverse that the Gulf of Kutch and the Arabian Sea surrounds the South and West while the deserted area of Kutch is towards the Northern and the Eastern parts.

Bhunga Room at Shaam-E-Sarhad

What is Rann of Kutch?

The Rann of Kutch is among the world’s very few salt desserts or salt marsh located in the Thar Dessert in the Kutch district of Gujarat. Rann basically in Hindi means a dessert. This dessert is one of its kind and distinct in itself because of the uniqueness of not being covered by sand but salt crystals. Dhordo, a small village in Bhuj in the Kutch district of Gujarat has the privilege of hosting the Rann Utsav during the winter months starting from November to February.


Rann Utsav can be translated as the Dessert Festival. Every year a “Tent City” is constructed for tourists near the village of Dhordo. During this span of time it is a very extravagant man-made city of tents which keeps on bustling for good four months. It is a perfect family destination and a budget friendly holiday to relax and soak in the diverse culture of this part of India.

The official dates of Rann Utsav are announced and this year, you can be a part of it from 1st November, 2018 to 4th  March, 2019. If you plan to spend your time at this dessert festival then the best time to explore this spectacular white salt dessert is during the “Full Moon Days”. The main advantage of going during the full moon days is that you feel that the stars have descended on the earth as the salt crystals sparkle in the full moon light.

The activities that you can experience during your stay at the “Tent City” at the Rann Utsav are:

-The cultural folk dances
-Camel cart and camel rides
-ATV Rides

Different spectrum of the Gujarati culture expanding from food, dressing style to local livelihood and a lot more. Our personal favourite while being at the Rann Utsav is the spell bounding sunset that takes place across the horizon of the salt flats. The sun sets down leaving its orange tint all through the clear skies and it was one of the most beautiful sunsets that we have witnessed.

Accommodation:

When we planned our visit to the Rann Utsav, we did not stay in the “Tent City” as we wanted a balance of quiet as well as culturally rich environment and hence we booked our two days stay at Shaam-E-Sarhad Village Resort which means “Evening by the Border” which is managed by the village and local community of the Hodka village. We loved the concept of the stay here and hence it was one of our most sort after decision.

 

This resort is open from months of October to March. The village community supports their livelihood by maintaining this resort and also promotes rural tourism and its development and hence trying to become self-reliant on their own.

This village resort is an initiative by the Ministry of Tourism of Government of India that aims to enable the local communities to introduce the art culture and heritage of this region to the world.

Rooms:

Of the two days’ stay at Shaam-E-Sarhad, on our first day we enjoyed the eco-friendly Mud Tents and on our day 2 we stayed in the Suite Bhungas that are circular mud huts with sloping roofs that are very typical to the region. All the room categories have attached bathrooms with western style toilet and shower 24*7 running water. Both our experiences of staying in a Bhunga and a Tent was unique in its own way because
both categories have their own distinctiveness. Each Bhunga has a private open space with chairs to relax on and just spend a leisure time. Both, Tents and Bhungas are very spacious for double occupancy and an extra bed is made available, on request.

Things to be Noted while making Bookings:

1. All the rooms do not have air-conditioning facility but the construction and location of the resort does not make it necessary to have air-conditioners in the rooms.

2. Hot water buckets are provided during particular slots which can be enquired at the
reception.

3. No rooms have TV sets, but every evening you can spend your time underneath the stars adjacent to the bonfire, enjoying the folk dances.

The room categories available at Shaam-E-Sarhad are:
Three Suite Bhungas (Suite Mud Huts)
Six Eco-friendly Mud Tents
Two Family Cottages
One Standard Bhunga (Standard Hut)

The resort has very limited rooms and staff as they want to preserve the authenticity and rawness of the place. It is better to book well in advance through their official website www.hodka.in

 

Food and Hospitality:

As this place provides a very homely environment, we cannot expect a very professional
approach to the service, but the staff is very warm and caring and will leave no stone
unturned to make you feel comfortable. The food that they serve is traditional Gujarati Lunch and Kutchi Dinner. Breakfast can be a variety of fruits, cereals, etc. Jain food is also served but has to be pre-informed while making the bookings.

How to Reach?

You can make it to Rann Utsav, Kutch:

Flight Connectivity: Bhuj, being the nearest airport at a distance of about 65 kms has direct flights only from Mumbai, Maharashtra.

By Road: You can hire a car or hop into an overnight bus service available from Ahmedabad, Gujarat which is at a distance of about 400kms to Bhuj and Hodka Village is at a distance of about 63kms from Bhuj.

We opted a private car hiring option from Ahmedabad to reach the Rann Utsav. The roads are extremely travel-friendly and hence road journey is an enjoyable and preferred choice.

By Rail: There is good rail connectivity as there are daily trains from Mumbai and Delhi to reach Ahmedabad and then cover the journey to Bhuj via road.

Kutch Express and Bhuj-Bandra Train are direct trains from Mumbai to Bhuj.
For more information and booking, check www.irctc.com (Indian Railway booking website)

What can you shop?

One thing to keep in mind while visiting Kutch during its peak tourist season is that all the pricetags on the products out on sale will be overpriced, so it is advisable to bargain but please do not bargain to the extent that local people will not be able to earn reasonably.

The items that can be purchased are:

– Traditional kutcha handicrafts and embroidery work that has been passed on through
   the generations which is an extremely intricate work.

– You can find block printed fabrics and gift articles that suit your taste and preferences.

– Traditional footwears like mojris, junk jewellery like neckpieces, heavy earrings, kadas,
   bangles, nose rings etc.

– Also, some amazing home decors like pillow covers, bedsheets, table covers etc.            

 

If you are interested in exploring the exquisite handicraft of the state of Gujarat like
embroidery, block printing, wood carvings, mud wall paintings, silver works, pen, knives and nut crackers, copper coated iron belts and toys made of seas shells and if you want to go on a handicraft trail, then you can book through the website of Gujarat Government being www.rannutsav.com for a unique handicraft themed holiday.

If you wish to stay in the “Tent City” during the ongoing Rann Utsav, the categories of tents in the “Tent City” are:

Premium Tents from INR. 8,100
Deluxe AC Tents from INR. 7,100
Non-AC Tents from INR. 5,500

All the tents in the “Tent City” are well equipped and make for a very comfortable stay.

5 Reasons to Indulge in A Wellness Forbearance

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Liberate yourself from your daily drills and indulge into a wellness escape. Every human being from a child to a grown up through every stage of life is in clutches of their wearisome routine. In order to breakthrough and pull back from this ho-hum one needs to devote some time to themselves because, You are worth it !!!

Here are some customary reasons for which you need to take a wellness break. 

1) Satwik food forbearance

 As all of us are so pro in shoving junk, fatty foods, spicy and preserved foods, etc down our throats and stuffing our system with negative pranic food, this will over the time definitely flip your system causing various ailments but you can break this viscous circle by signing up into a wellness retreat. As soon as you engage yourself into a wellness retreat you give a much needed breather to your digestive system by treating yourself with food items rich in vitamins, minerals and other vital components that are essential for the body. Foods that generate heat into the body like Onion, Garlic, Meat etc. are usually avoided during the retreat because they have negative impact on the digestive system and the energy of the body. Garlic though enriched with medicinal properties if taken in access can cause an unfavourable effect on human system. As it is well said, “You are what you eat” the food determines the thought process and behaviour and therefore such a wellness retreat would help you to get back on square one to start afresh.

2) Digi-tox

As all of us are so dependent for the smallest of our needs on technology, it seems almost impossible to disconnect from all the hullabaloo that goes around in the world. Hence it is essentially important to once in a while go for a digi-tox in order to reduce the effects of the radiation emitted by various gadgets. For a digi-tox you do not necessarily need a retreat but it can also be done by inculcating a self-disciplinary habit to stay away from the gadget that rule our daily schedules.

3) Meet new people and be-friend them

Such retreats offer various group activities like workout sessions, spa activities, yoga sessions, having meals together, interactive sessions, etc that help you to encounter different people from various walks of like but having a same motto will help you to build new bonds of friendship and together you can encourage and inspire each other to lead a better life. 

4) Become one with yourself

 It is very important to establish a connection with yourself before connecting with the outside world. This wellness retreat helps you to get calm, patient, improve your thinking in a positive way, better health, reduces anxiety and irritation, being able to place others before you and think from their perspective, control your reflexes. All in all this wellness retreat impacts your daily routines as well as cumulatively in the long run make you a better person.

This is the most important reason of connecting yourself within to align your body, mind and soul that a wellness break once in a while is required. 

5) Pampering yourself

Most of the wetness retreat offer you with accommodation which are tucked deep in the nature that gives you a chance to get more connected to the physical world. You can pamper yourself by taking a dip in some nearby stream, lake or swimming pool if the location has one. You can take some spa sessions wherein they offer full body massages targeting the pressure points that relaxes you and has an affirmative change in your body system. The wellness retreat also offer meditation sessions that help calm your inhibitions which will make you more confident, self-reliant and encourage you to follow a disciplined lifestyle.

After coming back to your routine life you should definitely give some time that is at least 15-20 minutes of your day to stay connected and follow what you learnt at the wellness retreat.

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A Comprehensive itinerary of the White Town of India – PONDICHERRY

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Back in 2016 our girl gang wanted to go on a holiday together so we all decided, planned and shortlisted places in India to travel so here we were in Pondicherry which is now known as Pudducherry and fondly referred to as Pondy.

Pondicherry, a quaint little French corner of India is a sneak peak to the French culture in reference to the food, architecture and the locals around. It is a cute little place and a destination which can be explored at leisure in 3 to 4 days of time span in a pocket friendly way. So we were on our way to Pondy during the last weekend of 2017 to loosen ourselves and have the time of our lives.

Before we take you along our Pondy experience through this blog we would love to share a detour to this ancient monumental site dating back to the 7th and the 8th century which is popularly known as Mahabalipuram and one of the famous complexes of Mahabalipuram is the Shore Temple. Shore Temple as the name suggests is an ancient temple of Lord Shiva by the shore that is the Bay of Bengal. We recommend you to surely go to visit this ancient town as it is on the way to Pondy by road from Chennai and you will not have to put your extra time in travelling to this place.

Bellas Suggestions:- Visiting Mahabalipuram for sunrise early in the morning is a good and positive start to the morning and trip as a whole. The road that leads to Mahabalipuram is well constructed so going by road will be a joyful ride. But you will not find any food or tea stalls on the way so please keep some snacks or beverages handy for the road trip.

From Chennai airport we reached Mahabalipuram in an approximate time  of one and a half hour.

P.S… A minimal amount of entry fee is to be paid for the ticket.

₹10 per person for Indians

$5 or ₹250 for foreign nationals.

THE TEMPLE PREMISES AT MAHABALIPURAM

IF YOU WISH TO CHECKOUT A SHORT ITINERARY OF PONDICHERRY AND HOW TO REACH, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO THE END OF THIS BLOG.

Day 1: Arriving at Pondy and evening stroll at the Rock Beach

As we reached the little town of Pondy we checked into our hotel, Abirami Residency and as all the girls were exhausted as we had taken an early morning flight from Mumbai, our gang decided to have a light meal in the hotel itself. After taking a little rest in the hotel we went on our first and foremost expedition to the white town of Pondy being Aurobindo Ashram.

  1. Sri Aurobindo Ashram                                                                                               

      [8am-12pm and 12pm-6pm]

      Sri Aurobindo Ashram located in Pondy is a community of Sri Aurobindo’s disciples. It is a very peaceful and serene place to visit and one can just sit by themselves and feel the positive energy in the ashram by spending a couple of hours there. Disciples from all over the world visit this Ashram. The ashram is very well maintained by the disciples which you will realise as you enter because you will see a garden full of different types of colourful flowers and green leaves. There is a book shop in the Ashram if you want to buy books on Spirituality. 

Bellas Suggestions:- Please wear comfortable footwear which is easily removable as you will be entering the ashram barefoot and keeping the footwear at the counter.

After visiting the Aurobindo Ashram we took a stroll on the Rock Beach which runs parallel to the little white french town of Pondy.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram in White Town

2)  Rock Beach

      Pondy’s very own Marine Drive. The promenade is usually a decorated street but as we visited on the 26th of January, the place was lit with tricolour lights and there were dance and other programs going on and the place had happening vibes of a small fair. We spent a good 1 to 2 hours hanging out with our girl gang breathing in the salty breezy air of Bay of Bengal.

After the Beach we headed onto our first dinner at this amazing place called Dilliwala 6.  After the dinner we walked back to our hotel to burn out some calories and crashed on our beds happily.

Rock Bech at Promenade

DAY 2- Morning session Auroville, Lunch at la cafe; Evening at Serenity Beach, dinner at Farm Fresh.

We started our day with our complimentary breakfast. The plan for the morning session of the Day 2 was to visit Auroville which was approximately at a distance of around 10-15 kms from our hotel. As suggested by the locals we took an auto rickshaw to Auroville which were easily accessible from our hotel. 

3)   Auroville

      [Monday – Friday : 9.30 am -12.30 pm & 1pm – 4 pm]

      No entry charges

      As we entered Auroville, we saw a documentary on the construction and the history of Mantri Mandir which is worth watching as it describes the scientific and spiritual importance and benefits of meditation.

Bellas Suggestions:- If you want to meditate and visit inside the Mantri Mandir, please coordinate with the staff at Auroville to make prior arrangements for the same.

After watching the documentary we headed through the muddy paths of Auroville to visit the Mantri Mandir. On our way to reach the Mantri Mandir we had a little stop at a huge Banyan tree which happened to be a good photo stop for our gang. It is better to have a morning visit to Auroville and wrap up by afternoon to avoid crowd. You can buy some famous baked products at Auroville which are made in their in-house bakery but the food items, textiles and hand made products are a little heavy on the pocket so it is advisable to have your shopping spree at Pondy. After visiting Auroville we headed back to this cafe named Le Cafe at Rock Beach, White town. We ought to mention that our expectations of this place came crashing down like an avalanche as we had the most disappointing lunch of our lives.

After the disappointing lunch we headed back to the hotel and in the evening to  explore another beach , The Serenity Beach.

Evening blues at Serenity Beach

Bellas Suggestions:- We wanted to go to see the sunset but as it was cloudy we couldn’t get to experience the sunset for which Serenity beach is famous although the orange tinted sky was worth the visit. After the sunset the security guards will try to vacate the place so go reasonably before the sunset to spend some equality time.

For our dinner we had plans to visit Le Pasta which we had researched to be as one of the best Pasta serving joints in Pondy but their hospitality and priority towards Indians was a blow to us Indians. To know more about our experience, click on Le Pasta

But as they say “Gods plans are the best plans” because we found the most delicious and mouth lurking Pizzas and Pasta’s at New Farm Fresh.

After the sumptuous dinner we walked back to our hotel and concluded our day 2.

THE PREMISES OF AUROVILLE

DAY 3:- Cycling our way through the pretty streets of Pondy

On day 3 after having a leisure breakfast at the hotel we went on to the local bicycle rent shop on the Mission Street to rent out our bicycles for the day.

Bellas Suggestions:- As we were late and reached around 11ish it was tiresome and little waste of time for us because of the non-availability of the adequate number of bicycles required for our girl gang as all the bicycles get rented out early in the morning between 8am to 9am. If anyone of you want to rent out two wheelers it is readily available at shops on Mission Street. As you rent the bicycles one need to deposit photo Id proofs which will be returned on submitting back the cycles. 

Cost of renting on bicycle per day is between ₹100 to ₹200 depending on the quality and type of cycle.

4)  Botanical Garden

[9am – 7pm]

     If you are a flora enthusiast then this place is heaven for you. This garden is in existence since the French colonial era. The garden is filled with species of local flowers origination from Tamil Nadu. The garden displays floral structures of cartoon characters (minions being our favourite) and animals which will attract the kids. The garden also has a toy train ride, the ticket for which is ₹100 per head. Also it has a nursery section from where you can buy and take home saplings of your favourite flowers. The entry to the botanical garden is ₹20 making it an economical option.

After the Botanical garden we headed straight to this very famous cafe of Pondi, Cafe De Arts but as our gang was hungry AF we did not want to wait for 1.5 hours to get our table so we were back on our bicycles in search of new restaurant/ Cafe on the streets of Pondy to satisfy our hunger pangs.

As destiny would have it we discovered this very tiny little cafe in a corner which would be one of our best food experiences of Pondy at Canteen 18.

After a satisfying late lunch (as we were searching for a good place to eat) we had reserved our evening slot to visit the beautiful churches made with intricate French architectural influences. As the three famous churches of Pondy are at a considerable distance from each other and we being on our cycles thought evening would be a pleasant time to witness the beauty of these churches.

5)  Immaculate Conception Cathedral :-

6)  Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus :-  

7)  Notre Dame :-   

Bellas Suggestions:- As we chose the evening slot for visiting cathedrals of Pondy we were lucky to experience and attend the evening mass. So it would be ideal to visit these churches between 7pm to 8pm because the beauty of the churches is enhanced by the lightings during this time.

8)  Aayi Mandapa (White monument) :-

  

    We took a short stop at Aayi Mandapam which we randomly came across on our way back to the hotel. It was very well lit in the evening and can qualify as a good photo stop. The place is very calm, breezy and well maintained.

After a little shopping from some random local shop we went to deposit our cycles (to avoid extra charges deposit the bicycles by 8pm) and headed to the hotel and treated ourselves with dominoes pizza’s in our cozy rooms itself and crashed onto our beds to prepare ourselves for the last day of our trip.

Day 4 :- Check-out from the hotel, Paradise beach & Bird Sanctuary (Outseri lake)

After having our last breakfast in Pondy we checked out of Abirami Residency and headed straight to Paradise beach.

 

9)  Paradise Beach

 

      This beach is situated south of Pondy and is separate from the main land so to reach the shore you will have to take a ferry to this beach which is like Pondy’s own little island. For all those beach bums it makes a perfect place to take a dip in the waves and get yourself those tanned lines. You will be taken aback by the scenic beauty of the greenish blue water, coconut trees and the white sandy shore. You can spend a leisure time soaking under the sun with your loved ones as there is no time limit to sink in the beauty.

After all the pizzas and Pastas for straight three days, we wanted to binge on some Indian food at some random Indian restaurant before heading to Outseri Lake which apparently was a bird sanctuary. The road leading to Outseri was not very well paved and it was all the more heartbreaking to not be able to spot a single bird which was against our expectations.

Outseri Lake

Bellas Suggestions:- You can totally skip this place and save on some time chilling and getting some retail therapy. We had some spare time on our hands so we went back to Pondy to tickle our shopping buds.


10)  Auroshikha

 

       This is like a one stop shop in the white town selling some very amazing hand made souvenirs like diaries, pens, coasters, fridge magnets, gift articles, fragrances, essential oils, beauty products, incense sticks and handbags. The best part about this place is that it sells products made by local women and hence shopping from here is an encouragement to their art and skills. Also the products are very reasonably prices so it will not burn a hole in your pockets.

Bellas Suggestions:- Do shop for a wide range of fragrances, essential oils and beauty products that are organic and natural which will soothe your mind and soul. Some of the products we purchased and recommend :

  • Handmade diaries
  • Fridge magnets
  • Incense sticks- Vanilla, Lemon grass, Lavender
  • Fragrances
  • Body mists- Opium, Lavender
  • Essential oils- Eucalyptus, Mint
  • Soaps

After getting done with the shopping we headed back to Chennai Airport which took us around 3.5 to 4 hours drive from Pondy and near the airport we had an authentic South Indian dinner at Sarvanna Bhavan.

We were back to Bay with some fond Pondy memories and experiences to share it with the world. We would love to hear your experiences and how this itinerary helped you to enhance your experience and make it a memorable trip for you.

Climate and Atmosphere :

The four days that we spent at Pondy in the month of January, we experienced a little bit of drizzling and also bright sunny days with temperatures around 30 degrees celsius. You can experience a little humidity in the air all round the day as Pondy is situated in the coastal area of South India. If you wish to keep wind cheaters or umbrellas handy, you can do so as per your convenience.

SHORT ITINERARY 

DAY

PLACES EXPLORED

TIME TAKEN

1

Mahabalipuram

Aurobindo Ashram

Rock Beach

2 hrs

45 mins- 1 hour

No time limit

2

Auroville

Serenity Beach

3 hrs- 4 hrs

No time limit

3

Local Places

Botanical Garden

All three churches

1 hr- 2 hrs

3 hrs- 4hrs

4

Paradise Beach

Outseri Lake

No time limit

1 hr

Overall budget (per person in INR)

Flight tickets

5000

Drop taxi service

800

Accomodation

2640

Food expense of places we visited

2500

Bicycles on hire

100

Autorickshaws

115

Total

11,155

P.S this cost does not include personal expenses like shopping and the cost is subject to change as per your spending pattern.

HOW TO REACH PONDY ?

Air Tickets : We booked online air tickets from Bombay to Chennai 2 months prior to our travel date and the ticket costed us approximately ₹5000 for return journey back to Bombay through Musafir.com  

You can get good deals on other websites as well if you plan in advance.

Taxi on Hire : From Chennai airport to Pondy and from Pondy to Chennai airport we booked online taxi for our drops and pick ups through Chennai based Drop in taxi service Dropintaxi.com  This taxi service is pretty reasonable, safe and reliable. If you wish to wait on your way they provide waiting service on hourly basis at minimal extra cost. It costed us approximately ₹3000 for one way with waiting charges at Mahabalipuram for 2 hours and as we were seven of us it costed around ₹400 per head for one way. 

Also we took 2 autorickshaws at a rate of ₹400 per auto that accommodated 4 passengers in each auto with waiting charges for about 3 hours at Auroville.

Bellas Suggestions:- As our hotel was well connected to all modes of transport and situated within the city we opted to take autos likewise you can alternatively hop into local bus service as well.

On our way back to hotel from Serenity beach we took a Bus ride which was one short, economically viable and crazy bus journey which costed us ₹4 per head.

Within the city you will have a sparse network of Ola cabs with very few cars in operation so it is not a reliable source of transport in Pondy.

Cars and two wheelers are not allowed for maximum time of the day in the white town so you can take Cycle rickshaws to move around which are on a little expensive side but will help you commute easily if you don’t want to walk or cycle around.

All said and done, Pondy can be best explore by taking strolls around the city, exploring the narrow alleys of white town and also riding a bicycle.

The beloved Pondy Autorickshaws

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Staycation At The Coffee Capital Of India- Evolve Back Resorts, Coorg!

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Imagine yourself leisuring around the scenic beautiful hill station of South India amidst the lush green coffee and pepper plantations running parallel throughout your road journey while you can relax and breathe in the aromatic air !!!!

                                             Thats Coorg for you !

Our #HolidayGoals for visiting Coorg was to unwind ourselves from the monotonous routine of city life and soak ourselves away from the hectic life in this beautiful hill station.

Coorg which is also known as “Kodagu” is basically a quintessential quiet and calm place but the hill station of Madikeri is where there is hustle and bustle of the tourists and locals. Madikeri as such is not a total tourist spot but can be a connecting point to visit various tourist destinations of Coorg. As we wanted to seclude ourselves from the hustling hill town we enjoyed Coorg while staying at some premium properties being The Ibnii Spa Resort and Evolve Back Resorts (Formerly known as Orange County)

 

This beautiful property was on our bucket list since the last three years when Evolve Back was popularly known as Orange County Resorts, Coorg but we were  not able to squeeze in the time to go on a staycation at Evolve Back. This year gave us an opportunity to experience the stay at Evolve Back which we grabbed royally. It was formerly called Orange County because the property was surrounded with Orange Orchards but now they do not have Orange Plantations around and hence it is renamed as Evolve Back Resorts. The idea behind naming the property as Evolve Back originates from the fact that they want to stay connected and rooted to their past heritage and can give their guests some very authentic and traditional experiences which can be felt throughout the stay with Evolve Back resorts.

Evolve Back resorts is situated in the Chikkanahalli estate surrounded by 300 acres of coffee plantations. Evolve Back resorts is situated at about a distance of 33kms from the hill town of Madikeri in Coorg. The road leading to the resort welcomes you with prolific coffee plantations and Dubare forest running in line with the road that leads you to Evolve Back Resorts. 

Private Lake at Evolve Back Resorts, Coorg

Rooms

The abode for our three day stay at Evolve Back Coorg was the Lily Pool Cottage. It is a luxurious villa overlooking the paddy fields, banana plantations and the greenery surrounding which will take you to a zone where the time stops and make you aloof from the routine life. The Lilipool cottage is very spacious for two guests to stay and relax. The cottage has in itself one bedroom, one living room, one bathroom with a bath tub and a sit out area at the pool. The unique selling point of Evolve Back Resort is that all their rooms have adjoining private pools where you can soak yourself and have a soothing swim away from the other guests and disturbance. All the rooms are constructed with traditional Karnataka style homes but are equipped with all the modern facilities. The other categories of rooms at Evolve Back are Heritage Pool Villa, Lilipool Villa, Lilipool Bungalow. You can select any of the rooms from these categories that best suit your choice and preference.

Culinary rollercoaster

Evolve Back resorts have a cluster of three restaurants that serve diverse foods. Its like you name it and you have it. The restaurants are Peppercorn, Plantain leaf and Granary.

 

The Peppercorn serves some authentic organic Coorg cuisines. Being vegetarians we did not have much food options to explore here and hence preferred Plantain Leaf and Granary. But as this restaurant overlooks the private lake of the resort it is an ideal binging spot for non-vegetarian and organic food lovers.

 

The Plantain Leaf is a vegetarian’s delight serving the traditional South and North Indian cuisines under one roof. Out of our three days stay at Evolve Back majority of the meals we relished were at Plantain Leaf. The food served here is on banana leaf giving you the feel of traditional South Indian setup and taste. We have binged on only South Indian delicacies because when in South India, eat like the South Indians. The chef there used to prepare for us the choicest of food items with authentic spices and aromas of our choice to give us a South Indian cuisine roller coaster. Ragi puttu, bamboo coconut curry, sautéed dry jackfruit, beetroot chutney, mint cheesecake, kiwi moose and abundance of typical idlis and dosas to name a few were the best food items that we have throughly enjoyed. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner was such a widespread food affair that every time we went for the meals it was like a food coma situation in a whole. We would like to give a special shoutout to the chef of Evolve Back to spoil us with delicious food that we will forever remember as the highlight of our staycation. Also a special mention to the staff of Plantain Leaf restaurant that are super friendly towards the guests to give a homely feeling all along the stay. 

The Plantain Leaf At Evolve Back Resorts, Coorg

Granary is a multi cuisine restaurant serving Italian, Continental, Mexican and Indian food, etc. As an experiment we had our first dinner at the Granary restaurant and we loved the tasteful dishes. Granary restaurant can qualify as one stop food restaurant at Evolve Back resorts to binge on the variety. We ordered some red sauce pasta and Dal makhni with rice at Granary. 

Every evening high-tea was served besides the common pool area. Sipping on some filter coffee from their very own coffee estates, some masala chai along with some food options like sandwiches, cakes, pastries, vadas, etc in witness of the beautiful sunset is a worthwhile experience.

Activities at Evolve Back

Evolve Back resorts believe in engaging their guests with some activities to get connected with the world which people from big cities rarely get a chance to do in their hectic routine lives. Some of the activities that are undertaken by the resorts for their guests are :

  • Plantation walk
  • Nature walk
  • Bird watching
  • Coracle ride
  • Village visit
  • Workers trail

    Beehive – Activity Area at Evolve Back , Coorg

The guided Plantation walk is the signature activity of Evolve Back Resorts which is conducted by their in-house naturalist for a duration of approximately two hours from 4pm to 6pm. (Please confirm the timings at the reception) The plantation walk is all about learning how coffee and pepper plantations are cultivated, harvested and processed by the workers. Mr. Murthy, our guide for the day was friendly, informative and interactive fellow giving us insights about the history of the resort and also the flora around it. Our plantation tour began with some knowledge about the spices, fruit bearing fig trees and some traditional flowers of the Karnataka state. We visited Coorg in the month of March being the flowering season of coffee which made the landscape look like the area is flourished with white flowers blooming to turn into coffee beans over the time. The guide accompanying us explained us the whole process of how a coffee sapling is grown into a bean bearing plant, the procedure of harvesting beans, roasting beans, methods of protecting the plantation etc. Sipping on coffee before our visit to Chikkanahalli estate, we would have not known so much goes into producing coffee beans and further to coffee powder. Chikkanahalli estate spread over 300 acres of which Evolve Back Resorts is a part is adorned with Oak trees which provides shades to the coffee and pepper plantation and hold the reputation of one of the biggest coffee plantations of Coorg. As our plantation tour came to an end we were served with filter coffee grown in their in-house plantation and sipping on the coffee we wondered how much efforts and care has gone into making these coffee beans is just incredible !!

The Nature walk activity was temporarily restricted on government orders during our stay at Evolve Back Resorts.

For the guided Bird watching activity you will have to rise up early in the morning to get a chance of observing some exotic bird species. The activity of bird watching is for a duration of two hours with the greenery surrounding the resort, watching the fauna around will be a treat to your eyes. So if you are a bird enthusiast and an early riser then do not miss out on this early morning bird exploration opportunity around the resort property.

Village Visit : The Chikkhahalli estate is surrounded by local villages at a mere distance of 2kms to 3kms adjacent to the bank of Cauvery river. We were accompanied by their in-house guide Mr. Vikas  to the nearby village Karadigodu. The Village visit began at 7.30am and the exploration goes on till 9am. The traditional tribal village homes are getting transformed into modern homes with bright colours of pinks, yellows, blues and purples. Early into the day you will see the local ladies heading onto their jobs at the nearby coffee plantations, children on their way to school which is funded and managed by the resort and the tiny tot kids playing around all away and unknown about the hard times of life. When you visit the village you can see how content and happy the people are with their lives which fills you with positivity and gratitude with what you have and own. The village visit ends on sipping the Mohammad Ali’s special tea at his tea stall on the banks of River Cauvery.

Workers Trail activity happens during the day ( please check the timings with the reception as they keep changing ) to give you a sneak peak into the lives of the workers working in the plantation. The time of your visit in the resort will make you experience that part of seasonal work being conducted in the plantation like in the month of March the coffee plantations are water for their further growth. Usually ladies work in the coffee plantations and we got a chance to help the ladies with watering the plants and getting a slice of their working life. You will be taken to the estate in a tractor which will be a unique experience in itself so go ahead and live a few moments of your stay as the local workers do.

Hospitality

To make your stay luxurious and comfortable Evolve Back Resort assures to provide services to fulfil all the needs of their guests during the stay. As we reached the resort the staff greeted us with traditional Indian culture and we were welcomed with coffee flavoured coconut milk. The staff at the reception after doing all the check-in formalities will show you around the resort and give a brief about their activities happening around the resort premises. As the resort is spread over a wide area, it is better to explore the place by taking walks around or if you wish to move about in the resort on polo cars it can be done by hopping onto them as well. The resort is very clean and the staff takes utmost care to assure that cleanliness is well maintained during our stay,  Ms. Priyanka assured that we had a comfortable and leisure stay at the property. The room service department of the resort is very prompt and swift in their service. If you need anything just make a call and your demands will be fulfilled.

The rooms are cleaned and made twice a day so the rooms are spick and span. Kudos to the housekeeping department as well to provide us with swift and speedy service. Every evening in the activity area the staff arranges tribal dance for entertainment of the guests everyday. There are varied folk and tribal dances performed by the local communities of Coorg which for us is something rare and never seen before entertainment package. The tribals and the local dancers perform so well that all through your stay at evolve back resorts do not miss out on this evening entertainment slot. By providing exposure to the locals and their art form the management is taking a great effort in keeping the Coorg culture alive and refreshed. The resort also provides with soothing and relaxing ayurveda massages at Vaidyasala, their very own ayurvedic massage centre where you can chose from varied choices of ayurvedic treatments that best suit your body and spirit. On our last night of stay at Evolve Back we were sent a surprise cake by the head chef of the resort to our room which in all made us feel very special and we ended our stay at the resort on a very sweet note. 

Environmental conservation at Evolve Back Resorts

One of the activity that also encourages the participation of guests is in conservation of water and also in recycling water that can be used in miscellaneous activities like gardening. The resort has its own biogas plant which is a step towards sustaining the environment. The coffee estates are also enhanced with naturally made manures with very limited use of chemicals. Such a thoughtful effort makes Evolve Back Resort a responsible luxury property that balances out its surrounding ecosystem.

 

In a wholesome note we would be very happy to mention the efforts that the staff of Ibnii Spa Resort and Evolve Back resorts at Coorg have taken to assure that our stay at these luxurious properties becomes a memorable one.

 

Bellas Suggestions : At such luxurious properties you may not find mobile network connectivity depending upon the service provider you use but you will get wifi connectivity at few spots in and around the resort property but who needs to be connected to the world via technology when you are cradled at such lovely places for your holidays.

This was about our Staycation at Evolve Back, Coorg. If you want to learn about our Staycation at Ibnii Spa Resort,Coorg click on the hyperlink NOW!

Staycation At The Coffee Capital Of India- Ibnii Resorts and Spa, Coorg!

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Imagine yourself leisuring around the scenic beautiful hill station of South India amidst the lush green coffee and pepper plantations running parallel throughout your road journey while you can relax and breathe in the aromatic air !!!!

                                             Thats Coorg for you !

Our #HolidayGoals for visiting Coorg was to unwind ourselves from the monotonous routine of city life and soak ourselves away from the hectic life in this beautiful hill station. 

Coorg which is also known as “Kodagu” is basically a quintessential quiet and calm place but the hill station of Madikeri is where there is hustle and bustle of the tourists and locals. Madikeri as such is not a total tourist spot but can be a connecting point to visit various tourist destinations of Coorg. As we wanted to seclude ourselves from the hustling hill town we enjoyed Coorg while staying at some premium properties being The Ibnii Spa Resort and Evolve Back Resorts (Formerly known as Orange County)

IBNII SPA RESORTS, COORG

 

We had a stay at one of the most expensive properties at Madikeri, Coorg spread over 120 acres of land and it makes you feel like you have entered a whole new world. It is a coffee plantation land and it holds one of the most rejuvenating Spa resorts in the area. They have their dining rooms, hotel rooms, spa rooms and coffee house at a considerable distance from each other because they want the guests to walk each time and experience the natural environment within the premises. The property owner believes in sustainable development so they have kept the natural habitat intact.

 

Rooms

 

Ibnii Spa Resort has primarily four categories of rooms with 22 pool villas, 10 wooden cottages, private residences and premium suites. We had a pool villa and a wooden cottage to get a dual experience. The pool villa comprises of a private pool, a private jacuzzi, a hall that has a tiny beer bar and snacks, two bathrooms and one bedroom. The private pool villa is a spacious apartment in itself. Each villa is at a considerable distance from each other so that privacy is maintained. Pool villa is surrounded by greens in abundance and you feel like you are swimming amidst the nature. 

The wooden cottage on the other hand has two rooms. The woods used to build the cottage are imported from Thailand. It truly gives an international feel because of the minute details used to construct the cottage and its interiors. There is a balcony overlooking the dense green forest where you can sit in the morning and evening seeing the different species of different birds, sunlight falling across dew dropped trees and even some monkeys may be. The bedroom has glass windows through which you can enjoy the surroundings. The wooden cottages are close to each other so there is not much privacy compared to pool villa but it is worth experiencing once in your life. The wooden cottage does not have a private pool but you can use the common pools which are equally beautiful.

Culinary RollerCoaster

Ibnii Spa Resort has its own in-house restaurants namely The Fig which is a multi cuisine restaurant, Baalelle a pure vegetarian restaurant, Masi kande for barbecue lovers and Kalki Kappe which is a coffee and cookie shop. So we find ourselves very privileged to have tasted one of the best cuisines in Coorg from the best of the chefs who were ever ready to share their recipe ideas with us. They had assorted breads and spreads for the breakfast, freshly cut fruits and vegetables, they had installed machines for self extracting the fresh juices of fruits and vegetables, a wide variety of milkshake and a mix of buffet varying from South Indian to Italian dishes. They particularly avoided Chinese cuisines or any other cuisine artificially made or having added flavours as the leftover food is used a manure for plants so that it is recycled in a better way perhaps.

The lunch and dinner too had miscellany of different cuisines from all over the world being North Indian , South Indian, Mexican and Oriental with selected desserts on daily basis. The menu was non-repetitive and finger licking good food gets served everyday. The kalki kappe or coffee house is located besides a small pond that served us free coffee and cookies that were made by us. The coffee shop hosts a cookie baking workshop where you can learn to bake cookies and then enjoy it by the pond. It is one of the best experiences that should make you feel at home and at the same time enjoy the beautiful property of Ibnii for staycation.

Some freshly baked waffles on special request

Activities at Ibnii

 

Ibnii Spa Resort has a wide variety of activities to keep you busy within the property itself. Once you are in the premises you need to soak in each iota of this scenic beauty. For the same they have provided the guests with diverse activities like nature and cycling trails, bird watching, bird/duck feeding by the pond, cookies baking and Yoga. 

So the nature trails happen in the early mornings from 7am – 8am followed by Yoga from 8am to 8.30am. The walk within the premises amongst the canopy of trees and wild flowers gives the morning much required kick start.

The Yoga session includes basic postures and asanas. It is more on the meditative side than rigorous exercise routines. Yoga takes place in a very secluded spot surrounded by a pond with beautiful white swans which is a mesmerising experience. 

In the cookie baking workshop they teach you how to bake delicious cookies. The chef will help you design your own cookies which you can have it with coffee later on.  

They have a Spa facility which needs to be pre booked because the slots run out. The name of the Spa is Manja which literally means turmeric in local language. They have weaved together the traditional and modern way of conducting the massages. This will positively unwind you from all the stress in your muscles and joints making it an enriching experience for you. The spa is quiet costly but if you are on a leisure staycation.

Hospitality

As we walked in the reception through the wooden bridge surrounded by fully grown out branches of dense trees we were greeted with warm welcome and smiling faces of the staff of Ibnii. There is comfortable seating at the reception desk where we were served with hotel towels and some traditional house made coffees. After the process of check in we were oriented about the various activities in the hotel and we boarded our polo cars and went on to see the rooms.

As we were a little before time, the pool villa cleaning was still in progress which gave us time to move about in the property. Hence it is suggested to go a little before time so that you can take delight in witnessing the alluring property of Ibnii.

The staff was a bit laid back in delivering the luggage to the room as there were multiple check ins going on but we got our luggages in an hour or so. The room and the pool cleanliness is on point. You will  not find a speck of dirt in the rooms or the pool. The tea and coffee sachets are regularly replaced on the coffee shelves and the rooms are cleaned once a day. Towels in the rooms can be replaced on choice as they believe in “saving the water” policy. If not required then do not change the used towels.

Room service is not provided with respect to food that is food will not be served in the room as they will expect you to walk all the way to the restaurant whenever hunger strikes. That explains why it is one of the best resort. But they have personal car service for the presidential room as it is quite far away from the in-house restaurant and spa.

The service at the restaurant is very prompt. The warm hearted chef greeted us with twinkle in his eyes every time we visited for our meals. On special request he even made some complimentary pancakes and waffles for us which was a very nice gesture on his part.

 Overall the service was seamless and delightful. 

 

Ibnii’s efforts in conserving the environment

Ibnii Spa resort is an eco-luxe resort that is they believe in balancing ecology while providing luxurious experiences to their guests. Rainwater harvesting is done by building a small pond to save rainwater. They are trying to save water by giving the guests an option to not give their used towels / bathrobes for washing when not required. Food remains/ leftovers are used as manures for plants and no added chemicals or preservatives are put in the food so everything is natural. Also plastic bottles are not used inside the premises for maintaining eco-friendliness.

This was about our Staycation at Ibnii Resorts and Spa !! If you want to read about our Staycation at Evolve Back Resorts, Coorg click on the link NOW!