Where The Heart Is
- Chirping Orchard in Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand
Chirping Orchard offers more than just a comfortable accommodation. It promises to be your ultimate tryst with nature, with never ending orchards of peach, plum, apple and pear, and snow-capped Himalayan peaks looming in the background. The orchard invites several birds, so waking up to the cuckoo’s call is not a farfetched dream anymore. The bedrooms are equipped with balconies from where you can spot the Nanda Kot, Panchachuli and Trishul peaks. Vegetables are grown organically in the backyard, while wild grass covers the expansive lawn that extends to a breathtaking view point, offering a panoramic look of the mountains and forests. You can witness the magic unfold in front of your eyes, at both dusk and dawn, while absorbing the tranquillity of the moment. The highlight of Chirping Orchard is the warm and welcoming hospitality extended by the host who will be happy to personally take you on hikes to the nearby village of Nayal. If you are still not convinced, they are pet-friendly as well.
- Anugraha in Kottayam, Kerala
Anugraha is an elegant homestay in Aymanam, in the central Kerala district of Kottayam. Located near the popular lakefront tourist spot of Kumarakom, this house, along with the Meenachil River backwaters is an ode to slow living, Keralan hospitality, and the natural splendours of this tropical travel destination. Guests can stay in an independent villa, attended by two members of the house-staff. They take one booking at a time, in order to ensure guests get undivided attention and care. Think of a stay at Anugraha as a holiday visit to a friend’s home in the Kerala countryside. The villa is a heritage home, constructed more than a century ago. It was restored under the direction of architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, and styled with contemporary art from the family’s private collection. There’s plenty of privacy when you prefer, but when you’d rather not be alone, then you will be invited to soak in the sights and sounds of the thriving estate, which is inhabited by the family that runs Anugraha, which includes their three dogs, Google, Zuma and Pepper. The 7.5-acre property is punctuated by canals, a pond, vegetable garden, many varieties of tropical fruit trees, hardwoods, bamboo, and various kinds of ferns; in a design that was laid out by award-winning landscape architect Tom Stuart Smith.
- Kipling Camp in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
The award-winning Kipling Camp was established in 1982 on the edge of the Kanha National Park, by conservationists Bob and Anne Wright. One of the first wildlife camps in India, it still remains amongst the finest. Kipling is now managed by their daughter, renowned tiger conservationist, Belinda Wright. Their motto is “treading softly in the jungle.’’ The camp is the perfect destination for those who wish to relax in idyllic surroundings and explore the remote forests and villages of Central India. Accommodation is in comfortable cottages set in acres of un-spoilt jungle, and a lake. There is also a private cottage with a sitting room and a patio overlooking the camp’s wildlife waterhole. Kipling Camp is also the home of Tara, the much-loved elephant who featured in Mark Shand’s best-selling book, Travels On My Elephant. Tara delights in her daily bath-and-scrub in the Banjar River–not to be missed. You will be treated as guests while you learn about the magnificent landscape, mammals and bird life of the Tiger Reserve. Guests can also go bird watching or on long treks, to learn about the local Gond art, farming practices, local architecture and community projects. Kipling Camp is a part of the RARE India Community of boutique hotels that believe in conscious luxury. Less than 10 per cent of the land has been utilised for construction and about 15 acres has been set aside as an undisturbed sanctuary for wildlife. Moreover, they have purposely not built formal gardens or swimming pool in this area, owing to water shortage.
- Saffron Stays Elgin Hall in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh
Do you want to experience the best snow view? You have to make your way to this Victorian-inspired sprawling seven-bedroom villa right in the heart of Dalhousie. They have a stone-brick fireplace right by the patio, as well as a barbeque counter around the dining area that makes this experience more attractive. If you’re wondering what’s to explore beyond this comfortable villa, you can visit Daikund peak, Kalatop Khajjar sanctuary, and Gandhi Chowk, where you can buy some souvenirs and soak in the local flavours. The home stay also has a caretaker who will cater to every need while making you feel at home with true pahadi hospitality.
- The Farm in Jaipur, Rajasthan
The Farm is home, studio and gallery space for artist couple Ritu and Surya Singh. It is where they live, work, play and express. Creative, bohemian and sometimes downright eccentric, The Farm has been welcoming guests since 2008. What started out as setting up a space using scrap and discarded materials, has led Surya and Ritu on their artistic journey. The inception and execution of their artwork take place here, right from designing and constructing theme or subject-based art installations for various spaces, including public art installation in the city of Jaipur, to curating ephemeral immersive environments. The Farm is a chance to experience a creative lifestyle with an unhurried pace and a sense of consciousness. As a result, each of the rooms is filled with quirky artworks of artists who have stayed here, acquired art, and those created by Ritu and Surya. Local crafts find their way into soft furnishings and other details in the living spaces. Guests are treated like friends of friends and an ‘at home’ atmosphere is encouraged. The idea is to have a quiet, conscious, restful space, filled with inspiration.