Holiday destinations for the history buffs, the nature lovers, the cheese geeks and everybody else
Sometimes the heart yearns to travel. But this travel is not so much to learn or to enrich; but to rejuvenate.
You don’t want to stand in crowded lines for museum entrances, you don’t want to feverishly consult the scribbled notes from that lonely Lonely Planet. You want to travel to be together, to read together in the balcony in your matching his-and-hers Kindles, maybe walk or hike a bit, to share a candlelit meal for two (perhaps, with wine?); and to pretend that the outside world doesn’t exist.
After all why do we travel? Is it to have something exciting to report on our Facebook timelines? To tick against imaginary lists of the world’s-best-highest-most-beautiful-and-dangerous? Or is to create a collection of shared reminisces and experiences with people we love, and care about?
At MBRB, we’ve said before that there is so much to see in India. Here then are a few vacation ideas for couples that want more than just a beach vacation, but perhaps less than a holiday at the Lake Palace.
A and B, Sitting on a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G
Remember reading the William books and Enid Blyton as a kid and yearning for your own tree house? Now imagine escaping to one for a rendezvous with your significant other as an adult (Reader, I hope you’re an adult). Picture being suspended mid-air (but not too high), with the branches of a tree running through your suit. Stay up all night to listen to the rain falling on your thatched roof, and then wake up early to a profusion of birds tweeting and chirping and driving you gloriously insane in the way that only nature can. Instead of watching the late night news and despairing about the world, try calling it a day at sunset as the dark canopy of leaves makes it impossible to do much else but listen to music or share a beer in lamplight.
A tree house vacation promises just such an adventure. What’s more, tree house resorts are the flavor du jour in the Indian tourism industry- and there’s probably one not too far away from you. Here are a couple you may want to try.
North India: The Tree House Resort, off NH8 just half an hour from Jaipur. Come for the tree house, stay for the waterfalls and koi ponds that you can see from the floor of your rooms.
Central/Western India: Machan, Lonavla. More barebones than the luxurious Tree House Resort, but also perhaps a little more natural.
Recommended for: Couples who enjoy nature, taking it easy, bird watchers and amateur photographers
Not Recommended for: Couples who need something to “do”, night owls, those looking for a gourmet vacation.
From Pillar to Fort
The Sahyadri are dotted with as many as 300 fortresses , hidden somewhere between the crevices of the Ghat and the splendor of the Arabian Sea- some of them accessible by road, and others only by tiny jetties from the mainland.
No, they are not particularly well kept, and the best you can do by food in most of these places is the soda-chips being sold by the hawkers. They are NOT preserved, stones may be loose, ramparts broken, and there WILL be the ubiquitous “A loves R” kind of graffiti however high you climb, not to mention the errant monkeys and langoors. But the views are to kill for, and there is none of the mad clamor that one associates with great views. Visit these forts for a hearty hike, some extremely romantic photographs (the inner Bollywood diva in you will scream at the chance of modelling against the crags and the ruins); and to learn a little more about a chapter of history that you haven’t revisited since school.
You could start with probably the best maintained of the lot- the Raigad Fort (about 200 kms from Mumbai, accessible by a cable-car so you don’t need to climb up!) . But visits to the Murud Jajira (150 kms from Mumbai, off the Mumbai-Goa Highway) and the Sinhagarh Fort (just off Pune) also make for interesting day trips. The latter in particular is a nice strenuous trek and is known for the delicious zunka bakhar on the way down. (Sidenote: Can we just say that the MTDC website is one of the most comprehensive and easily navigable Indian tourism site we’ve seen?)
Recommended for: History wonks, hiking enthusiasts, Ghat-addicts
Not Recommended for: People who had enough of the Maratha forts in their history textbooks, those who want things a bit more organized, those who don’t want to do too much walking-driving on their vacation.
Eat, Farm, Love
If it’s food that’s brought you together, then let food help sustain you in one of these bucolic agrarian vacation where you source your ingredients, learn how to impress your friends back home with a new dining secret or two, and otherwise just relax and eat some more.
If the tranquility of Kerala backwaters are your thing, you can have conduct your gourmand vacation in Philipkutty’s Farm House- enjoy their cooking courses, and stroll through their gardens where almost every single ingredient you will eat during the course of your vacation is grown.
Or why not learn Cheesemaking at Acres Wild, Coonoor? Eat ricotta with breakfast, and harder cheeses with your evening glass of tipply (they make everything from the Camembert to the Gouda). The shortest course on offer is two days in length, and for one kind of couple, two days surrounded by just cheese sounds fantastic.
Recommended for: Gourmets, gourmands, food-fiends, the family that eats together
Not recommended for: The lactose intolerant, the vegans, the dieters (though really, what you eat on a holiday doesn’t count!)