Lately, there’s been a lot of debate around whether travelling really has the power to change you.
Perhaps you’ve felt the hair-raising excitement of a predator chase? I felt it too, except mine was laced with a tinge of cold fear.
Living in a typical Mauritian fishing village, I felt like an islander myself.
BIG NEWS: I hit 10,000 likes on my Facebook page, and 12,000 followers on Twitter – both in the same week! Right from the days when I was a vulnerable little fish in the big travel blogging ocean (which I still am, but just a little less vulnerable), my community of readers, travellers and dreamers – aka YOU – have been my backbone. It is to you that I turn to in happy days and not-so-happy ones, and for that I thank you! Now it’s time for me to give you a little something back. So I reached out to my favorite eco-luxury lodges in India and partnered with them to offer you a chance to win two unforgettable stays. Ready to hit the road? WHAT YOU COULD WIN 1) 3 days – 2 nights stay with meals for two at LAKSHMAN SAGAR, Rajasthan. Once a 19th century hunting lodge, Lakshman Sagar is perhaps India’s most creative expression of eco-luxury. Live like royalty on Rajathan’s untouched countryside, surrounded by the Aravalis; a bucket list experience. Read about my stay at Lakshman Sagar here. 2) …
I groggily board the flight to Leh at an unearthly hour. Waking up irritably to the flight attendant’s announcement, the view outside my window quickly changes my mood. We are flying precariously close to the snow-covered Himalayas, and would soon land in the cold mountain desert of Ladakh. Three years after my first solo trip to Spiti, I am back in the trans-Himalayas, still dreamy and wide-eyed, a little nervous, and hoping to find solitude in the mountains. It feels like life has come a full circle.
We slowly row away from the shore, leaving behind the dim lights on our palm-fringed island. The current in the backwaters sways our tiny kayak, and after a brief show of resistance, we surrender and let it guide us. Small fish occasionally jump out of the water, creating ripples. A thousand stars shimmer in the sky above. These are the virgin backwaters of North Kerala’s Kasaragod district, silent, untouched and without a houseboat in sight.
Between my recent trips to sunny Seychelles and festive Germany, I was drawn by the call of the wild to Svasara Jungle Lodge at the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. My jungle adventures in Madhya Pradesh earlier this year made me a wildlife tourism enthusiast (Read: Wildlife Tourism: Are We Saving The Tiger?), but Tadoba left me intoxicated. I can’t stop dreaming of forests brimming with unravelled mysteries. Or the sheer beauty and intricacy of their ecosystems. This is a glimpse of that world beyond ours.
Over the years, I’ve travelled to and stayed in many amazing places, in many countries across the globe. Even with such high expectations, sometimes a place comes along that completely takes me by surprise. A place that makes me appreciate my life as a travel blogger. A place that I know I won’t forget for a long time. Lakshman Sagar, in the Pali district of Rajasthan, was one such place. Once a 19th century hunting lodge on the banks of a lake (sagar), it has been transformed by a visionary man into the most gorgeous expression of eco-friendly luxury. I’m going to let these pictures speak their thousand words: *** 1. THE “0 KM” CONCEPT AT LAKSHMAN SAGAR implies that everything used to design the rooms has been sourced naturally or locally (from nearby villages). This is the living area of my room, with a chimney in the left corner, and so many colorful and innovative little touches to marvel at. *** 2. LOUNGING BY OUR OWN PRIVATE SPLASH POOL at Lakshman Sagar. Who needs beach …
A gentle tap on the tent startles me. I reluctantly get up from my cosy bed and lift the flap, to be greeted by a mesmerizing sight. Dark, ominous clouds swiftly cross the sky and settle upon the Knuckles mountain range in the distance. The moon becomes visible every now and then, painting haunting patterns in the sky. A handful of lights glow in the valley below. Fireflies shimmer above the tea plantations. The tap on the tent was just the wind, inviting me for a glimpse of this magical night.