All posts filed under: Weekend Getaways

coastal Karnataka, Karnataka beaches, west coast India, Karnataka photos

“You Can Shake The Sand From Your Shoes, But Not From Your Soul.”

The seagulls come calling, and off we go. The sea breeze slowly replaces the aroma of coffee (Read: Coffee and Conversations in Coorg). The soft rustling of the maize fields turns to the fierce roaring of the Arabian Sea. From the bus, we watch the sun set upon palm fringed backwaters. And finally at the entrance of our beach house, we stand mesmerized by the crimson red sky and sea. Far from the beaches of Goa and the backwaters of Kerala, this is coastal Karnataka; picturesque and untouched. Ram-anna and Sarsu-akka, a couple from the neighboring fishing village and caretakers of our beach house, greet us with broad white smiles. Ram-anna opens the small blue doors and windows of the house to let the sea breeze in, while Sarsu-akka follows meekly behind; a short, thin lady with years of hardwork on her face. When we ask about food, her eyes light up. Aap jitne din baitho, main khana layegi; stay for as long as you like, I’ll get you food. She keeps her end of the promise for all three …

Coorg farm stay, Coorg photos, Coorg blog, Karnataka rice paddies

Coffee and Conversations in Coorg.

The whiff of coffee awakens me on a damp morning in Coorg. I lazily walk into my balcony, to witness silver butterflies dancing above the coffee plantations and the forest bathed in warm sunlight. I don’t know it then, but this is just the beginning of my love affair with Karnataka’s coffee country. When our bus arrived at Hattihole the previous evening, a gentle mist had engulfed the rivers, rice paddies and sleepy hamlets. Watching the rains lash the forests through my glass windows, I tried my first ever Coffee Spa; scrubbed with grinded coffee beans and massaged with hot oils, ninety minutes of aromatic coffee bliss! When the sun finally emerges, we walk along acres of coffee, cardamom and pepper plantations, down to a river with a hanging bridge built by the village folk. Walking on its delicate planks, our local Kodava (Coorgi) guide tells us about the indigenous traditions and culture of Coorg, the Kodava food and berry wines still made in village households. Only a single restaurant in Madikeri (called Coorg Cuisinette) and a handful of …

Lakshman Sagar: Add it to Your Rajasthan Bucket List!

Why you should be dreaming about Lakshman Sagar Rajasthan. 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 about Lakshman Sagar Rajasthan: The “0 KM” Concept at Lakshman Sagar Rajasthan It 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. Lounging …

Suryagarh, Suryagarh Jaisalmer

Suryagarh, Jaisalmer: Is it Worth the Splurge?

Wonder if you should splurge at Suryagarh Jaisalmer? Read on. My drowsy eyes prick open at the sight of a massive fort, a short drive away from Jaisalmer city. Its rustic brown façade merges with the stark wilderness of the desert, and the sheer grandeur of India’s bygone royal era calls out to me. Khamaghani. Welcome to Suryagarh. The last time I was in Jaisalmer was over 8 years ago. I’m glad those memories have largely faded away, because this isn’t the dry, parched terrain I remember. The sporadic monsoon rains have painted the Thar Desert in shades of green, and sprouted oases on the parched land. I’m surprised to open the window of my cosy, colorful room, and see a semi-green desert, with windmills spinning in the distance. Also See: In Photos: Jaisalmer in The Monsoons The music of the Manganiyar desert tribe echoes through Suryagarh’s expansive courtyards. The retro in-house bar serves Rajasthani delicacies and fusion tapas in earthen bowls. And a majority of its staff, though conversant in English and trained in the …


6 Long Weekend Getaways From Delhi to Rejuvenate You.

I think I’ve finally come to love the monsoon season in India. I’m mesmerized by the way the rains paint the mountains an emerald green, and provide relief to the parched desert. The way the clouds playfully flirt with the moon at night. The way the monsoon mist descends on lakes and waterfalls. The cool breeze, the raindrops on my skin, the smell of the earth, they are all subtle reminders of how travelling makes me feel – liberated. Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.

A Visual Journey of Chasing Monsoon in Jaisalmer.

Ready for the magic of monsoon in Jaisalmer? I’m no monsoon chaser. In fact, I’ve spent most monsoons running away from the rains. But when the luxury boutique hotel Suryagarh Jaisalmer invited me for a bloggers’ getaway in the Thar desert, to experience the magic of monsoon in Jaisalmer, I got curious. I had never, until then, imagined that the vast wilderness of the Thar Desert could be covered in green pastures and small oases. Or that the clear blue desert sky could be engulfed with grey clouds on a terrain so flat, you could literally see them burst into rain at the far end of the desert. Monsoon in Jaisalmer was magical alright, but you shouldn’t believe me until you get a glimpse yourself: ARRIVING IN THE OLD FASHIONED LUXURY OF SURYAGARH  A unique resort built in the style of a Rajasthan fort. A warm welcome by musicians of the Manganiyar tribe, who tug at your heart with the tunes of the desert. === STUMBLING UPON A TYPICAL DESERT SCENE during monsoon in Jaisalmer; a young boy …

Te Aroha Dhanachuli, hill station in Uttarakhand, Delhi weekend getaways

Te Aroha Dhanachuli: Under The Yellow Rooftops.

In the Kumaon Himalayas, my experience at Te Aroha Dhanachuli – a unique boutique hotel in Uttarakhand. Every stone in Kumaon has a story. It speaks of the fierce spirit of the Kumaoni people during India’s freedom struggle. It carries the whiff of tea gardens that once flourished on this land. It looks humbly upon mighty Himalayan peaks that sit in the distance. This is the story of some such stones, erected by Sumant Batra back in the nineties. Stones that became my abode for a rainy July weekend. His love affair with travel started while he was still a child. Much like anyone who’s travelled in Kumaon, he was captivated by the charm of the lower Himalayas of Uttarakhand. In his late twenties, he fell in love with the small, obscure village of Dhanachuli. There were terraced valleys here. Verdant mountain slopes covered with apple orchards, forests of pine and rhododendron, gushing rivers, small streams and waterfalls, and no development or tourism infrastructure to speak of. The locals were friendly, nay, full of warmth, …

A Visual Journey Through Bhap Village, Rajasthan.

Explore Bhap Rajasthan (in Phalodi Rajasthan) through my lens. Late last year, I visited Bhap village, near Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Despite being one of India’s most travelled states, Rajasthan harbors secrets that take long to find, and even longer to forget. Bhap Rajasthan, surrounded by a serene village lake, gorgeous salt pans, massive sand dunes, and friendly people, is one such secret. This photo essay is a collection of fond memories from the days I spent there: *** SOAKING IN THE SERENITY OF PHALODI RAJASTHAN LAKES in Bhap village. Bhap itself is a typical Indian village with no proper sewage or drainage system, but after a disheartening walk through its narrow by-lanes, arriving on the pristine shores of this village lake is nothing short of amazing. Across the lake, we could spot several herds of camels trotting along in the desert. *** LAUGHING WITH VILLAGE KIDS NEAR BHAP RAJASTHAN in a village where Dalit families are still discriminated against and not allowed to visit the village temple. The smiles of these Dalit children give hope …

Sri Lanka villages, Sri Lanka ecotourism, Sri Lanka secrets

Galkadawala: Sri Lanka’s Best Kept Secret.

I take off my shoes, slip on a sarong, and carefully tip toe into the luke warm water. The village ladies, all clad in colorful sarongs, extend their hands so I don’t get entangled in the weeds and fall. Maulie, our host in Galkadawala, introduces me as “India”; the ladies giggle and say something friendly in Singhala. I wade into the lake with their help, and when my feet no longer touch the soft bed, I start to swim. Maulie points to a tree in the distance, where she spotted one of the lake’s resident crocodiles a few days ago. A soft chill runs through my spine, as brahminy kites appear in the clear blue sky above. Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.

Bhimtal pictures, Bhimtal, India village life

An Eco-Friendly Homestay in Bhimtal and Other Hidden Treasures

Away from the crowds, The Retreat Bhimtal – a unique, eco-friendly homestay in Bhimtal – introduced me to some hidden treasures. I’ve crossed Bhimtal several times while making my way into the higher reaches of Kumaon. Most of these times, I’ve looked away from the Bhimtal Lake. Though surrounded by colorful trees, it looks only as clean as you can expect an easily accessible lake in India to be. At the start of Bhimtal town, ugly concrete construction lines the hill slopes. Vegetation looks sparse, and cars, fruit sellers and people are aplenty. Most of these times, I’ve been glad to leave behind what seems like an unsightly town. Also read: Responsible Travel Tips for Authentic, Meaningful Experiences on the Road Stumbling upon a rather unique homestay in Bhimtal during my research though, convinced me otherwise. The Retreat Bhimtal was described as a rambling estate in the midst of pine forests, far from the madding crowds I always imagined Bhimtal to have. I had to see it to believe it. The paved roads at the …