Kerala’s Secret Ayurvedic Resort

ayurvedic retreats

Anantya Kerala

There are two kinds of secrets- one that is not worth keeping and the other which is too good to keep. Tucked away amidst a 1000-acre rubber plantation, about 50 kilometers from Trivandrum; the capital of Kerala lies a secret of the latter kind – Anantya.

The facilities at Anantya, which opened just a few years ago, include 21 cottages, a swimming pool, a multi-cuisine restaurant and a spa that offers ayurvedic therapies.

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‘Astitva,’ in common usage means ‘existence.’ But, in ancient Sanskrit, it stands for the attainment of the complete potential of every thing. In its purest form it is the attainment of god himself. This is the property’s motto where they want guests to experience complete and holistic wellness. Anantya Travancore has teamed up with the Pankajakasthuri Group, a renowned name in the field of Ayurveda, to provide authentic and traditional Ayurvedic spa services. The Group, which runs the Pankajakasthuri Ayurvedic College and Hospital has a history of providing Ayurvedic services for many generations has helped to provide a tailor made program with revitalizing and therapeutic treatments in their beautiful spa rooms overlooking a their lake.

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For guests taking advantage of ayurvedic or yoga packages, they also have ‘Sattvic’ cuisine. A Sattvic diet is the traditional term for a yoga diet or sentient diet which focuses on foods that have ‘Sattva Guna’, (literally translated to ‘pure benefits’). A Sattvic diet leads to clarity of mind and offers maximum benefit to the body. Dining also reflects the palates of international clientele with local delicacies, in addition to dishes inspired by Italian, Mexican, and Asian cuisines.

If that isn’t convincing enough for a Kerala retreat, perhaps the photos might!

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By Sanjay Sivadas

http://anantyaresorts.com/

Glamping with The Ultimate Travelling Camp

India Glamping

I like a good adventure like the next person, but these days I’m more glamp and less camp. So, whenever I come across a great glamp group, I have to spread the word.

Enter: The Ultimate Travelling Camp which brings glamping to remote parts of India so travelers can safely go places where the infrastructure is inadequate or non-existent.  In fact, it’s the first truly mobile luxury camps in India covering a calendar of destinations and festivals!

Here’s what they offer:

*3 Regions: Ladakh, Adawdh, and Nagaland

*4 Camps: Chamba Camp, Thiksey (Ladakh), Kotwara Camp, Terai and Suheli Camp, Dudhwa (Awadh), and Kohima Camp, Nagaland (Nagaland)

This allows adventurers to experience the many moods of exotic India with its dramatic landscapes, mountains, deserts, jungles and unexplored countryside. Relax in individually designed tents, with en-suite bathrooms, private decks, crisp linen and the services of your very own butler. Enjoy delicious family recipes, hear stories from specialists and guest “travelogists” over fire-lit evenings, and immerse yourself in the magic of India. The Ultimate Travelling Camp can also be customized for special occasions.

So, check out these trips below and tell ’em we sent ya!

Ladakh
June 15 to September 30, 2014

 

Highlights
Watch the sunset from Shanti Stupa overlooking the old city of Leh
Join the monks for a magical early morning prayer ceremony at  Thiksey Monastery
Indulge in a picnic lunch in a picturesque setting
Witness the traditional fanfare of a Ladakhi polo match
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Kotwara: November 15, 2014 to March 31, 2015
Dudhwa: January 1 to March 3, 2015

Highlights for Kotwara
Visit the 400 year old frog temple in Oel
Have a Gala dinner at the Palace of Raja Muzaffar Ali
Enjoy sufi meditation and music
Spend some time viewing Raja Muzaffar Ali’s films
Relish high tea by the lake
Try the famed Awadhi dishes

Highlights for Dudhwa
Search for the one-horned rhino and elusive tiger by jeep and elephant safaris
Visit the local Dudhwa tribe, the ‘Tharus’ and watch them skillfully weave
Enjoy rural music and dance
Explore the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary
Relish a picnic breakfast in the depths of the jungle

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Nagaland
December 1 to December 7, 2014

Highlights
Revel in the excitement of the
Hornbill Festival watching local tribes performing cultural displays
Watch indigenous games such as ‘chilli eating contests’ and ‘greased bamboo pole climbing’
Have a drink by the campfire followed by a feast skillfully created by our Chef
Listen to rich folklore at Phesema Village
Visit the beautiful Kohima War cemetery

http://www.theultimatetravellingcamp.com/

One High Powered Exec Quits Her Day Job To Start a Travel Company in India

india travel photos

Sippin’ coconut in India

For the past few years, travel has certainly been changing. Today’s discerning travelers, who have “been there done that,” want to go beyond the traditional sight-seeing trips. They’re looking for authentic travel experiences which are also life-enriching and experiential travel is slowly becoming the new buzz word in the tourism industry. Catering to this new breed of travelers are people like Maneesha Panicker of Silk Route Escapes. Maneesha quit her cushy job with the cosmetics giant, Estée Lauder in New York, to follow her passion for travel. We sure love a corporate escapee! In 2010, she founded Silk Route Escapes; an experiential travel company that offers bespoke travel packages through unexplored parts of India.

Maneesha, who has traveled extensively across India, helps travelers from across the globe see and experience new things in India. Travelers who put their travel plans in the hands of Maneesha could end up joining a gang of notorious poachers who have turned over a new leaf on an exhilarating trek to spot tigers in the rainforests of Kerala (tres cool), taking meditation lessons from monks at a monastery in Ladakh (get me somma that OM) or sip some of the finest Indian wines which have won praise from international wine experts at a vineyard in Maharashtra. All in all, she’s offering experiences that are truly unique and for those looking to do India in style… behind-the-scenes.

We’re in!

www.silkrouteescapes.com

Sanjay Sivadas, our contributor, is a travel writer based in Bangalore, India. For more questions about traveling India, feel free to email him at: sanjaysivadas@yahoo.com

Kerala: The Great Escape

Vythiri Resort

Kerala; a land that has gained fame as ‘God’s Own Country’ is a chili shaped strip of land that is sandwiched between the lofty mountain chain of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea in India. Tucked away at an altitude of 700-2100 meters above sea level in a particularly beautiful corner of Kerala is Wayanad. The latter which happens to be one of the better kept secrets of Kerala is about 150 miles from Cochin.

Vythiri Resort is a romantic hideaway cocooned in the lap of the rainforests of Wayanad. The Vythiri Resort which sprawls over a whopping 150 acres boasts of 18 thoughtfully designed cottages, a multi-cuisine restaurant and a spa. Since the time it opened its doors to the discerning traveler it has been winning the hearts of people from across the globe. Not surprising then that it was conferred the prestigious International Quality Crown Award by the Madrid based Business Initiative Directions (BID), a few years back. For a truly out-of-this-world experience you should stay in one of the dizzy tree houses that are perched some 100 feet above ground level at the Vythiri Resort. These luxurious tree houses come with a bath attached bedroom.

www.vythiriresort.com

Wayanad also enjoys a salubrious climate all through the year with the monsoon coming from late Jun until early September (But Wayanad truly comes alive during the monsoons).

Sanjay Sivadas is a travel writer based in Bangalore, India. He may be reached at sanjaysivadas@yahoo.com

Little Tibet

Shakti Ladakh View from Likhir house

They call it, “Ladakhi Love,” because this high-altitude desert is a breathtaking escape where remote wilderness overlooks the Himalayas. Here, one is brought closer to the love in their heart and the SO in their soul.

Ladakh, better known as little Tibet, is in India’s northernmost region. Only comfortably accessible to travelers during the summer and fall months, this time of year, the weather is gorgeous and humidity-free, making it the perfect alternative to the sticky heat that envelopes the rest of India.  We’re highlighting Shakti, operator of bespoke walking tours and homestays, because they’re a small sweet little outfit offering customized, private itineraries for guests to experience the breathtaking beauty of this remote wilderness with a full range of activities including village-to-village walks, treks, visits to monasteries, camping, and rafting along the Shayok and Indus Rivers.

Shakti Ladakh Taru Bedroom

For the 2011 Shakti Ladakh season (May 1 – October 31) there are three new village houses as well as new treks and camping options in and around the Indus Valley.  The village houses have been gently spruced up to meet Western standards and yet maintain their authenticity as British interior designer Ellie Stanton has created a stylish and comfortable décor for each, including all new fittings in the bathrooms that give them a stylish functionality.  All houses feature solar power and grey water recycling facilities; locally-source wood and mud bricks were used in the construction along with sustainably-harvested willow for the interior roofing in the traditional Ladakhi style.

About the new village houses and treks:

Shey: This century-old home offers views from its roof terrace of the nearby Shey Palace and the Tibetan-Buddhist Thiksey monastery. It has three bedrooms, an en suite bath, large sitting room, and traditional kitchen.  Many of the rooms are painted in a traditional style with decades-old motifs.  The village house at Shey provides a great location for walking, trekking, and biking.

Eego: The village of Eego is one of the few locations where guests can enter and exit the valley on foot. This 150-year-old stone baronial mansion, three stories high, is situated above the village near a glacier and some of the oldest Ladakhi dwellings.  It boasts three bedrooms, a sitting room, a dining room, and an open terrace with stunning views of snowcapped peaks.  Eego provides a superb setting for walks and treks.

Likhir: Sitting above the renowned Likhir monastery and just below the glacier that bears its name, the village house at Likhir provides jaw-dropping, alpine-like sights of the valley and snowcapped peaks. It has two bedrooms, en suite bath, and is within easy reach of Alchi village and the famous Alchi monastery, one of the oldest in Ladakh, with its beautifully preserved 11th century wall paintings.

Stakmo to Eego Four-Day Trek: This three-night/four-day trek through the unexplored valleys and villages on the north side of the Indus Valley can be added on to any Shakti Ladakh itinerary.  On daily treks 5-6 hours in length, guests will experience trekking along some of the highest ridgelines as they traverse from west to east across the northern side of the Indus Valley, passing by villages, forgotten valleys, and high-altitude flora and fauna such as the ibex, yaks, and marmots.  Enjoy daily picnics in some of the most stunning valleys and picturesque river settings the Ladakh region has to offer, while evenings are left to explore villages and camp out under the stars in comfortable, domed canvas tents.

Shakti Ladakh Courtyard at Shey

For Shakti Ladakh’s seven-night itinerary, rates start at $890 per night for one person traveling, $530 per night per person for two to three persons, and $461 per night per person for parties of four to six. Included in the rate: private accommodations for group, all meals, drinks, activities, two rafting trips (weather dependent), English-speaking guide, cook, porters, car at disposal, all taxes, 5% service charge, and round-trip transfers between Leh Airport and Shakti Ladakh.  Minimum stay of five nights required; children ages three and older allowed.

For Stakmo and Eego three-night, four-day trek, rates begin at $1,499 per person on a twin/double share basis.  Included in this rate: accommodation in dome tent, all meals and drinks, English-speaking guide, porters, transfers between Stakmo and Eego at the beginning and end of trek.  Children 16 and older are allowed.

www.shaktihimalaya.com