There’s no better way to end the year than to take that long-delayed holiday. Here’s our list of trip ideas to start you off. Escape to the lush forests of Dandeli and Kanha, check into these beautiful hotels for a romantic weekend, let your kids get some air with our child-friendly treks around India, or discover the Konkan coast’s hidden beaches with our trails.
Take a teppa ride down the Kali. If you’re lucky, crocodiles will come say hello. Photo courtesy Jungle Lodges & Resorts
Jungle Lodges & Resorts has two properties in Dandeli: Old Magazine House in Ganeshgudi, and Kali Adventure Camp. Both lodges, while at a distance of just 22km from each other, leave you with very different experiences. Old Magazine House is wilder in character, removed from civilisation, surrounded (fenced in, almost) by dense forest. There’s no network here, unlike at Kali.
Kali Adventure Camp is more manicured, and sits on the banks of its namesake, a few of its tented cottages offering a bedside view of the river. There is a play area for children, and evenings are spent by the bonfire, listening to stories of the forest and watching documentaries of the wild. The majestic Kali is temperamental, flowing leisurely in some stretches – perfect for teppa (coracle) rides – and roaring around bends in others – better for rafting and kayaking. —Sejal Mehta
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Book a relaxing break for two at the Taj Lake Palace Udaipur. Photo courtesy Taj Lake Palace Udaipur
Make the Christmas break that couples getaway you’ve been planning to go on. Our list of gorgeous romantic hotels around India has something for every kind of traveller. If you’d like to get close to nature, try the luxurious Ri Kynjai in Shillong or the exclusive Mihir Garh in Rajasthan. Looking for some adventurous accommodation? Check into the tree houses of Machan, in Maharashtra, or the beautiful eco-cottages of Wildernest, in Goa. Spa lovers should visit Uttaranchal’s Ananda In The Himalayas or the Amanvana Spa in Karnataka for some leisurely pampering.
Cottages overlook the Banjar River. Photo courtesy Taj Safaris
Banjaar Tola decided to go local with its name – “tola” means settlement in the local language and the river Banjar runs right through the middle of the property, halving the cottage placements – nine on one side, nine on the other. The split also made it easier to have the cottages spaced apart, for more privacy enabling quiet lunches on the balcony right on the riverside, watching the wilderness on the opposite bank. The staff treats you to dinners under the stars and bonfires filled with stories of the forests. The architecture is mostly wood, with minimal use of cement. Following the local aesthetic, Gond art adorns the walls and the décor, a mix of the traditional and contemporary with tribal metal sculptures in the rooms.—Sejal Mehta
It is with the purpose of having guests experience communal life in these pols, that the Threee Foundation restored this century-old haveli. Photo: Ashish Mehta & Hardik Patel
Ahmedabad’s eclectic mix of culture, history and modernity make it a great weekend getaway. If you’re looking for a perfect base to explore the charming city, try French Haveli. The century-old restored home lets guests enjoy a communal stay, and is a great starting point to explore Ahmedabad’s walled city and colourful neighbourhoods.
It’s deceiving at first glance, but the waterfall near Stream of Joy is man-made. Photo: Hrishikesh Damle
Approximately 12km down the road from the burgeoning pilgrim hub of Dharmasthala, in western Karnataka, Stream of Joy is content to hide behind the trees of an areca nut plantation in a quiet village called Arasinamakki. Over the last few years, the simple four-acre plantation has developed into a homely escape from urban civilisation. Waking up in one of its four cottages is accompanied by a peace that quickly turns to curiosity—was it the call of a whistling thrush or a bulbul that broke your slumber? —Azeem Banatwalla
As rain clouds gather, the mist-covered Chembra Peak wears a dreamlike quality. Photo: Neelima Vallangi
It’s tough getting children outdoors, given all the gadgets and gizmos at their disposal. Cut down on that screen time and let your kids explore the great outdoors with hikes that are perfect for kids of all ages. Try easy day-long hikes in Mullayanagiri and Tadiandamol, in Karnataka. Or slightly more demanding multi-day treks in Sikkim and Uttarakhand.
December is a great time to head to the beach. Skip the traditional beach bastions of Calangute and Kovalam for these lesser-known areas. Put on your walking shoes and discover hidden bays, quaint villages and breathtaking cliffs with our suggested routes.
Laxmi is the gentlest of the centre’s elephants, and may allow volunteers to pet her as she chomps down her breakfast. Photo: Debarpita Banerjee
Volunteers can visit Wildlife SOS’s elephant and bear sanctuaries for a day or a week. A night’s stay, including accommodation, three vegetarian meals, volunteering, forest department admission fees, and transfers, costs ₹4,500. A week-long stay with similar inclusions is ₹20,000 (for foreigners $100 a day and $500 for a week). Booking in advance is mandatory.
Read more about what to expect here.
Lakeside terraces and rooftop restaurants are ubiquitous. On summer evenings, they fill up as soon as the temperature drops. Photo: Martin Harvey/Getty Images
In tourist-friendly Rajasthan, Udaipur is one of the biggest draws. The royal family of Mewar has shown the way by converting parts of the palace into luxury retreats—the old city area around the palace complex and Lake Pichola have followed suit. Right outside the palace entrance is the colourful Lal Ghat, crammed with tourists, shops, and restaurants. To the north lies the equally lively Gangaur Ghat. On the opposite bank, across the bridge outside Chand Pol is the relaxed Hanuman Ghat, lined with beautiful lakeside restaurants. Aside from these spirited attractions, there is an unobtrusive yet robust side to this dainty city, waiting to be explored.—Ambika Gupta
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