Home away from home
Sushmita Choudhury May 29, 2008It’s hard to really relax and enjoy your holiday when you are stuck in yet another cookie-cutter hotel—there are too many people, too much noise and your children feel caged in the confines of the room. Worse, few—if any—hotels in India allow you to bring Fido (read your pet dog, cat, rat or what not) along so the holiday is already incomplete.
One way to enjoy all the comforts and privacy of your own home in popular tourist hotspots is to rent a cottage. It’s not only cheaper on the wallet compared to similar category of hotels but also a whole lot more comfortable. Furthermore, many of them have a pets-welcome policy. In addition to housekeeping facilities, most such cottages also have a cook ready to wait on you, but you can further stretch your travel budget by opting to cook your own meals. Little wonder then that selfcatering cottages have long been a rage in the West. And the trend is now trickling into India. Here is a random selection of self-catering cottages across the country:
Hamta cottages, Manali
Located about 2 km from Manali, these one-bedroom cottages come with a fully-equipped kitchen and a spacious living room. For bigger families, there is the Log Hut option, boasting two double bedrooms with attached baths, a living room with dining area and a kitchen. Apart from allowing pets, the other uniqueness of the place is that it is away from the thronging crowds yet in the vicinity of Manali’s major attractions like the Hadimba Temple. For more information call 01902-253225.
Located on a 30-km detour from Solan, off the Chandigarh-Shimla highway, Rajgarh is an unspoilt retreat set amidst apple orchards. The resort offers both one- and twobedroom chalets, with attached baths, comfortable heating, Sky TV, CD players, in-room gaming consoles and well-equipped kitchenettes with refrigerators, microwaves, toasters and electric kettles. When you tire of gazing at the mountains and playing with Fido in the garden, try some trekking, angling and bird-watching. Call 09310256001 for details.
On the banks of the Vembanad Lake between Kochi and Allepey in Kerala, these two independent airconditioned waterfront cottages offer a very exclusive and private experience. The bathroom provides all conveniences of modern living, including a deep soak tub set against a full-length window from where you can watch fishing boats sail out. Though there is no attached kitchen, guests can cook their own meals at the separate kitchen area close by. Call 09388988811 for more information.
This single level pine wood cottage, boasting one bedroom with attached bath, a living room, dining room and kitchen, is ideal for a couple with a pet. This quaint colonial hill station, 77 km from Shimla, is perfect if you want to head for the hills yet escape the crowds. Those feeling too lazy to cook can opt for the two-night package on offer. For Rs 18,888 a couple will get pickedup from their doorstep in Delhi and dropped back in an air-conditioned vehicle. The package also includes all meals and taxes.
Dalhousie cottages, Dalhousie
Getting a hotel room this summer in Dalhousie might be a tall order but you can still partake of Dalhousie’s charms by booking this cottage. The two-bedroom, living room and well-equipped kitchen unit, also known as Bird Wood Cottage, is ideal for a family of four or for two couples. And it’s conveniently located on the prestigious Bakrota Mall. For reservations call 09810520078 or log on to www.dalhousiecottages.com.
Villa salmona, Goa
This three-bedroom Portuguese heritage villa is located in Saligaon, a charming village just minutes away from the beaches of Calungute. The house has a fullyequipped kitchen and all the amenities of home, be it a DVD player or baby facilities like a stroller. With a pet-friendly policy and a private swimming pool, this is the best place to crash at if you are headed towards Goa this summer, for, come October, the tariff will sky rocket. For more details call 011-26222202.
UNCOMMON PLACES, THE AFFORDABLE WAY
The destination: Keonjhar, Orissa
Why go there: Natural landscapes and exuberant waterfalls, terraced valleys and tribal heritage, temples and history...it’s all here.And in mid-June the region celebrates a unique festival called Raja Prabha, an ode to fertility. Singing, merry-making, feasting, games and dances become the most important preoccupations for three days. On the fourth day, after the ceremonial ploughing of the paddy fields, life returns to normal.
What to do: Check out the many waterfalls in the area, from Khandadhar to Badghagara and the temples such as Murga Mahadeva and Brahmeswas Mahadev in Gonasika.
Don’t miss: The ancient fresco painting at a natural rock shelter in Sintabinji, situated on the banks of the river Sita.The tempera painting depicts a royal procession.
Where to stay: There are hotels of all categories, from cheap to upscale.
Damage to wallet: You can get an AC room for under Rs 1,200 a night.
Clarks Amer, Jaipur
White orchid Katra, Jammu