If there is one thing that we have all learnt from the months of lockdown is to value time — to slow down and live every moment. One feels the need to soothe frayed nerves that are constantly under a threat from the idea of contracting the virus. There is no better way to restore our sense of inner calm and tranquility than by turning to nature.
Having been cooped up in the house for months, our souls are longing for the outdoors.
On World Tourism Day, we highlight 5 eco luxury resorts that can wipe out the stress of the past six months in minutes and transport you to a higher state of bliss.
Diphlu River Lodge, Kaziranga, Assam
It is one of the top 10 hotels in the world, according to TripAdvisor and has won their Travellers’ Choice Award for 2020. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton have also stayed here during their visit to India in 2016. Perched on the periphery of Kaziranga National Park, Diphlu River Lodge believes in giving back to the environment. Their 12 wood and bamboo cottages with thatched roofs are inspired by the simple architecture of Mishing tribal homes.
Committed to responsible tourism, Diphlu River Lodge puts wildlife and the local community first. They recycle grey water for irrigation, hire their staff from neighbouring areas and also have an in-house women’s weaving unit, which make all the woven items for the rooms in the eco lodge. They also adhere to a low light and noise policy to protect the wildlife.
From the lodge, you could also spot one-horned Rhinos, wild elephants and buffalos of the Kaziranga National Park, a UNSECO World Heritage Site.
Coconut Lagoon, Kerala
There is only way to get to Coconut Lagoon, a CGH Earth property in Kumarakom, and that is by boat. This is because it is located on Vembanad Lake, one of India’s largest inland lakes. The villas, mansion and bungalow were built from remnants of old mansions, tharavads, that were once the family homes of the nobility of the land. They were carefully dismantled and then reassembled on the property. What is unique about the homes is that they follow Thachu Shastra, an ancient wooden architecture style that does not use any nails.
The resort is conscious in its day-to-day functioning as well – recycling waste, turning wet waste into biogas and relying on the local community for operational support. The resort is also home to a rare breed of cows from Vechoor.
The coconut groves, the backwaters and a butterfly garden offer plenty of natural landscape to lull your senses into a state of calm. Take a canoe ride through the backwaters, spend the day bird watching, dine in the paddy fields and unwind with an Ayurvedic massage that Kerala is famous for. Dancers, musicians and performers of traditional Keralan art forms such as Ottan Thulla (a poetic performance art form) add to the experience.
Evolve Back Kabini, Karnataka
One of the top eco resorts in the world, Evolve Back Kabini offers the best of modern luxury in the lap of nature. The villas are built in the traditional Kuruba tribe style to minimise the impact of the environment and offers a glimpse of the comforts that lie within. While some have private pools, others have jacuzzis to laze in after a day-long safari.
Each villa is equipped with a reverse osmosis system to eliminate the need for bottled drinking water. For an out-of-world experience pick the candle light cruise or their open air dining to enjoy the majestic views of the pristine surroundings. You can opt for a visit to Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve or a boat safari down the river of Kabini to witness the largest congregation of Asian elephants.
The resort’s spa, Vaidyasala, will also help you to relax and rejuvenate your soul while their kitchens serve sumptuous meals that offer continental as well as local favourites.
The Sarai at Toria, Panna, Madhya Pradesh
Located at the banks of the River Ken in Madhya Pradesh, the resort celebrates the beauty of the rural countryside. The founders, Conservation biologist Dr. Raghu Chundawat and wildlife photographer and conservationist Joanna Van Gruisen have spent many years working in Panna National Park, which is just 2 km away, and wanted to create a luxurious getaway where you can just surrender to nature. The resort is steeped in earth-friendly practices and ideologies. For starters, there are eight independent cottages fabricated in mud with thatched roofs. These have been designed by Eugene Pandala, an architect known for his sustainable building designs.
The resort is powered by solar energy and relies on traditional methods of insulation to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. The concept of sustainability extends to the service and food as well – most of the staff is from the area and the resort sources organic and local produce.
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You can dine and spend time soaking in the tranquil surroundings in an open baithak, which offers picturesque views of the surroundings. Other rewarding experiences are a boat ride on the river, bird watching and a trip to the world famous Khajuraho Temples.
Khem Villas, Rajasthan
Khem Villas offers you a stay experience in its luxury villas, cottages, rooms and tents amidst the wilderness of Ranthambore. Private outdoor bathtubs and courtyards as well as a private lake offer uninterrupted views of the Ranthambore hills.
There is no dearth of locations within the resort to spend some quality time with nature. Spread over 25 acres of previously barren land, only 1% is the built-up area. The rest of the land has been made green again through intensive planning. Founded by Dr. Goverdhan and Usha Rathore, the entire place has been constructed to protect the resources on which it depends. Dr. Goverdhan’s father, Fateh Singh Rathore was a leading Indian tiger conservationist and helped put Ranthambore on the Tiger Map of the world.
Apart from growing their own food, using solar energy for lighting and heating, water is conserved, re-used and recycled. The resort has also increased the groundwater levels of the area with its small pnds and lakes. These also give refuge to many birds and animals who visit these watering holes – one of the reasons why you can’t venture out of your rooms at night without a guard.