Pack, Set & Go

FROM PRINCELY SO­JOURNS IN HER­ITAGE MAN­SIONS TO ADREN­A­LINE-BOOST­ING AD­VEN­TURE SPORTS, HERE ARE A VA­RI­ETY OF EX­PE­RI­ENCES FOR A QUICK GET­AWAY IN AND AROUND THE RE­GION

India Today - - SIMPLY GUJARATI - By ADITI PAI n

Find the best get­aways in and around the re­gion.

UN­DER THE STARS RANN OF KUTCH While the Ran­nut­sav is draw­ing to a close, the Rann of Kutch con­tin­ues to be a top pick as a get­away des­ti­na­tion es­pe­cially be­fore the sum­mers set in. Aptly de­scribed by the state tourism depart­ment as a “sym­phony of salt and stones cud­dled on one side by the sea and the other by desert”, the Rann of Kutch is much more than ad­mir­ing the white salt flat­lands in the moon­light. The few thou­sand kilo­me­ters of­fer a va­ri­ety of ge­o­graph­i­cal land­scapes and sights—large flocks of flamin­goes and mi­gra­tory birds that visit dur­ing win­ters, the wild ass sanc­tu­ary and pris­tine white stretch of salt. Go up the watch tower to see the ex­panse of the Rann or trek up Kalo Dun­gar to watch the mag­i­cal sun­set.

Get­ting there 82 km from Bhuj

GO GREEN RETHAL GREENS

Watch the birds walk along rows of fruit trees or curl up with a book on the lawns—that’s what you can look for­ward to when you visit Rethal Greens, a lav­ishly de­vel­oped hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion where you can even buy

plots to build your va­ca­tion home. Named af­ter the Gu­jarati word for sand, Rethal Greens is a sprawl­ing space cre­ated out of a sandy ex­panse of land near the Nal­sarovar Bird Sanc­tu­ary by bSafal, real es­tate de­vel­op­ers in Ahmed­abad. They have 14 taste­fully de­signed rooms at the re­sort for hol­i­day mak­ers, a state-of-the-art gym­na­sium, restau­rants, gar­dens and a host of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties like a cricket pitch, bad­minton, basketball and ten­nis courts and jog­ging and skat­ing tracks. With the Nal­sarovar bird sanc­tu­ary just 20 km away, the dé­cor here is ob­vi­ously in­spired by the winged species with bird fig­urines carved from stone, dot­ting the land­scape. En­joy the multi cui­sine spread and tra­di­tional Gu­jarati del­i­ca­cies at Song Bird, the taste­fully done up restau­rant, play a game of cricket or take a dip in the pool at this pic­turesque re­sort that is a short drive from Ahmed­abad.

Get­ting there Near Rethal Vil­lage, Sanand-Nal­sarovar Road, Sanand

GOLF­ING GLORY KENSVILLE GOLF AND COUN­TRY CLUB

Whether you want to tee off or sim­ply un­wind amidst an ex­panse of green, the Kensville Golf and Coun­try Club is the per­fect pick for your next get­away. The sprawl­ing 18 hole golf course has a re­sort with 53 lux­u­ri­ous rooms, re­cre­ation ac­tiv­i­ties and restau­rants set in a colo­nial-style struc­ture. Their in­ter­est­ingly named restau­rant, The 19th Hole, which over­looks the golf course of­fers a multi-cui­sine din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. With play areas and a re­cre­ation cen­tre, there are am­ple op­tions to keep the chil­dren busy while you un­wind with a re­lax­ing spa mas­sage at their ayurveda cen­tre. The fully equipped golf academy has a flood­lit range, prac­tice putting greens and state-of-the-art tu­ition aids and pro­fes­sional coaches for those who want to learn a new game. So, turn your next get­away into a golf­ing ses­sion.

Get­ting there Op­po­site Shiva­lik Busi­ness Cen­ter, Ra­j­path Club, Bopal Road, Thal­tej, Ahmed­abad,

De­tails kensville.co.in

LAP OF LUX­URY MADHUBHAN RE­SORT AND SPA

From wed­dings and lively fam­ily va­ca­tions to peace­ful ro­man­tic so­journs, Madhubhan Re­sort and Spa is on the wish­list of most Gu­jarat trav­ellers for its lush land­scape, lux­u­ri­ous rooms, re­cre­ation op­tions and the va­ri­ety of food that its eight restau­rants of­fer. At an hour’s drive from Ahmed­abad, the re­sort lulls you into a hol­i­day mood with its land­scaped lawns, wa­ter foun­tains, an ex­pan­sive swim­ming pool and happy faces that promptly cater to your needs. The re­sort has dif­fer­ent types of ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­i­ties—from deluxe rooms to a lav­ish two-bed­room pres­i­den­tial suite, but if you’re look­ing for a touch of Gu­jarati her­itage, they have the Gom cot­tages and which are in­spired by the erst­while ar­chi­tect of Karam­sad, a

vil­lage in the vicin­ity and home to Sar­dar Val­lab­hb­hai Patel. You’re spoilt for choice in food; the re­sort houses a Mediter­ranean bistro, a Mex­i­can cui­sine café, a juice bar, multi-cui­sine restau­rant and a bak­ery. With a spa of­fer­ing natur­opa­thy ther­a­pies, a large swim­ming pool and sev­eral in­door and out­door games, there’s some­thing for every­one. Price Rooms start at Rs 9,000 for two till March

Get­ting there Anand-So­ji­tra Road, Val­labh Vidyana­gar, Anand, 80 km from Ahmed­abad

De­tails mad­hub­han­re­sor­tandspa.com

TASTE OF ROY­ALTY UDAI BI­LAS PALACE

Ra­jasthan’s royal des­ti­na­tions con­tinue to woo the lux­ury seek­ing Gu­jarati trav­eller with their palaces, her­itage homes, tra­di­tional cui­sine and a taste of erst­while roy­alty. If you’ve ex­plored the touristy city favourites—Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodh­pur—dis­cover Dun­garpur on your next get­away. Not too far from Udaipur, the erst­while princely state takes you back in time with its old palaces, shrines and her­itage struc­tures. A gem here is the 19th cen­tury Udai Bi­las Palace, now a her­itage ho­tel that’s rem­i­nis­cent of ex­quis­ite Ra­jput ar­chi­tec­ture with fine mu­rals, minia­ture paint­ings and stone carv­ings on its façade. If his­tory or art is your pas­sion, stay­ing here is a treat be­cause the 23-room palace-turned-ho­tel has sculp­tured pil­lars and pan­els, or­nate bal­conies, balustrades, brack­eted win­dows, arches and frieze of mar­ble carv­ings in true Ra­jput style. The din­ing area, Zenana Chowk, has beau­ti­ful peb­bled walls that add a touch of ex­trav­a­gance. While you’re here, ex­plore the Juna Ma­hal, the an­cient shrines in the vicin­ity or take off on a bird watch­ing trip to the Si­ta­mata Wildlife sanc­tu­ary. Price Starts at Rs 7,900 for two Get­ting there Dun­garpur is 175 km from Ahmed­abad De­tails udaibi­las­palace.com

REGAL LIV­ING RIVER­SIDE PALACE, GONDAL

If her­itage hol­i­day­ing is your pick for the sea­son, head to Gondal, a for­mer princely state where the royal palace is now a her­itage ho­tel with four poster beds, old dressers and colo­nial fur­ni­ture from the fam­ily's heir­loom col­lec­tion. The arts and crafts of the re­gion make an ap­pear­ance in the dé­cor with an­tique bead­work, a brass chest from Saurash­tra and the fam­ily’s col­lec­tion of pho­tographs and Raja Ravi Varma paint­ings in the atri­ums. The re­gion is home to sev­eral species of birds so get to the rooftop which has a glass walled gallery from where you can see the river or do bird watch­ing in the morn­ing. Visit the mu­seum that has an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of an­tique tex­tiles, uten­sils and hand­i­crafts, royal relics like sil­ver-plated how­dah, gold cas­kets that car­ried gifts for the Ma­hara­jas and horse car­riages. The toy col­lec­tion ranges from veg­etable dye hand-painted wooden toys from the 1870s to match­box cars from 1970s. The erst­while royal fam­ily’s love for cars shows in the vin­tage car

col­lec­tion where you can see the pre-1910 New En­gine and the grand 1935 Mercedes seven-seat saloon. The Euro­pean touches go be­yond the ar­chi­tec­ture; the menu has del­i­ca­cies like the Shep­herd’s Pie, steamed pud­dings and grilled chicken. But the kitchen also whips up lo­cal del­i­ca­cies from the Kathi­awad area, which are def­i­nitely a must-try. Price Rs 7,500 for night for two

Get­ting there Asha­pura Road, Gondal Tel 2825221950

LEISURE ROUTE MOUNT ABU

With the sum­mer fast ar­riv­ing in the plains, it’s time for Gu­jaratis to head to the cooler climes of Mount Abu, a scenic hill sta­tion along the Gu­jarat-Ra­jasthan bor­der, to beat the heat. A dense green patch in a state known for its plains and desert, Mount Abu has mul­ti­ple op­tions to make a quick get­away en­joy­able. While the charm­ing Nakki Lake is a win­ner among the tourists, the Dil­wara tem­ples are a ma­jor draw for his­tory and art lovers with their ex­quis­ite carv­ings in mar­ble. Go boat­ing in the lake, con­nect with na­ture with long walks through the woods, shop for hand­i­crafts in the vi­brant town bazaar and ex­plore the her­itage and bou­tique ho­tels. The lazy air of the quaint hill sta­tion of­fers a wel­come break from busy city life. Check out Va­len­cia, a bou­tique ho­tel perched in the hills.

Get­ting there 160 km from Ahmed­abad

CITY SE­CRETS DI­VAN'S BUN­GA­LOW

Re­live the days of roy­alty with­out trav­el­ling far out of the city at Di­van’s Bun­ga­low, a her­itage man­sion that’s run by the Neem­rana Ho­tels. Over 150 years old, it makes you travel back in time with its colo­nial façade, tower rooms, Euro­pean-style tiled roofs and a touch of eth­nic Gu­jarat with jharokha bal­conies. En­joy a leisurely break­fast in the gar­dens or join the Ahmed­abad her­itage walk to re­dis­cover the city’s iconic struc­tures like the Jama Masjid or the Sidi Sayed Ki Jali. It’s a treat for tourists and even res­i­dents who want to take a break from their busy rou­tines to en­joy the 600 yearold her­itage of their city.

Price Rs 4,500 on­wards At Raikhad II, M.B. Kadri Marg, Ahmed­abad. Tel 9998953550

SEA AND SUN MANDVI

If surf and sand are on your mind, drive down to Mandvi, a pic­turesque sea­side des­ti­na­tion that’s also

home to a lux­ury tent re­sort. Walk along the sweep­ing stretches of sand and en­joy the views of the clear blue wa­ters and the wind­mills spin­ning in the dis­tance. An im­por­tant port and a ship build­ing spot, Mandvi has a beau­ti­ful re­sort—The Beach at Mandvi which stands on a royal es­tate amidst rustling trees. A high­light of a hol­i­day at the lux­ury tent re­sort, which is on the pri­vate beach es­tate of the Ma­haraos or the for­mer rulers of Kutch, is the bar­beque they ar­range on the beach. With pri­vate ve­ran­dahs and colo­nial pe­riod fur­nish­ings and a restau­rant made of bam­boo and thatch, the Ara­bian Sea fac­ing re­sort is a must-visit when you’re at Mandvi. For some wildlife spot­ting, visit the palace sanc­tu­ary that’s home to blue bulls, jack­als, pea­cocks, and var­i­ous birds. Price Pack­ages start at Rs 14,000 for two nights

Get­ting there Vi­jay Vi­las Palace Es­tate, Near Mandvi Airstrip, Bhuj De­tails mand­vibeach.com

HEAD TO THE HILLS SAPUTARA

Saputara has all the trap­pings of a hol­i­day in the hills—a rope­way to a sun­set point, a quiet lake and woods that wel­come you to take long walks. It is also Gu­jarat’s only hill sta­tion. While the quaint town is at its most charm­ing dur­ing the mon­soon when white clouds and mist cover the moun­tains lend­ing it a sur­real feel, win­ters are for long walks up Gover­nor’s Hill to watch the sun­set into the Saputara Lake.

If you’re in the mood for ad­ven­ture, in De­cem­ber, the hill town hosts the paraglid­ing fes­ti­val where you can glide over the pic­turesque moun­tains and get an aerial view of the town. Just be­fore Holi, the lo­cal tribal com­mu­ni­ties dis­play their cul­tural splen­dour at

the Dangs Dar­bar Fes­ti­val. If you want a break from the touristy at­trac­tions, head to the wildlife sanc­tu­ary of Ma­hal Bardipura for­est, about 55km from Saputara, which has rivers and bam­boo glades that of­fer walk­ing and trekking op­tions.

Get­ting there 133 km from Su­rat, take the Su­ratWaghai High­way

RO­MANCE THE WAVES DIU

An im­pos­ing fort from the days of its Por­tuguese rule, rapidly chang­ing land­scapes that range from salt pans to ti­dal marsh­lands, clean beaches, old churches and wa­ter sports meet at this quaint sea­side town that’s char­ac­terised by rustling palms and Hoka trees. The Por­tuguese past meets you at ev­ery step here—old churches and a fort in the mid­dle of town on this pretty is­land. The tourist at­trac­tions are cen­tred around the Nagoa Beach which has wa­ter sports, ho­tels, shacks and beach restau­rants.

The Panikotha-For­tim Do Mar, a ship shaped struc­ture that was be­lieved to have been con­nected to the land by a sea tun­nel, is a pop­u­lar photo point. Take in the views of the Diu fort by night and make a trip to the shell mu­seum that has more than 2,500 types of shells pre­served un­der a large mag­ni­fy­ing glass.

Get­ting there Near­est rail­head is Ver­aval (90 km)

ADREN­A­LINE HIGH SCUBA DIV­ING AT DWARKA

Ex­plore the world that lies un­der the wa­ter with scuba div­ing ses­sions at Dwarka. The clear wa­ters off the coast of this an­cient city make for a good spot to take the plunge and watch aquatic life—sea weeds, plants and fish swim­ming around. The Bet Dwarka beach, with its clear sands, is also an ideal spot for surfing. If you’re in the mood for sight­see­ing, visit the an­cient Kr­ishna tem­ple and other shrines in the city which is an im­por­tant pil­grim­age and tourist place.

De­tails plan­etscubain­dia.com

UN­DER­WA­TER QUEST MA­RINE NA­TIONAL PARK

See the beau­ti­ful co­ral reefs, meet dol­phins spring­ing out of the sea or watch the king­fisher swoop down on the wa­ter for its morn­ing catch of fish—if this matches your idea of a hol­i­day, put a trip to the Ma­rine Na­tional Park on your next hol­i­day list. Off the Gulf of Kutch, a ferry ride on the some­times choppy, some­times calm wa­ters takes you on an ex­plo­ration of un­der­wa­ter life where you can spot tur­tles, shrimp, sponge, eels, sea urchin, spoon­bills and dugong.

Get­ting there A ferry ride takes you to Jam­na­gar De­tails gu­jarat­tourism.com

Pho­to­graph by PURUSHOTTAM DI­WAKAR

The vi­brant Ran­nut­sav

Pho­to­graph by DANESH JASSAWALA

Golf greens at the Kensville Golf Academy

A panoramic view of the Udai Bi­las Palace

Pho­to­graph by DI­NESH SHUKLA

The Vi­jay Vi­las Palace in Mandvi (above); Nakki Lake in Mount Abu (left)

Pho­to­graph by PURUSHOTTAM DI­WAKAR

Pho­to­graph by DI­NESH SHUKLA

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