Taj Bekal, Kerala

If you want to cut off from the world and just enjoy a weekend of luxury and pampering, then this is the place for you. Taj Resorts & Spa, Bekal.

Bekal is a 2hr drive from Mangalore. It has a beach and the backwaters making it an idyllic spot to relax. The sea is rough and not the most suitable for swimming. However the sunsets make up for that.

We were given a traditional welcome on arrival with cold towels and a drink. The hotel accommodated our early check-in request and we were personally escorted to room 819. This was the superior room with a lovely balcony.

The steward explained everything about the hotel and guided us on the activities and services. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the room. The interiors are done tastefully and have a lot of traditional yet contemporary touches giving it a lot of personality

The bathroom was even better! It had a large bathtub, with two showers, two sinks and the WC. The balcony had a swing cum bed, overlooking the backwaters.

There is plenty to do here for two nights. There is a swimming pool, and kayaking, yoga, spa, indoor games, gym, paint ball, bar, restaurants, library. Enough for two nights.

The spa has services ranging from INR 2500 to INR 12000.

The average cost per meal is roughly INR 2000 for two.

The best thing about this property is the staff. Just like any Taj, this one also has an eye for detail and every person we met was a manifestation of that philosophy. They were helpful, courteous and always preemptive of our needs. It really made us feel special, despite the resort being fully booked. The staff never ignored a single guest.

The breakfast was to die for! Probably the best spread I have ever seen in a long time and I travel a lot! Once again the staff was on their toes and managed the crowd beautifully.

It’s the little things that make Taj, the Taj.

1. When you remove the room key, the plug points stay on, so that your phone can continue charging!

2. If you have an issue, it is addressed almost immediately with no reminders needed.

3. The check-in happenes in the room and not at the reception unlike other hotels.

4. You might see chefs playing with kids and interacting like friends with guests. Very special!

My verdict: Taj Bekal is special in every way. It will make you miss it!

My rating: 5/5

Advertisements

Hampi, Karnataka

I had heard so much about Hampi but somehow the place eluded me. We finally made a plan this January to spend three nights at this fascinating place where God plays Jenga.

Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in east-central Karnataka, India. It became the centre of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire capital in the 14th century.

Transportation:

Train was the best option from Bangalore as it gave us 3 full days to explore the ruins. You leave at 10pm and arrive at Hospet at 7am. The same holds good for the return journey too.

Budget: INR 20,000 for two

Stay- 6000/- for 3 nights

Train- 1500/- both ways for two

Cab- 2500/- for 3 days

Sightseeing- 2500/-

F&B- 6000/-

Tax – 1500/-

Hotel:

Most people stay in Hospet which has the big hotels like Royal Orchid and The Hyatt. However we decided to stay in Hampi, close to the monuments.

There are two sides to explore on the Tungabhadra river. One side has the most famous ruins where historians, pilgrims and tourists flock to be mesmerized by the strange rock formations and structures. And on the other side you have the hippie vibe with bars and cafes lined up. One can get from one side to the other by boat or car. It’s very easy.

We decided to stay in Clark’s Inn which was closer to the monuments. The plan was to hire a car and see the ruins during the day and go to the other side to enjoy the night life.

Instagram- TheFanaticTraveller

The hotel was the right choice for us because it had all the facilities like AC, swimming pool, restaurant etc that one needs in a place like Hampi where temperatures can touch 40 degrees. We paid just INR 2000/- per night for a superior room. Across the river, the homestays are cheaper but quite basic.

Instagram- TheFanaticTraveller

There is a Jungle lodge and an Orange County property as well, but I don’t recommend them at all. Firstly both are away from the main area and secondly not worth the money they charge.

(Orange County)

( Stepped Pushkarni)

Instagram- TheFanaticTraveller

What to see:

When you are visiting the sights, please make sure you take a guide from the Virupaksha temple office. The official rate is 1200-1500 for the day. A guide is very useful in Hampi because only when you hear the interesting stories do you appreciate what you are seeing.

Some of the must visit places are:

1. Virupaksha temple

2. Queen’s bath

3. Lotus Mahal

4. Pushkarni

5. Vithala temple

6. Elephant stables

7. Matanga hill

8. Hazara Rama Temple

9. Underground Shiv temple

10. Mahanavami Dibba

11. Malavanta- sunset point

You will need good two days to cover these and more.

( Lotus Mahal)

Instagram- TheFanaticTraveller

The cafes that are famous are:

  • Laughing Buddha
  • Cafe chill out
  • The mango tree
  • Nargila guest house

The laid back vibe in these cafes remind you that you are on holiday. Do not expect fast service here and just thank your stars if you manage to get a place to sit.

Technically these bars are not allowed to serve alcohol. But many of them do so on request.

Close to these cafes is a sunset point which is not to be missed. Locals play music along with foreign tourists as everyone waits for the light to fade. The feeling is inexplicable as you stand atop the rocks, with the breeze in your face and happy tunes filling the air.. as the sun goes down.

(The chill out cafe)

Instagram- TheFanaticTraveller

Best time to visit- October to February

My verdict: Overall, Hampi is a place one can keep returning to. I am in awe of its strange, barren beauty and would like to learn more about it’s ever unfolding mysteries in the years to come. The rocks defy gravity and are unlike anything else you will ever see.

My rating: 4/5 for Clark’s Inn. It exceeded expectations on all counts for the tariff . Only thing missing was an alcohol license.

River Tern Lodge, Bhadra, Karnataka

The River Tern Lodge in Bhadra is one of the many properties owned and run by Jungle Lodges, Karnataka.  Situated in the midst of the Western Ghats of Chikmaglur district in Karnataka, surrounded by the lofty hill ranges of Babubudangiri. The River Tern Lodge is a perfect blend of nature and wildlife. The lodge gets its name from the congregation of thousands of River Terns during their breeding on a nearby island.

IMG_20171224_154508746

Instagram- thefanatictraveller

Accommodation:

Set next to the Bhadra dam, all rooms here overlook the serene waters of the reservoir. Rooms 1-9 are closer to the restaurant, bar and the reception and are more suited for senior citizens and families. Rooms 10-21 are a bit away from the reception and the dining hall but are more scenic and peaceful. One has to walk 50-70 steps to get there.

IMG_20171223_191743_476

Instagram- thefanatictraveller

We were first given room 20 which is a newly constructed cottage. The room had spectacular views, however the toilet was not fully covered with a wall till the roof. So, it was a bit strange to have the loo share the same air as the rest of the room 🙂 One could hear and smell things one didn’t want to. That too with an AC in the room!! There is always a need for a fully covered bathroom no matter now close you and your fellow traveler are 🙂 So I would not suggest room 20 and 21 for this reason alone.

IMG_20171223_151201_930

Instagram- thefanatictraveller

Rooms 12, 14, 16 are the best! They have big balconies overlooking the reservoir, and the bathrooms have large glass windows making it a very stunning setting! We were shifted to room 14 the next day and it was far better than room 20. The latter is also the farthest room making it even more undesirable.

Rooms have 1 double bed and 1 single bed, an electric kettle, emergency lamp, water bottles, toiletries and towels. The brightness of the cottages instantly add life to the stay and you feel immersed in nature. The constant chirping of birds and the rustling by squirrels keep you busy and entertained. There is something incredibly relaxed about this place. It grows on you!

IMG_20171224_093559443

Instagram- thefanatictraveller

Activities:

People come to this lodge for the jeep and boat safaris in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary. But they also have water sports- kayaking, boating, swimming etc. All included in the per head rate of INR 7,500 per day.

In the safaris, sightings of cats is low, but not impossible. However, this resort is perfect for birding. It attracts hundreds of river terns during the breeding season. Bird-lovers are in for a treat with over 200 species including, grey jungle fowl, red spur fowl, Malabar parakeet, etc. calling these forests home.

IMG_20171224_182910_188

Instagram- thefanatictraveller

Food and Service

Unlike other JLR properties, where food and service are nothing to write home about, River Tern was an exception. We loved the spread and the courteous staff. Every member was very helpful and knowledgeable about the forest.

The Bar has a limited menu but the rates are very reasonable.

IMG_20171225_093319_248

My verdict: This resort is perfect for nature lovers and those who wish to relax. Do not go there expecting to see cats. The safaris are more like joy-rides. Enjoy the park for other things. And enjoy the resort for its views and service

My rating: 3.5/5 Room no. 20 was a bit awkward.. but after we were moved to Room 14 it was heaven. Good service and good views make this a very relaxing and tranquil property.

Instagram- thefanatictraveller

 

Varkala, Kerala, India

Kerala is truly God’s own country. I have been there more times than I can count and each time it is a new experience. Varkala was recommended to me by a mallu friend (and I have many), as a lazy laid back destination. And I can tell you for a fact that he was right!

We made a 3 night 4 day plan to Varkala from 30th Sept to 3rd Oct 2017. This was just before the season begins. This place hosts a lot of German and Spanish tourists after 15th of Oct each year. We got very good rates, both for the flight and the hotel because we booked in advance so this was gonna be a budget trip.

I have to admit that initially I was a bit skeptical about a 3 night plan. What would we do there? Will it get tedious to be there for 4 days? Would 2 nights have been enough? There were very few other places to see nearby as per google and hence my concerns.

IMG_20170930_134615_885

(Varkala Cliff)- Instagram ID- thefanatictraveller

We flew to Trivandrum and then drove to our property Krishnatheeram Holy Ayur Beach Resort. It is just a 1 hour drive from the airport to Varkala. As soon as we set foot into the property and walked up the cliff, we knew even a week would not be enough!

Varkala is like Goa, 20 yrs ago. It is off-beat, pristine and quiet. Crowd is limited and very civilized. The views are out of this world and even puts the best beaches to shame if you ask me! A hidden gem that leaves you gaping at every turn. There is a pathway made all along the Varkala cliff which ensures you don’t miss any corner of the spectacular views of the endless coastline. Bars, restaurants and shops are spread all along the walkway. The beach is famous for surfing and attracts people from all over the world!

IMG_20171001_080059779

(Krishnatheeram Resort)- Instagram ID- thefanatictraveller

I chose Krishnatheeram Resort because it was right next to the beach and had good reviews. Varakala also has a Taj Gateway, but I was not convinced about the location. It was not beach facing. Other than the Taj, there are no other popular chain of hotels here. You have to pick from the local list on the map.

Having spent 4 days going up and down the cliff and checking out all other hotel options first hand, I think we made the right choice! This property is located in the north side of the cliff and has access to the best and most private beach. South beach is more crowded and attracts a lot of locals who come to visit the Janardanaswamy temple.

IMG_20171002_102744_215

The beach facing swimming pool was a great attraction as well, which I didn’t find in any other hotel on the cliff. We also had the best seats in the house as far as the sunsets were concerned. People staying in other resorts would walk over to our side to get a clear view.

This hotel also has a yoga studio facing the beach. Doing yoga early morning, facing the waters was so relaxing! I absolutely loved it! The AC Rooms were very basic yet comfortable. Do not expect luxury in this part of the country.

The only issue was that the resort did not serve alcohol. However, the restaurant next door did. So it was not such a big problem.

IMG_20171002_180452362_HDR

(Beach in front of the hotel)- Instagram ID- thefanatictraveller

The first day just goes in absorbing the raw beauty and simplicity of this place. The fishermen here still live such simple lives and use such basic tools to fish. It really takes you back in time! And makes you appreciate and respect the fish served on your plate each day.

Next day we explored the south cliff and just walked around.  Some of the restaurants and pubs have fantastic locations – like the Tibetan Kitchen. The food was very average but we still landed up sitting there for over 2 hours 🙂 Each bar has a fixed rate for beer and mocktails. And everything is VERY STRONG! Mocktails are just INR200/- and are more potent that a tequila shot 🙂

IMG_20171001_125233048

Some of the better restaurants are:

Caffe Italiano, Cafe Del Mar, Milky Way, Puccini Lala and Rock and Roll Bar.

Varkala also offers a range of Ayurveda massages. Rates range from 500-1500 per massage. The shopping is quite decent as well.

Third day we hired a bike and went around exploring the nearby sight seeing destinations. It was fun, but we soon realized that Varkala was the best place to be.

Places to see around Varkala:

  • Kappil beach- very rough beach. You can go kayaking in the backwaters there
  • Ajengo fort- very overrated. Can be avoided
  • Shivagiri- We didn’t go because we are into temples

 

IMG_20171002_151841130

(Anjengo fort)

IMG_20171001_141554495

(Varkala shopping)

Last day, we did yoga, had a lavish breakfast, took a dip in the pool, and then went into the sea. After that we took a short nap, had a lazy lunch. We checked out at 4pm and left for dinner to Leela Kovalam (1.5hrs). We caught the last flight back to Bangalore at 10pm

Overall budget: INR35,000 for 3 nights and 4 days for 2 people

Flight: 5,000 return from Bangalore per person

Room: 3,500 with breakfast

Bike hire- 350 per day

Airport transfer- 1,600 one way

Meals- Average 300 per head

Drinks- Average 200 per drink

IMG-20171002-WA0015

Varkala is a place that will linger on in your mind for a while after you say goodbye. The perfect destination to unwind and enjoy a good conversation. We will surely be back there soon!

My verdict: Krishnatheeram Holy Ayur Beach Resort is a very good choice if you are looking for a basic stay in the best location!

My rating: 3.5/5 because the roof of the room was dripping on the last day. And because there was no alcohol. However location is a 5/5. I would book this place again!

See more photos on my Instagram ID- thefanatictraveller

 

Parisons Plantations, Wayanad, Kerala

Instagram ID- thefanatictraveller

I have been to Kerala countless times, yet I don’t get tired of it. The reason is simple- its natural beauty and impeccable hospitality! I have been to Cherai, Wayanad, Munnar, Kovalam, Cochin, Fort Cochin, Calicut, Malappuram, Trivandrum, and Poovar. And all have been very memorable trips. In October of 2017, I will be going to Varkala. An off-beat beach destination with sunsets to die for. After that the only thing pending on my list will be the Backwater of Kumarakom and Thekkady.

IMG_20170520_155922284

In May 2017, we wanted to go to a place within driving distance from Bangalore (about 5-6hrs max). So our options were – Kabini, Chikmagalur, BR Hills, Wayanad, Bandipur, Coorg, Masingudi, Hampi and Mysore. We narrowed it down to Wayanad because all other places were either too warm, or too expensive or sold out.

As you must have figured by now, I do not like staying in big hotels. The search is always on for a cozy little place which makes your stay very personal and has a story to tell about itself. So, the hunt for the perfect stay in Wayanad, began. There were the usual suspects like Vythiri Resorts and Windflower. But they were too far and too expensive. As I researched more, Parisons Plantations caught my eye. It looked warm and luxurious at the same time. The rate was roughly INR 8000 per night per room (full board). Kabini was coming to that much per head per night!

Website: http://plantationexperiences.com/

The place is relatively new for tourists so the reviews were not too many. But whoever did contribute, gave the place a 9 or above. I also read that alcohol is not served or permitted on the premises. Now, because we were taking parents along, we were not too concerned about that. We just wanted a beautiful, relaxing stay with great food at an affordable price. Perhaps, I am biased towards tea garden bungalows, considering I come from Assam (the tea capital of India) but this really seemed like a good gamble for our weekend getaway. So I booked 2 classic double rooms.

IMG_20170520_160920514

This is what happened…

We took the route via Kabini to get to this place. However, Parisons is a 4000 acre plantation and google maps made life a little difficult for us in the last 10-15kms. We were being taken from the narrowest of streets with no sign boards at all. At one point we decided to ditch the maps (mostly bcoz there was no signal) and ask locals about Parisons. They directed us in all directions because we were surrounded by Parisons gardens 🙂 Nobody specifically knew the tourist bungalows. So it got a bit tense. The hotel staff was not reachable and we were just going round and round in circles. Finally, we got mobile connection and managed to reach the property with the help of an auto guy who was kind enough to take instructions from the hotel and escort us till the gates.

So please put Malabar Road or Mananthavady or Talapoya as the location on the Maps. Even when you ask locals, ask for Mananthavady or Parisons Talapoya gate.

IMG-20170522-WA0010

2.

At the time of booking, I was not aware that there are 2 bungalows in the gardens. Talapoya and Cherakara. Booking.com did not specify this anywhere. When we reached the property after the 5.5hr drive, we saw Talapoya first. The former is the larger one of the two with a swimming pool and gymnasium etc. It is 200 yr old British bungalow with massive rooms and halls. This is also where they have the spa, sauna and steam rooms. We were totally blown away! But then we were told that our bungalow was in Cherakara- 2 kms from there. It is the smaller bungalow with only 4 rooms. We were immediately filled with regret. I felt I made a mistake. And that we should have booked in Talapoya. But how was I to know?

The staff told us that as residents of Cherakara, we were allowed to use the pool and the gym at Talapoya. We saw that as some consolation and drove to our bungalow. Cherakara was a cute little property with a large lawn and a swing. The rooms were big and well done. All our regret just vanished because we soon realized that this was a far more personal space and the entire staff was at our beck and call.

 

We got the peace and quiet we were looking for. The lawns were just marvelous and the view of the tea gardens from Cherakara was far superior. Plus we got to use the pool and the gym at Talapoya, so essentially we had the best of both worlds 🙂 There was nobody to stop us from dancing in the rain, playing music, hogging the swing 🙂 We had the place entirely to ourselves. 

IMG-20170522-WA0012IMG-20170522-WA0009

3.

Since I am married into a Bengali family, food is the primary factor to decide the success and failure of a property/holiday. So I was under tremendous pressure for that to hit bull’s eye. And believe me when I say that Parisons just knocked it out of the park! Daisy, the chef just single-handedly took the holiday to the next level with her cooking. If for nothing else, book this resort for the food. It will be totally worth it. It was truly the highlight of our stay. I would like to make a special mention for Balakrishna, who took care of all our needs through the weekend.

IMG-20170522-WA0008

4.

There are several walking trails around the property and they even have a recreation centre. We played TT while we were there. But they also have tennis, badminton, billiards etc. So do carry your sports/walking shoes along. The tea gardens are just beautiful and are very well maintained. We drove to the top of the Brahmagiri hills and saw a fantastic 360 view of the estate.

IMG-20170522-WA0007

My verdict: Overall Parisons Plantation was just the perfect choice for us. We loved every bit of it. Stay in Cherakara if you want privacy and a homely feel.

My rating: 4.5/5 There is absolutely nothing for me to criticize. But yes, a glass of wine would have been nice in that setting 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road Tripping in Meghalaya,India (Part 2)

Day 3- Drive back to Shillong

On our way back from Cherrapunjee, we decided to take a different route to Shillong. Instead of going via NH 206 (which was a shorter way), we went Via Smit Village. It is a slight detour but totally worth it. We were told that it is a more scenic route and one crosses the local villages on the way. But it was so much more! Every turn was picture perfect. The roads are narrower and not as good as the main highway, but the scenery slows you down in any case 🙂 I highly recommend this route!

DSC05147

It is here that you will find the spectacular Laitlum Canyon! This place was really the highlight of our entire trip. I had no idea that such a place exists in Meghalaya. And nor did anyone else. I am so thankful to @tripadvisor for telling me about it and to all other fellow travelers for posting online. I hope to do the same with this blog post. Google shows you 2 destinations on the map for Laitlum, but you need to ask the locals for the right one. From Shillong, this is how you need to go:

1. Head east on MDR32 towards Laitumkhrah Point Towards New Colony
2. Turn right at Demseiñ-Ïong Bus Stop
3. Turn left
4. Turn left
5. Turn left at Sawlad Bus Stop onto NH44
6. Turn right onto Smit Rd
7. Continue straight onto Jongksha-Mawkynrew Rd.
8. Continue straight
9. Arrive at location: Unnamed Rd

For the best route in current traffic visit http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Shillong%2C%20Meghalaya&daddr=Unnamed%20Rd&geocode=FRRNhgEdBS56BSl_IL00j35QNzEriI8Q9y1IYg%3D%3D%3BFatPhAEdUHZ6BQ%3D%3D&dirflg=d

IMG-20160514-WA0042

(Laitlum Canyon)

It is a 270 degree view from up there. We could see 4 waterfalls and the endless movement of clouds. There is also a hiking route which I didn’t have the stomach for. But the locals use it daily to get to their homes in the valley below. One can drive right up to the edge of the mountain and park. It is really an overwhelming experience. The sheer raw beauty of this place will make  you concede that Meghalaya is indeed the Scotland of the East!

DSC05116

We had booked a 1 night stay in Tripura Castle in Shillong, which is the new favorite among the tourists.

http://www.tripuracastle.com

I have to say that the website is a bit misleading. Because the hotel is smaller than it looks online. But it is still a very pretty little property. When we arrived at the hotel, we very happy with the room (107) and also the bar. The entire place was really impressive on the outside.

But as a reviewer/blogger, I just could not overlook the glaring hygiene issues we witnessed. At breakfast, we had cockroaches crawling on our table. I saw a rat jump out of the area where the breads were – which by the way had fungus and were stale.

Not only that, I even saw the waiter bring both the veg and non-veg starters in the same bowl, and segregate them at the buffet table. When I questioned him he had no answer.

Overall a very disappointing stay from the kitchen hygiene point of view. The rooms however were excellent and so was the bar!

My Verdict: Very pretty hotel, but management is not great.
My rating: 2.5/5 Because there is only so much a room can do to enhance your stay. Food, hygiene and service matter more.

 

 

Road Tripping in Meghalaya,India (Part 1)

My husband and I have driven for 10 days in Scotland and have experienced the magnificent mountains and meadows that one saw in Skyfall! Till date we are in awe of that landscape. We were told that Meghalaya is called the Scotland of the East. But I took it as seriously as I take Bangalore being called the garden city 🙂

My parents live in Assam, so we planned a quick visit home and managed to squeeze in a 5 day road trip to the land of pork, rock music and incessant rain. I did a bit of research online beforehand so that we didn’t go the usual places like Police Bazaar, Center point and Pinewood hotel. I was determined to see a side of Meghalaya we had never seen. The adventurous, unexplored side. The quiet and unknown side. And boy were we in for a gold mine!

Our plan was as follows:

Day 1- Drive from Guwahati to Ri Kynjai Resort (Barapani). Stay the night

Day 2- Drive to Cherrapunjee. See Elephant falls on the way. Also see the new caves that have been discovered. Stay the night

Day 3- Drive to the Dawki river and then back to Shillong via a different route. Stay the night at Shillong

Day 4- Visit Laitlum Canyon and then catch a live band in the city. Stay the night

Day 5- See the sacred grove. Drive back to Guwahati

IMG-20160511-WA0004

Day 1- Drive to Ri Kynjai

The 4 lane highway from Guwahati to Shillong is as good as any. The drive is stunning and peaceful. It takes roughly 2 hours to get to Ri Kynjai, which is 30 mins before the city of Shillong.

http://www.rikynjai.com

This is possibly the most talked about property in the north east of India. And rightly so. Ri Kynjai just blows you away. Nestled in the hills, overlooking the Umiam Lake, the hotel is exactly what it is named- tranquil and serene. The grand entry with wide open spaces tells you there is no dearth of real estate in this part of the country.

IMG-20160511-WA0002

The rooms are large yet cozy. Pinewood interiors give the hotel a very local feel. Even the decorative pieces are very ethnic and showcase the rich culture of this region. Ri Kynjai has a restaurant and a bar. The menu is limited and even more so for vegetarians. The prices on the menu are pretty random I have to say. But the quality of food was good. You can either eat Chinese or Indian food here. Nothing else is available.

This hotel is pretty pricey, so one night is good enough to enjoy its richness! You will spend anywhere close to INR 12-15k per room with all meals. They also have a spa which has massages starting from INR 2500+tax. The gift shop is beautiful, but again, exorbitant. More suited for foreigners I would imagine.

My verdict: Ri Kynjai is a must see property in Meghalaya. Even if you cannot stay there, do pay a visit.

My rating: 4.5/5

Day 2- Drive to Cherrapunjee

When we started our drive to Cherrapunjee, my father could not stop telling us stories about how deadly the route was back in the day. So we all braced ourselves for an adventurous ride. But the roads, all the way to our hotel, were smooth and comfortable. The views of the mountain ranges took us back to our Scotland trip. It is on this route that we realized how underrated Meghalaya really is:

1.This is a matriarchal state, where the women work and the men take care of the house and children!

2. It is spotlessly clean, no matter where you go!

3. Unmatched natural beauty and the food is fantastic!

4. Great roads leading up to even the most remote areas!

DSC04979

We stopped at the Elephant falls which was just 20 mins outside of the city. It is a nice pit stop to make at the start of the trip, because the sights just get better and better after that. So do not go here at the end of your trip 🙂 Let it be a precursor to what lies ahead.

DSC04976

(Elephant falls)

On the way, there is a spot where you can do zip-lining. We were so excited about it and the experience was memorable. You must try it. It is cheap, fun and thrilling!

Just before entering Cherrapunjee, there is a gate on the left. It is the entrance to a cave that has recently been discovered. One gets to see fossils of sea animals inside and also experience the eeriness of being inside an age old natural cave. There are guides to take you around and the walkway leading up to the cave is very well done. Even elders can go up there quite comfortably.

In Cherrapunjee, we stayed at the Polo Orchid hotel. It was rated one of the best in the area but was still quite ordinary. The hotel has a great view of the valley and the waterfalls. However, the infrastructure and cleanliness was questionable. We felt overcharged. Our original plan was to stay here for 2 nights, but we cut that short and returned to Shillong the next day (which was a great decision).

The only thing good about this hotel was the spa. Food was average at best.

DSC05027

From there you must drive to the Dawki river which is at the India and Bangladesh border. The river is crystal clear and has a beautiful emerald colour. The boat look like they are in air! It is an unbelievable spot to visit

dawki

My verdict: Since this area does not have too many options, Polo Orchid is good for a 1 night stay. It is close to many attractions and the staff is helpful if you tip them 🙂 Just keep your expectations low.

My rating: 3/5