Monthly Archives: December 2017


A drive to the Hornbill festival with Datsun Redi-GO

Recently I was invited by Datsun India to experience the Hornbill Festival at Nagaland in the Redi-GO 1.0L. Needless to say I was on board immediately, literally. I haven’t explored North East India as much as I would like to and this was a step in that direction. And I was getting to explore the hilly roads from Dimapur to Kohima on road since I personally enjoy driving as well.

So tickets were booked, bags were packed, woolens were worn and off I went one early morning from Delhi to Dimapur. There are a very few flights that service this sector and so we had a layover at Calcutta airport. Once we arrived at Dimapur airport it was a sight for sore eyes! The moment I disembarked from the tiny Air India plane, I could smell flowers in the air and not jet fuel fumes! It was a very pleasant (also literally) surprise. Dimapur airport is a tiny one where passengers get off the plane and walk to the arrivals. On our arrival we were greeted by the local team from Nissan India who were ready with our rides for the remaining journey – 2 brand new Datsun Redi-GO 1.0L cars. And by brand new I mean absolutely factory fresh. The number plates were arranged right then and we were good to go.


 

We drove till our hotel , Hotel Lake Shilloi, located in the city centre, freshened up and had a late lunch. All of Dimapur was decked up for Christmas and also closed for the same (Quite early for Xmas!) so we couldn’t do much that day. But we needn’t have bothered because we were sitting in the heart of all action. Our hotel was located right next to the city tower and soon a massive Christmas celebrations began. We sat at the terrace of the hotel which was beautifully decorated, to view the celebration from above while the sun went down in to a crowd cheering various Santas.

 

Twilight with a “star lit sky” 😎😏 Christmas is big at dimapur in Nagaland! #_soi #travel #travelphotography #indian #incredibleindia

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It was a great evening, hearing local church choirs sing Christmas carols, watching Santas dance and wowing at the chinese lanterns floating away into the sky! There was a night market that had set up right on that road and it seemed like all of Dimapur was right there for the night. Of course we didn’t wish to sample the local cuisine which was more like Intestine chutney and dog meat. However the Christmas decorations and general fervor was great. The celebrations continued late into the night while we had an early morning the next day to drive to Kohima.

The next morning we dumped our luggage in the boot of our redi-GO 1.0L for the drive to Kohima. I was quite impressed by the boot space for a hatchback. The car offers a smooth driving experience, feels light and has the ground clearance of 185mm which is the best in its class. There were 4 of us driving 2 cars, so we took turns driving and exploring the car and its various features. It has good pickup and sturdy brakes. We mostly drove in low gears because it was a hilly drive. And the car didnt stall anywhere. It has a reverse gear that works the same way as in SUV’s (lift the gear and switch it into reverse). That took some getting used to. I noticed that the power window buttons were on the gear box instead of on the doors. That appeared strange and trying to open windows while someone was driving, sort of disturbs the driver.

Datsun Redi-GO

Driving with the clouds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few images of the car looking splendid with the hills . It looks quite trendy and suits the pocket just right for those who are buying their first cars because it’s easier on the pocket compared to others.

 

Had a great drive to the #hornbillfestival in the @DatsunIndia Redi-GO. Good vehicle for hilly roads #datsunlove Nice flares from the phone. #_soi #travel #travelphotography

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Sun rays streaming through the trees while Driving the @DatsunIndia Redi-GO for #hornbillfestival . #datsunlove #_soi #travel #travelphotography #mobile #Nagaland

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We reached our hotel in Kohima, Hotel Cimorb around noon , freshened up and left for the hornbill festival immediately. The festival was quite exciting with a lot to do and so much to see and explore. To begin with, the place was full of cherry blossom trees that were still flowering! However they were also full of leaves so the flowers get hidden compared to when the tree has only blossoms. A beautiful sight nevertheless.

 

Church at Hornbill festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a quick lunch and set out to explore the festival which is divided into various sections at the Heritage village of Kisama. Kisama is derived from two villages namely, Kigwema (KI) and Phesama(SA) and MA which means Village. The Heritage Complex consists of a cluster of 16 houses – one for each of the 16 officially recognized Naga tribes. All of them are different and unique in their customs & traditions. It also houses food courts, bamboo hall, a church, a World War II museum, kids play area, and areas for various concerts, competitions and beauty pageants. So There are lot of activities to indulge in, ranging from watching various tribes perform their traditional rituals, to watching martial arts, music concerts, checking out local produce and horticulture and much more.

One of the tribals at Hornbill festival

Traditional folk dance at Hornbill festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I shopped for some succulents because they are very expensive comparatively in Delhi.

We set back and spent the night at Hotel Cimorb, which is owned by the CM. Kohima was rather chilly at night. The next day we set out very early in order to drive back to Dimapur and catch our flight. The drive back was also smooth considering that the roads between Kohima and Dimapur are really really bad and in a dismal state with a lot of repair work going on. We had our breakfast on the way at the only Vegetarian place I had seen so far, because all I had seen were rice hotels that served rice with chicken , mutton, fish even for breakfast :). Soon we reached Dimapur, handed over the cars to the dealership and headed back for Delhi. If you ask me this was just a taste, and I need to visit Nagaland again soon, to have a full meal.

 



10 reasons to stay at Treehouse Anuraga Palace when visiting Ranthambore

Some time back I had the opportunity to visit Treehouse Anuraga Palace at Ranthambore and my stay there was quite fulfilling. Here are the reasons why you should plan a stay there on your visit to Ranthambore. 

Close to Ranthambore tiger reserve & fort

The main attraction – the Ranthambore tiger reserve hosts not only magnificent Tigers but many other exotic animals including Leopards, Jackals, Foxes, Black Bucks, Deer, Nilgai, Sloth Bears, Desert Cats, Mongoose, and a large number of birds including peacocks, darter, treepie, quails, and many many others. The Treehouse Anuraga Palace hotel is very conveniently located from the reserve. The Ranthambore fort is another must visit attraction which is in the same reserve. It hosts a well known temple – The Trinetra Ganesha Temple which is famous for having Lord Ganesha and all of his family together at one place. 

 

While climbing stairs of the #ranthambore Fort, comes the entire family of Shiv, Parvati, Ganesha & others. Very rarely seen together. #rajasthan #_soi #travel #travelphotography #temple

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Right next to the artistic sawai madhopur railway station

The Treenhouse Anuraga Palace is very very close to the very artistic Sawai Madhopur railway station. The distance is barely 5 minutes by car. Hence reaching their by train or by road is most convenient.

Beautiful architecture & elegant decor

The architecture of the Treehouse Anuraga Palace is very nice & majestic. Not only does it have the typical Jharokhas, chhatris, jaalis & the haveli look of Rajasthani architecture, the rooms are also decorated in a palatial way. It has a central courtyard with a fountain and garden seating is available for tea/coffee. It has been built according to vastu and one corner of the campus has a high tower for auspiciousness. One look at the hotel, and you know it’s not your typical modern building and you are in for a different experience. Moreover the decor is fabulous and has been catered to personally by the family that owns it. The entire hotel has light curtains which flow with the breeze and give the place a very nice relaxed ambience.

Architecture complying to vastu

Architecture complying to Vastu

Beautiful Architecture of Treehouse Anuraga Palace

Beautiful Architecture of Treehouse Anuraga Palace

Flowy curtains in all corridors

Flowy curtains in all corridors

Elegant Decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organic veggies & organic milk from shabri farm

The Treehouse Anuraga has a restaurant named Basant. Open from Morning till late night, it serves a variety of dishes from across the globe. The breakfast buffet is lavish and so are the other meals. The best part however is that all veggies and milk products used in their daily meals are organic! Not only that, all these come from their own farms! I had the opportunity to visit their farm a little distance away from the hotel. It is a haven that one can only dream of owning. Veggies and fruits growing without pesticide, compost being made at the farm and cows/buffalos having a variety of healthy stuff that makes their milk more flavourful – are some of the sights one sees. No pesticides or antibiotics used anywhere – which is how our daily intake should be but isn’t. Even the chutneys and pickles present at the buffet are organic and have been prepared at the farm. When was the last time you ate so healthy?

Shabri farms

Amla trees at Shabri farms

Amla trees at Shabri farms

Onions and garlic drying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeons at the farm

Dairy area at Shabri farm

Dairy area at Shabri farm

All veggies including organic ones are grown at Shabri farms

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hospitality & family feeling

Rajasthani hospitality is famous. Considering that hotels are a part of the hospitality industry, one would assume that the service would be great. But more often than not one finds that to be lacking. Not at Treehouse Anuraga though! Every single member (and I do mean every single member) of the staff, no matter how senior or how junior, smiles and greets all the guests. It doesn’t stop just there. They will ask you how comfortable you are and try to increase that comfort even more. At the restaurant also, The chef and cooks are friendly and will offer to make your favourite dishes if you feel that you don’t want anything from the buffet. The homely tradition of insisting that your guests take some more servings of the food even when they are full, is actually followed here! Waiters and the staff at the restaurant insist on pouring something more into your plate or getting that one extra chapati or customizing your meal. It feels like one is eating with family and not with strangers at a hotel.

Spa services

 

Spa area

Spa services are also available at Treehouse Anuraga. It is not the full range of services like Spa, steam and Sauna but the spa massages are good. There’s a variety of massages available. They have 2 lady masseurs and 2 gents. I tried the “Lomi Lomi” massage which is derived from the ancient polynesians and is performed using the forearm, knuckles and palms. This helps in toxin release and improving muscle strength. Most massages are available for 60 or 90 minutes. One has to make an appointment in advance. I found the massage very relaxing. This was followed by a hot bath that seals all the moisture in.

 

 

 

Special dining at rooftop

The hospitality I mentioned earlier, goes one step further. If one wishes, one can dine at the rooftop under a specially painted canopy for a sit down meal. You can tell your meal preference in advance and then you will be served various courses at the rooftop privately, instead of having a buffet meal at the restaurant. Since the stuff is not cooked at the rooftop, they have an arrangement of a microwave to reheat anything in case it gets cold. I am sure later the facilities available at the rooftop will expand much more. And of course the view from the rooftop is to die for.

Magnificent view from the rooftop

Painted ceiling at the rooftop

The rooftop area all set for dinner

The table all set for sit down dinner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entertainment & Experiences

Treehouse Anuraga can arrange for the jungle safari if you haven’t booked a ticket for yourself already. The general public way is to book ticket online (no control over timing allotted) or to buy ticket from the ticket counter at the Ranthambore tiger reserve (one can still choose between morning/evening timings & type of vehicle). One can choose between a gypsy (6 seater) and a canter (12 seater). But all hotels in the vicinity also provide booking through their own agents and charge a fees over the ticket cost for the same. “Gypsy vs canter” is a thing for another post. Apart from the Jungle safari that the Treehouse Anuraga can arrange for you, they have a daily magic show in the evening and camel rides (paid separately) are available as well. They also have outdoor and indoor play areas for kids. An inviting swimming pool is also at the premises and can be used any time. In terms of experiences, they offer a whole plethora. The rooftop special dining also comes under that. A visit to the Shabri farm where all the organic veggies come from is another one. A sun downer at the Ranthambore fort is another – where one dines at the fort and a meal is served there while watching the sunset. Apart from this there are a host of other activities like evening tea, naturalist talks, wildlife films, available for the evening.

Tranquility

The Treehouse Anuraga is a quiet & serene place. There’s a temple at the premises and there are yoga sessions and Arti in the morning. Apart from this whatever suits you – a swim, meditation, prayers or spa treatment – everything to relax and achieve tranquility is available. 

Pool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stunning rooms

This is the cherry on top of a luscious cake that is Treehouse Anuraga. The rooms, Especially the suites are absolutely mindblowing. The suites have been given the name based on the Indian Flowers of Jasmine, Rose, Marigold and Lotus and every element adds up to create a story around the theme. My family and I stayed in 2 thematic suites – Rose suite and Jasmine suite. These large spacious suites have a separate living area and bedroom area. Everything in the suites is decorated according to the theme. I must mention that all the decor is personally handled by the daughter of the owners of Treehouse Anuraga. Not only this , some of the paintings and artwork inside the rooms is also handcrafted by them. They are a family of multi-talented people!

The Jasmine suite

Matching bathrooms

Jasmine Suite

Jasmine Suite

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flouncy curtains in all rooms

Matching bathrooms

Rose suite with its painted ceiling

Rose suite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After going through all these reasons, what are you still waiting for? Visit TreeHouse Anuraga Palace to experience it for yourself 🙂 The best time to visit Ranthambore is October to June. The sanctuary is closed the rest of the months of the year.