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Holed up at home for almost two years, most days of the children were marked attending virtual school within the four walls of the home. Staring at multiple gadgets through the day, the tween and the teenager were bored with the mundane life and wanted a change of scenery. So a stay for a couple of nights at Rhythm Lonavala about an hour’s drive from Pune was decided as the destination to unwind and recharge the tired souls. If you are looking for a perfect getaway from Pune or Mumbai, you need not look further.

It was our first time at the property and the fussy kids were sceptical if the all suite resort would tick their requirements. But the staff left no stone unturned to ensure we were pampered to the hilt. An hour and a half smooth drive across the National Highway 4 from Pune brought us to the microcosm of comfort and luxury called Rhythm Lonavala. As soon as you enter this oasis where nature resides in abundance you are cut away from the humdrum of the city life.

Rhythm Lonavala – Drawing inspiration from nature

In today’s modern world where mankind is busy building skyscrapers, by destroying the natural habitat, it is heartening to see the efforts of those who are trying to ensure that one lives in harmony with nature. One such example is this property spread across three acres with age-old trees and a thriving birdlife.

All shades of Blues and Greens dominate the landscape of Rhythm Lonavala. Image credit – Rhythm Lonavala

A perfect getaway from Pune and Mumbai for families and corporate outings, the resort’s architecture boasts of southeast Asian colonial influences and artifacts collected from across the world.  Since Lonavala receives high rainfall, as in the case of some parts of Indonesia, Vaibhav Jatia, the managing director of Rhythm Hospitality, decided to implement Bali’s architectural style at his resort. “We want to ensure the synergy of the place is intact, for which we need to take care its character remains undestroyed,” says Jatia.  Usage of indigenous Indian stones and tiles like the hardy Mangalore tiles for roofing, eye-catching Spanish mosaic tiles, large urns and various other artifacts are extensively seen across the property. In the hotel’s lobby a large boat, crafted by the descendants of a very ancient tribe from the remote island of East Timor, part of the Indonesian archipelago caught my eye.

While building the property on the land previously owned by an Indian freedom fighter, the architects and the owners ensured none of the trees were cut down. The tree that fell off during the construction was repurposed to benches and wooden artifacts that grace the walls of every bedroom in the property.  The painstaking care and effort put in to ensure nature is not harmed is evident when you see a tree trunk juting out of the balcony adjacent to the fittingly named Treehouse cafe. A large mango tree sits daintily in between the resort’s swimming pool providing shade for the humans and a haven for the avians. When seated in your room’s balcony or deck or at the swimming pool one can easily spot tailorbirds, parakeets, bulbuls, spotted doves and robins at this bird sanctuary.

Rhythm Lonavala – Suits everyone’s taste

The all suites resort ensures one does not have to compromise with regards to comfort and luxury. The room’s deck soon became my favourite spot to relax, unwind and recharge by watching the kids splash in the pool, the flourishing avian life and just putting my feet up with my 12-year-old daughter.

Rhythm Lonavala Suite
Rhythm Lonavala Suite. Image credit – Rhythm Lonavala

My children’s idea of a good hotel is bouncy beds, ordering room service and splashing in the pool, and Rhythm Lonavala ticked all the boxes. The chef at the Treehouse cafe dishes out some amazing global cuisine from his kitchen. While the buffet is sure to satiate and satisfy your taste buds you can also opt for ala carte. If cocktails and drinks are in your mind then hit the Cedar Lounge at the resort. For coffee and snacks head to the Three Urns or Courtyard Bistro.

A large spread at Rhythm Lonavala
A large spread at Rhythm Lonavala

If you want to enjoy some quiet time with your books, head to the resort library. There are many aesthetically done nooks and corners around the resort where one can spend time with self or friends and family.

Deck at Rhythm Lonavala
And that is how you put your feet up at Rhythm Lonavala

What to do when in Lonavala?

Our evenings were spent at the resort’s Fun Zone. While the kids did find squash and table tennis interesting, the foosball table was very engaging as it brought out the competitive spirit in each one of us. Frankly speaking the resort keeps you busy, but if you want to step out go on a drive through the winding western ghats. Head to the town’s market to relish its delicacies like the Lonavala chikki or for some shopping. The town also has many view points peppered around like the Tiger Point or for boating. If you are looking for some adventure you can go trekking to the Lohgad Fort.

Fun Zone at Rhythm Lonavala

Note – I was hosted at Rhythm Lonavala but views and opinions are my own.

The rains and the humid weather of Goa didn’t deter the spirit of the girls who had travelled from across India to play friendly football matches at the Duler Football Stadium in August 2017. They were upbeat and kicked up to learn new techniques from international coaches, make new friends and of course Bend it like Beckham. It was a week-long football festival organized by Discover Football with friendly matches and workshops for the girls who were determined to get the most out of this event.

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Flying to international destinations from Tier 2 cities in India is a pain in the neck. You need to fly to the nearest metro with an international airport which eats into your travel time both ways. Flying directly from your city has its advantages that ensures your journey is comfortable and you also save time.

Air Arabia a low cost airline flies from numerous destinations in India – Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Kochi, Coimbatore,Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Nagpur, Jaipur, Goa and Ahmedabad apart from the metros – Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi.

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City life sort of bogs you down with the daily humdrum and cacophony. The rush after the day’s back to back work be it personal or professional gets on to you and you are soon pulled into the swirls of this never ending whirlpool. One forgets to sit, relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of life that surrounds you.

So when I bumped into the opportunity of getting away from the urban life and staying for few days amidst rural surroundings I immediately took on to it. One balmy Friday I made my way to Phaltan around 2.5 hours by road from Pune.

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Forests are the lungs of our eco system. So very true and apt. I had read this signboard on one of my trips to virgin Valparai. Nature is indeed god’s gift that needs to be cherished, loved and replenished time to time.  Make mention of forests and Pollachi does strike a chord. I frequent this small town on the foothills of Anamalai every year as it’s my husband’s hometown. Over the years in these whirlwind trips apart from meeting up with relatives I have visited Valparai and Top Slip. With a vast green cover, wild life and pleasant weather Pollachi has always reinvigorated me. Waking up to the fresh morning air as the palm trees dance to the tunes of the cool breeze,  watch the peacocks strutting around the fields and then go on a long drive through the canopy of trees into the hinterlands as streams gurgle and nature is bountiful. Pollachi has always been the place to recharge my sapped soul from the city. Read More

A lone pachyderm stood swaying his tusk and grazing around. I stopped the car and gazed at him. I remembered someone telling me an elephant who roamed all alone was considered dangerous. I wondered if this one would go rampant but soon spotted company behind the tall bushes. They looked great as a group. I was passing through the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary from Bandipur to the land of tea, coffee, rubber and spices called Wayanad in Kerala.

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“Thattekad yetti”, murmured Sabu from the driver seat hinting that we have neared my destination in the local parlance. Groggily I scanned the dark surroundings from the confines of the car. We had left the traffic of Kochi late evening when the sky had opened up and I had unknowingly sunken into my languor. As I entered my room in the homestay I found a lone framed photograph of three unappealing birds captioned as the Ceylon Frogmouth perched on the table. Later over dinner I noticed pictures of this grey brown bird adorning the wall of every room in the guesthouse. Read More

The ICE (Intercity Express) whizzed through the countryside as we left the tall buildings of Munich behind. The landscape had changed dramatically and the bucolic surroundings were very similar to the ones that I had watched in the Bollywood movies. There were hints of red and yellow announcing the onset of autumn and the cattle festival called Viehscheid.  The decorated livestock descent from their summer alpine pastures is celebrated across the high altitude region of Germany and Austria as Viehscheid.  Across my seat a septuagenarian whose looks wouldn’t give his age gave me some company as he conversed between his catnaps. A resident of Berlin, he was on his way to a village close to Innsbruck to retrieve his broken down campervan.

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Reaching Vienna hadn’t been easy with the refugee crisis situation in Europe. When I had approached one of the BAHN officials in Augsburg, Germany for getting my European East Pass activated he immediately said, now is not the right time to visit Austria as trains aren’t running on a daily basis. My heart sank despite the fact that I was on my way to the Oktoberfest. I reached out to the officials in the Munich train station. As I stood in the English speaking queue an officer with a demeanour that stated his position moved towards me. I recounted my travel plans and woes of not being able to visit Austria. Without blinking an eyelid he responded “I am not sure who gave you this information but there is indeed no issue in travelling to Innsbruck or Vienna by train. If my twenty eight year old daughter asked me I would gladly give her permission to travel, it is perfectly safe. Currently trains have been stopped only between Munich and Salzburg”.

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“Are we in Europe?” exclaimed one of the tourists. I looked around and sighted the narrow cobbled lanes with cyclists zipping down the alleys. The vast expanse of a lake shimmered in the sunlight as newlyweds were busy getting their photo shoot done. In the distance I could see a swathe of mist which had enveloped a mountain that looked like a lady sprawled in a dream.

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