December 2018 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!
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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Don’t miss having Traditional Gujarati Breakfast here after your Ahmedabad Heritage Walk

Traditional Gujarati Breakfast at 120 year old Chandravilas Restaurant on Gandhi road near Manek Chowk, Ahmedabad

May be, it is not as popular as South Indian or Punjabi, but I have to let you know that Gujarati breakfast has as much deliciousness and variety, if not more. The only sad thing is that it is not available all over the country and one has to be in Gujarat to enjoy it completely.

Fresh tasty Khaman on offer at Chandravilas Restaurant, Ahmedabad

With dishes like Khakhra, Fafda, Khaman, Jalebi, Patrode, Methi Muthia, Methi na Gota and more, a traditional Gujarati breakfast is an instant trip to gastronomic heaven. Now, a lot of you might say that most of these dishes are deep-fried and are unhealthy, but we Indians love deep-fried stuff on our breakfast plates. There is the iconic vada in the South, the deep-fried Puri and Jalebi in the East and the ubiquitous Chole Bhature in the north. Jokes apart, there are healthy options even in Gujarati food. The Khaman, which is steamed chickpea flour and yoghurt and tempered with spices, is a fantastic power packed and healthy option and it is served with sweet kadi, which is a great shot of healthy probiotics with a protein powered breakfast. And it is super delicious too. And there is the khakhra, which is the traveler’s favorite. I would not at all mind starting my day with khakhra and a hot cup of masala chai.



Now, the reason I am giving you all this information is because there is a 120 year old iconic restaurant that serves some of the best traditional Gujarati breakfast in Ahmedabad. If you are doing a Ahmedabad heritage walk, you will be in its vicinity and even if you are not going on a heritage walk through the walled city, I would still recommend going here for at least one breakfast on your visit to Ahmedabad. Located on Gandhi road and super close to the famous landmarks of Jama Masjid and Manek chowk, Chandravilas restaurant is a simple place on a busy street, but when it comes to dishing our traditional Gujarati food, they pack a serious punch. It is one of those places that I would return to in a heartbeat. You could either have a mix breakfast Thali (for INR 65) to get a taste of all traditional Gujarati dishes or like a true Gujarati, you could order Fafda and Jalebi. Whatever you order, the food will pack you with enough protein, calories and deliciousness to power a good portion of your day. A heritage walk of the walled city of Ahmedabad is possibly the best way to burn it all and leave you with absolutely no guilt. I recommend this place big time!

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Heritage Town of Siddhpur: Where Kamariya Song from Mitron was shot

The houses that formed the backdrop for the Kamariya song in the Hindi movie Mitron

Movie shoot locations have always been a rage with our Indian junta. Be it Ladakh’s Pangong Tso from the movie ‘3 Idiots’, Goa’s forts from the movie ‘Dil Chahta hain’, Arunachal Pradesh’s Sangetsar Lake from the movie ‘Koyla’ or the yester year movies that made Kashmir super popular, Indian movies help us discover and experience new locations, their hidden attractions and their unique cultures.

A moment from center of Siddhpur heritage town, Gujarat

One such recent movie that showcases a beautiful off beat destination is the Hindi movie Mitron, which is now available on Amazon Prime Video. While most of the movie is shot in the heritage city of Ahmedabad, its opening shot and main song ‘Kamariya’ is shot in the heritage town of Siddhpur that was an important part of the Chalukya and Solanki empires between the 10th and the 15th centuries.



If you look at the music video above (this is the extended one with all the town buildings – you can recognize the starting shots if you have watched the movie), the street with the heritage homes with hacienda architecture, the exquisite clock tower in the middle of the bazaar and the other heritage buildings are all part of old Siddhpur town. In total, there are 18 such mohallas or neighborhoods with such heritage homes.

Coat of Arms of a 1917 Heritage home in Siddhpur, Gujarat

All of these heritage homes and buildings were built in the hey days of this town when the merchants, traders and kingdom did great business with both the far east and the west. If you look closer, you can see a bit of Hindu, Islam and European (especially Hacienda) design elements in its architecture. The buildings of note are the magnificent and beautiful homes of the Bohra traders. It is in front of these homes that this music video was shot. Most of the decorations from the movie shoot can still be seen. These homes are still operational with a wide diversity of people living in them from Hindus and Muslims to Parsees, making for great portrait photography if that happens to be your area of interest. Then, there is the building with 360 windows. It looks ordinary from the outside due to it being weather beaten, but when you are inside, you can truly feel the effect of these windows. Then, there is the clock tower, which was designed in the early part of the 20th century.

The main bazaar of Siddhpur, Gujarat

While these houses are the center of attraction due to the Mitron movie, Siddhpur offers so much more to the traveler in you. There is the 12th century ruins of the Rudra Mahalaya temple that in its hey days boasted of a multi level intricately carved palace temple. It was damaged by Alauddin Khilji in the 13th century, but has been partially resurrected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Then, there is Bindu Sarovar, a tank mentioned in the Rig Veda and that is considered a sacred place to offer Matru-Shadh (paying respects to the female ancestors). Then, there are a whole bunch of ancient temples, all located by the banks of the Saraswati river and a bustling main marketplace or bazaar.

Beautiful pillar archway at Rudra Mahal, Siddpur, Gujarat

When I visited Siddhpur last week, I did not know about the connection with either the Mitron movie or the Kamariya song, but I fell in love with its heritage as soon as I entered this heritage town. It was an absolute pleasure riding around these heritage homes and the bazaars on a motorcycle. I think I rode through these mohallas some 10 times or so. That is how much I liked it. If you have the time to slow down, stop at the main bazaar opposite the clock tower, have a cup of tea and watch the colorful people of this town go about their daily chores. For us urban dwellers, it offers such a fresh and different perspective.

Pretty houses from the heritage town of Siddhpur in Gujarat, India

All in all, the architecture, the heritage, its temple, its tryst with ancient texts, its spirituality and its colorful and laidback lifestyle make Siddhpur a fantastic off beat destination to explore and experience in Gujarat. I would recommend this place with many thumbs up!

A Heritage Moment in Siddhpur, Gujarat

How to reach Siddhpur or Sidhpur:


The nearest domestic and international airport is Ahmedabad. Siddhpur has a railway station and good roads connect it from all directions.

The intricate pillars of Rudra Mahal, Siddhpur, Gujarat

Where to stay:


If you need luxury, I would recommend staying at Ahmedabad and making a day trip to Siddhpur. If you prefer rural stays, I would recommend taking a look at Airbnb who have tied up with a local NGO to empower the women of Gujarat. Through this initiative, you can stay in the simple homes of Gujarati families in their villages. These villages are found around Mahesana. If you prefer any kind of accommodation, you can find decent hotels at Siddhpur or Patan.



When is the best season to visit:


The winter months should be the best time to visit Siddhpur. The rest of the year should be fairly hot.



Other Nearby Attractions:


This region is blessed with a lot of heritage sites. There is the UNESCO World Heritage site in Patan’s Rani Ki Vav, the exquisite Sun Temple at Modhera, a hill station in Taranga and more gorgeous heritage in Vadnagar and Palanpur. If you ask me, you have enough places to see and experience for a full week. Even Kutch is not too far away from here.



As I leave you, here is the full video of the Kamariya song from Mitron movie that has garnered more than 189 million views. Enjoy the heritage homes of off beat Siddhpur as you humm to this colorful music video.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Treebo Ambassador: Great Budget Hotel to Explore Heritage City of Ahmedabad

Colorful door at the tomb of Ahmed Shah, Ahmedabad Old City

I am the kind of traveler who loves staying close to all the action, especially if I happen to be exploring a large city. And hence when I was planning to explore India’s only world heritage city of Ahmedabad, I pretty much started looking for good hotels in the vicinity of the walled city. The requirements were simple: budget hotel, modern creature comforts and ease of access to the heritage sites.  And that is when my search took me to Treebo Ambassador Hotel, that is located near the Nehru bridge area of Ahmedabad. Treebo Hotels, which is a new chain of budget hotels across India, had good reviews and ratings and thus I took the plunge and ended up staying 2 days and 2 nights with them. This property review is based on this recent experience of mine.

Fantastic Location

The Iconic SIddi Syed Jaali work of Ahmedabad

I cannot rave enough about the location of this hotel. It is just a 4 minute walk to Siddi Syed Mosque (one of the icons of Ahmedabad’s rich heritage), about a 10 minute walk to Manek Chowk (the main market area and the evening food street) and just a couple of kilometers from the railway station, if you happen to enter or exit via Indian Railways. And the ease of access also augurs very well if you are interested in going on those early morning or late evening heritage walks in the walled city. Even the Sabarmati river front is just a stone’s throw away. All in all, Treebo Ambassador hotel enjoys fantastic location.

Quiet Rooms

One of the perils of staying in the city center, especially in an Indian city is the high level of noise owing to the busy nature of the location. I was so happy when I found out that my room in the hotel was super quiet. After a day out in the busy city, all we need is a good night’s sleep and a super quiet room goes a long way in getting that done.

Modern Comforts at a Budget Price

Its prayer time at Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad

Each room of Treebo Ambassador offers adjustable air-conditioning, satellite television, running hot showers, good quality wi-fi, comfortable mattresses and pillows, hot water kettles with coffee and tea sachets and well lit rooms. Personally, I would have preferred a little firmer and taller mattress, but otherwise it was fine. And all of this is usually available for below INR 2000 per night per room. If you catch a season discount or any co-branded cashbacks, you could potentially get it for a much cheaper price.

Complimentary Breakfast and In-House Restaurant

The in-house restaurant dishes out some good food, which I got to try a couple of times. The complimentary breakfast is simple, but tasty fare. The only suggestion would be to start breakfast at 7 AM instead of 8 AM, so that it enables all those early morning heritage walks and for those who have early morning checkouts.

Helpful Front Desk

Check-in and check-out was a breeze for me and the front desk were kind enough to help answer my various questions like, how to get here, which is best place to eat Gujarati lunch, how far is this location and so on and so forth. In this day and era of Google Maps, Uber, Ola and good connectivity, all the information is usually found on the web and we usually don’t need much guidance, but it is always nice to get a local’s perspective. And I got all of this with a smiling face, which is very much comforting when you are traveling.

Verdict

Intricate carvings on Jama Masjid walls, Ahmedabad

Overall, if you are looking for a good budget hotel in the vicinity of the heritage city of Ahmedabad, but at the same time that is not too far away from the riverfront, I would recommend you to take a look at Treebo Ambassador Hotel, a great pick of the many budget hotels in Ahmedabad. It is one of those places that offer good value for money while providing you modern day comforts.I would certainly recommend it!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

India’s Only UNESCO World Heritage City: Totally deserves that name tag!

The tree of life (date palm) depicted at Siddi Syed Mosque, Ahmedabad

We all know about UNESCO World Heritage sites and we know that they hold a special place in the world. But, what about UNESCO world heritage cities? What kind of importance do they hold in our history?

An Ahmedabad Heritage City walk moment

Well, the way I see it, there is a whole lot of charm associated with UNESCO world heritage cities. It is a series of sights, monuments, history and experiences that keep you in awe all throughout. It offers us the opportunity to experience the glory of our past and the near perfect destination a tourist looks for.

Teen Darwaza as seen from the top of Bhadra Fort, Ahmedabad

Some immediate examples that come to my mind are Colombia’s Quito, Laos’s Luang Prabang, Vietnam’s Hoi An, Italy’s Rome, Iran’s Isfahan, Belgium’s Bruges, Austria’s Salzburg and Israel’s Jerusalem. While all of these are fabulous cities in their own right, I was always saddened that there was no Indian world heritage city in this list. But, that changed when the walled city of Ahmedabad moved into that list last year.

Colorful Swaminarayan Temple, Ahmedabad

I had to wait for 18 months before I got the opportunity to experience India’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage City. I am talking about Gujarat’s Ahmedabad or Amdavad as locals call it. Founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in the 15th century, this walled city located on the eastern banks of the Sabarmati river is full of architectural and technological brilliance.

Intricate carvings on Jama Masjid walls, Ahmedabad

Right from Siddi Syed Mosque’s iconic jaali work to its majestic Bhadra citadel and from its gated communities to its well entrenched systems of water harvesting and sewerage treatment, this historic city of Ahmedabad is a sight to behold. The best way to experience this walled city is to go on a Ahmedabad heritage walk either early in the morning or late in the evening when the colorful bazaars can be seen in full glory.



This heritage walk will take you from mandir (temple) to masjid (mosque) and in between, you will weave in and out of densely packed traditional houses (pols) located in traditional gated communities (puras). These gated communities have their own security systems, religious institutions, business centers, secret passages in case of attack, bird feeding systems, public wells, merchant’s havelis, oles (a building where the ground floor is the shop and the rest of the floors make the home), bullion markets and even a stock exchange.

The ancient haveli that has been converted into a homestay for tourists - Heritage city of Ahmedabad

The key points of interest on this walk are:



1) Swaminarayan Temple

2) Kavi Dalpatram Chowk

3) Calico Dome

Kala Ramji Mandir in Ahmedabad old city

4) Kala Ramji Mandir

5) Shantinathji Mandir

6) Kuvavala Khancho

7) Zaveri Vad

Colorful temple door seen during Ahmedabad Heritage Walk

8) Sambhavnath Ni Khidki

9) Chaumukhji Ni Pol

10) Doshivada Ni Pol

11) Astapadji Derasar

Elephant and Dragon in Indo Chinese architecture - A merchant house in Ahmedabad's heritage city

12) Harkunvar Shethani Ni Haveli

13) Fernandez Bridge

14) Chandla Ol

The Colorful door with the Peshwa turban man in Amdavad heritage city

15) Muhart Pol

16) Muharat Pol

17) Manek Chowk

Colorful door at the tomb of Ahmed Shah, Ahmedabad Old City

18) Rani No-Haziro

19) Badshah-No-Haziro



20) Jami Masjid

21) Teen Darwaza

22) Bhadrakali Mandir

Bhadra Fort, Ahmedabad

23) Bhadra Fort

24) Siddi Syed Mosque

A moment from Ahmedabad's heritage walk

Everything about this heritage city will be thrilling to see, experience and learn. Be it the Indo-Chinese or the Indo-European designs, the Jain architecture in Muslim monuments, the engineering advancements in terms of ventilation, earthquake proofing, flood protection, sewerage treatment, water harvesting and so on and so forth.

The ancient stock exchange of Ahmedabad

One of the most happening places in this walled city is Manek Chowk. This bullion market market during the day is actually a vegetable market in the early hours of the morning followed by an animal feeding farm before becoming a bullion bazaar. And once the bullion shops close, Manek chowk turns into a food street and then the entire cycle begins yet again. This is part of an ancient technique to ensure safety of people and goods. Manek chowk is also a great place to go for a bite after 8 pm in the night. It is also a fantastic place for photography.

The intricately carved Jama Masjid of Ahmedabad

Jama Masjid is another place where you should spend significant amount of time, especially during the prayer hours so that you can experience the routine while you soak in the divine ambience. Its pillars and main arch showcases rich Hindu and Jain designs and the tree of life is what captures immediate attention. Siddi Syed Mosque is another location that should not be missed. It is famous for its jaali or lattice work, especially the date palm or tree of life that was built from a single piece of stone. This tree of life is also part of the logo of IIM Ahmedabad and one of modern Ahmedabad’s iconic location.

Tree of life sculpted on the walls of Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad

Another must do activity is to climb the Bhadra citadel in the morning hours and see the entire hustle and bustle of the bazaars in front of Teen Darwaza from above. Do note that they do not allow you to climb to the top after noon.

Tree of Life at Siddi Syed Mosque, Ahmedabad Heritage City

Be its mosques, Hindu temples, Jain temples, bazaars, forts, gated communities, tombs, traditional homes or bird feeding sites, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Amdavad’s walled city is a must experience! It takes on a different flavor at different times of the day. And then you have the lip smacking Gujarati food and desserts to energize you during the whole experience. I certainly had a ball of time exploring and experiencing this 15th century historic city and I am pretty sure that you will be blown away too!

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Mukurthi National Park: A Treasure Trove of Nature near Ooty

Bhavani Amman Temple - the source of the Bhavani River inside Mukurthi National Park

The birthplace of our peninsular rivers, the Western Ghats is made up of many national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to preserve this sensitive ecosystem. One of the lesser explored national parks in this belt is Mukurthi National Park. Bordering Kerala and part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reseve, Mukurthi National Park covers a good section of the shola grassland and forests, pine forests and shrublands in the Western Ghat mountain range of Tamil Nadu. It is sandwiched between Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and the ancient rainforests of Silent Valley National Park in Kerala.

Bonnet Macaque near Upper Bhavani backwaters in Mukurthi National Park, Tamil Nadu

Part of the UNESCO world heritage site ecosystem, Mukurthi National Park with its many lake systems, backwaters, tiny streams and rivers and dense shola forests is a treat to the eyes. Add to it the Asian elephants, the Royal Bengal TIger, the Lion Tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Indian Gaur, Nilgiri Tahr, Leopard, Civet, Wild Dog and many other exotic species of animals, birds, butterflies and flowers and you have a sensational home for biodiversity.

Indian Gaur inside Mukurthi National Park

The best part about this national park is that one can experience all of this at very close quarters during a trek deep in the jungle. Unlike the other national parks that allow jeep safaris, Mukurthi National Park allows only jungle trekking and that too in the company of armed forest guides and naturalists. And while you are on your birdwatching trek or wildlife walks, you can stop and take notice of some of the highest peaks (8000 feet plus) of the Western Ghats, which fall in this national Park.

Valley of flowers like effect seen at Mukurthi National Park, Tamil Nadu

These peaks and the valleys below it are the starting point of the Billithadahalla, Pykara, Kundah, the Mukurthi and the Bhavani rivers. A lot of streams that join Silent Valley’s Bhavani Puzha also originate here. This fragile ecosystem is also home to some of the most colorful butterflies found in the Western Ghats, such as the Blue Admiral, the Indian Red admiral, Indian Cabbage white, Hedge blues, Rainbow trouts and Indian fritialliary. If you are a butterfly lover, you are bound to love this place.



The specialty of this national park lies in the fact that its flora and fauna share a lot of endemism and similarities with that the Himalayan varieties. And the different treks inside this national park will show you that from very close quarters. So if you are a trekker and love mother nature, you will be at home here.

At the Upper Bhavani backwaters in Mukurthi National Park

The sad part is that not a lot of people know about this national park and there is hardly any good reference point on the internet. In a way, it is good for the wildlife as the get to live an undisturbed life and on the other, we get to miss out on a treasure trove of nature.

Cauliflower Shola Forests inside Mukurthi National Park, Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu Forest department does offer day trips to the Upper Bhavani backwaters and which give you a fleeting glimpse of the beautiful jungle, but the best way to experience this national park and its rich ecosystem is to stay inside at one of their forest rest houses for a few days and go on daily treks into different parts of this biodiversity hotspot. While this might work out to be a bit on the expensive side, it certainly gives you an unparalleled jungle experience and this is something that is worth every bit of the money that you spend.



There are many trekking options available, but the most famous trekking route is the 52 km and 4 day trip from Bangitapal via Sispara, Pocchiparai and Silent Valley National Park. I have done this route 12 years ago and I have to say that it is simply out of the world. The 18 km trekking trail from the trekking shed to Nadugani via Kengerkundi comes a close second.

Nilgiri Tahr at Mukurthi National Park, Tamil Nadu

If you want a rich experience of Western Ghat’s biodiversity and if you have the time and money to share, book a place inside the Mukurthi National Park,do small treks to prepare your body and then attempt the long downhill trek to Silent Valley National Park for a once in a lifetime kind of experience. The lush greenery and the richness of fauna and flora will certainly bowl you over! And do make sure to take your best photography gear with you as the birds of paradise, the exotic butterflies and the colorful reptiles and amphibians will keep you trigger happy.

Lion Tailed Macaque seen inside Mukurthi National Park, Tamil Nadu

For Bookings:
Reach out to the office of the wildlife warden at Ooty or any of your nearest District Forest offices for guidance.

Wild flowers blooming inside Mukurthi National Park

Nearest Airport:
Coimbatore, about 140 kms away.

Vast stretches of Shola forest inside Mukurthi National Park, Tamil Nadu

Nearest Railhead:
Ooty via the Nilgiri Mountain railway (the Nilgiri toy train) network.

Nearest city: Ooty



Best time of the year:
All months except the rainy season.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Gravityville: A Fairytale Home in the Queen of Hills ‘Ooty’

Straight out of a fairytale - Gravityville, Ooty

One of the best perks of living in Bangalore is its proximity to the rich bio diversity of the Western Ghats. A couple of decades earlier and I would have said fabulous weather and a laidback lifestyle, but we know Bangalore has moved on from there a long time back. Hence, we have to make do with our proximity to the Western Ghats for fabulous weather, lush forests and for a relaxed atmosphere.

The beautiful dining room of Gravityville, Ooty

About 5 to 6 hours (give or take an hour or two for traffic) and we are in the lap of one of the world’s hottest bio diversity hotspots. The hill station of Ooty is one such gorgeous destination in the Western Ghats. The drive through the sunflower fields of Gundlupet, the forests of Bandipur and Mudumalai, the steep 36 hairpin bends and finally the mist covered pine forests is the perfect excuse for a weekend getaway or a road trip from Bangalore. I would certainly take that open road to Ooty in a heartbeat. And that is precisely what I did when I needed a break from the rising pollution levels in Bangalore right after Diwali.

The view from the bedroom at Gravityville, Ooty

My destination at the end of my road trip and my home for 3 days in Ooty was a 1936 colonial home that looked like it had appeared straight out of a fairy tale. The property looked pretty cool and certainly very affordable when I booked it on Airbnb, but boy did it take me by surprise when I actually experienced staying there. I was certainly bowled over by the entire place and would definitely recommend it to families and friends who are looking for a cosy heritage home in Ooty for a relaxed mountain holiday.

Sullivan's Oak bedroom - Gravityville, Ooty

Here is why I think this place is truly special:



1936 quirky British heritage house tastefully designed with modern luxuries


Gravityville property at night

Built in 1936 as an English home on a one acre plot, Gravityville will mesmerize you right from the time you cross the main gate. It is that kind of place that oozes cuteness. Be its lovely manicured garden, its ancient wooden staircase, its tastefully designed rooms with defunct fireplaces and big large windows that overlook the property, its super cute bunk bed style room for kids or its warm lounge and dining area, Gravityville will hold everyone’s attention for the entire duration of the day.

The yellow themed bedroom of Gravityville that is called Sullivan's Oak

Even though the structure of the building is original 1936, new design elements have been recently added. Elements such as color themes, retro styled furniture and quirky signs and sayings make this place truly magical.

The super colorful and bright kid's bedroom at Gravityville, Ooty

The rooms in the Gravityville house are large and come with a Queen sized bed, massive windows, a huge wardrobe, a small lounge area and an attached bathroom. Each room is themed differently. I stayed in a purple themed room called Neelakurinji after the flower that blooms once every 12 years and my friend stayed in a yellow themed room called Sullivan’s Oak. Just the warm colors and the bright sunshine makes you feel relaxed. Modern day luxuries such as a plush bed and pillows, hot showers and room heaters are made available.

Sumptuous food

The purple themed Neelakurinji bedroom of Gravityville, Ooty

A holiday isn’t complete without delicious food. And if you know me, I am a stickler for good local traditional food. And I think I struck gold at Gravityville. Their cook dishes out simple, yet supremely delicious traditional snacks and meals that go perfectly well with relaxed family holidays or a fantastic accompaniment for those long reading sessions in the garden. And since you are in tea country, you are spoilt for choice if you happen to be a tea drinker. In simple words, with the bright sunshine, the pure air, good food and a relaxed atmosphere, it is what I call ‘good life’.

Quiet location with plenty of green space

The lampshade and the green view

Gravityville is not located in the middle of Ooty, but it is not too far away too. It is tucked in a quiet corner close to the Ooty golf grounds. Only a few houses are located close by. Otherwise, there are just forests and views. And in the one acre plot, there is a manicured lawn, a whole lot of flowering plants, a banana passion fruit climber, many flowering hedge plants and two massive eucalyptus trees. So basically, lots of nature and greenery.

Great cost price

Dining room with the sunny view at Gravityville, Ooty

One of the best features of staying at this Gravityville property is its extremely affordable price point. One can book the entire property with its 2 large bedrooms, one small bedroom, one kids room, dining room, lounge and garden all for INR 7000 per night on Gravityville’s Airbnb listing page. This includes all the taxes, though all food and beverages is charged extra. What this means is that a group of 10 to 12 people with family and kids can spend a holiday here for as low an amount as INR 7000 per night, which I think is an absolute steal.

Perfect for small family or friend get togethers and events

Gravityville, a 1936 colonial house in Ooty, Tamil Nadu

This place has the perfect size and location for a cosy and warm family get together or friend birthday party or some of those small gatherings of family and friend. Everything works in its favor – cost dynamics, location, property, food, ease of access from Bangalore and local sightseeing opportunities. Even pets are allowed, but they are not allowed into the main house and you will have to carry your travel kennel.

Great host who is always eager to help

Bright green views from every window at Gravityville, Ooty

Last, but not the least, I definitely have to say a few words about the host Karthik and the property manager Prem. Both of them are extremely hospitable and go out of their way to ensure that you have a swell holiday. I wanted to enter Mukurthi National Park and Karthik guided me in the right direction. I wish I could have taken up on Prem’s offer of visiting Toda villages nearby, but I guess I can keep it for my next trip.

The blue wooden staircase of Gravityville, Ooty

If you are looking for a cosy and relaxed mountain holiday from Bangalore, Ooty’s Gravityville certainly fits all the criteria. I would certainly recommend going there this winter to enjoy a steaming hot cup of coffee in the cold winter mornings while basking in the sun in their garden. For its price point, it is a steal for family and friend groups looking for weekend getaways. I don’t know how long the price point will remain this low, but till it does make merry and enjoy a much deserved vacation in the lap of nature and away from the chaos of the urban concretized jungle that Bangalore is fast turning into!

The very adorable Gravityville colonial property at Ooty, Tamil Nadu

To know more about Gravityville and if you wish to make an online booking, look up their listing on Airbnb either on the web or in the Airbnb app.

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