Posted on October 14, 2018
What happens when an Architect comes across an intricately crafted space? I think they fall in love with their profession all over again!
This is what happened when we visited Grape County Eco Resorts in Trimbak, near wine country Nashik. On the lookout for eco-friendly stays around Mumbai, we found this Greenspaces initiative to exactly what we were looking for. Located just about 30 minute out of Nashik city, it is a quaintly crafted destination, perfect for mingling with the nature while enjoying a bit of luxury for your well deserved weekend getaway.
There is so much to say about the resort, which is spread across 150 acres, just adjacent to a vast area of reserved forest land. It is home to 35 different variety of birds and innumerable species of butterflies, in the specially built biodiversity park. Grape County is not just a hotel or resort; it is a getaway in itself. An artificially built lake, two large swimming pools overlooking the rolling meadows, multiple nature trails where you can spot a leopard print or two if lucky or come across a full grown Cobra (happened to us!) makes this place a treasure chest for bird watchers and naturalists.
Staying true to their business, the property landscape was done by a famous design firm. One can take a bicycle ride or a pleasant evening stroll by the lake or have tea witnessing a gorgeous sunset from the watchtower!
We however want to talk about the fantastic hospitality first! Grape County is an eco resort and eco living destination, bringing together nature enthusiasts from different cultures to relax and rejuvenate amidst wilderness.
The rooms are tastefully curated for the vast variety of travellers – Premium and Superior rooms best suited for couples and small families. The Suite rooms are huge, making for a spacious yet private space for groups of friends, groups of couples and big families! They also provide luxury tents for the nature lover in you, which can be accessed with a fun buggy ride inside the biodiversity park.
Our personal favourite will be the view from the humongous bathtub though! The small things that screams good hospitality are the little additions to the room amenities and decor. Organic toiletries, glass water bottles instead of plastic, solar powered light furnishings – you will get that feeling of being taken care of the moment you step into your abode here.
Grape County is the country’s first star rated eco-resort, accredited by TERI. What makes it so?
The entire property makes their own power using the man made water reservoir, recycles 70% of everyday water used in the operation of the property, houses a biodiversity park to provide home to birds and butterflies and the company has planted 35000 trees after the property was built adjacent to the forest land. The forest and the property are separated by fences that you can cross only with a certified naturalist. Guess what! You can have a blissful sunset all by yourself while kayaking in the pleasant waters of the lake too!
We loved the food at Flambé restaurant, where you can not only taste a variety of food especially with the regular food specials the chefs bring in; but taste a wide variety of wine and craft beer. Surprising us with the range of sheer amazing beers from Great State Aleworks, Moonshine Meadery and WhiteOwl Brewery, they also invited us to the second edition of Oktobrew – a two day craft brew festival with music, shopping and camping under the stars! Who expected a beer festival in the typically known wine country!
As you all know we are big fans of craft brews and we think it is absolutely fantastic that Grape County is building a platform for Mumbai and Pune beer enthusiasts to experience new tastes while camping in the Nashik valleys. The 5 kickass bands that will be performing on October 20th and 21st are a big bonus to be there too!
We are giving away two passes on our Instagram page. Head there for your chance to experience a happening beer fest to celebrate Oktoberfest!
Posted on August 22, 2018
Ever heard of Overlanding?
By definition, overlanding is the concept of self-reliant adventure travel for long durations to remote locations, over the ground. The primary goal here is obviously the journey and not the destination. How many times have you read that phrase on Instagram? Probably more than the number of tough travellers who opt for overlanding in reality and make the fullest out of their journeys. Still, it is there and is very much booming. Because as many times as we say that traveling is about the journey, we tell ourselves there is much more than what we are doing.
Well here it is about Overlanding, it is the history of where ‘adventure travel’ began. Centuries ago, when Australian herders used to travel long distances on the outback to herd their cattle, it was called ‘overlanding’. Much before adventure travel became the norm, it was further propagated by the road builders in Australia. Also to note, overlanding can be done by any mode of transport where the traveller sustains long distance journeys over the ground. However, motorized vehicles have always been held in high regard among self-sufficient travellers, majorly due to the freedom it provides. The Land Rover, Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Land Cruisers have been the favourites in this segment.
So to speak, has India been introduced to overlanding yet?
The answer is a solid YES!
Indian travellers have already made their mark on the global media front with their extensive travelogues exploring the nooks and crannies of this country. Even if not a public’s choice of traveling just yet, overlanding made its entry in India with various companies who are curating overlanding experiences for the more thrill seeking traveller.
Overlanding is not your regular road trip – not by a long shot! At the heart of an Overland journey are safe and sturdy off-road capable trucks. It could be done in a car with roof-top tents as well. Guwahati base The Camping Company started their journeys in vehicles with roof top tents and reports having a phenomenal response from the audience. Voyages Overland provides the overlanding experience in robust trucks converted to give the basic amenities for a long road journey in the western parts of India and Ladakh.
The passenger truck by Voyages is air-conditioned and comes equipped with a mini-fridge for those chilled beverages, personal lockers where travellers can store their daypacks, laptops and other valuables safely and roof seats to enjoy 360-degree views while on the road.
The camper utility truck takes care of every other requirement one might have while on the road, including, a fully functional kitchen where all your meals are prepared, a washing machine for the long spells on the road – enabling you to travel light and five washrooms with both hot and cold water!
We cant wait to be on our Overlanding experience, and can bet it is very close to the top of our to-do bucket list. You can book your overlanding journey in the beautiful valleys of North East by visiting http://www.camping-co.com and using our code “MOONCHASERS15” for booking your trip with an additional discount of 15%!
If you are wondering about the amenities, don’t bother! They have got everything covered, along with five toilets! What more could you ask for? Clean toilets are the biggest deal-breaker for long road trips, which is why we carry Peesafe with us everytime!
That says it al, doesn’t it? So what are you waiting for! Go book yourself an overlanding vehicle and head out. The road can teach us so much more than what four walls could, right?
Voyages Overland presently covers three different circuits in India, namely – Rajasthan, The Himalayas and Central India. Camping Company takes you to known and unknown spots in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
You can check out Voyages Overland itineraries here.
Watch this video by the Camping Company to know all about the fun trips they organize from Guwahati!
Note to reader: Overlanding is considered a religion. We read an interest account of an avid overlander talking about the influence of social media on changing the idea of overlanding to an off-road drive with 4×4 vehicles. You can read his story here.
Posted on July 8, 2018
Uncharted places that are not on the map as a designated tourist destination often show the potential of a unique experience. That is exactly what Jakson Inns has achieved for the almost forgotten Phaltan, located 110 kms from Pune.
A highway ride is common for Mumbaikars, usual destinations being Pune, Kaas Pathar, Lonavala, Goa, Ratnagiri coastal lines and more. On a roadtrip to nowhere in particular, Jakson Inns just happened to us for a stopover initially. Phaltan is one of those places where you may stop for a night before continuing your journey, but it gives you a neat, functional and enjoyable itinerary. Variety of experiences curated together by the hotel entices you to stay back.
What started as a journey in search of an offbeat experience, turned out to be a complete weekend getaway at a highway side hotel. May sound odd, but you need to read this article in full to know how The Moonchasers found a weekend, worthy of sharing with you as a recommendation.
Satara district marks a historically and economically significant side of Maharashtra, also known for its forts, waterfalls and religious festivals. Lands that host major industrial facilities also caters to 60% of the states sugar production, thanks to sugarcane farming all around the plateaus. Only about a four hour drive from Mumbai, Phaltan is an amalgamation of sustainable energy with agriculture and history. From solar farms and windmills powering an entire industrial belt and a 3 star hotel, Jakson Hospitality brings a piece of ecotourism on its very premises spanning 6 acres.
The property is a proud LEED Platinum Rated Building, harnessing its energy from natural resources. The hotel has 69 deluxe rooms, 4 suites, a contemporary bar, a vibrant multicuisine restaurant and a luxury spa. It also has a gorgeous pool and basketball court, and bicycles (We made good use of it for a midnight track race) suited for families. A full service gym is also open for guests.
Apart from providing a wholesome Malvani cuisine, the staff ensures you get a taste of the local culture. We were taken to a beautiful windmill farm to watch sunset over the plateaus sipping on an exquisite Sauvignon on the first day. The giant machines start screeching and creaking to pick up speed with the evening breeze, adding a bit of charm to the whole setting. We also made a new friend at the table top!
A barbecue night followed on the hotel grounds, prepared by the chefs on the spot. They went an extra mile to prepare a giant Khakhra for us (Baked thin crackers made of mat bean and wheat flour). Sumptuous food calls for a good end to an amazing day and we had a very comfortable room, again carefully and professionally serviced to get a good night’s sleep.
Breakfast awaited us by the poolside on the second day. After gorging on mango shakes and masala omelettes, our destination was Thosegad Waterfalls. Maharashtra comes alive with the monsoon and this waterfall too shows its true beauty ripe with the rain water. However we had a fun time walking up to the lake and made a mental note of coming back here again in a couple of months as the rains intensify.
Stories of emperors, conquerors and rulers fascinate the reader. But what happens when you get to walk into the homes once inhabited by the characters from the pages of history books! An experience curated only by Jakson Inns that needs a special permission, made the highlight of the trip.
Phaltan is known in history for being home to Sai Bai, Shivaji’s first wife as she hailed from this once prosperous taluka. Manmohan Rajwada, was named after Mudhoji Manmohan, who ruled the Phaltan State between 1860 to 1916. It was once the maternal home of Sambhaji Maharaj, son of the founder of the Maratha Empire.
An architectural delight, the Rajwada palace compound consists of the main residential building, an ancient Ram Mandir, spacious courtyards and long halls called chowks. The interiors reflect rich heritage design with intricate hand-carved wood work in the columns and arches. The rich colour palette in the paintings and tapestries across the palace exude a royal yet contemporary selection of art. All rooms open out onto a central courtyard, or a chowk, demonstrating a common feature of period Indian architecture, allowing air circulation for hot summers. It was an obvious delight for J for his love of symmetry and marvellous architecture. On the other hand, I was marvelling at it’s spaciousness and rich historic elegance which oozes out with every step you take within the premises. Every turn opens up to a corridor full of footprints of the Royal family of Phaltan.
All of this, coupled with a Maharashtrian chulha made lunch and a pomegranate plucking session where you can taste the sweetest fruits right on the field, we feel Jakson Inns has successfully merged the business of hospitality to boost the local economy as well. To understand the actual potential of rural tourism, eco tourism and farmland visits, it is a great way to spend a weekend here instead of just stopping over. The richness of experience makes itself a desirable destination. Where else can you get a private sunset sipping wine with your loved one, walk about vast pomegranate fields and sugarcane farms, go into the very rooms where once queens lived and feel the wind in your hair ?
This place is an inspiration for travellers seeking to do something new, know something more about a place and have a great time. In fact, MTDC has Phaltan listed as a heritage and eco-tourism destination. Taste the perfect contemporary bohemian lifestyle with a touch of history at Phaltan. At the same time, enjoy sustainable hospitality with a comfortable stay for your next weekend getaway from Mumbai or Pune.
Note: The Rajwada stands as a private palace and is not a tourist spot, nor does it allow anyone to get inside other than guests of Jakson Inns.
Here is a video showing you all about Phaltan: