WORDS: SHARMEEN HUSSAIN
The Ultimate Travelling Camp, Diskit, Ladakh
Is ‘glamping’ – ‘glamorous camping’ – all it’s cracked up to be? A visit to The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC)’s Chamba Camp in Ladakh’s mystifying Nubra Valley is what you need to find out! Set in the valley formed by the Nubra and Shyok rivers, the campsite is tucked away in a little corner of Diskit village, Nubra’s commercial hub that’s somehow managed to maintain its small-town charm. Your bedroom is a luxury canvas tent with triple insulation to keep you toasty warm in the frosty Himalayan night. Fabulous views of snow-flecked mountains meet the eye everywhere you turn! If there’s anything you need, a personal butler is at the ready, waiting to do your bidding. It’s all very posh, but also very nomad-ish, making you feel like you’ve stumbled into the pages of a Wilbur Smith novel. Head down to the dining tent for mealtimes, where the accomplished chef will throw together delightful local and fusion dishes with ingredients from the vegetable patch. If you like what you’re eating, he will happily conduct a complimentary culinary class for you so you can take the flavours of Chamba home with you. If you’re too lazy to leave the confines of your cosy tent, the staff will arrange a private BBQ for you on your patio.
When you do feel like venturing out, there are a lot of activities to choose from. Experience every aspect of the mighty Himalayas, right from the humble Spartanism of the monks, to the crystal blues of the mountain lakes. Walk up to the Diskit Gompa, thought to be the oldest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley. Here, you will get a glimpse into the life of the resident monks, all maroon robes and austerity. You can even venture into the town of Diskit to see the yak breeding centre and fishery, go rafting in the Indus River, or stop by the Hundar Sand Dunes to pay the flatulent bactrian camels a visit. When you’re done for the day, achy from all that mountain walking, return to your glamorous tent, put your feet up in the patio, and gaze at the billions of stars in the inky sky, a sight the busy city can never hope to match.
Primrose Villas, Chikmagalur, Karnataka
If you’re the kind of person who hates getting up early on vacation but also can’t bear the thought of missing out on a sumptuous breakfast, Primrose Villas, hidden away in the hills of Chikmagalur, is tailor-made for you. Here, feel free to wake up at whatever time you darn well please. Once you’ve stretched a bit and taken in the lush green surrounds of the Western Ghats, your personal butler will serve you a steaming hot breakfast – even if it’s 2pm.
Owned and run by Sumitra and Ravi Ramu, the six villas here are all about exclusivity, privacy and pampering you silly. And they’re set within Sumitra’s family-owned Baganeheddal Coffee Estate so you can literally wake up and smell the coffee.
The cliff-edge villas are deliciously secluded, with three of the four walls made of ceiling-to-floor glass . The Jacobean and Victorian furniture are all pieces that Sumitra has hand-picked over the last 20 years and every item in your room has been carefully curated to set the mood. Each room has a tub that’s sunk into the floor and faces the mountains, and you can bathe in water steeped with custom-made bath salts as you gaze out over the sprawling vistas through aforementioned glass walls. Don’t worry about peeping Toms either – each villa is hidden away in a cove of volcanic rock, so you can walk about in your birthday suit if you choose.
When you can bear to pull yourself away from your villa (and dressed, of course), walk through the 700-acre plantation (or opt to go on horseback, because walking is so plebeian). Among the coffee plants, you’ll see pretty butterflies, giant Malabar squirrels, waterfalls, and wild fig, jackfruit, pepper and cardamom trees. A trek to the nearby Rudragiri mountain, a visit to the sacred temples at Belur and Halebid, or a foray into the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary are other options, if you feel like it.
Or just curl up in your old-fashioned carved bed with a book and await your next meal. Again, you may choose to be driven to the main house to partake of the delicious Med, Awadhi, Italian or local Malnadu food, or have a personal BBQ set up under the stars in your villa’s private sit-out. It’s all about you at Primrose Villas; don’t feel shy about basking in the glory.