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A room with a whew!

November 29, 2014 14:55 IST

It didn't take long for Delhi girl Harnoor Channi Tiwary to fall in love with Mumbai when she moved here.

And now she's exploring the outskirts of the city!

So what do you do if you are a travel bug victim in love with her country and passionate about exploring it? You travel as much as you possibly can!

But like with anything, after a point it all seems to look the same.

The locale may be different but most new-age hotels have the same modern look and offer the predictable platter of services.

So what do you do to shake things up a little? You go off the beaten path. Literally.

Saturday morning, we packed out bags and drove off towards the popular hill station of Lonavala.

The town is so close by that it is almost a second home to most Mumbaites and thus doesn't hold much charm anymore.

But hidden in the folds of the jungle between Lonavala and Amby Valley lies an untold secret.

If the story of Mowgli and the Jungle Book excited you as a child, this will bring back that twinkle in your eyes.

My destination for this weekend was The Machan, a tree-house resort (yes you heard that right) 30-minute drive beyond Lonavala.

The smooth Mumbai-Pune Expressway is a joy to drive on.

Lovely roads, green hills and great car music, the 2.5 hour journey passes by in a jiffy and before we knew it, we were there.

The resort doesn't have any markings or hoardings on the way (to maintain its mysterious aura) so make sure that you download the directions from the website before you head out.

I was initially sceptical about the place.

Not a big fan of the rustic or the super adventurous, I hoped that the rooms were comfortable. I needn't have worried.

In no sense of the word is this roughing-it-out.

The tree-houses are whimsical but super-luxurious.

A spiral staircase took me upstairs to my large glass walled room.

The warm wooden tones merged perfectly with the glass walled cabin surrounded by tree tops.

The attached bathroom was modern and well appointed. But the icing on the cake was the private deck.

My favourite part of the resort where I spent most of my time, this wooden deck jutted out over the trees and offered panoramic views of the hills and the valley beyond.

And the cherry on the icing?

A bathtub with faucets for warm water dominated one corner of the deck.

Come night, the sky adorned a rich dark cloak studied with jewels.

The stars twinkled bright and the hush of the night took over my senses as I soaked in the tub sipping my glass of wine.

There are very few places that could offer the perfect romantic setting bringing together nature and luxury.

For me, this was the epitome of it.

If I had to imagine the most romantic place to spend an evening with someone special, this private wooden deck under the canopy of starry skies would top the list.

The tariff included a basic but delicious breakfast spread.

We also went on idyllic nature trails around the property but couldn't spot too many animals or birds.

I imagine this place will be alive during monsoons and be a completely different experience altogether.

The food was served next to a fireplace (I wonder if it's ever too cold to need one) under the shady trees with hammocks tied on them.

Lunch and dinner were buffet affairs for a fixed (albeit steep) price. The food itself was homely, non-oily and delicious.

I woke up the next morning to the sound of chirping birds and a view to die for.

A sense of calm and timelessness took over me as I sipped my morning tea on the rocking chair on the deck.

A few hours later, when I left for the journey back home, I felt more at peace, my mind calm and my soul liberated.

The hefty price tag did burn a hole in my pocket but for an ethereal experience like this, I would do it again.

After all, romance and magic don't have a price, do they?

Photograph: Harnoor Channi Tiwary

Harnoor Channi Tiwary
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