A Tree House Affair!!

Because I’m from Mumbai, visits to Lonavla have always been regular since childhood and we seemed happy with the summer camps, holiday homes and bungalows that we were often invited to over weekends. But as I grew to become an hotelier, I always wondered why this pristine hill station has been deprived of an experiential hotel considering the vast forests and hills it is steeped in. The ones that are popular seem overcrowded and noisy, mostly subscribed by corporate conferences.

No wonder I perked up when I got to know someone had developed a resort inspired by tree houses called The Machan!! This further encouraged me to run away from the tiresome Mumbai for some respite and rejuvenation especially since I was told it was a forest resort.

We drove out of Mumbai in the wee hours of a Sunday morning and with clear roads we were in Lonavla for a hearty breakfast at Kamats at 9.30am dot. We then headed to The Machan which was a 40 minutes beautiful drive along the country and hill side as we approached the meandering hills. Situated truly in the midst of the forest, there are 29 Machans in all, each about 30 to 40 feet away from each other. We were warmly greeted and since we were early, we decided to walk around to familiarize ourselves. Soon we were walking in the thicket and encountered Ant Hills, Birds chirping, medicinal trees and plants, butterflies and signs of running rivers now gone dry. After an hour long walk with flowers like Petunias, Geraniums, Tiger Lilies and  Water lilies dotted alongside the walk paths, we were ready for some lunch and to check into our Machan for the two days.

Well-appointed and equipped with a shower cubicle and a separate bath tub, the bathroom was huge. A fire place and a wooden balcony was a nice experience since the temperatures started to drop and soon it was about 18 deg C. A long chat with the General Manager, Vikrant and we were all set for another one hour Nature’s Walk led by a Naturalist followed by a Tea break. We were informed that a Yoga session was next and being a Yoga enthusiast, we headed straight to the Glasshouse where the session was being conducted. This was my favorite unwinding time because this is what Yoga does to me. The different Asanas totally relaxed my mind and body.

Vikrant’s hospitality team was soon looking for us because a private Bon Fire was in store followed by dinner. As we stoked ourselves around the fire, we were met with Shabbir, the food & beverage Manager and an engaging conversation with him led us to Kashmir where he hailed from. Considering the present political situation and how divided the country feels, it was heartening to listen to this man from a beautiful land that has been embroiled with so much controversy.

I must commend the team at The Machan for understanding what exactly we enjoyed doing. Because we were soon led by Chandrashekhar to light up a Chinese Wish Fire Lantern and he was convincing enough to tell us that our wishes would surely come true. I look forward to write about that in my blog soon enough!!

And as if the night was not over yet, next on the agenda was the Star Gazing session with an articulate  Naturalist who had studied Astrology. She led up on top of a clearing on the hill and as we accustomed our eyes up in the night sky, she shone her laser torch to the various constellations and taught us about the Orion, the Bear, the Dog, the Bull and we had just missed Venus by a few minutes. The moon was half and I peered through the starry sky hoping to catch a falling star. Maybe I can hope for better luck next time.

After a really long day, I was ready to sink into a hot tub bath and then a good night’s sleep. A Bird Watching or Mountain Trek was on schedule for 6am the next morning. But I thought to myself, “my heart and mind wants to but my body says tomorrow is another day.”

The alarm did go off the next morning, but my sleep beckoned strongly and I knew this was the only way both my body and mind could rejuvenate. But we did indulge in some Forest bathing – a new concept picking up fast. All you do is sit quietly with the green forest all around you as you soak in the serenity, the forest sounds and smells and let your mind wander a bit. I wanted to do more of this and now when I think of it, more often would be nice.

 So breakfast it was at 9am and a really hearty one because we would be soon on our way home. A Tree House holiday is something I always wanted to do. And what better than it being only a 2 hour drive from Mumbai!! I will be back there soon, to see the birds and do that mountain trek for sure!!