Beside a crackling bonfire under a starlit sky, listening to the orchestra of the cicadas and the gurgle of the forest stream, one couldn’t possibly want anything more from life. Except, perhaps, a hot tub, WiFi, and a soft bed with sweet-smelling sheets, and not to mention soul-satisfying food. Luxury, even in the middle of a jungle, is not too much to ask for.
The Triangle Glamping at Pune
Glamorous camping — more popularly known as glamping — is catching on in India. After many months of lockdown, in a country that is still in the grip of a pandemic, restless travellers looking for a break from ‘Work from Home’ routine, household chores and crowded cities, are increasingly picking glamping over touristy places, says Akshay Kusmade, owner of The Triangle Glamping, a camping site 16 kilometres from Pune. “People are tired of being cooped up in their city homes and are longing to go out into forests and open spaces. Glamping is an option for them as they can have a hotel-like experience in a natural setting,” he adds.
Akshay opened his property comprising five tents, which have exclusive bonfire areas and gardens, on a half acre space in January 2021 in Solu village, Maharashtra, and he has already received enquiries to set up similar sites in Satara (Maharashtra) and Uttar Pradesh.
Sound of music
Glamping sites gently push the boundaries, offering perks that include temperature controlled private pools, air-conditioning, heaters for rooms, mini fridges and spacious bathrooms in a semi-wild setting. It works for those who crave the adventure of camping, but also need small luxuries for a truly relaxing holiday. “One gets the best of both worlds. It is essentially camping, but you could have proper beds, comforters, pillows and blankets. Basically, you don’t have to sleep on a yoga mat,” says Akshay.
Most glamping sites offer tailored activities as well. For instance, a walk in the spice, tea or coffee plantation, bird watching expeditions, wellness spas, chef-curated menus with champagne or even a bath in a forest stream.
Bird watchers on a tour at RAAS Chhatrasagar, Rajasthan
The rich bird life around the Chhatrasagar lake in Pali district, Rajasthan, is an added attraction to those who go glamping at RAAS Chhatrasagar. The luxury camp-site, open throughout the year, sits on a privately-owned dam on the Chhatrasagar lake and offers a panoramic view. “There are over 260 species of migratory birds that visit the lake, a bonus for our glampers,” says Saurajit Nanda, camp manager, adding, “The only sounds you hear around here are bird calls.”
Soaking in the serenity of the environment, glampers at Chhatrasagar can go on bird-watching nature walks, boat rides, wildlife safaris and a bush lunch — which involves a drive into the wilderness around the camp for a lunch set in a natural environment. The camp site, which sprawls over 1,500 acres of jungle area, has tents that are permanent structures with chic interiors. Each tent has a private verandah, which overlooks the lake on the east and the wilderness on the other side. Here, you could have a sundowner with a curated menu, watching the evening paint the sky in hues of orange. The nights are even better — you could lie in bed and watch the stars through the skylight.
Down South in rain-drenched Western Ghats, monsoons usually interfere with campers’ plans. Glamping sites such as Grassroots in Wayanad, however, covers the risk. Open throughout the year, the property has specially-made Swiss tents, which have one concrete wall.
Inside a glamping tent at Grassroots, Wayanad
Set on a hillock in Penangode on the road towards Banasura Dam from Kalpetta in Wayanad, the property overlooks a tributary of the Kabani river. It affords a view of coffee and spice plantations as well. The tents have a porch, colonial-style bathrooms, air-conditioning, television and a mini fridge. Opened in 2012, Grassroots was among the first properties in South India to popularise plush camping, according to Aditya Raman, founder of Red Earth Resorts, which owns Grassroots. “There were few takers in the initial years, but now people are aware of the concept and love camping with frills,” he says, adding, “Post lockdown, there have been more enquiries from domestic tourists, who probably never considered glamping as an option earlier.”
A log cabin at Wild Vibes, Wayanad
Stream hiking is part of the activities at Wild Vibes, a glamping site off Meppadi in Wayanad. Started by a group of naturalists trying to create programmes for people to reconnect with Nature, Wild Vibes lays the stress on appreciating the forest. “For many of our visitors, a bath in the forest stream is a thrilling experience,” says Hijaz Mohammed, working partner. They have chic log cabins set amid the tall trees and hobbit houses (small dome-shaped tents).
Businessman Balram Menon says one of his recent glamping experiences at Wild Vibes, Wayanad, helped him bond with Nature. Having travelled to 29 countries, glamping was a first-of-its kind experience for him at home in Kerala. “The average Indian traveller has evolved; he or she now appreciates exclusivity and sustainability. After the pandemic, we have learnt the importance of travelling responsibly,” he adds.