Lakshmi Sharath

Lakshmi Sharath

Journeys and Jottings – Its time for appraisal

Posted: 30 Nov 2016 11:02 PM PST


Hello December and welcome to the last edition of Journeys and Jottings of 2016. The good news is that I have given myself this entire month off to chill. The bad news is that I have mounds of pending work, yet to be finished. So I decided to sit at home and finish what they call homework. But I could not help looking back on the year that has gone by and do a bit of self appraisal. Probably its a hangover from my corporate days (eight years since I quit ) but it helps me plan a new year, put some goals and some monetary targets as well.

So here goes the highlights of 2016 for me

I put my health first and that is very important to me. In the last few years, I have been dealing with some issues (nothing serious) that make you realize that you cannot take your health for granted.

I learnt to say no. This was the biggest learning from 2016. I had declined quite a few trips, projects and campaigns . Some clashed with existing work or travels, others I had to say no because of health but there were many that I just refused because they did not fit into my overall goals.

I travelled more in India than abroad. This was a conscious decision. While I love to see many stamps in my passport, I realized that I needed a lifetime to visit India . So, I priortised my own country over several shores overseas.

Not all trips were sponsored or campaigns. I travelled a bit on my own, at my own pace, looking for stories.

I took a holiday. It was not planned but then I decided to take a month off with family in US. And I refused to work.

A few mantras that mattered to me – Less Is More, Slow Travel, Content is King. These will hold good in 2017 too.

I focussed on videos and launched my You tube channel, Travel With Lakshmi.

I worked with clients I wanted to work with . Yes, that is very important for me . I took up campaigns and projects that I was interested in,  rather than hitting the Yes button for every mail that popped in my inbox.

I did a good mix of content projects and campaigns and I worked with brands outside the travel space as well. I also took up a media project. And I made decent money overall.

Fascinating travel experiences 

It has to be St Patricks Day in Ireland.  Going on the parade was just awesome . I just love the Irish.

Sighting the Big Five in South Africa. What an experience !

Antelope Canyon in US – I am at a loss for words.

The Penguin Parade in Philip Island  – Overdosed on cuteness and nostalgia

Staying in a boat and floating in Komodo Island and seeing stars

Varanasi – I returned entirely mind boggled

Khichan – A five year dream came true when I stood watching thousands of demoissele cranes

Hampi revisited – Nostalgia like never before

Driving in the monsoons in the Western Ghats to Jog Falls.

A solo road trip in Gujarat following Krishna’s footsteps.

Some things to ponder 

However I was not happy with all the choices that I made this year. It is a learning curve and it taught me that I need to be more discerning in 2017.

I didnt have a concrete plan in 2016 but I am planning one for 2017.  And that will help me plan my travels, content, campaigns, projects and some new initiatives that am planning.

2017 is also going to be a personal journey to me – it will take me back to my earlier days of travel blogging and I will like to do what I enjoy doing the most – travelling and telling stories.

And finally, thank you all for being a part of my journey, egging me to go on and come back to you with more interesting and inspiring stories. Let us travel together

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Jungle camps to heritage hotels – Hotels in Madhya Pradesh

Posted: 30 Nov 2016 04:09 AM PST

I have a confession. As a traveller, my focus is usually about the destination – the culture, the experiences, the people, the sights, the markets, the colours, the flavours. I would initially think of a hotel as just a place to rest my head before moving on to the next adventure of the day. But then slowly that perspective changed . Hotels I believe are an integral part of a travel experience. Be it a resort or just a room, they absorb the very essence of the destination in them and they are key players in sustainable tourism. I usually prefer bed and breakfast properties and homestays as they offer me a local perspective of the destination and personalised service. But today, most hotels – be it luxury resorts or boutique properties have started focussing on several experiences as well. 

Madhya Pradesh

Souvenirs from Madhya Pradesh

And in my recent trip to Madhya Pradesh, we stayed in a variety of hotels – from jungle resorts to tented camps to heritage hotels. So here are some options if you are planning a Madhya Pradesh tour and places to stay in Khajuraho, Panna and other places. 

Parsili Jungle Resort – Parsili

Madhya Pradesh, places to visit in Madhya Pradesh, wildlife resorts of Madhya Pradesh

The Parsili Resort by MP tourism is personally one of the best I have seen managed by a tourism board

My favourite was the Parsili Jungle Resort, run by Madhya Pradesh Tourism. It was well past midnight when we got here and we could barely see anything. However the sounds of the jungle came alive. I stayed with my friend in a large suite and all we could hear in the thick of the night was the murmurings of the river. Wrapping a shawl around us, we stood in the balcony for a few minutes, breathing in the cold night air and listening to the call of the wild.

Madhya Pradesh, places to visit in Madhya Pradesh, wildlife parks of Madhya Pradesh, Sanjay Dubri National Park

Reflections in the Sanjay Dubri National Park

Parsili Jungle Resort is the gateway to Sanjay Dubri National Park and it was well after my safari that I got a good look of the resort. A pretty cottage with five rooms, built on the banks of the Betwa River,  it stood basking in the morning light. It was just us and nature in close quarters and I loved it.

Madhya Pradesh- River Betwa-Sanjay Dubri National Park

River Betwa that flows behind the resort

The resort was relatively new as Parsili has just become a destination in the map of tiger tourism. and it was clean with great food as well. The resort will also help you with details to organise your wildlife safari in the national park.

Safari Regency, Rewa

Rewa was our next destination and we parked ourselves right in the heart of the city at a three star hotel called Safari Regency. The rooms were renovated but were reeking of smoke. Unfortunately am allergic to smells of all kinds and that did not go down too well with me. The bathrooms were not too great too and were smelling as well. The only silver lining – they had wifi. Now, that is a big one.  Research apparently says that wifi is even more important than food or wine, but I will endorse that.

Jungle Camp, Panna

Panna National Park

Jungle Camp in Panna

Another very pretty little camp set up by Madhya Pradesh Tourism, my wildlife experience started right here. Listening to the bulbuls and the barbets and watching the sky change colours, we spent barely a day here and most of it was spent in the jungles, combing for tigers. The wild cats eluded us however.

Madhya Pradesh, Panna Jungle Camp

One of the beautiful camps..the wildlife experience begins right here

Madhya Pradesh tourism is probably one of the best tourism boards which offers clean and comfortable accomodation options in the state and this tented camp was absolutely one of the best I ever stayed in.

Syna Heritage Hotel, Khajuraho

It almost feels like you are entering a palace when you land at Syna Heritage Hotel in Khajuraho. The vintage cars just add to the charm. It combines elegance and tradition and the opulence is understated and elegant. However the rooms that we stayed in were very small, especially for a double occupancy and the walls are so thin that you can hear literally every little sound . Besides great food and location, what really appeals to me is the proximity of the property to the Western Group of Temples in Khajuraho. You can literally walk it, like we did, soaking in the rustic air.

Syna Heritage Hotel - Khajuraho

Syna Heritage Hotel is a palatial property in Khajuraho..Pic Courtesy – NIvedith Gajapathy

I would recommend at least a couple of days in Khajuraho to see the Western, Eastern and Southern Group of temples and a visit to Raneh Falls is highly recommended.

Madhya Pradesh - Raneh Falls

Raneh Falls in Madhya Pradesh

Our journey was however very short and we barely spent a night in every property, except in Khajuraho. I would have however liked to linger longer, especially in the widlife camps and resorts.

Have you travelled to Madhya Pradesh ? Which is your favourite hotel and why would you recommend it ?

This post was written in partnership with Madhya Pradesh Tourism and Holiday IQ as I was on a road trip organised by them.

Pic credit for Syna Heritage Resort is by Nivedith Gajapathy, You can read his post on Madhya Pradesh here

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