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31.12.2010

bpb's fast and fabulous finds.

Broken Compass - New Holiday Coordinates: When travel writer Manjari Verma and marine biologist Avani Patel ask you to destroy your compass, trust them and you could end up playing guest to an all-important Village Chief in Leh or land in Thailand with a local boatman’s telephone number who’ll teach you to fish. With off-beat itineraries and local contacts like these, Broken Compass aims to customise user-specific holidays. A chat with them revealed exciting trips around India as well as international expeditions to Africa, Bali and New Zealand. For those chained to the desk, Broken Compass even organises visits to eco hideaways, cycling trips to secret forts and other quick trips around Mumbai. Call 9930920954/9819355116, email info@brokencompass.in This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit www.brokencompass.in, services start at Rs 4,000. 

Della Adventure - Browning in the Sun: How do I entertain thee? At Della Adventure, it seems impossible to count the ways. Zorbing, motorcross dirt biking, rappelling, jet skiing, zooming around in an ATV: this newly-opened park a couple of hours out of Mumbai offers an insane variety of adventure sports for adults as well as kids. Also on site are  four restaurants and overnight accommodations – the quality of both is shaky, so we suggest you take along a picnic basket and after the park shuts at midnight, head back to your own zip (c)ode. Off the Khandala exit on Mumbai-Pune Expressway, call 09664477000 or visit www.dellaadventure.com, Rs 100 entry fee.

Founded by techie-turned-entrepreneur Aashish Gupta, this online travel book store covers almost as much distance as the migratory bird it’s named after, which flies from Alaska to South America and back every year.

Fleetwood House - Norwegian Woods: Monkeys and Murakami tales; wooded hills and Woody Allen’s quirks; birds, banshees and ghosts of several generations of British sahibs: all companions you’ll have to share living space with if you book a weekend stay at Fleetwood House, a colonial bed and breakfast in Matheran that dates back to 1871. It is now run by filmmaker Chinni Nihalani, whose family has had the property for 50 years. Chinni has added his own touches to Fleetwood House, including art from film sets, DVDs and books from his personal collection, without evicting old tenants like the long antique dining table, a hamam once used to heat water and a gargantuan chakki in the kitchen. Once you’re done exploring the house, venture out to Fleetwood’s five acre estate where you can trek to nearby temples, learn how to ride horses and meditate in a yoga hut. Great for group stays, you can either rent the villa with four bedrooms and baths, a dining room and kitchen, or a smaller two bedroom cottage. One Tree Hill point, Matheran, call 9820502326 or visit www.fleetwoodhouse.com, for reservations email reservations@fleetwoodhouse.com ,start at Rs 1,750 per person.

Fort Jadhavgadh - Love Moat: Check into this heritage fort-turned-hotel and you’ll find yourself walled in for the weekend. That’s not so bad, considering the property boasts luxurious tent suites, rolling lawns, azure pool, spa and an antique museum as glorious as the battles the fort must have witnessed. Rooms are pricey but romantic, with four poster beds, old stone walls and sky showers. We recommend you sign up for a martial arts session on the lawn followed by an authentic Maharashtrian meal at Payatha, the al fresco restaurant for fort-ification. Jadhavwadi, district Pune, call 02115305200 / 26164040, email fom@fortjadhavgadh.com, or visit http://www.fortjadhavgadh.com, start at Rs 5,000 a night.

The Machan Tree House Stay - Wing Men: It’s never easy for creatures of the country and city to live together. Yet somehow, in the high wild fig trees of the Jambulne forest, white backed vultures, Leggar Falcons and Malabar Whistling Thrushes coexist in harmony with Mumbai’s high fliers, who leave the city to nest in fancy tree top homes complete with all-glass rooms, outdoor baths and wooden decks overlooking the valley. The keeper of these four forest homes is a retired suit who started by constructing one bamboo Machan in his private tropical forest. Heavy rains and winds at 200 kilometres per hour meant his forty-foot high home had to be rebuilt every three months. So he decided to make it a nut and bolt structure, and lucky for us, open it up to visitors. You won’t get resort-style breakfast buffets here, but lucky sightings of the Flying Malabar squirrel and cute social climbers from Mumbai will more than make up for that. 20 kms past Lonavla, call +919594053113 or visit www.themachan.com, Rs 10,000 per night, per couple (includes breakfast and dinner). 

Mahua Bagh - The Last Mango Standing: Do you remember what it tasted like? The final Alphonso of the season, golden and ambrosial, here today and then gone for another nine months. Relive the experience at this new beachfront(ish) property, where you can pick organically grown mangos straight off the trees before heading out for a swim in the ocean. Converted from a private farmhouse, Mahua Bagh is casual and welcoming, with pretty individual cottages, sky showers, and a friendly staff ready to rustle up a meal or give you a massage whenever whimsy strikes. Alibagh, visit www.mahuaresorts.com or call 9819469323, Rs 4,500 per night for an AC cottage, meals included.

Yellowleg.com - No Mean Feet: Founded by techie-turned-entrepreneur Aashish Gupta, this online travel book store covers almost as much distance as the migratory bird it’s named after, which flies from Alaska to South America and back every year. Featuring a slick, user friendly interface, Yellowleg stocks the usual Lonely Planet and Fodor guides, but also an expanding nest of trippy fiction and non-fiction titles. Plus, they offer other cool amenities including a buy back service (they’ll take your old books at 50% of the original price, plus reimburse you for shipping) and a consulting facility where depending on how much you spend, they’ll answer your travel related queries for free. bpb recommends: My Invented Country by Isabel Allende, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way GoneVisit www.yellowleg.com, start at Rs 220 for a paperback.

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