January 24, 2017
At the start of every year one of the first things we do at India Unbound is look at the trips – for work, research and pleasure – that we plan to take. Already our 2017 calendar is packed with exciting destinations to visit in India and Sri Lanka in the coming year!
We also like to compile a list of recommendations for our travellers – places we think should go on your ‘to be visited’ list. These are places we have visited and know to be worth the time and effort to see and experience. They range from individual places to stay, to cities and wider regions.
This year’s list is especially relevant, as we have just spent the last 4 weeks in India and some of the places we have visited, or revisited, most recently, have really impressed us.
Here are our top 5 places to visit in India and Sri Lanka this year. They can be included in any custom made journey especially crafted by India Unbound for you.
# 1 Sarai at Toria, near Khajuraho, India
This gorgeous wildlife lodge on the banks of the Ken River is located about 20 minutes outside of Khajuraho: a city in North India famous for its World Heritage listed temples that feature erotic carvings. The lodge is a stand out for us of places we love in India. Sarai at Toria is elegant and simple – beautifully constructed, independent cottages are nestled amongst the tall grasses, overlooking the river Ken. It’s a wonderful place to find some peace and tranquility and to see a little of India’s countryside. It’s located close to Panna National Park – making it an ideal spot to enjoy wildlife safaris. What makes this place so exceptional though is its hosts – Joanna and Raghu. These passionate conservationists have spent years working on tiger conservation in India and are fascinating people to spend time with. They are genuinely warm and truly hospitable. And then there are the meals – fresh salads prepared from the garden and quiches served outside at lunch, traditional family Indian recipes and different desserts at every meal. There are plenty of interesting local activities offered at the lodge – from safaris to village walks and morning boat rides – so you can easily and very enjoyably spend 3 nights here – or more! Sarai at Toria is one of the places included in our small group tour North India Revealed – led by Lincoln Harris in September under our sister brand Remarkable East.
# 2 Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka
For wildlife enthusiast, Wilpattu is a must see. Boasting the most leopards of Sri Lanka’s national parks, but the fewest visitors, this is an ideal place to devote time to searching for the elusive leopard. Located north of Colombo near Anuradhapura, Wilpattu can be included in a general Sri Lanka itinerary or we can custom build a tour of Sri Lanka for you that focus on wildlife. At Wilpattu, you can effectively stay inside the buffer zone of the park – creating a very special atmosphere to compliment your wildlife experience. Wilpattu is one of the stops on our Sri Lanka in Style small group tour.
# 3 India’s North East
An ideal destination for return Indian visitors or for the more adventurous – those that like to go to places few go. India’s North East is a fascinating part of the country less often visited by tourists and in many places inaccessible by road. One of the best ways to see this incredible part of the world is on a cruise along the mighty Brahmaputra River. A cruise will allow you to journey in comfort to those hard to reach places, to unwind and fully take in all that will be revealed in the North East – especially highlights like the World Heritage listed Kaziranga National park – home to the endangered one horned rhino – and the Brahmaputra River itself. See a landscape, culture, historical sites, local villages and tribes that are unlike anywhere else you can experience in India.
# 4 Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge, Sri Lanka
One of Lincoln’s favourite places to visit: he went to Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge twice last year and is running a tour to Sri Lanka in June this year which again includes this amazing place. (Surely the picture below of Madulkelle’s beautiful infinity pool overlooking the tea plantations and nearby ranges is enough to convince you why we love it?!) India Unbound loves Madulkelle as it’s so unexpected – a drive through winding roads, then a dirt track through tea plantations and finally you reach Madulkelle – luxury, raised tented accommodation with the most magnificent views across the Knuckles Mountain Ranges. Don’t be surprised if you run into us there this year. We really do love it!
#5 Ahmedabad, Gujarat
It’s hard to believe Ahmedabad has not garnered more attention, given there’s so many great experiences and sights. There’s the magnificent House of MG hotel – with beautiful rooms and the picturesque indoor lotus pool to break the heat; the brightly coloured textiles the region is famous for; the amazing Calico Museum; the very distinct Gujarati thali meals and walking tours that cover the historic homes, mosques and local markets of the fascinating old city. Having visited this intriguing city again very recently, Ahmedabad makes our list of places to visit this year. The city is totally unaffected by tourism and still retains, especially in the old city where you only need to step out of your haveli accommodation to experience the ebb and flow of traditional daily life. Ahmedabad is an easy flight from Mumbai and Delhi and a great gateway city for craft lovers wanting to head into Gujarat’s Rann of Kutch to discover the textiles of India on a textile tour through Gujarat.