A Weekend In Luxury And Nature

As our anniversary was coinciding with the weekend, we took the opportunity to plan for a day out on the hills. Since my husband is not much of a camping person, I booked a room in the Hotel Hilton, Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa which is a mountain resort with luxuries on a 320 acre land bound by lush green forest and nature which is a habitat for many species of flora and fauna as well as so many different types of birds.

It is located at a distance of 110 km from Mumbai airport and 80 km from Pune airport, in the village Shillim. It is one of the best spa resorts in India and due to its close proximity to Mumbai you can find Bollywood stars unwind here too!!

So, the welcome by the staff was very warm and courteous; the view of the Sahyadris from the reception area was gorgeous.

Next, we are shown to our villa where we will be staying – well I fall in love with it instantly. Since I had booked a standard room, I was surprised to be shown to an extensive space with a huge bed looking towards a balcony totally secluded from other villas and people.

Fabulous room!

The bed looks towards a terrace which again has the gorgeous view of the western ghats. This terrace is a meditative place for people who like solitude away from the hustle of urban life. Me? I can stay there for hours reading a book or writing, with endless cups of fresh masala chai.

Terrace overlooking the sahyadris...

The bathrooms are huge with all the luxuries and the best part is the open air shower. After we settle our luggage and a bit of rest we head straight to the activity desk to inquire about the variety of activities they provide and their timings.

Recreation

  • Bicycle
  • Hiking Trail
  • Yoga Pavilion
  • Walking track
  • A walk up the mountain. It is a good sunrise activity
  • Swimming Pool

We took up the evening forest walk with a guide who lived in the surrounding area. He knew everything about the flora and fauna in the forest but what took me by surprise was the information about the behavioral pattern of insects like termites and ants. He went on to inform us about the peculiar patterns in which the insects made their homes; he knew exactly which leaves were edible and which weren’t, the names of each flowering plant, what flowers are used for making scented oils and which were used as medicines.

As we descend to return from our walk we get a glimpse of the beautiful Pawana lake and also the Tungi fortress.

Forest trek. Wild mushrooms.
What I love about forest walks is the high-in-oxygen air and the chirping of the birds, the serenity and the foliage in all its glory.
After 2.5 hrs of filling our lungs with pure air and listening to all that the birds had to say, we head back to our villa to freshen up and it was time for dinner.
There is a variety of different restaurants to choose from;

Restaurants:

Terrazo:

Here we find both international and Indian cuisine  – a good variety of them both. We can enjoy the views of the mountains and have food outside or else have a cozy dinner inside.

Valley Bar:

This turned out to be my favorite as it had a good romantic feel to it and we spent nearly two hours viewing the beautiful evening go by with wine and a Chinese entrée. This place is ideal for people who want to leisurely enjoy their evenings with small talk.

Mountain Bar and Bistro:

This restaurant is the highest on the mountain resort and thus the view is exotic. You will get portions of pasta and pizzas served here with drinks – the food is delicious. There is a swimming pool next to the restaurant, which overlooks the dense valley, thus the combinations are perfect for a complete fun evening.

The Green Table

This is next to the spa area which is located higher on the mountain in the resort area itself. It is an exclusive organic restaurant with food prepared with fresh veggies sourced from their own organic farm and the neighboring village farms. What I loved about this place is the Pond facing this restaurant known as the Meditation Pond – tranquil and serene.

The Tea House

Since we are ardent tea lovers, this place was our next favourite place to be in this behemoth place. We made ourselves comfortable to have green chamomile tea in a place specially designed to make the tea drinking into a ceremony, with a person playing flute to add to the charm of  the whole meditative atmosphere. What I noticed was that the place just slowed us down to notice the peace with just the extremely calming sound of the flute and the chirping birds.Green tea house.
The next morning we have our breakfast in the outdoors at the Terrazo restaurant. There was a good variety of cuisines served with live counters and the chefs who customise according to our taste buds. I liked the ways they put health before everything and it showed in their home-made variety of fruit jams, pure white butter, bread and the chutney’s.
Delicious food.

There is still so much to explore in this place but sadly it is time for us to leave. We could have extended our stay but the resort was completely booked for the next 2 days and thus we decided to come back here with our kids some other weekend, I am sure they will love it too.

The Emerald Lake Konigssee

Konigssee lake

Located in the Bavarian border of Germany is this emerald lake which attracts tourists just for its peaceful, tranquil and serene existence. The Alpine lake has one of the cleanest and deepest water surrounded by stunning mountains and breathtaking view.

How to reach the Konigssee lake

There are buses from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden, which is a German town in the Bavarian Alps on the Austrian border. From Berchtesgaden, again, you take a bus up to the Konigssee Parking. You can walk down to the lake and take a boat ride in the lake to enjoy it to the fullest.

What to expect

The boat ride gives us a chance to view captivating scenery of the surrounding Alps and the lake. When we go deeper we experience magical silence with breathtaking view which touch our inner being. When we reach the middle of the lake the captain of the boat blows a blast on a trumpet, the sound of which echoes a few times in the mountains.

This experience will stay with me forever as I witness the echo for the first time, in this alluring lake. Going ahead we come to the first stop at the St Bartholoma Church which was originally built int he 12th century and remodelled in 16th century. Much of the crowd disembark at this dock, they enjoy photographing the church and the area around. We go further ahead to the last stop or the Salet. I suggest everyone to visit this place as at just 10 minutes walk from the dock and you arrive at a smaller yet beautiful lake called the Obersee. You will find the mesmerizing reflection of the trees and mountains surrounding the lake in the mirror like waters of Obersee. If you are fit for hiking then I suggest you go hiking up to the tall Rothbach waterfall. The way is along the lake and much less populated, thus fun.

Lake Obersee

Shopping

Between the parking area in Konigsee and the dock where we take the boat ride, we find many shops selling clothes and other souvenirs. What attracts us most is the variety of salt lamps and crystals. Different crystals have different properties, we buy whatever we are attracted to.

Suggestions for this tour

I suggest whoever takes this trip to make it a whole day trip. Or else you will miss out on something or the other. Take the first stop to St Bortholoma and also the second stop at Salet. Both these places are amazingly beautiful, for the more adventurous ones, do not miss the hike along the Obersee up to the waterfall. Also spend some time in the shops of the town as it will give you the overall feel of this place. Please keep in mind the timings of the last boat back to the Konigsee dock as well as the timing of the last bus from Berchtesgaden to Salzburg. If you miss the last bus, do not worry, there are taxi service available but at a higher price.