Among the many hidden retreats tucked away in the hills surrounding Bombay, the Native Place resort is probably the most serene and relaxing I have visited yet. It is situated on the banks of Vadivali lake in Uksan village, one of the countless dam-lakes in the Sahyadris. It is somewhat similar to Bhandardara, but on a smaller scale. What makes this place alluring is the emptiness around the lake (except for a couple of private bungalows next door) – the sound of water gently lapping at the shores, the stillness of the lake which makes the surface look like glass, the mind-blowingly beautiful sunsets – everything which makes it a detox destination for the city dweller (www.nativeplace.com)
What to do
The whole point of Native Place is that you do absolutely nothing there. The entire resort is overflowing with sitting-places – more than twice their room capacity at least. They invite you to settle down and read a book, or indulge in conversation with other guests. Or take leisurely strolls around the lake. Or just snooze on the giant hammock. The resort – which is actually more an oversized bungalow than a proper resort – has probably 8-10 rooms, but a very open design. It has an airy central atrium and is surrounded by a garden which was overflowing with flowers when we visited in February
Tip – They have 5 or 6 lake-facing rooms. Make sure you specifically ask for them, especially the first floor ones
The rooms are a little on the expensive side at Rs. 2,400 a night (inclusive of meals), but it also includes a Saturday night barbeque on the terrace – we had the most tasty tandoori chicken prepared right in front of us. The food was again home-cooked, but served steaming hot in a buffet – and announced by a quaint bell hung in the dining room. The dining room had just one large table, and one large table outside in the garden under a tent – making mingling of guests almost mandatory. We struck a friendship with two couples from the advertising world and swigged quite a few beers with them, sitting in the balcony, listening to their anecdotes.
For the slightly more adventure minded, Native Place is the base for paragliding in the hills around Kamshet – there are tandem rides for beginners and certification courses for the more committed ones (check www.nirvanaadventures.com for more details).
Tip – the paragliding costs extra and you have to book for it in advance as places might not be available after your arrival at the resort
How to get there
The nearest town from Native Place is Kamshet, near Lonavala. One can always drive upto there in about 2.5-3 hours, but because of its somewhat isolated location, it is quite easy to take a couple of wrong turns after Kamshet and get lost. We found the train a more convenient alternative. We caught the Indrayani Express to Lonavala and then took a cab to Native Place.
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Tip – If you are using the train, then call Sandeep beforehand and book his services (+91 9923386248) He (and his two brothers) know the route to this place very well and charge Rs 300 for a drop from Lonavala station to Native Place or vice versa. They also provides travel to and from Mumbai, if you so wish. The other drivers outside Lonavala station do not know route to this place and quote outrageous amounts like 800 for a one-way drop.
Holidays like these do an amazing job of recharging your body’s batteries, where there isnt even a mobile signal to distract you. Instead, you can spend hours chatting with your friends/partners, gazing at the sunset or stars. Or have chilled beer alongside a crackling barbeque (yes they serve as much chilled beer as you want). The only thing I missed out was a swim in that clear blue water – maybe you can do that when you go there.