When I first heard about this place, I didn’t know what to think. I had seen some amazing pictures and wanted to get out of the city for a weekend but didn’t want to go very far. Lonavala, Pune, Nashik, Mahabaleshwar….all have become too commercial & Kamshet, and the mystery around this place struck a cord. I packed, no, overpacked my bags and decided to spend 3 days there, not knowing what I was getting into, but knowing I needed an escape.
Once the bookings were done, they sent me a detailed email with travel options, directions as well as a map to print out, because phone network could be flaky. I thought that was very responsible of them, but it also scared me a little bit. Never have I ever stayed at a place that might literally be off the radar. None the less, I was thrilled to be out of the city after so long. They also sent me an entire PDF of all the activities I could do once I get there – I was able to do most of these, some unknowingly too. 🙂
I packed more than what I needed (who can relate? ) I figured I’d shoot some outfits. To be honest, next time I visit, I would not bother, as the peace & quiet of this place is incomparable and I’d much rather relax than work.
Ola/Uber Outstation do not serve this location directly so we took a cab till Center Point which is near Lonavala & called the driver who regularly works for Native Place to pick us from there. His details were also mentioned in the email so it was very easy for us to reach. This is the easiest & also the most expensive way to get there. It cost us a total of 3k for this one way trip, but if you are going with a group then this is the best! There are various other options to go to Kamshet from Mumbai. You can take a A/C bus to Center Point & get a cab from there directly to Native Place or to Kamshet town from where you might have to take another bus/cab/rickshaw to Native Place. There are train options as well where you can take a train to Lonavala & then take a local train to Kamshet and hire a vehicle to take you to Native Place. If you don’t have much luggage you can take the cheaper alternatives, I had a small suitcase so I didn’t want to take a chance. If you love driving, then you can definitely take your car.
Also, it is a very short drive from Pune so if you are from there, I highly recommend you make this short trip!
Our cottage is right behind
ARRIVAL & FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Kamshet is basically a small town with rice fields and wind mills on the mountains. Native Place though, is like an eco system in itself! When I saw it from afar, I coudn’t believe myself and asked the driver again & again if we were headed to the beautiful spot I was seeing! However colourless the road was, the place made up for it. A beautiful red staircase lead us down to the main entrance and I fell in love with it as soon as I laid my eyes on the colourful & cheerful interiors. A man quickly took my bag and took us to our cottage. Yes, it was a cottage! Overlooking the beautiful lake and garden! The room was minimalistic with a double bed & another single bed. There was a balcony too with a table & chairs – absolutely perfect to do nothing and just relax. The singing birds, the fresh air, the view – there was nothing more I could’ve asked for. I unpacked and went out for some pictures where we happened to run into Astrid….
(LOVE) STORY TIME – Astrid is co-owner of this property along with her husband, Sanjay. Nowadays, everyone is too obsessed with their phones and social lives that they don’t have any time to explore or appreciate their surroundings. This, sadly, has become the reality & Astrid wanted to give everyone the chance to be one with themselves, I guess and genuinely forget their troubles. When she was younger, everyone had gardens and she remembers climbing trees, picking fruits from gardens and truly enjoying her childhood. Eventually, the city grew around her and buildings replaced her beloved green space. Until she met her now husband, Sanjay, who she kept telling about her “silly dream” of having a sacred space like how she had & cherished as a child. Now, I know he is a romantic because one fine day, he happened to take her on a long drive to a barren plot in Kamshet and told her it was hers if she wanted it. That was it! She hesitated but she said yes, and later on she said yes when he proposed too. 🙂 They have build this place from the ground up and you need to see it to believe it. Astrid taught herself all about how to grow a sustainable garden and Sanjay got into paragliding, and now they manage that side by side, very successfully.
I was quite hungry and food here is served 3 times a day (BTW, the stay package includes breakfast, lunch & dinner! ) We had already missed breakfast so we went to explore the 1.5 acre property that is mostly a self-fulfilling & sustainable garden. How? The water is supplied from the lake; and the plants & trees, along with the birds, bees, wasps and other animals simply take care of each other. There is a compost pit and even dried leaves that fall from the trees go into it. There is a small vegetable garden as well and they also raise free range chickens. I am certain the home-made food we ate was so delicious because it was so fresh & organic!
We clicked some pictures and had lunch that was served in a common area. Here’s a fun fact – there is NO ROOM SERVICE here. Basically, you have to go out to the common area for lunch, dinner & tea/coffee. Then you can take the food back to your room & enjoy it on your balcony/terrace or sit anywhere, gives you a chance to get to know other people as well if you choose to. We had lunch right outside on the grass, facing the abundant garden while butterflies and sun birds danced around.
There are so many species of flora here but the flowers obviously caught my attention the most, besides the wonderful view. The rest of the day was pretty chill, besides shooting a quick video, we didn’t do much.
In the night though, something magical happened. I saw fireflies for the first time in my life. It was beautiful. :’) I am a city kid without a native place and I don’t get to experience the easy life with nature like a lot of my friends who always tell me about similar experiences when they return from their own native place. In that moment, I understood how aptly this was named. No room service, no luxuries, greenery, a lake and a constant need for being outdoors – which I have never felt before!
The cutest bench once you enter
Common area – love the colours!
The common eating area – my fav table
I ALWAYS skip complimentary breakfast in hotels & order in later because I prefer sleeping in. I pleasantly surprised myself when I wanted to wake up early and go have breakfast outside. By day 2, I could clearly tell how fresh the air was, and I had a masala omelette with buttered toast & coffee – all custom made for me by the kitchen staff just like how a family member would have! This can never be experienced in Mumbai & in that moment I was so grateful.
I freshened up & got ready to explore the place as well as click some pictures. I wanted to wrap up the work before lunch time so that I have the rest of the day to relax. But I did end up working on editing a video as I had to post it immediately 🙁 One thing about the place is, there is no network at all in the rooms, so I had to sit in the common area and work from there using their WiFi (which was pretty good actually) We had lunch and went back to our balcony to have coffee.
The temperature was not very different from Mumbai so we decided to wait it out & around 5 p.m. in the evening, we went to the lake. It was nice & warm, just before the sunset. Nothing could spoil the moment, as you can see for yourself. 🙂 I didn’t know it was okay to swim in the lake, do carry your swimming costume if you plan to go! After some down time on the hammock, we all were called for dinner. Oh, BTW, they cutely ring a bell to announce when food is ready. Dinner was amazing with the crispy chicken being my favourite. We made an impromtu plan to go to the lake again. It is a small trek down a hill and there was only moonlight to guide us. I never knew how bright the moon is, I guess city light is to blame. But once we got there, the moonlight, the stars, the reflection of the moon in the water- it was so surreal.
At night, there was a power cut & I so wished I had carried a mosquito repellent, especially for a person that is prone to mosquito bites a lot! So if you’re planning to go, carry that as well as some snacks for those mid night hunger pangs.
My fav chair
My balcony – surrounded by nature
I woke up quite early, knowing I had to make the most of my last day. The breakfast was SOOOO GOOOOD! I can still remember how yummy that aloo bhaji was with such light fluffy puris that I ate 4! That’s my personal best, just saying. I sat next to a shrub that sunbirds & butterflies are naturally attracted to. I guess we both were eating our first meals of the day. 🙂
And just like that, it was time to leave. We relaxed in the hammock for sometime, I think I even dozed off for a while. We also had a nice chat with Kunal, who is an engineer taking care of the garden & he explained to me that this type of “farming” is in fact known as permaculture and it aims at building an eco-system where the flora & fauna would essentially take care of each other, just like how it is in nature. Click here if you want to read more about it & definitely visit if you find this interesting! I would also recommend this place for school field trips. They even have dorms so you can even visit alone.
There is this small table setting in the middle of the garden
I packed with a lot of difficulty, not a surprise. I wonder why it’s so much harder to pack the second time around. We thought we were pretty sorted and would book an OLA to meet us at Center Point and have the driver who picked up us, drop us till there. NBD. Until, we realised that Ola does not serve that location. Umm, then how did an Ola drop us there? We figured we will manage something once we were there.
Now, this is a bonus tip but if you ever visit Lonavala or Kamshet or are on that road, YOU MUST VISIT KINARA DHABHA! Best food, best price. Trust me! So we asked our driver to take us there for lunch and figured we will try looking for a cab there. We asked the security, tried a few apps, and made some calls but nothing was productive. In that stress, I forgot to take any pictures. 🙁 In that moment, all I wanted was to get home.
We left and our driver took us to Center Point where you can get A/C buses, but there was no bus till 11pm in the night so we went on to a taxi stand a little ahead into Lonavala. Well, let me tell you, private cabs sure know how to take advantage of citizens, especially on a Sunday when people need to get back home. They were quoting 3.5-4k till Dadar from where I would have to take another cab. Did not make any sense, especially when the Ola cost us 2k. We walked a little where there was a bus stand and figured we’ll make queries just when a stranger asked if we were going to Mumbai. He said he had a cab and it would cost 500 per person. We blindly followed him haha, and then we saw that it was a share cab with other people sitting inside. Well, this would not have been my first option, but I had exhausted all other options. The driver dropped us at Sion from where I took a cab home. Not a bad deal if you don’t mind the awkward silence lol. But I reached home, finally.
All in all, this was one of the best trips I have done. For someone who doesn’t have a native place, I was always envious when people would tell me how relaxing theirs’ was – they could see stars, breathe fresh air, live a carefree life for a few days, with home grown food amongst nature, go trekking, camping and swimming all in one day as everything was so close-by & free. I never knew what that felt like, but now I do. Till next time, Native Place. 🙂
Do you like this place? Be sure to visit http://www.nativeplace.com/ & if you have any questions, ask me in the comments below!