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Your childhood dreams come true with these sanctuaries suspended high above the forest floor

WAKE up with the birds to a killer view, from atop a tree. An ideal getaway for a nature lover? Santosh Kumar from the Bengaluru-based travel forum, Get Off Ur Ass, observes that the tree house, in its true sense, is rare in India. “Often, tree houses are mistaken for ‘machaans’ built just a few feet up in the air. The ideal tree house is one whose roof touches the forest canopy so your entire stay happens 120 ft above the ground. Vythiri in Kerala is a prime example,” he says. That said, we pick the top six tree house experiences across the country.

The Machan
Escape the madness of high-rises to a different kind of up-in-the-air house, in Lonavala’s The Machan. Elevated wooden walkways link the entire property and you can choose to stay at five kinds of machans. The basic, Sunset, has a loft suite, private wooden deck and an open air shower. But if you’re ready to splash out a bit, choose Heritage. Spread across three floors, it houses up to eight guests. Two balconies give you different views of the forest and a spiral staircase will take you to the Hanging Room, which is suspended from the main deck and comprises only glass walls, making you feel you are floating among the trees. Rs.12,000 upwards. Details: themachan.com

Vythiri Resort
The luxury eco-friendly forest getaway is smack in the centre of Wayanad. While they do have cottages on ground, the five Tarzan-style rooms are highly recommended here. “We stayed at the luxury tree house, which overlooks the jungles from 80 feet up in the trees and is a good 200 metre trek from the resort itself. It truly cuts you off from civilisation and is worth the seclusion,” shares Raghvendra Dev, a wildlife photographer, adding that a repeat stay saw him at the family tree house, which is child friendly and has a waterfall below. The resort also offers guided treks. Rs.12,000 upwards. Details: vythiriresort.com

Treehouse Hideaway
Pioneers of sorts, Pugdandee Safari’s Treehouse Hideaway in Bandhavgarh is where it all began. “Our neighbour used to have a tree house, and so we caught on to the idea,” begins Shyamendra Singh, director and co-owner. The property has five tree houses over 21 acres that is home to plenty of animals and birds, not least of them the majestic tigers. With a modern design but traditional jungle living style, the balconies are the best places to watch the wilderness. “The hideaways—Mahua, Tendu, Peepal, Banyan and Palash—are named after the trees on which they are built,” shares Singh. Rs.27,000 for two. Details: treehousehideaway.com

Vanya
For a back-to-nature experience, head to the treehouse experience by Greenwoods Resort in Kumili. Adjacent to the Priyar Nataional Park, it is built 18 ft up, on a local chouvara tree. “Built entirely of wood, and thatched with grass the tribals in the area use, it is totally cut off from the resort and gives you a panoramic view of the jungle,” says Shankar Rajasekharan Nair, the general manager. Traditional vegetarian fare—their kappa (tapioca) dishes have many fans—are sourced from an organic farm. “Everything is organic, and an added attraction is a two-hour morning trek. If you are lucky, you can spot wild buffaloes, elephants and the occasional leopard.” Four more tree houses are currently being added, and they will open early next year. Rs.15,000. Details: greenwoods.in/vanya

Tree House Resort
Perched atop the Keekar trees, the tree houses here have live branches running through the rooms. Situated at the foot of Syari Valley, with a view of the Aravalli Mountains, this is the biggest 5-star tree house resort in India. The suites are named after birds in the area and the resort houses India’s first aviary spa (previously caged animals who cannot survive in the wild make a home in the resort). The spa has a bistro that specialises in Japanese sushi. Hop on to a camel or elephant that will take you around the premises or opt for the jungle safari through the Syari valley and come back to wine and dine at their 400-year old Peacock bar — a wooden Mughal relic, set amidst the tree cluster that has been restored to look like a haveli. Rs. 16,000 for deluxe nests. Details: 9799490390

Jungle Retreat
Thirty three feet up in the air, freshly ground home-grown coffee in hand, as Malabar hornbills soar across the green foliage that is the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary — this is the experience that Jungle Retreat Resort in Masanagudi has to offer. Situated at the foot of the Nilgiris, ‘‘we even have tree houses that are built across a pool that doubles as a watering hole,’’ says Smriti Rana, from the group. Activities include a trek across the Vidhumalai hills, visits to a spice and tea plantation, mountain camping, midnight campfires and star gazin. The tree houses are currently undergoing renovation and will be upgraded by the month end. Rs.12,090 (food additional). Details: 0423 2526469
— Aakanksha Devi,
Surya Praphulla Kumar &
Niranjana Hariharanandanan

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