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Musings: The Six Coolest Places We Slept in India

Traveling in India for six months, we had our fair share of odd experiences — but the most interesting seemed to be when it was time to rest our weary heads. From bumpy buses and crowded trains to a thatched hut on the beach, here’s a round-up of the six oddest places we slept in India.

The Beach Hut In Goa
Honestly, it was as awesome as it sounds. A thatched-roof hut with poles sunk into the warm beach sand. It contained just a bed and a chair and a functioning, American-style bathroom (very necessary). As soon as we stepped outside, we could see, smell, and even taste the ocean! It was perfect for lounging, swimming or having a casual, Goan Feni-soaked afternoon. Dinnertime was a candlelit meal of fresh seafood and locally grown veggies, a picnic right there on the sand. It was the first time we discovered, even dinner could be haggled for! (And breakfast was chocolate corn flakes for Navdeep. But only once. Turns out, it was regular old corn flakes with chocolate syrup on them! Ew!) Can’t wait to come back.

The Tree House In Periyar
We may have missed the elephants and tigers and bears on our safari in Periyar, but the three nights we spent camping out in the treehouse at Carmelia Haven made the trek worth it. It was amazing — an actual tiny little one-room house in a tree, with little windows overlooking the garden, and a giant bed taking up most of the space. Sure, we didn’t have our own bathroom and it wasn’t nestled in the middle of the forest, as some within the grounds of the conservation area were, but it was a unique and amazing experience just the same.

The Barracks at the Golden Temple
We have family in Amritsar, so we didn’t really need other accommodations there. But once we learned that you could actually stay at the Golden Temple, we had to experience it for ourselves. So, we showed up in our Indian attire at the reservations booth and Navdeep asked for a room in Punjabi. We were given one, sure, but it was not quite what I was expecting. It was dormitory style without lockers, and squat toilets. Shared squat toilets. I saw a rat scurrying about and looked pleadingly at Navdeep. Did I mention that we were there for my birthday? Navdeep took pity on me (not that he had much choice), and we gave it another go. This time, we dressed as backpackers, him in jeans and T-shirt, me in a long flowy skirt and we both wore bandanas. We were immediately given another room, this time a large, airy suite with a private bath and balcony. All for 50 rupees a night! And right at the foot of the Golden Temple. It was an absolutely magical experience.

The Beach-Front Cottage In Puri
We were only in Puri for one day — we stayed there overnight when was stopped to see the amazing Sun Temple in Konark Bhubaneshwar, which is intricately carved with poses straight out of the Kama Sutra. Once we arrived at the lovely, airy, immaculately-kept Z hotel, a old, rambling palace, we wished we’d given ourselves more time in the area. We wandered the storied beach at the Bay of Bengal before settling into our, which was huge and breezy, with a four-poster bed and a view of the sea. One point to note, though: this is a tourist hotel, which means when we called to reserve a room and spoke in Hindi, there was no availability. However, when I called five minutes later and spoke in English, with a clear American accent, suddenly a room was available. Go figure.

The Bumpy, Stinky, Squishy Bus to Jamu-Kashmir
If you think sleeping on a plane is rough, you’ve clearly never tried 0vernighting it on a non-deluxe bus in India. We spent 15 hours stuffed into a 15-inch two-seater on a shock absorber-less clunker that sputtered more than 1000 miles from Pathankot into Kashmir. The bus — on which I was the only female — made an unexplained late-night stop for several hours in the middle of a bridge, with water on either side of us. And there was no bathroom, so, I awoke from one fitless stretch of sleep to several men, lined up in a row outside my window, peeing on the bus. That’s right, on the bus. Fun times. Later, of course, we learned that the equivalent flight would have cost a mere $50 and run 90-minutes. So obviously, we winged it back to New Delhi.

The Houseboat in Kashmir
The houseboat experience in Srinagar, Kashmir, was amazing — though very different from the one we had in Kerala. This was more like a literal home on a boat, one that was docked at one edge of Dal Lake. It had a real bedroom, dining room (complete with china cabinet), terrace, the works. We stayed for four nights and enjoyed traditional Kashmiri curries and biryanis, lounged on the terrace as salesmen on shikaras floated by with their wares, and watched locals row by in their shikaras, going about their business, selling veggies, shawls, or heading off to school.

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