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Jalakara is a true gem in one of India’s most untouched corners

Conceptualised by its English owners Mark Hill and Atlanta Weller, Jalakara is a peaceful nature retreat located on a former banana and betel nut plantation with sublime views across a lush tropical rainforest.

Combining the intimate atmosphere and barefoot luxury of a private villa with the service and facilities of a small boutique hotel, Jalakara offers an ideal hideaway for those who wish to unplug and immerse in blissfully unspoiled nature. There are no modern distractions here in terms of Wi-Fi or television; it’s all about enjoying the great outdoors with your loved ones indulging in good food, relaxation and rejuvenation.    

Mark and Atlanta’s flair for sustainability and conservation shines through the property. Its layout and design make maximum use of its beautiful surroundings and all the materials used are locally sourced and produced with utmost care for the natural environment and local community. Property’s beautiful landscaped grounds feature a stunning infinity pool, a relaxing bar area, a lovely dining terrace overlooking the pool and a relaxing spa.

Jalakara is a true gem in one of India’s most untouched corners and if you like going off the beaten paths, you need not look any further!  


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Where is Jalakara Located?

Jalakara is located in the heart of Havelock Island, which is part of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands located in the Bay of Bengal off the eastern coast between India and Thailand. A heaven for snorkelling and diving, many islands in this remote archipelago are inhabited by primitive tribes and remain completely secluded from the rest of the islands and mainland India.

Havelock Island is one of the largest islands in the archipelago and is well connected with the rest of the country. There are daily flights to Port Blair from various major Indian cities and from there, Havelock Island is a 90-minute shared ferry ride away. From the jetty, Jalakara is just a 15 minutes’ gentle drive away. Although quite expensive, it is also possible to arrange, subject to availability, a private boat transfer between Port Blair and Havelock Island instead of using a public ferry.

What sort of accommodation is available at Jalakara?

The property comprises of seven bedrooms – three standard rooms, three suites and one private villa. All are designed sensitively to take advantage of the amazing tropical weather and allow plenty of fresh air and sunlight. During winter months, the breeze is so refreshing that air-conditioning is seldom required. Several bedrooms open onto private terraces and the private villa comes with its own garden and plunge pool.

The guests are looked after by a team of fifteen staff members, majority of them local, led by Varun Kutty who originally comes from the foothills of the Himalayas. Their goal is pretty simple, which is to ensure that each and every guest feels “at home” and genuinely happy.

The food is incredibly fresh and delicious, all locally grown and sourced. Being a tropical island, the emphasis is on seafood, which is highly ethically and sustainably sourced with the help of the local community.

Mark, who is also the head chef, only works with fishermen who use traditional fishing methods including hand-diving and pole-and-line fishing. One can enjoy a great mix of food ranging from typical Indian and Southeast Asian to popular European dishes. The Black lobster momo and sugar-cured tiger prawns are particularly good!

The property is constructed using traditional Indian craft construction technic and incorporates a wide range of features that help protect and conserve the natural resources such as rainwater harvesting, anaerobic digester sewage treatment plant, biomass hot water boilers, low energy LED lights, chemical-free natural copper plunge pool in the private villas and a low-chemical main infinity pool.

Single-use-plastic is not used in the property and guests are provided with mineral water in glass bottles. All rooms feature natural paraben-free toiletries and biodegradable vanity packs.

What activities are available at Jalakara?

Whether you wish to laze around and relax or indulge in fun and active adventures, Jalakara is an ideal base. Perched on top of a hill, the retreat is away from all the local hustle and bustle ensuring ultimate seclusion and calm. At the same time, the island is small enough so that one is always just a short drive away from all the fun!

For those who prefer to stay put, the staff can arrange plenty of activities in and around the property including board games, music, cinema, lawn games as well as birdwatching, cooking, stargazing and Yoga sessions.

For the more adventurous, Jalakara’s resident rangers are always up for a challenge and can plan a huge range of excursions including:

  • Exploring the island’s rural interior on a bike or scooter.
  • A day at the beach with a lovely picnic and options for snorkelling and nature walks. There are many pristine beaches within easy reach of Jalakara, all between five and fifteen minutes’ drive away.
  • Snorkelling and diving excursions are stellar experiences here! Andaman Islands are renowned for their amazing reefs and rich marine biodiversity and due to lack of infrastructure, they have remained far more untouched compared to some of the other more popular diving and snorkelling destinations in the Indian Ocean. Although there are a few beaches that offer a very easy access to the reefs, boat trips can also be arranged to more off-the-beaten-track islands. Diving can also be arranged for divers of all levels through an excellent local operator.
  • Fishing is exhilarating around Havelock with such a fascinating variety.
  • Nature treks in the rainforest and leisurely beach treks.
  • Sea kayaking.

Does Jalakara cater to families with young children?

Children of all ages are warmly welcomed at Jalakara and babysitting can be arranged with prior notice. However, the active outdoorsy nature of Havelock and hilltop location of Jalakara might not be particularly suitable for very young children and infants. It’s a fabulous destination for families with older kids and teenagers.

When is the best time to visit Jalakara?

Typically, January to May is the best time to visit the island when the weather is dry. The temperatures are very pleasant during January and February and start to warm up from March onwards, but they rarely exceed 32-34 degrees Celsius.

October to December is also a very good time to visit with good weather on the whole but there could be the odd tropical shower. June to September is the main monsoon season when the sea is rough and heavy rains are almost a daily occurrence, so it is best to avoid this period.


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As a guide, the cost of our extraordinary and utterly bespoke journeys tends to start from $1200 per person per day excluding international flights.

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Explore with The Explorations Company

By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017

Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...

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