August was a happening month in terms of travel. In between my return from Kuala Lumpur in the first week and the trip to Tamil Nadu (Coonor, Wellington, Ooty) in the last week, I also had the privilege to go for a six days off-beat sojourn in Uttarakhand during the non-rainy days. This is the month when people usually keep away from the hills to avoid the danger of landslides but I couldn’t resist the temptation and invitation of being close to nature. The idea was to explore new properties, enjoy the ambiance and indulge in the surroundings. Peaceful travel was on my mind. My partners in crime were Dipanshu Goyal from DuniaDekho and his wife Shweta.
One of the biggest advantages of traveling in the off-season is that you have almost everything to yourself. Not only did we get the train tickets easily but also the roads were neat and empty. It was bliss to wake up to the chirping of birds and retire to the silence of the eeriness. There was no human chaos and clamour of any sorts and we had a warm cup of tea always at our disposal. August isn’t really the month for clear views of the Himalayan ranges too but the clouds weave a magic everywhere you go. Sunsets and sunrises play hide and seek but the weather of the hills never fails to give you a rejuvenating retreat.
6 days and 5 nights and 3 property visits!
From living in a small and cozy (complete-in-itself) room at the top of a hillock to a lavish room (one of the 4 rooms housed in a one big bungalow) to living in a tented room (camping and adventure), it was a platter of distinct experiences for me. I had stayed in home-stays before but never in one which had a friendly pet. Leela Orchards Sonapani made me a little fearless in that less because I am scared of dogs. Who would believe that I went hiking in the forests with two of them running around me here and there. Even the idea of spending the night in the tent at Hidden Valley was unique to me because this was quite different from my experience of camping by the Mo Chu river in Bhutan. The comfort seeking traveler in me was perplexed initially but eventually everything seemed exciting and thrilling. Last but not the least, the time spent with the one year kiddo of the owners of Moksha Retreat (which has 5 camps and 2 rooms) will always be special. That was our first pit stop with an amazing location. I was absolutely in love with the Gazebo and the benches which inspired us to just sit down, sip tea, stare at the clouds and do nothing. The observation tower promises some great 360 degree views.
Stand and stare or do nothing!
No doubt, it is a mad rat race out there in the world but when you are traveling, you should always take some time off to simply stand and stare. It is absolutely relaxing to do nothing except breathing. Only nature has the prowess to convince you to do something like this. Uttarakhand is definitely one of the most mesmerizing state of India which can compel you to take that holiday to simply stand and stare.
Uttarakhand is known as the land of the Gods. It is primarily famous for its dramatic terrain and spiritualism. It also boasts of India’s second-highest peak (Nanda Devi). From enjoying thrilling mountain hikes to relaxing in the lap of nature, Uttarakhand has a variety to offer. People usually end up going to the popular destinations like Dehradun, Nainital, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Landsdowne but there is definitely much more to its two famous and distinct regions – Kumaon and Garhwal. The state is a storehouse of unexplored gems. This trip helped me to add four new places to my list, Dinapani, Kasardevi, Mukteshwar and Pangot. There are still many more that I plan to visit and discover for myself.
Delhi – Kathgodam -> Almora-Binsar -> Mukteshwar -> Pangot -> Nainital -> Kathgodam- > Delhi
This is how we planned it!
Reasons why I loved each of them…
Hospitality, basic amenities and services play a key role in promoting a destination. The new age of travelers is on a lookout for little things than the bigger charms. For me, cleanliness is still a top priority. I liked all the above mentioned properties that I visited because it was not just about the place but personal touch through their services. I really liked the fact that the owners are pursuing their passion and they want to give something different to their guests. As their locations would have it, they make for your perfect weekend getaways.
While the owner at Moksha Retreat told us that he wants people to just come and sit down and relax, the property owner at Leela Orchards want to share the rich legacy of the Sonapani estate with the world. At the same time, Hidden Valley will make you an adventurer. Even if you may not want to do anything, you may just stroll around to fall in love with nature. This was just a quick wrap up of the whole trip. I will be sharing individual reviews and activities done at each place.