As I stood in the balcony of my chalet, with kehwa in hand, overlooking the manicured gardens bursting with spring colours and lending more character and charm to the effervescent Dal, Hajrat Bal, and Zabarwaan mountains in the background, I had only one thought running inside me – “Kashmir is not a destination but a feeling.” I was grateful to be back in Srinagar to witness the change of season and be mesmerized all over again. Spring in Kashmir is the best and nature was already smiling at me. Rah Bagh in Srinagar was packed with buds and flowers of all types and colours, ready to bloom, shine, and take on the city. Did I say I was impressed? Actually, more than that. Not just the flowers, the property too made my heart full. Tastefully thought-over, beautifully presented, set in an apple orchard, this one made for an exclusive, design-forward, an incredibly discreet getaway in Srinagar. To the owners, the Rah family, it is an ode to Kashmir. To me, it was an incredible experience. Join me on a virtual trip there.
From Rah Villas near Sonamarg to Rah Bagh Srinagar, the journey was seamless.
Read – You must see Thajiwas Glacier in Sonamarg
Rah Bagh in Srinagar stands out for more than one thing
There are some hotels that evoke a feeling of comfort and convenience combined with pastoral settings, themed concept, authentic personal encounters, lots of charm, and state-of-the-art amenities, tailored to the traveler’s needs. Rah Bagh by the Orchard in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir is one of them. Located on the outskirts of Srinagar, and closer to the Dachigam National Park, it may seem far from the Dal boulevard in the first impression but everything about the hotel makes you want to spend more time there. Every evening, I would look forward to my return to the idyllic retreat because it gave me the lovely alps and Dal view, the cheer of the tulips, the delight of the Mughal gardens, the warmth of the Kashmiri hospitality and the vibrant energy of its staff (management and team).
Chalet style units with Alpine influences has to be the USP of this place. The outer design lends a very cool and creative edge to the traditional essence that shines through the property. Visitors must know that the rooms are built from locally quarried granite, native cedar wood and traditional Kashmiri brickwork. There are 33 rooms comprising of premium rooms with balcony view, charming luxury suites in attics with sloping roofs totally clad in pine, and suites with private gardens in independent units linked via a corridor.
It’s worth carving out some time to explore the property’s gardens, well-curated photographs in the corridors and local artefacts. And the apple orchard is right there to bask in the beauty of it. On the last day, I dedicated a few hours looking around the property, before heading back with an afternoon flight.
My Room at Rah Bagh by the Orchard
The moment you enter the reception area, you know you are in for a charming treat. The thoughtful décor and Kashmiri artefacts are sensitively married to the contemporary design of the hotel. The cart ride from the front desk to the chalets, the waving gardens on the way and the interactive corridors make the journey to the room full of curiosity. And with all the excitement intact, when you are finally there, you are impressed further. At least I was when I entered my premium room. It was delightful. It was spacious with a large bed, a cupboard, arm-chair, table, working desk, luggage area and state-of-the art amenities, perfect for modern travellers with an eye for luxury. The subtle palette and minimalistic decor made it all the more classy. The use of white and only light colours in the room let the nature’s colours flood inside. The washroom was gleaming. The white Italian marble fitted with modern amenities, large mirror and a separate shower area added to the chicness. The best part about the room was that it had fantastic views of the sprawling gardens. The huge glass wall opened up to the entire property and the one could always connect with wonderous nature, outside. The sit out balcony could use a little more space but I am sure the designer and the architect did the best to give more room in the inside.
The property has a lovely swimming pool too, closer to the garden suite rooms. Two restaurants are spaced out, one located on the left and other on the top right, as seen from the rooms. They are easily accessible too. All the rooms have a view that keeps changing with the colour of the sky. Not only the mornings are bright and beautiful, even the shimmering lights of the nights look pretty from the balcony of the room. I was told the orangish-purple sundowner is the best time to have tea/kehwa at the property. However, I preferred walking around the Dal lake, my favorite thing to do in Srinagar.
Read – Almond Blooms in Badam Vaer Garden, in Srinagar
Unwind, Bask in the Beauty of Srinagar, And Enjoy Your Meals
Rah Bagh has two places to chill and make the most of your stay. First is Wan Posh, the all-day restaurant with a live kitchen and a wood fired oven and second, Café Sky, the terrace deck restaurant. Wan Posh is where you are served sumptuous buffets for breakfast and dinner, along with a la carte options from across India and the world as well dishes from the Kashmiri Wazwan. It has ample seating indoors and outdoors. On a winter evening, they arrange for special bonfires for you and your family.
The Cafe Sky, as the name suggests is a cafe that lets you catch the beautiful sunrise and sunsets in the sky. It offer small bites, an indulgent breakfast or a High Tea. On requests, they also arrange for freshly grilled food directly from a live-grill.
A buffet-style breakfast is served daily in Wan Posh. and the spread includes fresh fruit, cereals, healthy drinks, doughnuts, eggs and an extensive à la carte offerings from North to South of India.
And when you are not eating in any of these restaurants, take a walk in the premises. There is lots to do from visiting the apple orchards to playing in the common games room to just admiring the pretty flowers in the landscaped garden. There is a waterfall area too inspired by one of the Mughal gardens in Srinagar. And if you love cars, you will find a photogenic one here. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures around.
Must-Do Things to do in Srinagar
There is something so filmy about the shikara ride on the Dal, that no trip seems complete without going for it. Next comes the visit to Shakaracharya Temple, which is unmissable. Srinagar is known for its scenic beauty, houseboats and the gardens. Spring is my favorite season to visit Kashmir and when you are in summer capital, you just cant miss the Almond blooms in Badamwari and the thousands of tulips in Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden. Each garden in Srinagar comes with it own story-telling and is unique in design. One must indulge in them. Shalimar, Nishat and Chashm-e-Shahi constitute the famous Mughal Gardens of Srinagar. Apart from the world famed Dal lake, there is a quieter Nigeen lake too. Hazrat Bal sits on one side of Dal lake and is a must visit. A walk around Dal boulevard, Nehru Gate, Lal chowk, the bunds, and the amazing bakeries are a must-do, when in Srinagar. The history buffs should also take a walk and visit the old parts of the city, Pari Mahal, Hari Parwat and take a bite in the Kashmiri delicacies.
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