Imagine meandering through the mountains, surrounded by lush pine trees, intoxicating fresh air, and bursts of wild lavender, chamomile and roses… awakening to the senses of nature. A gentle smile slowly makes an appearance and doesn’t leave till the end of your excursion. Stating this place is beautiful, is putting it mildly.
This is Almora, Uttarakhand.
And The Kumaon is a sheer delight, a jewel in the midst of the hills and a subtle nod to nature’s bounty – an eco-friendly boutique hotel that is really an extension of the local environment, culture and people. I went in search of calm tranquillity and peace and I was indeed successful. I craved for this even more than that casserole of mac and cheese!
True to Pahadi life, I fell asleep and rose early – which is habitual in my lifestyle down at sea level; however, here, I woke up to splendid views of the snow peaked Himalayan range – specifically, the peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul, Chokumba, Kedar Nath and Badri Nath. Each morning began by throwing open my balcony windows and cuddling back in bed, to watch the Himalayas with cups of tea. I have never been the kind to really relax, but here it was instant. With each hour passing by, I felt the tensions in my muscles relieve itself, and after a very long time, I truly savoured the moments of doing absolutely nothing and being at peace with it.
I found solace in the raw nature, deeply inhaled fresh air, and the lack of social interactions proved to be the highlight (I barely bump into fellow guests – a total boon for introverts like me). And although this was meant to be a holiday, I couldn’t help but work – it’s sort of ingrained into my blood now. I worked away in the balcony amid the birds chirping, the monkeys playing nearby, and the friendly dogs peering in every now and then, mostly curious about the soft piano music playing from my laptop. It was a complete joy and delight to be typing away in a place where you feel on top of the world. I also read 9.5 books in the 5-day journey – a true indicator that I really managed to wind down.
Now, food. If you’ve noticed I went through countless paragraphs without mentioning food! I ate three delicious meals a day in timely manner – each one outdoing the other. There was nothing too fancy or over the top. It was simple Kumaoni local food, made from fresh produce and local seasonings – which further proves that true satisfaction lies in simplicity. I ate every morsel of the thalis that were served for lunch and dinner and a long, lazy hearty breakfast with pressed coffee every single day. In between, I drank copious amounts of hot tea to combat the slight chill. I took each meal at the outdoor terrace of the dining area, soaking in the sun, carefree of freckles surfacing. At dinner, I sat below a canopy of bright stars and smiled.
At some point, I managed to peel myself away from my balcony to trek to the top most point of Almora. I caught sights of birds, small animals, deers and langoors – not too exciting, but all the same, counted for a great work out and perfect way of becoming one with nature. I made a conscious effort to look and see around with all my senses – I put away phones and cameras to be experience the real-life moments and capture them in my head! I longed to catch a glimpse of leopards – apparently, they are much larger and visible around this area, but with no luck. I was told a couple do live near the hotel property and the staff have all seen them, but unfortunately, I didn’t get much of an opportunity. Perhaps next time?
For me, this was a much-needed R&R, away from the nonstop incessant phone calls, social media chores, voices and noise. Considering this was my first holiday after a year, it was heart-breaking to leave The Kumaon, but when I did, I have to admit, the smile stayed on far longer than I anticipated. I have returned tanned, freckle-faced and content. And most importantly, traveling to new places always teaches me new things, understand different perspectives and encourage thinking out of the box that we naturally tend to carve for ourselves. This is the best place for peace-ing out from the world, gathering your thoughts and avoiding human interactions. All three reasons are top of my need-list, almost on a daily basis!
Do you have any other recommendations for peaceful vacations spots? Send them to me! Hopefully I won’t wait a whole year before I take a break this time!
Tips for truly enjoying The Kumaon property:
- Leave the curtains open before falling asleep. You will rise to the natural sunlight sweeping in and catch the best breath-taking view of the Himalayas.
- Don’t plan any activities – allow your mind to wander and make spontaneous decisions
- Make solitude a priority for this trip – it is ideal for solo travellers
- Choose travel partners that have the same agenda – relax, rejuvenate and revive!
- This boutique hotel is for those who don’t mind being room-bound and if they do, it would be to rough it out on various walking trails to breathe in more of that gorgeous, unpolluted clear air.
- Visit with an open mind to simply experience, sleep, read and watch the mountains for a whole lot of rejuvenation.
- Note: this hotel may not be convenient for knee-pain patients; there are more than a few steps from your room to the dining area, and the car ride ends about 10 minutes away from the hotel, after which, you go by foot. Granted, you don’t carry your luggage – but it’s a walk.
How to get there:
By Air: Don’t even attempt
Air India from Delhi to Pantnagar | Always gets canceled and you’re pretty much screwed
By Train: the BEST way
Shatabdi Express from Delhi to Kathgodam | It’s an easy 3 hour drive to the hotel and do stop by for lunch somewhere on the way | Recommended in-between meal place: The Mudhouse Café
From Delhi, might take a ridiculous number of hours, and if it ain’t your own car and obnoxious music, I wouldn’t bother!
Village Gadholi, Kasar Devi, Binsar Road, Almora, Uttarakhand