Kumaon is very close to my heart for various reasons. Over the years, its become my go-to place when I am need of some beautiful solo time. It's a place that humbles and awes me with its grandeur and beauty, a place that gives me perspective and a place that is slowly becoming my dream home destination.
Here is a list of 4 new places I explored during my last journey through Kumaon. The best part is that three out of the four of the places I visited were women run initiatives, created and managed by inspiring and powerful women. That makes me very happy :)
The featured stays are great weekend breaks for wanderers in Delhi. They are also really nice to experience as part of a longer, slower journey through Kumaon. That's the way to soak in the real beauty of the region.
BHUVAN'S BEAUTIFUL COTTAGE
By far one of the most beautiful homes that I have visited in Kumaon, this charming boho-chic cottage is so aesthetically pleasing! The owner, Bhuvan Kumari, is a vivacious lady who began her guest house with just one single room in 1994. Now she offers 5 beautifully designed bedrooms and welcomes guests into her space to enjoy the freshness and serenity of the mountains.
When Bhuvan decided to move to Jeolikot and start this property, the exteriors and interiors were nothing like what they are now. Friends and experts advised her to demolish the whole structure and start afresh, but the lady wisely decided to rely on her instincts and intuition. She did not disturb the outer shell - that original 'ivy covered cottage' of her dreams, but completely revamped the interiors as her heart dictated. Today, she has been able to create one of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing spaces that I have ever seen in India.
Each room has it's own theme - peela kamra, chidiya kamra, neela kamra and others. The walls have been hand painted by Bhuvan's daughter-in-law who lives on the property along with her husband and son. Each and every corner of the house radiates with vibrant and welcoming energy.
Location: Near Nainital, Uttarakhand. 6 hours from Delhi by road
Price: Rs. 4,500 - Rs. 6,000 + tax on double occupancy including breakfast.
PADDY'S COTTAGE IN BHIMTAL
A charming homestay experiences, this heritage property is home to Padmini Smetacek, her 6 children and 4 dogs who are wonderful hosts. They welcome you into their house with big smiles and open arms so you can experience the serenity of the mountains and the warmth of their family.
The most beautiful aspect of the property is it's locations, away from the hustle and bustle of Bhimtal that is slowly getting saturated with new construction and noise. This sweet little home is perched on top of a hill, surrounded by lush forests, fascinating jungle trails and various stories.
While Padmini engages the hosts is beautiful conversation and stories, her children help around the house by cooking for the guests, making fires in the evening and escorting wanderers on unknown trails through the forests that they are so well versed with. Seeker, Tipsy, Terry and Tessy, 4 of the sweetest pahari dogs, head out on these adventures with the travelers making the experience an absolute delight!
Location: Bhimtal, Uttarakhand.
6 hours from Delhi by road.
Price: Rs. 3,000 - Rs. 3,500 on double occupancy including breakfast.
NAUKUCHIATAL'S STONE COTTAGE
I first came across pictures of this beautiful cottage while going through photographs of my sister's journey to Naukuchiatal. It really piqued my interest and somehow I managed to get a hold of the lovely owners, Oli and Rupam. Passionate about art and architecture, the couple has constructed this beautiful cottage with a lot of love and effort. It is really unique and something very very different. I could not believe that this was in India, but lucky us that it is :)
Located just a short stroll away from the lake, the cottage consists of 3 bedrooms, 2 lofts, a cozy kitchen and small front lawn. The cosy and comfortable house is made with natural stone and reclaimed wood quite like what it is supposed to be for a house in the hills. The high roofs, wooden floors, huge glass windows and the views will leave you absolutely in love and charmed by this amazing place.
The space is ideal for small families, couples, people seeking some peace and quiet and those passionate about architecture. You could head out for walks around the lake, try your hand at canoeing or boating, go paragliding or simply sit back and relax.
Location: Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand. 6.5 hours from Delhi by road.
Price: Rs. 8,000 - Rs. 9,000 on double occupancy including breakfast.
THE STONE COTTAGE IN JILLING
The mountain jungle estate of Jilling is home to beautiful flowers and scenery, quaint pahari dwellings, sweet locals and some very interesting residents who own charming, experiential stays, which date back to the 1970’s. I spent four days wandering around the estate, discovering and walking its gorgeous paths, experiencing its lovely stay options and eating fresh Kafal berries and plums straight from the trees :)
During my time at Jilling, I stayed at a gorgeous cottage that was originally built in 1933. A few years ago, a couple from Delhi decided to buy the property and start a boutique cottage, inviting travellers to experience the spirit and serenity of the mountains. They have done an excellent job of refurbishing the interiors to make them comfortable and luxurious, while maintaining the original heritage structure of the house.
The house offers 2 double rooms, 2 suites and a 2 bedroom cottage that can comfortable accommodate 4-5 people.There are various hang out spots around the cottage, beautiful balconies, a dining area, a small kitchenette and a charming garden where one can sit out in the evenings around a fire and watch the star-lit sky.
Location: Jilling, Uttarakhand. 6.5 hours by road from Delhi + 1.5 hour hike
Price: Rs. 9,000 to Rs. 12,500 per night inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2 adults.