The birds are singing, maybe it is the cuckoo with its pleasant voice or my heart is joyous with the abundance of nature. Petite green pears grow on a tree adjacent to another one laden with bright yellow apricots. I drool at the sight of a little signboard that says ‘’Vanya’s Strawberry Farm’. Vanya is the little daughter of Ashish & Deepa – the amazing owners of this beautiful abode in Sonapani called Himalayan Village.
Lying away from the main road in the little village of Sonapani before Sitla and Mukteshwar, ‘Himalayan Village’ is a delightfully secret find. A certain woody smell astounds my olfactory senses as I enter the cottage. Each cottage is individually laid out and is an epitome of rustic luxury. Unlike modern day resorts, cottages here are entirely made of locally made bricks and the walls are plastered with mud. The walls keep warm in winters and cool in summers.
I am welcomed with a glass of freshly made lemon and mint juice. The smiling staff immediately makes me feel at home. The lampshades are exquisite and the room exudes an otherworldly feeling of warmth with a surreal glow. Two comfortable chairs are laid out in the ample verandah in front of the cottage as I drink tea while watching the clouds play hide and seek with the sun. There are flowers of various colours growing in wild abandon everywhere in the resort. I had consistently observed that this part of Uttarakhand took their flowers seriously.
The roof of the cottages is made of pine wood and gives a regal feel while the rest of the furniture is laid out in amazing perfection. Even the cushions and blankets have been aesthetically designed in a classical red colour. The stone flooring lends the place a rustic character. Fresh pine wood has been used in the bathrooms and that is the reason for the sweet aroma.
Evening comes with rustling of leaves and magical sunset skies. One of the staff members takes me around the property and shows me pear, pomegranate, orange, walnut, wild cherry and peach trees full of fruits. The fruits aren’t ripe yet but will be ready for savouring soon. It is a blissful time with much needed solitude and absolute silence in the woods. Jhumroo, their pet dog might be the cutest ever, with his languid gait and the look when Vanya calls him ‘Jhumi.’
The sweet corn soup is made from fresh ingredients and is delicious. The weather has turned nippy and I have to wear a jacket to walk along the flowery path to the dining room. Dinner is simple food delicately flavoured with spices and there’s a sweet surprise in the form of chocolate barfi.
I am enthralled entering my cottage again; it looks like a castle from the old times. I sprawl on the bed, book in hand and feel like a king until sleep takes over. I wake up to clear skies and a sunny morning, which feels refreshing with the breeze. I am in a yoga mood today and the clean air is refreshing for my lungs. The trees sway happily and the birds sing, it is a glorious day in the lap of nature.
Breakfast is an otherworldly affair with hand-made bread freshly baked in the oven and a variety of home made jams; peach cardamom, apricot cinnamon jam and marmalade. Let it be told that I do not eat bread otherwise, but here I couldn’t resist myself from polishing off some six slices with copious quantities of the variety of heavenly jams.
It is decided that Jhumi has been single for too long and that he needs to be taken out for a stroll. Jhumroo goes crazy at the sight of his long lost female friends ‘Matku’ and ‘Montu’ as they create a ruckus. The kids become my friends and we play some funny games. Lunch is on its way and after having come back from Kumaon, I can truly say that it was the most authentic local meal I had in my entire trip. ‘Palak ka kaapa’, ‘bhatt ki churkani’, ‘mundwa ki roti’, mustard raita and the tantalizingly named ‘bhaang ki chutney’ made by mixing freshly squeezed local lemons.
I am woozy with happiness stuffing myself with consistently delicious organic food. After spending some time reading and sitting, I hear that cricket is being played somewhere. Upon further perusal, the playground is found and I jump into the fray too. It is the smiling staff of Himalayan Village, and today they have some free time today to indulge in these simple pleasures.
The playground is a small stretch of flat land surrounded by trees on all sides. Somebody hits a sixer and the ball disappears to be never found again. Then someone suggests that I be taken to the ‘kafal’ and ‘hisalu’ trees; wild berry kind of fruits that I have not seen anywhere other than Kumaon. I gorge on the best ones that they pick for me. Some branches are carried for the kids and they squeal with delight and set off themselves to find some more.
Evening brings a steady drizzle and the air becomes chilly. Today’s surprise of the day is Shahi Tukda for dessert. Having been with the kids all day, I shamelessly pick up as many as I can and hardly leave any for the others. Deepa ji sees me giggling with the kids. I thank her for the lovely time I am having here.
I sleep like a baby wishing I could stay here forever. After gorging on more bread and jam(s) and aloo paranthas, it is time to take leave from this timeless heaven.
I would want the interiors of my dream house in the mountains to look exactly like they are here.
Read : Heaven in Himachal Pradesh
I think that is the greatest compliment I could pay to Himalayan Village, Sonapani.
Good to Know : Himalayan Village is approximately 80 kms away from Haldwani and 350 kms from Delhi. The drive is beautiful with winding mountain roads. Hence, I can highly recommend it is a weekend destination from Delhi.
Activities : Adventurous activities like rock climbing, rappelling, simulated river crossing. Jungle walks and village walks are organised too. The creative stalwarts can write, paint, read & photograph here.
Responsible tourism, environment and energy conservation.
Note: I was hosted by Himalayan Village and that did not influence my review of the place.