You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis
Are you planning for a holiday or refreshing weekend? Then check out Te-Aroha – a beautiful boutique resort hotel up on the hills of Uttrakhand. Get yourself mesmerized by the natural beauty and this resort in the middle of pine, oak and apple trees.
Te–Aroha, an expression in Maori language which means the mountain of love and it is the resort. It is located in the lap of Himalayas in a small village Dhanachuli in Nainital District. Totally cut off from the modernity and the hustle and bustle of the urban life. Just six hours ride away from Delhi (340 Kms) or train till Kathgodham (nearest station) and then ninety minutes taxi ride. Gradually, as one go up the altitude (6800 feet above the sea level) on those winding roads, step-by-step life gets slower. Everything gets into its basic form, no more pollution and there is freshness in everything. Mind you! When I say ‘slower’, it means real slow, like English national daily reach here one day late.
Just a right turn from Dhanachuli Bend, you are welcomed at the foothill with ‘Te–Aroha’ written on the wooden plank. From that point onwards it is all by foot no more vehicles or should we say any type of wheels. To keep the natural feel of the hill, rooms are build in the various level which are all connected with wooden stairs. It’s guaranteed that you will lose some weight when you leave this place. The most amazing thing about these stairs is that when you turn around there is this vast horizon facing towards Mukteshwar. There is nothing in between you and the mind-blowing scenery. On a good weather day, you can also see the white snow peaks of Himalaya.
At the first level you are welcome with their traditional welcome drink in the reception, their own version of ginger ale which is tweaked to suit the weather, a perfect way to de-stressing and re-energize from your tiring ride. Adjacent to it is a little store house ‘Koha’ where you can buy local made organic items, as well as collectables and books written by the owner of the resort Sumant Batra. On the second glance, you will find that Te–Aroha is all done in yellow roof and white walls, which makes it easily visible from the far away. “Yellow is inviting, it reflects sunshine beautifully, and the yellow of Te Aroha emerges soothingly from the green surrounds of Dhanachuli,” says the proud owner.
After this, we take another set of stairs that takes us to the lobby. High ceiling, fire place, antique furniture and piano takes you to the elegance of the colonial area. Story behind the resort is that, it was summerhouse for Sumant Batra, designed in colonial way and it was later remade into a resort. This section of the building is called Old Wing which has three rooms, named as Master Suite, Guest Bedroom, and Three Steps Down – because you need to walk down three steps to get into this room. Then comes The Oak restaurant in between the old and new wing. An interesting fact about the restaurant is that they have two trees in the middle of the room that grows out of the roof. “We didn’t cut a single tree while building this resort and let the trees be left as it is,” says Sumant batra who has designed the resort with some friends. Not just the view and design but they have interesting foods in their menu starting from local cuisine, continental to Indians.
As you pass through the restaurant you go to next level that’s New Wing with seven rooms and interesting names. Like Front Room – because it’s the first room, Courtyard and Corner Suite – no need to explain, Black Roof – it’s on the upper floor and the roof are done in black, Morning Sun – as you can see rising sun from this room, Deck Room – a wooden deck is extending outside its door and lastly Single’s Bedroom – the only single bed in the whole resort. Suit yourself and choose the room! All the rooms have a Victorian era or French influenced style beds with some antique furniture and pieces kept on the dressing table or on the cupboard. “Every single piece of furniture is an antique with fascinating stories carved around it. There is a bench from Rajya Sabha, a chair from Supreme Court. A sofa from Rashtrapati Bhawan, beds from palaces. Discarded and broken furniture has been incorporated in the architecture,” says Sumant who is a lawyer by profession. All the rooms have big glass windows that give not just spell bounding view but also enough light for the room in the day.
There is also something for everybody even for little laid back ones who want to spend time in the resort – a room with a good DVD collection with wide screen television and lots of book. If that’s not enough, one can try some hands in poker in the card room with proper poker table. Or you want to play carom or chess in the memory of those old pre video games day. One amazing fact about the rooms in the resort is that there is no television installed in it. And they have a good reason for it, “Te-Aroha is conceptualized as a destination for the loved ones to be able to spend quality time together. If we have televisions in room it would be no different from being at home.”
Finally on the top of the hotel is Café Flashback. It has all the collected items by the Sumant Batra like match box from hotels around the world, old advertisement from the magazines and movie poster. Just name them and you will find it, calendars of the past years, old camera cases, lamps and old toys. Surprisingly, one old Vijay Super scooter is also on display and only they know how on world did they bring that thing up there? The idea is one can read old books and comics over a cup of coffee, and get some flashbacks.
Hang on adventure is not over yet! They take you for excursion around the village. It will surprise a person from metros that how they can call a place ‘market’ which is hardly a 100 meters walk. Here on the first three days of the month, you will find some sellers from other states and that’s their shopping days. Then there is trip to Mukteshwar, 14 kms away from Dhanachuli. Chauli Ka Jali, a famous tourist spot, a mountain cliff from where you can spot the whole Nainital. Morning-walk to Devasthal jungle – according to the legends one can still find tigers here. And evening village-walk to Devi temple at the foothill, reminds you of all those 60s Dev Anand movies. Finally to call it a day, Jasmine tea in the resort’s lawn.
The scenery is just amazing! It looked more like a painting when sun rays come through the pine and oak leaves. One just realizes that there are so many things that we are missing out in our life, just slow down!