Every visit to the mountains questions the importance of staying in a metro, makes us wish for a house overlooking the river and the hills but even if that is a distant dream, regular getaways makes us feel alive and throbbing for peace, sleeping in nature’s silence. BlabberCat travels to Himachal, smitten and bitten by the travel bug of road journeys, quaint homestays and lodges away from the crowded areas.
Label '1991' by Parson graduate Anuradha Thirani styled my travel trunk with rustic styles and nature's palate. Travel and fashion go together. Dressing according to your surroundings, weather, etiquette and of course as a blogger how you are representing your story and style, quite simply, is an art, but one that can be certainly mastered with a little forethought. Avoid outfit mayhem in the frantic hours before heading out to the airport by looking up the places you'll be visiting from before and visualising what will look appropriate and comfortable as well. With one foot slipped into fur-lined slipper and one into heavy boots, it's always a tough choice to make. Make the tougher choice. Travel friendly clothes are an essential part of my shopping that mostly includes cotton long dresses, loose palazzos, and stretchable pants and shorts. In the picture above, I'm wearing a Throwback collage printed Crop Top with palazzo pants.
(Olive Green Top: Mad about Angles top with sequins embelishment in the same colour. Great to wear casually or dressed up with a ball skirt)
An hour away from Dharamshala is The Lodge at Wah - an eco-friendly homestay at Panchrukhi Rd, Patti, Deogran, Palampur. The tea estate, run by a family from Calcutta, had originally planned to build their own dream home in the shadow of the hills. But they couldn’t resist adding the mud house cottages as all of it fell into place eventually looking straight out of a painting. A combination of English gardens dotted with magnolias and roses in all shades of pink and yellow, where peaches and Aloe Vera grow. I would wake up applying the cooling Aloe Vera plant’s sticky liquid on my face and spend the rest of the day basking in all the glory of the peeking mountain sun. If you’re a city star, don’t expect a nightlife and shopping in this exclusive spot of Himachal. This private and welcoming homestay is a healing and purifying home away from home, that filters your worry and fills you with sunshine. During the summers, it can get very warm and towards the evening it’s the usual hill station weather of on-and-off rain with a crisp chill in the breeze.
(A part of the spacious living room at The Lodge at Wah)
(Designed by Nandita Thirani Couture - Split long top with metallic sequins embelishments)
It was supposed to be a weekend getaway and I came back home 10 days later. I exactly remember the moment when I decided to extend my stay. It was late at night when I heard a loud thunder followed by series of lightning and thunder almost at war with each other. My room, connected to a balcony and stairs, felt so close to the events in the sky that I started remembering all the news where people were struck by lightning in higher altitudes. But a few moments later, I stared into the sky, only blinking with a raindrop falling into my eye and since no one (my travel buddies) could sleep with the noise we drenched ourselves and then cuddled up till we were warm again. The next few days went by in reading, painting, board games, walk around the nature in and outside the lodge and eating like we’ve never seen food before. We also went for a pottery session and paragliding which is ranked as the world’s top three paragliding spots. We were lucky to be pampered by Chef Nikhita Patel who has been running the place on behalf of the owners since the last eight months. We got even luckier as the owners were present during our stay. Eating meals with the couple, spicy chai and conversations with them and being taken care of, added to the memories of this vacation.
(Nikhita Patel showing us around)
(Lavender Iced Green Tea, a speciality at the Lodge)
We went on a day trip to Dharamshala to visit the Dalai Lama temple to tick off from our checklist and further at Dharamkot are cafes surrounded by the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley. It’s very difficult to choose my favourite cafe but this time we chose Morgan’s Place. There are many other day trip spots such as McLeodGanj, Bhagsunath, Naddi, ForsythGanj. After spending a week with the tea estate family and the chirpy staff it was very difficult to leave. So instead of going back to Kolkata we decided to go to Manali and stay at the Johnson Hotel, who’s owner have two other alpine properties in Himachal developed in the last year. One is The Alternate Terrain - its an adventure park and cafe and one residential lodge is in Raison.
The cafe from where ATV also takes place is literally in the middle of nowhere. The meadows surrounding seemed straight out of Heidi and such a majestic view of greenery, water and mountains left me heady with happiness. The hand-selected menu at the cafe was thankfully not about Pizzas. In fact they had a wide range of salads, variety of burgers, mezzo platters and interesting preparation of chicken in different cuisines as the most popular choices. The ATV track was right next to the cafe and further down you can also access the river banks.
If you’re a reader, you must have definitely read/watched ‘The secret garden’ as a child. Imagine that coming live in front of your eyes. After spending an entire day running the owners dog around, flower-watching, and snoozing while hearing the river, it became impossible to leave. A hidden treasure, not crowded, noisy or ‘commercial’ Raison was the best decision we made.
(Cafe Lazy Dog in Manali)
(Johnson Hotel properties in Manali and Raison)
Photography credits: Mehek Siddiq and ASA Travel by Muskana Marwaha