It started with Sumant's generous invitation to visit Dhanachuli and to explore the Kumaun region with 'Te Aroha' as the base. I was super-excited about this trip and the real journey started on 4th October. This Photo Journey shares some of the moments from the journey from Anand Vihar Railway Station(Delhi) to Kathgodam & Dhanachuli, which was our final destination for the day.
We reached Anand Vihar Railway station at 5:15AM to catch Kathgodam Shatabdi which was supposed to start at 6:15AM. We had a cup of tea at Railway station and started waiting for the train. There are three platforms on this railways station. On one platform, there was another train which was going to North East at 6:50AM and there were continuous (irritating) announcements throughout. And at the same time, another announcement was happening that Kathgodam Satabdi has been delayed because of some technical problem.
Hills on our mind were enough to motivate us for waiting on the platform. Finally we heard a good announcement that train is coming towards the platform. It started at 7:15 from Anand Vihar railway station, but managed to reach Kathgodam on time - 11:45AM. Sumant was driving from Delhi on same morning and he met us at Kathgodam station. So there was a blue Ford Endeavor outside railway station, which was waiting for us.
Vibha, Mukta, Divya, Aanchal & Aditya were also accompanying us for next journey towards Dhanachuli. Kathgodam is in foothills and next journey was through hilly terrains. As we started climbing up towards Bheemtaal, clouds also chose to follow us and suddenly it became very misty all around. It was a great welcome to Uttrakhand.
By road one can approach Dhanachuli through following route : Delhi - Hapur Bypass - Muradabad Bypass - Rampur - Bilaspur - Rudrapur - Haldwani - Kathgodam - Ranibagh - Bhimtal - Khutani - Padampuri - Dhari - Dhanachuli
For more details, check out - http://www.tearoha.in/tearoha_map.pdf
This was my first visit to Uttarakhand after the floods in June'2013 but I couldn't see any signs of the disaster. When talked to our driver, I got to know that Kumaun region had remained largely unimpacted by those floods. Basically Uttrakhand can be divided into two parts - Kamaun & Garhwal. Kumaun includes the districts of Almora, Bageshwar, Champawat, Nainital, Pithoragarh and Udham Singh Nagar. It is bounded on the north by Tibet, on the east by Nepal, on the south by the state of Uttar Pradesh, and on the west by the Garhwal region. There was hardly any impact of june floods in Kumaun region.
After a refreshing ride through beautiful hills surrounded by mist, we reached Dhanachuli - Te Aroha !!! Team at Te Aroha was ready to welcome us at one of the highest peaks around Dhanachuli. After an interesting welcome drink we moved to our rooms and a series of surprises awaited us. And I am sure that I will not able to share all the surprises/experiences we got at Te Aroha and Dhanachuli. One of the Te Aroha team-member escorted us to the top most suite in the property, known as 'The Long House'...
Spacious rooms with spellbinding views of snow-covered peaks of Himalayan ranges....
Just looking at the doors, we were able to guess that it's going to be very grand but we failed to estimate the real experience of this stay. It was far more beautiful & luxurious as compared to what we had thought. At times, I feel that I would not be able to define this experience through words. But still I will try to share some part of it through a series of Photo Journeys on Dhanachuli and Te Aroha. Please feel free to share your feedback through comments here.
Above photograph shows the first view we get after entering into The Long House at Te Aroha. Exquisite colors, peach & white, dominated our first experience of the room. We only noticed the intricately handcrafted furniture, a piano & a fireplace after we got over the soft and gentle color scheme.
Every element in The Long House was a collectible by Sumant Batra, who has envisioned such a lovely place on the hills of Dhanachuli. We spent a significant time in exploring the interiors of the suite.
Then we stepped up towards the bedroom which was next to the living room of The Long House. Again everything was unique. Let me stop here and move on with the other things we did during our first day after reaching Te Aroha, Dhanachuli. But don't be disappointed as I would be sharing a separate post on Te Aroha only. And the BIGGEST surprise in The Long House suite is yet to be disclosed :)
Transported to the bygone elegance of the colonial era...
It was time to come out and have delicious lunch made by the Chef. It was great to know about the fine selection of cuisines by experiences chefs. After our lunch, we moved to the breakfast terrace which is just outside the dining area. We were humbled with the experience of finest hospitality, although lot more came our way during the next two days. We had a long chit chat around this terrace and some of us thought of having a quick walk around the road which was just below Te Aroha.
Divya and VIbha sitting on roadside to enjoy the beautiful sunset with dense clouds all around the hills of Dhanachuli.
It was getting dark now and time was to switch on the lights. After few minutes , we got a call from reception that bonfire area is ready and please join other folks there. After coming to bonfire area, we started discussing about Education system in India and none of us was optimistic about the way things are happening in education space. Sumant joined the discussion after some time and shared his inspiring thoughts and almost everyone agreed and felt better :)
Towards the end of our day, something like following video was playing in our mind. The day ended with bonfire, delicious snacks and red wine followed by continental dinner. Keep checking this space for updates from next two days at Dhanachuli.