What makes a Holiday experience good? In my opinion, it is a comfortable and exciting travel, warm stay, good food & the rich experience of the local culture. 2013 was exceptionally good in terms of such travel opportunities. But one experience stood out above the rest. It was our 3 days/2 night stay at Te Aroha, Dhanachuli, Uttrakhand. Following photographs will offer you a tiny peek into those wonderful days spent amongst interesting people in one of the most unique properties we have ever stayed in.
The experience of staying at Te Aroha was so special that we waited for beginning of new year to let our photographs speak about the place and the kind of unique experience it offers in Himalayas. Te Aroha is situated in Kumaun region of Uttrakhand state, India. Te Aroha is a charming mountain resort situated around one of the highest peaks of Dhanachuli. It's located in himalayan village called Dhanachuli which resembles your dream hill-station with natural beauty all around with peace at it's best.
All suites at Te Aroha offer awesome & clear views of the snow-capped Himalayan mountains. Most of the popular mountain ranges in Kumaun region are clearly visible from Te Aroha. This property is located such that every place inside the resort has beautiful views, especially the hills looks awesome during the sunset. Early mornings are also good to have a clear view of the mountains. As we hit the place, we went to our suite, had lunch, and came out to the terrace outside restaurant to witness the grand Himalayan views. It was cloudy but still some of the peaks with snow were visible on one side. This resort has 150 degree(approx) view of Himalayan mountain ranges.
All the suites at Te Aroha are very tastefully done with unique concepts. Every Suite is different from the other and offers great comfort. We stayed in 'The Longhouse' which was more about love and whole space is built by keeping this concept in mind. Room and the seating lounge has shades of peach as you can see in above photograph. These suites have great collection of antique furniture and various art pieces. Longhouse has very interesting hangings with specially written poems and painted frames.
Our Suite, The Longhouse, has a fireplace as well as a comfortable sofa in front of it with classy setup of an antique piano on one side and a good collection of books on the other side. The whole setup gives you a feeling of royalty and luxury. All the bedrooms have beautiful beds with comfortable mattresses. The Longhouse has 30 feet long bathing area with some of the unimaginable facilities inside. very clean and neat bathrooms with running hot water. It had almost everything that you could think of and, in fact, more than that. One has to be there to witness that. The longhouse has a long balcony having spectacular views of Himalayas surrounded by clouds and it feels that we are in heaven.
We also got a chance to meet Sumant Batra, who has very thoughtfully decorated every single nook and corner of Te Aroha and nowhere has quality been compromised. The resort is consistent in this regard throughout, right from the plants they have chosen to the books they have placed in the library. One single visit to Te Aroha can reveal a lot about Sumant's good taste and sensitivity towards antiques.
Te Aroha has a very warm feel, even when you plan to visit it in November as we did.
Initially it was surprising that Te Aroha doesn't do any advertisement, which we usually see online by almost every other resort or hotel. After visiting the place, we realized that the place is so awesome that any advertisement can't do justice to this place and the experience it offers. Now that we stayed in 3 other hotels/resorts after staying at Te Aroha, it has become a benchmark for us. Although it will not be fair to do direct comparison but when it comes to vacations, you always need few basic things - Neat place, good service, comfortable stay and value for money you spend.
The staff at Te Aroha is always available if you need some information about the localities, vegetations, birds or anything around Dhanachuli. Whole staff is very welcoming and they assisted us on a village walk. Village walk may not be a good idea, if weather is not good as you may find slippery terrains on the way, but staff can suggest appropriate things as per weather & time of the year.
If you are looking for loud music, television in the room and several touristy spots, this is not the place for you. But if you love a relaxed holiday in nature's lap with quality stay and services, Te Aroha is the best in the region. Before going to the place, we checked reviews on different online portals and excitement kept increasing till the point we reached the place. We had lot of expectations from the place and it fulfilled everything & surprised us big time.
Like this innovative shampoo and face-wash holder -- Te Aroha sprung such surprises at us at every nook and corner.
There is a dedicated bonfire area with brilliant arrangements to enjoy evenings under sky full of shooting stars and scrumptious snacks. We stayed for two nights and had good fun during the bonfire with other friends. It was great to see so many stars in the sky and keep counting the number of shooting stars each individual noticed.
Te Aroha is great place for vacations if you want to disconnect (although you have good connectivity the place through phone :) ), enjoy the beauty of Himalayas/snow/nature/stars, the chilly weather with alluring sunlight, cozy interiors & unmatchable luxury by being around collected antiques. I find this place very interesting for writers, creative folks who want to just relax and wander around these hills with their creative thoughts to curate something substantial, Birders, Astronomers, Painters and of course families. Resort has a nice place to sit in solitude and enjoy reading.
Wooden interiors and lavish upholstery gave one a feeling of warmth despite the freezing cold outside...some rooms even had fireplaces of their own to complete the old colonial feel.
The service at Te Aroha in Dhanachuli is very personalised and folks at this property are very humble who very well understand each need of their guests. Most of the folks in Te Aroha staff belong to Kumaun region only. All of them are trained folks and Mr Sumant Batra ensures that regular skill enhancement programs are organized at the property. Those smiling faces come to my mind whenever I think of service boys at Te Aroha.
Te Aroha is very approachable, yet secluded which makes it a best place to experience a very special vacation with your loved ones. Resort has all needed facilities like hot water and electricity back-up etc. The Chef at Te Aroha is extremely talented and we tasted some lovely continental, Indian, and Chinese food. Overall, our experience was excellent and we couldn't have asked for more. After every meal, the chef used to come to our table to take feedback and ask the preferences for next meal. Isn't it awesome to have food that you like and served by the best folks?
While there at Te Aroha, we stayed in a suite called 'The Long House' which is so beautifully done that it took us quite some time to take it all in. We had the opportunity of peeking into a couple and were stunned by how much effort has gone into furnishing each and in fact, every exploration at Te Aroha was 'wow' and I feel short of words to explain it.
Te Aroha has very unique colors. Overall feel of the place is yellow which is mainly because of yellow roof and yellow flower-pots all around the place. This color stays with you till the time you enter into your room/suite. All the suites have different thematic colors and lot of effort has gone into establishing that theme of these suites at Te Aroha. A theme is very well described through colors, artifacts, collected antiques, exclusive paintings and poems specially written for Te Aroha.
The bed was very comfortably done up with luxurious mattresses and comfortable pillows and cushions. Each room has heaters, which feel like a true blessing considering that it can get really cold here.
I know that most of the viewers of Photo Journey also expect the places of interest, which can be explored Dhanachuli. During our 3 days holiday at Te Aroha, we drove to Mukteshwar which is another beautiful hilly destination for nature lovers and has a temple situated on a peaceful peak. We had a village trek which was my personal favorite. Te Aroha has a library with some of the brilliant collections of books. Also there is a super awesome antique collection of Mr. Sumant Batra, which will take you back to the old days of imaging and graphics. It was super impressive and resort is going to open a museum with more collections. This museum will help you cherish old days which we never lived but can be experienced through right representations of collected stuff. There is a game zone in the resort which is located on the hil-top with awesome sunlight throughout the day. There are various board games, TT and games for kids.
Above photograph shows one of the old houses in Dhanachuli Village in Kumaun, Uttrakhand. The staff of Te Aroha took us to this trek. The staff is very well trained, well mannered, courteous and accommodating. They always have an answer/solution for you with big smile on the face.
Each tree and each shrub seems in place at the resort, and Sumant, the owner, is very particular about planting trees that do well in this environment.
Overall, the stay, the service at Te Aroha and the location leaves you feeling rested and pampered. Great resort, awesome service, delightful food, humble crew and what not. All I can say that words or photographs can't explain this place well. One needs to visit it at least once to have a very different holiday experience in Himalayas.
Few other quick references -
Te Aroha Website - http://www.tearoha.in/
Responsible Tourism || Te Aroha sets an example - http://life-inspires.blogspot.com/2013/10/responsible-tourism-te-aroha-sets.html
A Borrowed Backpack at Te Aroha - http://aborrowedbackpack.wordpress.com/category/te-aroha/
The hidden jewel of Dhanachuli Heritage Architecture -
Te Aroha - Under the Yellow Rooftops - http://the-shooting-star.com/2013/07/27/te-aroha-dhanachuli-uttarakhand/
Here is another blog which shares some very specific details about Te Aroha - HERE