It has been a while since we last visited Te Aroha in the sleepy village of Dhanachuli. But it is difficult to get a resort as gorgeous as Te Aroha out of your mind. Born out of a dream, the luxury resort has received many awards and recognitions and overwhelmingly positive reviews on Trip Advisor. It won't be an exaggeration to say that it's owner Sumant Batra has created a rare gem. While it isn't easy to exactly state what is the best feature of this charming place. we have tried to list down everything that impressed us about it.
To be honest, its rooms isn't the first thing you notice about the place. The first sight that hits you is yellow rooftops presiding over the side of a dark green hill. The place is gorgeous. From its velvet lawns to the cozy restaurant that has a tree growing right through it, it is immaculate. But when it comes to the rooms, the place is unmatched. First of all, all rooms are different. We have stayed in The Long House and Guest Bedroom and both were charming. All rooms are adorned with handpicked antiquities and offer spectacular views of the mountains. For some images of the rooms, click here to read our earlier post about Te Aroha.
The staff is extremely well trained. You will always find them smiling and doing their best to ensure your comfort and happiness. This is not only apparent when you are in the restaurant tucking away on delicious food, but also in your rooms, where the thoughtfulness shows through in form of the hot water bottle kept between the layers on your bed. This is in addition to the room heater they provide. They know that the rooms can get cold, really cold, and they want you to be as comfortable as possible.
When you head to a resort in a fairly unknown Himalayan village, what do you expect to find there? Serenity, abundant nature, waterfalls, birds, mountains, snow, a museum of rare vintage graphic art...wait! What? Not that for sure! But, yes, at Te Aroha you will find it. Quirky, isn't it? The graphic arts on display at Chitrashala are from Sumant's personal collection. From portrayal of gods dating from the 19th century to vintage movie posters, the museum showcases it all. It is fun to explore and if Sumant happens to be at the property, he will make it even more interesting with his anecdotes.
You wake up in the morning and head to the terrace for a hot cup of tea. You know that you will be able to see the Himalayan peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Panchachuli, but the sight of these snow-covered mountains still leave you awestruck. Though 100s of kilometers away, the peaks dominate the landscape, towering over the comparatively minuscule hills the resort sits on. It is a truly ethereal sight.
5) Abandoned old houses
For those who are interested in history and anthropology, the resort has much to offer. Just a few kilometers away sits an abandoned village with some very interesting houses still standing intact. The village of Dhanachuli was originally located here, but once the road was built higher up, villagers gradually moved closer to it. Their original houses still sit their, abandoned but interesting. Some are safe enough to explore. However, depending upon the weather, you may or may not be able to take up this trek, as the path becomes very slippery when it rains. Click here to read our original post about the village.
6) Birds & Butterflies
You can't ignore the birds at Te Aroha. They are everywhere and they are talkative. Their constant chatter will wake you up in the morning and their individual songs will accompany your tea and your walks. If you see a flock of pink birds flying away, you are not seeing things. Such beautiful sights are common at Te Aroha. For more information on the birds that can be spotted in and around Te Aroha, visit this link.
The resort gets a lot of snow during winter, especially during January and February. The yellow rooftops vanish beneath a thick layer of snow within minutes and the virgin snow looks spectacular. However, the place can get extremely cold even when its not snowing, so make sure you are well equipped, otherwise you will not be able to enjoy your stay.
Right behind Chitrashala is a path that traverses through a beautiful forest with a wide variety of trees. Pines, white cedar (mor pankh), and oaks reach out for the sky and the silence, except for the chirping of birds, is addictive.You will find yourself craving for it when you are away from Te Aroha. The walk, though long, is interesting and definitely recommended if you like nature and serenity.
9) Beautiful Sunsets
A couple of hundred meters away from the entrance of Te Aroha is the "sunset point". But don't worry, you won't find hordes of tourists here clicking away merrily. You may spot a couple of village lads playing with a wheel or a village lass carrying grass, but nothing that doesn't go with the setting. If the sky is clear, do head out for the sunset point, which is nothing but a bend in the road, overlooking the valley.
10) Cultural events
Sumant is committed to the cause of art and culture in India. He has recently founded the Kumaon Literary Festival and the Taj Colloquium. But apart from such high profile events, the place hosts film festivals, music festivals, artist retreats etc. It is really an ideal getaway for creative people. And the people who run the property know this. Why else would one of the rooms be named "Writer's Corner"?