“If your spirits soar when you see mountains, terraces and orchards filled with peach and apricot trees and if your mind needs to be soothed by birdsong and crickets, head for the quiet hamlet of Jungalia near Bhimtal, where a haven awaits you.”
~ Amrit Dhillon, Host at Juniper Homestay.
Amrit’s cottage is the stuff dreams are made of. It is exactly the kind of place you read about in the Novels and wish to escape to from your city life. The main cottage has three bedrooms with attached bathrooms and there are two more bedrooms at the end of the garden, amid the oak forest. Everything, from the air to the light, is designed to restore your sense of well-being. The idea is to do as little as possible and sit on the huge deck enjoying the view and feasting on the cook, Krishna Chandra’s food which includes pahari specialties. For a typical village meal, go and have lunch with Puppu, a local lad whose mother cooks a delicious meal made from the organically grown vegetables in her garden.
In the winters, curl up beside the stone fireplace in the living room with some mulled wine. In the monsoon, enjoy the spectacle of a constantly dramatic sky while enjoying tea and pakoras on the deck as the landscape turns into a glittering emerald green.
A nice feature about Jungalia is that it is far away from the madding crowd to be restful but not so remote that you can’t pop into a café in Bhimtal or Bhowali to have a latte and cake.
The main cottage has three bedrooms with attached bathrooms and there are two more bedrooms at the end of the garden, amid the oak forest. The main cottage has 1 master bedroom on the ground floor with the common areas and 2 bedrooms upstairs whereas the garden rooms are one above the other and have a kitchenette and an attached washroom with them.
Food at Amrit’s cottage is not less than a feast. Krishna, the caretaker cum cook is a pro at everything he gets to. While his mutton, chicken and fish curries are loved by everyone because he really puts his soul into them, vegetarians are equally happy because he manages to keep the food both light and delicious. Try his pahari raita, made from yellow mustard seeds and grated cucumber or his pahari potatoes. His puddings – bread and butter pudding, apple crumble, and caramel custard – hit the spot.
There are plenty of activities that one can do while staying at the cottage:
Single rooms can be booked in the range of INR 3400-4400 per night including breakfast (on twin share). More details below:
INR 4400 a night including breakfast on weekends.
INR 3800 a night including breakfast on weekdays.
INR 3800 on weekends and INR 3400 on weekdays.
INR 11,000 per night on weekends and INR 10,000 on weekdays including breakfast.
For larger groups (10 adults) the two garden rooms are also available. For all five rooms: INR 18,500 per night during weekends and INR 16000 on weekdays including breakfast.
Tariffs are lower off-season and during the week
Meals(Veg/Non Veg): INR 450 per head
Jungalia Gaon falls in the Bhimtal district of Kumaon. Distance from Kathgodam is about 32 Kms, about an hour’s drive. The nearest Airport at Pantnagar is at a distance of 66 Kms.
Monsoon season paints the valley and the forests a lush green, the sound of gurgling streams and the smell of fresh wet earth dominates the atmosphere, making it a delight to spend time in this quaint hamlet.
Many of us have pre-conceived notions about rural India. Leave them behind, travel with an open mind, and you'll be pleasantly surprised with what you find.
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Amrit is a freelance journalist by profession. She has built up the place with a lot of thought and hardwork. The interiors of all the rooms are a treat to the eyes. One would really not want to do anything outside the cottage’s yard since it is so pretty and like a cottage out of your dreams.
Local pine and oak has been used in the construction of the cottage along with local stone. The wood and the stone impart a modern yet cozy mountain-life feel to the cottage. Waste is segregated and recycling is encouraged. Guests are offered filtered water and usage of bottled water is discouraged.
Amrit’s initiative, 'Lunch with Puppu' has had a very positive effect on a village family. Guests are given a chance to have lunch with a local family where they sit in the vegetable garden with the dog and hens and find out about how the family lives from Puppu, a bright young lad. This has generated some income for the family that they are delighted with. It has inspired them so much that Puppu's mother has started providing home cooked food to a local guest house. And it has made Puppu confident and ambitious.