“A hearty welcome to our humble abode in the Himalayas! We offer you solitude, peace, breath-taking sunrises and sunsets, views of endless rolling hills, a gentle murmur of the river and a chance to be part of our family’s royal Kumaoni and Burmese heritage.””
~ Lat and Julia, hosts at Innisfree, Hawalbagh
Innisfree Hawalbagh is the adopted home of Lat, a descendant of Kumaon’s royal Chand Dynasty and a Burmese princess. Together with Lat’s Latvian wife Julia and their mother Aunty Kiran, they warmly welcome travellers into their home and lives. This is a family full of love, laughter and stories of the days of yore. The moment you take a small detour from the main road to reach this beautiful hamlet settled in the midst of clouds, mountains and temples, you experience the exhilarating feeling of being free in the mountains. The fragrance of wild flowers & mountain trees next to the Kosi River is a scent that can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet it will conjure up memories of your childhood summer. The Old Bungalow has come alive with the hosts and their warm hospitality. The place is a paradise for butterfly watchers!
The Bungalow was built by local stone by the British in 1780 at Hawalbagh, located 15 kms from Almora. It is now converted to a cozy home-stay with beautiful broad view of Kosi river valley and further hills. If you are looking for a peaceful time away from the hustle bustle of the cities, this is the place where you belong. The Bungalow has 2 suites, which can accommodate 3 and 4 adults, respectively and a double room. All rooms have attached bathrooms with hot/cold water and both Western and Indian style WC.
Both Suites and bathrooms are very spacious with super high ceilings - A legacy of old times!
You can feast on milk, butter, cottage cheese and yoghurt from the milk procured by the local village cows, home-made or locally made jams and fruit-stuffed pancakes, eggs made to order, local Pahari and fusion dishes made with veggies and herbs, and mouth-watering deserts that have travelled all the way from Latvia with Julia!
A stay at Innisfree Hawalbagh is priced as mentioned below:
Suite: INR 3000 on twin sharing including breakfast
Extra Adult: INR 1200
Extra bed for a child:INR 850
Solo Traveller: INR 2250 including breakfast.
Meals at the homestay are priced at INR 450 per person per meal.
Hawalbagh is located a scenic 3 hour drive from Kathgodam, which is the nearest railway station. The town of Almora is about 15 Kms away. The nearest domestic and international airport is in New Delhi.
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.
“There was a Kumaoni song I heard while I was there. It was titled as "Swargatara". Roughly translated as star in or of the heaven.
Innisfree is that Sifti. A "Tara" in swarg.
Everything about my experience there was that and more.
You may have had umpteen feedbacks before this about Julia and Lat's hospitality. I wholeheartedly second those. But it's not just that.
The little things that they do to ensure your comfort in all ways they can,makes it a warm experience to carry home - as an enduring memory.
Like a fan discreetly installed on arrival ( it was unexpectedly hot ), making chai herself so that I get to see the Kaatarmal sunrise, ( when I know she would've loved to just curl up and continue to sleep in her bed ). The mouth watering delicacies that Julia churns out must be all a part of legend now. But to generously share her culinary secrets nay guide the guests step by step through the process by a lovingly shared practical demonstration, is what makes the stay so so warm and real. The sweet taste of the local berries that she introduced us to and which her son, Harsh, so lovingly helped pick for my 6 yr old daughter !!
All this made this stay at Innisfree a very heart warming experience. You and your team are doing a commendable job of creating this rich database of people and places , which are crucibles and guardians of local culture.”
~ Pournima Gaikwad, travelled with daughter in May 2017
“Our offbeat weekend stay at Hawalbagh started and got over on the note of warm hospitality of Julia & Lat. Everything in between comprised of fresh homemade delicacies, beautiful sunrise and sunsets, long meandering walks, great valley views, a swim in the rivulet close by and enchanting conversations with the lovely couple over hot coffee.
The idyllic Hawalbagh dak bungalow built in the late 1700s is pleasantly tucked away from the madding crowds with rooms which are spacious and comfortable. Local attractions like the famous Katarmal Sun Temple, Almora town etc. are well within reach. Food is definitely a thumbs up with Julia surprising us by whipping up delicacies in a jiffy.
Overall, a picture perfect setting to unwind and rejuvenate your body and soul, guaranteed!! ”
~ Saurav Negi, travelled with family in April 2016
“I have known Lat and Julia since I visited their house at Nathuakhan last year.I had had a great time, and that is when I decided to make it an annual thing of visiting them and ended up at their new homestay in Hawalbagh this year. I like exploring new places, so I was already excited. This is surely the place for those travelers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and scout around. Wake-up everyday to sunrises; and enjoy the evening watching the sunset. You also have the bonfire at the night while watching the moon rise.. (Yes! the moon rise) There's also a river nearby; so go have a dip or a splash or enjoy fishing with their son.
Innisfree at Hawalbagh is truly a home away from home.. And I received the same warm welcome from Julia and Lat which I had received a year ago. Julia pampers you with some really scrumptious food. Must haves: Pahadi daal, Lat's egg rendition, Chocolate Mousse & Caramel.
Daadi (Lat's mom) is truly a lovely person who knows a lot about the places nearby, particularly the historical aspects. They have an amazing team of K9 (canine) guyz and cats, playing with them was a stress buster.
I am already looking forward for my next annual trip..! :) ”
~ Subodh Gurjar, travelled in March 2016
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The hosts Julia and Lat belong to the mountains of Kumaon. On moving to Hawalbagh they have already taken several initiatives to make the Bungalow and surrounding environment friendly. They are making efforts to get the place on tourist map and creating more work opportunities for young people to prevent (to a certain extent) their migration to big cities.
The region had faced thoughtless cutting of trees in the past. One of the few things that they have done as soon as they moved here was to plant trees. They have planted several trees in the last few months and are nurturing them with utmost care. Any activity causing harm to the nature and the fishes in the nearby river are reported immediately by them.
Also they encourage the works of local artists by decorating the house with their creations (Aipan work on the verandas and wall pictures inside the rooms).
Below are some tips to travel responsibly while in Hawalbagh: