“We, the Mer Family, welcome you to our little cottage in the orchards that has been built with a lot of passion and love. We are sure it will become your home away from home and you’ll love to return to it time and again for fun and quality time with family or friends, rest and recuperation.”
~ Anand Mer and family, hosts at the Mer Cottage near Dak Bungalow, Peora
Kumaon in Uttrakhand is littered with several small mountain villages with enchanting views of the snow clad peaks. One such village is Satkhol, located on the Ramgarh – Almora road. This farmstay in Satkhol is an enterprise of a Kumaoni farming family. It offers the pleasure of being in the lap of nature surrounded by fruit trees and terraced fields, and the splendor of magnificent views of the snow-clad Himalayas in winter months.
It was in 1980 that Narayan Singh Mer and Radha Devi chose Satkhol village to live in and do farming. Having suffered losses in their wholesale fruit and vegetable business, they preferred to relocate themselves from Haldwani town and their ancestral home in Ramgarh and come to this part of rural Kumaon.
Initially it was a small broken down house with a large tract of land mostly jungle and barren. Years of toil converted it into a blooming orchard of summer hill fruits like apricot, peach, plum and pear, and terraced fields of wheat, finger-millet and barnyard-millet.
It was in 2016 that Anand, one of the sons of the couple, got motivated to build a small cottage for running a homestay in the middle of the orchard to help supplement the family income.
The project was launched in February 2017 and was completed in March 2018. Yashwant, the eldest brother and Anand worked tirelessly with the masons, carpenters and painters in getting the building completed on a low budget. They were helped by friends of the family in providing inputs on architectural design, the interiors and furnishing.
Pradeep and Shubha Gupta, the hosts at the neighbouring homestay, The Dak Bungalow, Peora, 1905, motivated the young lads and provided guidance on all aspects of the project. They continue to mentor the family on fooding, hospitality and business generation.
With the combined effort of so many people the Cottage has emerged as a beautiful place to enjoy nature, the weather, peace and quiet of the hills.
Two rooms were built in the middle of the orchard, both having attached western style toilets and a small kitchen. Each room has a double bed and a large loft and is a dreamy little place for a family vacation.
The property is located 100 metres away from the main family house and is a 10 minutes easy walk down from the road head. Cars have to be parked on the road and are safe there.
The farm has abundance of veggies, and as such simple, homecooked vegetarian meals are provided by the family. Non vegetarian fare is also made on request.
If one is looking to eat out, then Puran’s Dhaba, a nearby eatery and hang out can be visited. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is available here on order. Delicious bun-omelette and maggi noodles with ginger tea can be had at any time.
Also, one has the option to fix his own meals in the in-room kitchen. Groceries and vegetables, some fruits are available in the local shops. Kapil’s mini super market, at a distance of 4 kilometres stocks almost everything one could need.
There is a lot to do around the cottage depending upon how occupied one wishes to be during their stay. Some of the options are mentioned below:
Day trips to IVRI, Mukteshwar, Jageshwar, Almora and Kasar Devi, can be arranged for those wanting to explore the region further
Solo/Twin/Triple Share: INR 3000 per night per room for upto 3 adults or a family of four. (2 adults and 2 children below 18 years) Extra adult – INR 500 per night.
Lunch / Dinner – Rs.100 per person (dal, vegetable, curd, chapatti, rice, pickle and salad). Non vegetarian food can be provided at extra cost.
Satkhol is a small mountain village located in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Almora is the closest big town, 30 km away. The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam and the nearest bus stop is at Haldwani. And from these places, Satkhol is about a 3-hour (80 -85 kms) drive by car, and taxis can be arranged for pickup.
The nearest domestic airport is at Pantnagar (approx.115 km) and international airport at Delhi (approx. 350 km).
Satkhol is good for a visit all round the year. In summer the days are warm and mornings & evenings pleasant, making it an ideal place to escape the city heat and the crowds of popular hill stations. Winters are typically cold and September to March is the best time to soak in the views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks. It snows but not every winter.
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.
The rooms come with a functional kitchenette, and guests can choose to fix meals/snacks on their own or eat with the family.
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The hosts have very lovingly toiled in the construction of the cottage. They have mostly used local wood and stone for construction of the homestay and have been deeply involved in each step of the process.
Being a village family they not only use vegetables etc from their own farm, but also try to source local produce whenever needed and available. Organic farming is largely practiced by them thereby giving the travelers an opportunity to enjoy wholesome homecooked organic meals.
The family is sensitive towards the preservation of the local habitat. Segregation of waste is practiced in order to separate biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste.
Judicious use of water and electricity is practiced in order to conserve both the precious resources.