Facing the icy peaks of the Nandadevi range of the Himalayas, the Kumaon hills are arguably one of the most picturesque locales in the Indian Himalayas. Dense coniferous forests, deep verdant valleys, fascinating views of the snow-capped peaks, words which can be associated with almost any beautiful Himalayan destination, to which Kumaon is no exception. What makes the Kumaon experience a little different and more enjoyable are the quaint little lodges dotted across this mountainous landscapes. These small lodges or resorts consist of standalone Bungalows / Cottages or just a few rooms. What makes them appealing is the personal touch, in most of these places you will be treated as “guests” rather than clients”, and the small inventory of rooms mean that your experience will be very much private. Most of these lodges are situated in private estates offering magnificent views, beautiful walks which make them a destination in itself.
For those who are not keen on the mundane sight-seeing and would rather relax in a wicker chair with a book and cup of piping fresh coffee, looking at the endless vistas from your sit out, these lodges will provide just that!! For the active lot, you could also hitch up with the local guide and go for a hike /trek and explore the forest or take a walk through the beautiful mountain villages. The foodies will certainly enjoy the fresh food (at many places, homegrown) with cottages catering to occasional personal requests. “Aaj sham dinner mein kya banaun sir!!??”, your personal cottage cook may ask you as you are relaxing with your feet up enjoying your wine besides a crackling fireplace. Pure Bliss!!
So next time when you tell your friends “I am going to Nathuakhan in Kumaon” they will say Nathuakhan-What????, When you show them the pics on you return, it will be Nathuakhan-Where!!!!
Winter: October – March – Best for views, especially October – November when the weather is moderate and the views of the mountains crystal clear. It may snow in some “higher” destinations in January and February.
Summer: April – June – Best weather, Generally clear and sunny weather ideal for exploring. Mountain views may be unclear due to the summer haze and sometimes due to forest fires. Though generally early mornings are likely to yield good views of the mountains.
Monsoon: July – September – Fruiting Season!! Wit the the advent of monsoon, the orchards start bearing delicious fruits like Pears, Plum, Apples and Cherries. Great season to pluck your own fruits and eat. August can be especially rainy and landslide-prone. Clouds generally start clearing in latter part of September, offering some dramatic views as the clouds have not yet completely disappeared.
The lovely British Cottage at Abbtt Mount
A remote, very little known hill retreat with the cottages situated on top with verdant valleys around and the Himalayas in the distance. Fantastic place for relaxation and walks.
Magnificent Himalayas from Chaukori
Probably some of the best mountain views in all of Kumaon, Chaukori is brilliantly situated to offer a panorama of the Nandadevi and Trishul range of mountains. Excellent place for views and also base to explore Patal Buvaneshwar.
Incredible views from Binsar
Binsar is a wildlife sanctuary close to Almora, situated at a much higher altitude than most other hill retreats, offering great climate in summers. Ideal place for birdwatchers, for Kumaoni Village Walks and views.
Cosy Cottages at Pangot
Just miles away from Nainital yet a world away from the maddening crowd. surrounded by some of the best Oak forests of Kumaon, Pangot is a birdwatchers paradise. If you don’t like birds, well the views, the lovely cottages and the great food will still keep you interested.
Again these twin lesser known hill retreats offer unhindered views of the Himalayas and also few resorts offer some adventure activities as well.
Another beautifully forested area, with the lakes basking in the verdant shadow of the forests. These spectacular settings are ideal for some hikes and excellent for birdwatching.
Photos by: Gaurav Purohit, Ambarish Hinge, Parag Deshpande