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Religious tourism in the Himalayas and hidden jewels

This is india

By Sid MarkPublished 5 months ago 4 min read

If you are touring the Himalayas or looking to visit the holiest of Hindu sites in Uttaranchal, the Himalayan northern state in India, Leisure Hotels is a chain that you must look to. Many of their properties are heritage hotels, charming, located at the most pristine of locations, with the best of views, even though the service can be fairly basic. Expect home-style meals and staff that will even go out of its way to make you a cosy bonfire. We stayed at a Lesiure Hotels property in Ramgarh, The Himalayan View Retreat, a relatively unknown hill station, just about half-an-hour’s drive from the more touristy Nainital, the hill station named after its huge lake shaped like an eye (according to a legend, this is where the eye of goddess Sati fell off as her husband, the great god of destruction Shiv carried it across the heavens). Ramgarh, on the other hand, is very calm, full of trails going up into the mountains where you can trek, lazy meadows where you can spread out your blanket near an apple tree and read, and clouds. Our hotel was charming, a former wooden palace of one of the royal families of the area, and all we did there was siit out on moodahs, in the verandah with an awesome view of a clouds-filled valley, sipping hot, gingered tea. The service was slow, so we had to tell the kitchen staff what we wanted to eat for dinner at breakfast time itself! But at least, we were sure that the cook was going down to the neighbouring village himself and buying fresh veggies and meats to make our simple meals. Do go there for pure relaxation if you can. The group also runs camps offering religious tourism in India and if you are going on a sacred pilgrimage to the Char Dhams, (Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri & Yamunotri), sites in the Himalayas revered by Hindus, the last two being the origins of the mighty river Ganga and Yamuna, these camps offer reliable accommodation. If you are going to Haridwar, the spiritual town on the banks of the gangga, stay at the Hari Ganga Haveli, the group’s new property. There are two other properties of this chain that I would recommend:

The Corbett Hideaway, Jim Corbett National Park

Spread over an area of 13 acres, The Corbett Hideaway, one of the finest wildlife resorts in Corbett is concealed in the thick of a mango grove, where in season; the mangoes hang ripe and luscious right against your door. Exotic mixed shrubbery, alive with flowers, is crossed by pebbled paths that lead to charming cottages with sit outs. The wonderful stillness is broken only by the sound of the Kosi River and myriad birds.

Independently air-conditioned cottages form a restful backdrop to verdant environs. Sloping tiled roofs, cool stone floors with throw rugs, block wood furniture allow maximum comfort while continuing the illusion of being in the wilds. The cottages, blessed with every luxury you could need here, are a great hideout for nature enthusiasts, researchers, writers, artists and folks in need of getting away.

The cottages have a clear area separation for sleeping and living as in a suite. Rooms have attached toilet & bath with running hot & cold water.

Location: The Corbett Hideaway is located 300 km from Delhi in Garjia village, in the Kumaon district of Uttarakhand. Ramnagar, the closest town is about 10 kms away.

The cost of package per couple for 2 nights/3 days is roughly Rs 12,000 ($240) onwards, including breakfast, stay and cultural activities. You will have to pay extra for jeep safaris in the jungle.

Fort Unchagaon

Just a few hours away from Delhi, this is another hidden jewel that you may not have heard of. Fort Unchagaon is hidden in the dusty village of Unchagaon, and operated by Leisure Hotels. A host of modern amenities have been introduced at the fort, where the royal family still lives in one section, making it a perfect spot for family or friends’ getaway. The imposing white façade of SURYA MAHAL is surrounded by well-manicured, lush verdant lawns. The décor with its understated elegance is a reflection of the times when style remained a way of life. Passing through the corridors, one is struck by muted opulence of its interior decors, another aristocratic feature of the palace.

Just about an hour’s drive from the bustling town of Bulandshahar, near Garhmukteswar in UP, it is a mere 110 kms from New Delhi. The journey takes you about 45 kms upriver. If you are lucky, you can spot the gangetic dolphins frolicking in the river. Once at the Fort, turn your attention to riding; well-bred Peshawari horses swishing their impressive tails, well-manicured gardens, antique furniture, historical photographs, old hunting trophies, a snooker table and the overall fascinating village experience.


About the Creator

Sid Mark

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