Tirthan, Himachal Pradesh, India

Where To Stay In the Himalayas

The hills are alive for those who love birds, pines, flowers, clouds and forest. Here’s a list of 12 pristine places to stay and enjoy slow, serene holidays

1. Marigold Sarovar Portico, Mashobra

Boutique hotel, marigold-sarovar portico, Mashobra, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

Shimla, once the summer capital of the British, is now choc-a-block with traffic jams. For those who still dream of a green holiday in the hills, the nearby villages promise a happy vacation. Marigold Sarovar Portico is a quaint but modern hotel. It is located in a quiet village named Sidhora, which is just a 15km drive from Shimla. Fresh air, flowery garden, relaxing colours and warm smiles greet you. 

Stay: There are 47 rooms and special cottages for larger groups or families.

Dine: There’s both buffet and a la carte. I dug into the traditional Himachal Pradesh dham, some Middle Eastern fare and even a bite of wazwan from Kashmir.

Facilities: There is a children’s activity room with dedicated staff. There is a badminton court, basketball space and an outdoor eating area. A swimming pool, spa and bar are operational. There is a gym too if you wish for indoor exercise.

For business meetings, there is a banquet and space for 150 people.

View from hatu peak, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India

Explore: For peace, drive to Hatu Peak, at 3400m it is the highest peak in Himachal Pradesh. As per the Mahabharat, the Pandavas stayed here during their agyaat vas and there is a temple of Hatu Mata.

On the way, you can see the Shilaroo Hockey Stadium at the edge of the mountain which is among the modern stadiums of India with a synthetic turf and a spectacular view.

There is horse riding at Kufri and Naldehra. The Ridge in Shimla has eateries, shops and horse riding. One can also take the cable car to Jaku temple. In winters, you can ski in Narkanda.

As it is apple country, a trip to the Regional Horticultural Research and Training Station {entry fee INR 20} is quite an eye opener on the region.

How to Reach: The airport is just 40km from Shimla. The railway station is at Kalka.  Many like to drive straight to Mashobra also.

I would recommend the toy train from Kalka to Shimla, as it is a UNESCO Heritage Site. The quaint stations along the way, the slow pace are quite an experience.

toy-train from Shimla to Kalka, Himachal Pradesh, India

 2. The Chalets, Naldehra

I watched the lone hammock swaying in the breeze, tied to the sturdy trunks of two deodars. Sunlight streamed through as shadows played truant. This was life at The Chalets! Famous for its pinewood cottages and a revolving restaurant, The Chalets is located quite close to the famous Naldehra Golf Course.

The owner Yatish Sud, a native of Shimla, explains that the pinewood is from Finland, that was treated in a unit and then the cabin was built. The USP is that it can be dismantled too, should there be any need.

Pinewood Swiss Cottages, The Chalets, Naldehra, Himachal Pradesh, India

Each chalet is dedicated to a traveller; mine was dedicated to Scottish traveller, writer, and artist James Baillie Fraser who was amongst the first westerners to observe the area. “All the dedications are a mark of respect to the explorers and they have been culled by travel expert, historian, and my friend since school Raaja Bhasin” explained Yatish.

Stay: Each pinewood chalet gives the impression of being in the woods. You can enjoy   breakfast in the open. There are old world heaters in the rooms. The living room has a TV and fireplace. With cottage is a loft which is actually the children’s bedroom with a separate bathroom.

Dine & Wine: The multi-cuisine restaurant, ‘Garden Pavilion’, has an extensive menu comprising Indian, Continental, Chinese and Italian dishes. On the same floor is Peliti’s Traditional Bar. Peliti was a Chevalier, among the pioneer hoteliers of India who had a property quite close to The Chalets. So choose your poison, order a meal, and climb up to the revolving restaurant, 360º ‘Top of the World’.

Facilities: With manicured lawns, blooming flowers, lots of birds, an indoor heated swimming pool, a spa, a small gym and room for activities, this hilly resort is a place to forget the world. Walk around to discover a tunnel and gardens cut into every nook and corner of the hill.  

Indoor Swimming pool, The Chalets, Naldehra, Himachal Pradesh, India

Explore: Watch the flowers, the sun, the mountains, the evening lights, and even the twinkling stars. A deodar trail at the back introduced me to a small homestay called Vishal Homestay and there is a village too nearby, but you need to go through the forest.

Deodar trail behind The Chalets, Naldehra, Himachal Pradesh, India

You can head to neighbouring Shimla, about 20 km from there. Sud also owns Hotel Pine View in Shimla and that has a rocking ice bar, should you look for fun.

The kids might enjoy pony rides near the golf course.  

How to Reach: There is an airport just 40km from Shimla. You can also drive. The railway station is at Kalka.

I prefer the toy train from Kalka to Shimla, as it is a UNESCO Heritage Site. It is an experience of a lifetime.

3. Chateau Garli, Garli

A small village with 2,000 habitants,Garli has a 6-km arterial road which kind of is the mainstay of this village. And Chateau Garli is somewhere in the centre of this road.

Chateau Garli, Garli, Kangra valley, Himachal Pradesh, India

This is the heritage home of Mela Ram. It dates to 1921 and has been converted into a hotel by his grandson Yatish Sud and great grandson Amish Sud. “This picturesque village was the ‘Switzerland of India’ in the 1930s. The idyllic location with river Beas flowing nearby, the merchant ‘Sud’ community used it as their home base. And then, a woman accused of adultery cursed the place and it slowly transformed. In the 1950s, the merchants moved out to find greener economic grounds across the globe,” said Sud. Now, only ruins of the quaint homes are left behind.

Stay: Each of the 19 rooms in this hotel has a warm, vibrant décor.

Dine: You can enjoy eating the traditional Himachali cuisine here. They also serve all continental and Indian cuisine.

Facilities: There is a swimming pool and a spa.

Explore: It’s a village to find ancient traditional practices. Chateau Garli is known as ‘kuanwali kothi’ (house with well). Apparently, this was the site of the first well in the village, struck by Mela Ram. The villagers take water for their morning prayers from here. The well is closed but a hand pump has been installed. It’s been almost 100 years, but the practice continues.

Women and children feed the fish in the pond, home to hundreds of gold fish. Every courtyard houses a tulsi plant and flower beds. The tulsi plant is worshipped daily.

The deserted homes have unique names such as Santri Wali Kothi, Bhagwan Niwas, Raeeson Wali Kothi, The Mystery House and more. Slate roofs, gabled windows, tall doors and pillared corridors mark multiple architectural influences. There are frescoes and wooden carvings, similar to the ones seen in Rajasthan; colonial pillars, chimneys and Kangra-style roofs and Islamic style elements too. The metal rooster on the roof is a common element. 

The 100-year-old Naurang Yatri Niwas, once a traveller’s inn, has also been restored and now houses Garli Crafts, selling handicrafts made by the villagers.

You can have a picnic by the river, go to Kangra fort, Baglamukhi temple and rock-cut temples of Masroor. Or drive down to enjoy a picnic lunch at Nangal Chowk, near Pong Dam. Be sure to enjoy a night safari to see the famous civet cats and other animals.

View from Kangra Fort, Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India

En route Kangra fort, enjoy a meal at ‘Dhoniwala dhaba’. Apparently the cricketer and his team had a meal at Sharmaji’s dhaba and their pictures are splashed all over. Do try the fish cooked in a leaf from the vendor en route Jwalamukhi, the traditional dham at Chateau Garli and malai barfi from another vendor in the area.

How to Reach: There is an overnight train from Old Delhi to Amb Andaura (around 20 minutes drive from Garli). One can also take the flight to Gaggal Airport (aprrox 65 km from Garli). Garli is 60 km from Dharamsala by road.

4. The Lodge At Wah, Palampur

homestay, The Lodge At Wah, Palampur, Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India

With the magnificent Dhauladhar range in the background, Palampur in Kangra Valley is famous for its tea gardens. Palampur gets its name from the local word, palum, meaning water. Once upon a time, there were streams and brooks here, but now only the Neugal stream is left. In 1849, Dr Jameson, superintendent of Botanical Gardens, introduced a tea bush from Almora here. And the tea industry thrived then.

The Lodge at Wah is part of Wah Tea Estate, one of the older estates here. A family-run homestay, this has been constructed using indigenous resources, inspired by the gaddi tribe of the region. Some of the doors and balcony have come from the erstwhile Palampur court.

Stay: The Lodge is actually a mud house with overlapping slates on the roof. The homely cottages with manicured lawns, green shrubs and trees, are the ideal place to let go of city vibes. There are 8 bedrooms with all the modern amenities.

Dine: The food is farm to fork as a lot of the produce is grown in-house. There is an outdoor earthen oven and a tandoor.

Facilities: Books, indoor games, mountain bikes and wi-fi. Picnics and day outings are arranged on request.

Cricket Stadium Dharamshala, Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India

Explore: Neugal Café offers a spectacular view of the Dhauladhar mountains and Neugal stream. You can plan a trek to Triund or Birni Mata temple from Bundla. There is paragliding at Bir Billing, just 35km away. Boat rides at Saurabh Van Vihar are popular. McLeodganj and Dharamshala are just an hour’s drive. And you can see the cricket stadium on the way up.

Norbulingka Institute, McLedoganj, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India

Take a temple tour of the 12th century Shiva temple in Bajinath. Tashi Jong Buddhist Monastery and Norbulingka Institute are a good way of seeing Buddhism practices.

Drive down to Andretta to see Sobha Singh Museum, have a 20-minute pottery session at Andretta Pottery and tour author Nora’s home.

How to Reach:  There are flights from Delhi to Kangra Airport (40km from Palampur). You can take the train till Pathankot and do a three-hour drive from there to Palampur.

There is also a toy train from Palampur to Pathankot; the railway station is at Maranda.

Palampur is connected by road to all major cities.

5. Tirthan Anglers’ Retreat, Tirthan Valley

Tirthan Angler's Retreat,Tirthan, Himachal Pradesh, India

Minimum concrete and maximum green, Tirthan Angler’s Retreat is heaven for those who wish to get away from the humdrum of the digital world and fast pace. No carrying luggage down the hills, as it goes down via hand-drawn rope trolleys. The walk from the road to this riverside retreat means turning five curves in five minutes. The neighbouring family lives with a sheep and 28 hens. And you are surrounded by mountains and trees.

Stay: Equipped with all the amenities, this 6-room retreat offers services at your beck and call.

Dine: With home-cooked food, all kinds of cuisine, in a relaxed ambience, Tirthan is the way of life for those who want to travel back in time.

Facilities: If you forget a toothbrush or toothpaste, you can buy it at the retreat. There is laundry service on request too. You can read books, watch the TV in the dining area, sleep on the green grass or enjoy a round of badminton or volleyball. Then there is Zara, the Tibetan Mastiff, for company.

Carry your liquor and enjoy a bonfire. Whatever be the time of the year, you don’t need fans and air-conditioners here.

River Phalachan, Tirthan, Himachal Pradesh, India

Explore: You can do yoga by the river Phalachan or try your hand at angling. But it’s only for learning. You learn to catch and release the fish in three minutes.

Temple in Trithan, Himachal Pradesh, India
This family made its own wood and stone temple in Trithan, Himachal Pradesh, India

You might like to keep a few hours to go to the village of Sarchi and enjoy a cuppa there. Then there is the rustic water mill for grinding flour and trout farming in the area. Other scenic areas are Jalori Pass and Raghupur Fort, which are happy treks. You might like to enjoy some dal-chawal at the government guest house at Khanag. Or just follow the butterflies while trekking to the gate of the Great Himalayan National Park.

How to Reach: I went by an overnight Volvo bus from Delhi. You can drive too. Keep extra time on your hands for traffic jams have gone to the mountains too. Carry some snacks and music.

6. WelcomHeritage Ashdale, Nainital

Reception, WelcomHeritage Ashdale, Nainital, , Uttarakhand, India

Welcome Heritage Ashdale is a hotel where the character of its creator is predominant. It is owned and designed by Reena Kumari, who comes from the royal lineage of Sahaspur Bilari, Uttar Pradesh. The building, dating to1860, was bought by Raja Bahadur of Sahaspur Bilari from Captain George Rowels of the British East India Company in 1871. Then this stone and wood building was his summer home. As the British man sailed homewards, the Raja bought Ashdale. In 1980, the Rani of Sahaspur Bilari Indra Mohini gifted it to her daughter Rajkumari Reena Kumari, who is married to the Raja of Labhowa.

You might also like to walk around and see the photographs of the family’s royal life. You will also find some old furniture there.

Stay: Each of the 24 rooms has a unique character. What you see is a mix of British and royal Indian influence. While one room has a four-poster bed with net curtains, another has the high-backed king-sized ones. Then there are twin beds, coverlets of different colours and furniture in different shades and designs that are the hallmark of this boutique property. While one room will transport you to the Victorian times, you might find another to have a regal interior. My advice to everyone would be that they stay in a different room during different visits.

Dine: Green Oak, the fine-dining restaurant in the hotel offers multi-cuisine dining options. The chef makes delectable dosas, rasam, cutlets, spring rolls and more. You might like to dine in the area where the seat covers are blue and sunshine filters in through the glass. Be sure to have your breakfast here for it faces the mountains and the tall deodars swaying in the breeze are so hypnotic.

Explore: Walk around in the morning and listen to the birds chirping or sit and hear the music that plays in the garden. In the evening, you might like to enjoy your drinks by the open fireside and watch the stars shine.

Boating in Naini lake, Nainital, Uttarakhand, India

The hotel is located next to the Nainital High Court, and the famous St John’s in the Wilderness Church is right behind it. The famous tal or lake is barely a 10-minute walk away. You could take back some famous flowery candles from Nainital as well. There are plenty of shops in Bara Bazaar but I bought some aromatic ones from Mehrotra stores. The range goes from INR 10 to INR 20,000.

There are plenty of regular tourist spots here such as Himalaya Darshan, Eco Cave Gardens, Cheena Peak, Pangot and Kilsbury Bird Sanctuaries and even the cable car.

Where saplings grow at Vinayak, Pangot To Kunjakarak, Uttarakhand, India

The drive in the Naina Devi Himalayan Bird Conservation Reserve area is exhilarating. If you are lucky, you might see some deer scampering on the path. The road is lined with temples.

Not to miss is a visit to Gurney House, which is the erstwhile home of Jim Corbett.

How To Reach: Nainital is 310km by road from Delhi. Several tour operators operate daily bus services from Delhi to Nainital. Sleeper, air-conditioned, non-air-conditioned buses ply on this route.

The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam which is 34 km from Nainital and you can take a bus, cab from the station. Pantnagar Airport is at a distance of around 70 km from Nainital.

7. The Fishermen’s Lodge, Bhimtal

The Deck, Fishermen's Lodge, Bhimtal, Uttarakhand, India
Picture courtesy: The Fishermen’s Lodge, Bhimtal

The 12-room lodge is built along the mountain steps. And each room offers a view of the emerald lake in front.With cozy living and dining spaces and fire places, this lodge invites harmony and relaxation.

Stay: The room décor is a mix ofIndian and European touches. There are all amenities in the bathrooms.

Dine: There is a formal dining area and guests even get access to a pantry where they make their own tea with snacks.

Facilities: There is a separate living room, Wi-Fi, books, card and board games, movie and music library.

Bhimtal Lake, Uttarakhand, India.jpg
Picture courtesy: The Fishermen’s Lodge, Bhimtal

Explore: Walk down to the Bhimeshwar Temple at the edge of the lake. Take a boat ride in the Bhimtal or Bhima’s lake.

Drive to Sattal, which are glorious seven lakes and a fragile ecosphere. Hike there toChristian Ashram.Take a night drive to Jungalia, where you can enjoy the glory of the night sky. Drive to Nainital, Almora and Ranikhet.  

How to Reach: You can take the train from Old Delhi Railway station via Ranikhet Express to Kathgodam (last station). Or you can board the Shatabdi Express to Kathgodam from Anand Vihar station, Delhi. From Kathgodam, you can take a cab to Bhimtal.

The nearest airport is located at Pantnagar, which is 71 km from Nainital.

Bhimatl is 340km from Delhi, so a drive can also be done.

8. Vishranti Resort, Dehradun

Vishranti Resort, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
Picture courtesy: Vishranti Resort, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

Famous for its educational institutes, Dehradun is a place to step back in time.Dun means the land at the foot of the mountains. This is also the land where Guru Drona built his Dronashram. He did his spiritual practices in the nearby village of Devara.

I went to this resort long before cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni got married here. Away from the hustle bustle of the main town, Vishranti is a luxurious farm stay.

Stay: Balconies surround the huge suites with room for children and a housekeeper.

Dine: Farm to fork is the way food is served. Vegetables are grown right inside the premises.

Facilities: The farm had many exotic birds, spa and a gym too. Cows were milked morning and evening and lemon trees lined the many areas.

Explore: Bicycling is the best way to explore the neighbourhood. This part has the Indian Military Academy, Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy(IGNFA), Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Survey Of India, Forest Research Institute, Indian Institute of Petroleum.

Forest Research Institute was our first stop, as this building is a national heritage. Tall trees and the impressive Greco-Roman and Colonial style building left us a spellbound. The estate has a variety of trees spread over 450 hectares. The Institute has laboratories, library, herbarium, arboreta, printing press and experimental field areas for conducting forestry research. It is one of the large forest training institutes in the country.

The roots for this acclaimed institute can be traced to 1878 when it was opened as the British Imperial Forest School by Dietrich Brandis. Later, in 1906, the British Imperial Forestry Service renamed it as the Imperial Forest Research Institute. In 1938, Indian Forest College was established.

The Botanical Museum has six sections–Pathology Museum, Social Forestry Museum, Silviculture Museum, Timber Museum, Non-Wood Forest Products Museum and Entomology Museum. Little samples and notes marked each glass table and box. A short note on preservation, problems and solutions was with each sample. We discovered the trunk of a 700-year-old tree in the museum. Other interesting items were tree cutting/deforestation tools, education on fungus attack on forest products, how rubber is extracted and even a gum sample. There were sections on herbs used for medicinal purposes.

Mindroling Monastery garden. people enjoy their holidays here, Clement Town, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

Have a picnic at Robber’s Cave, locally known as Guchhupani. Enjoy an evening at Mindrolling Monastery which promotes Buddhism and Tibetan culture. Drive to Malsi Deer Park. Do try a bite of the famous Sunrise rusks. There is a saunf rusk in two shapes–round and long.

Walk to robber's Cave, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
Walk to Robber’s Cave, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

How to Reach: There are trains, buses from Delhi to Dehradun (209km). One can drive also. Or you could go by air too from Indira Gandhi Airport to Jolly Grant Airport.

9. WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace, Mussoorie

Garden at WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India

Dating back to 1836, WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace hotel has a story in every corner. And if you spend some time with its current owners, Raja Dinraj Pratap Singh and his wife, you’ll get to hear the stories and about their ancestral lineage. They live on the premises and are involved in the day-to-day operations. And that’s why it seems less like a hotel and more like a well-run home.

Kasmanda is a region in Uttar Pradesh, ruled by Singh’s ancestors, on the trade route to Nepal. The lineage can be traced to the Mughals on a stone at the entrance. And not only the family, the building too has seen many changes—from being built by a Britisher to becoming a hospital during the Crimean War, then changing over to a school and finally a place where visitors enjoy some rest and relaxation. The story of Basset Hall Estate turning into Kasmanda Palace can also be traced on another stone at the entrance.

With roots going deep, from the moment you walk in, the old-world charm casts a spell. The wooden staircase and wooden reception make you feel like you are in a 1970s movie. Turn around, and you will see paintings of the rulers of Kasmanda. There are trophies too; stuffed tigers, deer, and bear heads, but well, we did evolve from the hunter-gatherer society to a technology-driven one. Explore the corridors, and you will see the pictures of Kasmanda fort and palace in UP.

Stay: There are five categories of rooms. The décor is light and flowery and adds sunshine and colour to your stay and transports you to the Victorian era. There are four-poster beds, big windows, and a view to die for.  The interesting part is that each room is different here. Relics of the past adorn the corridors.

Dine: The restaurant serves fresh home-cooked meals. I enjoyed the dal and upma. Remember: The hotel does not serve hard liquor, only beer.

Facilities: There is a big old radio in one area. There is a separate kids’ area. But the pleasure lies in the garden and the viewpoint. That’s the place to read a book, meditate or go off to sleep. I saw an area for bonfires too.

Explore: The estate also has the famous Christ Church, which is open only on Sunday and has beautiful stained glass paintings. You can walk down to the Mall road, takes barely five minutes. This is quite a crowded road with cafes and shops. Oh, there is a cinema hall too.

Mussoorie library, establlished in 1846, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India

Another heritage building here is the Mussoorie Library, dating back to 1846. The library houses 15,000 books including old hardbound editions and has 70 active members. And only members are allowed inside the premises which houses big, restful lounging chairs for reading in comfort.

You can walk down to Landour which is an easy trek and takes around two hours. Or you could hire a cab and be there in 25 minutes. Lal Tibba is where the sun turns the mountains red at sunrise and sunset. You need to pay INR 50 to climb up and see the mountain tops through the big binoculars.

Drive down to Char Dukan, which is a row of cafes and it’s the cantonment area, hence beautifully maintained. There is a 150-year-old St Paul’s Church here.

Doma's inn, Landour, Uttarakhand, India
Doma’s Inn next to author Ruskin Bond’s home, Landour, Uttarakhand, India

You could go a little further to see the boundaries of Woodstock School, Sister’s Bazaar with a bakehouse, and Prakash’s shop which sells yum chutneys and jams. And then take the road which crosses famous author Ruskin Bond’s home and Dolma Inn. If you are around on the weekend, then you could meet the grand old man at a stationary shop in the mall where he comes to meet his fans and sign books.

How to Reach: There are trains and buses to Dehradun. From there, you can drive to Mussoorie. Or you could drive straight to Mussoorie.

10. The Kaudia Estate, Kanatal

Sunrise at Kaudia Estate, Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India

Off the beaten path, this Estate has three luxury Swiss chalets, owned by three friends. Constructed at the edge of a mountain, the Estate is an eco-friendly venture. Organic garden and birds mark this reclusive space, far from the prying eyes and noisy roads. On good days, you can see the peaks of Badrinath and Kedarnath.

The décor is quite good with a proper living room and three bedrooms.

Stay: Each room in the chalets is designed for the luxury traveller. The bathroom has amenities by Forest Essentials.  The cotton covers and lamps and beautiful upholstery is very inviting. The rooms on the upper floor have balconies with stupendous views of the mountains.

Dine: Each chalet has a kitchen, so you can make your own snacks. But the food is home-cooked and freshly made. There is a separate entrance.

Night view of Kaudia Estate, Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India

Facilities: There is a TV but the electricity does play truant here. There is a conference room and dining services are at the Walnut Lounge. There is a library and you can enjoy   outdoor activities such as badminton, table tennis, a pool table and board games and more. Barbecues by the bonfire are fun in the evenings.

Shiv Mandir, Chamba,Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India

Explore: Trek in the neighbourhood Kaudia Forest, go to Tehri Dam for a boat ride, Surkhanda Devi temple, Shiva temple at Chamba where there is a small market as well, try some adventure sports, drive to Landour and Mussoorie for the day

How to Reach: It is a 77km drive from Dehradun, which is easily accessible by road, railways and air.

11. The Goat Village, Kanatal

The Goat Village, Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India

Right next to the Kaudia Estate is this homestay. It is for the backpacker or a solo traveller out to experience the mountains in their simplest forms. The walk from the main road is about 800 metres. Surrounded by fruit orchards, built at the edge of the mountains, this is for those who wish to recoup and rediscover themselves.

Stay: There are 3 locally re-done cottages on double, triple and quad accommodation and one condominium (accommodating 2 people).Handcrafted floors and furniture make up this rustic homestay.

Dine: There is a separate area for sitting and enjoying your food, watching the mountains. Garhwali local delicacies are served.

Common room at The Goat Village, Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India

Facilities: The common/dining area and kitchen have minimal electricity. The other area is lit up by candles and kerosene lamps. Solar lamps are provided during the nights. Hot water can be availed in buckets from a common source.

Fresh apricots, Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India
Fresh apricots, Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India

Explore: Walk through the Kaudia Forest, homestay experience with farmers and shepherds, dine by the river, camp in the woods. You can milk the goats, do some farming and connect with the local community.

How to Reach: Nearest big city is Dehradun which has the Jolly Grant Airport (90 km); Railway station (77 km); Bus Stand (81 km) .  

Pluck and eat apples, Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India

12. Hotel Highlands Park, Gulmarg

Walk on a green carpet lined with flowers to enter your cottage. This fairytale resort with green roofs and stone and wood cottages is reminiscent of old world charm. It transports one to the days of British Raj when hunters and gatherers came together to spend their time in the mountains. Pretty rooms with an awesome view of the forest and the mountains woo the guests. No corridors or closed spaces here, but lots of fresh mountain air and colourful flora and fauna.

Established in the early 1960s by Major Benjie Nedou, the hotel is now managed by his granddaughter and her husband. It has played host to ‘Who’s Who’ of the country. The  famous song ‘hum tum ek kamre main band ho’ from the 1970 movie Bobby   starring the late Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia, was shot in a hut here and that’s called Bobby Hut. Shah Rukh Khan has shot for his movie here. Late Yash Chopra shot many movies here. Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stayed here in the ‘Indira Gandhi suite’.

Actors Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia during their shoot in 1970, Picture courtesy: Hotel Highlands Park, Gulmarg, Kashmir, India;
Actors Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia during their shoot in 1970, Picture courtesy: Hotel Highlands Park, Gulmarg, Kashmir, India;

Stay: There is the special Bobby Hut. And then there are26 double rooms spread over 7 chalet-style cottages. Modern décor mingles with Kashmiri styles. The bathrooms have rain showers, full size tubs and luxury toiletries.

There are 9 luxurious suites as well with a master bedroom, separate sitting room, dressing rooms and in some cases 2 separate bathrooms.

Dine: The Dining hall has unique artifacts of Kashmir. The cuisine is Continental and Kashmiri recipes. Chinese and Mughlai food are also available. Breads and grills cooked in the old fashioned clay oven tandoor are very flavourful.

Facilities: The lounge has traditional ‘Khatambandh’ ceilings, paneled walls and sweeping views of Apharwat mountains. There is a separate card room with walnut wood furniture and a sun deck.

Explore: Gulmarg or the meadow of flowers offers sweeping views of the Nanga Parbat and Harmukh and twin peaks of Nun Kun. It is fun to explore on horseback.

Gulmarg is a popular winter sport destination skiing with runs ranging from gentle beginner slopes to the massive[2 km+] ski run accessible by the Gondola. There is an ice-skating rink. Advanced skiers are ferried by helicopter to inaccessible Himalayan peaks for the ultimate skiing experience.

Green Gulmarg, Kashmir, India

It has the highest 18-hole green golf course in the world. The historic Gulmarg Golf Club was established in 1902. The Gulmarg Gondola is Asia’s highest and longest cable car project.

Within approachable distance from the hotel is St. Mary Church built in 1894,  Shiva Temple,  Maharaja’s Hut, and Lake and Children’s Park.

How to Reach: Gulmarg is approx 55km from Srinagar, around two hours drive. There are direct flights to Srinagar from Delhi and Mumbai.

If you would like us to cover any specific destination or resort or homestay, please connect with us.


29 thoughts on “Where To Stay In the Himalayas

  1. I have been learning about the Himalayas recently and would love to plan a trip to visit. I love the look of the Chalets and the blue water, but all of these look so beautiful with so much to do! Great list!

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  2. Very good post. Highly informative for travellers who want to stay at these properties in the Himalayas. Nicely written. Keep up the good work.

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  3. These are all great properties. The atmosphere of The Chalets is my favorite. The Marigold Sarovar Portico also looks like a great place to stay. I can imagine myself enjoying a cup of coffee while gazing out at the mountains. The train ride and horseback riding sound perfect.

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  4. I love the different range of styles of architecture, I feel like so many different cultural influences were pulled on. My favorite is probably Chateau Garli! I’m curious about Himachali cuisine and what that would consist of.

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  5. On the travel wish list! Would love to visit the Himalayas. I love all the variety in the accommodations. A great view and a spa would be on my list for sure. So many great things to do!

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  6. Wow!! This is such a well curated list! All these properties look great. I love the Chalets! That place with the meadow and mountain sides it sure has has an epic view! I have actually stayed at the Hotel Highlands Park in Gulmarg and I totally concur with you. It is a lovely place! Gonna check out The Goat Village, looks like a nice eco-stay. Thanks for the list! 😀

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  7. The lure of the Himalayas is irresistible and all these places are surely slices of heaven. The hotels that you have listed are all lovely places to wake up in. I especially like the ones in Bhimtal and Kangra.

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  8. So many nice accommodations, but The Chalets is definitely my favorite. I always fall for log houses, and with its location under the pine trees, they look so peaceful and romantic at the same time.

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  9. I hope to visit the Himalayas one day, so will keep this post handy for when that happens. Surprised that many of these places have pools. I love the Chalets but the library at the WelcomeHeritage is a big plus.

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  10. These are indeed some beautiful places to stay in the Himalayas. Marigold Sarovar Portico sounds perfect to be in Shimla, but be away from the crowded city that it has become. Traveling on the Kalka-Simla mountain railway is high up on my wishlist. The Chalets looks even more fascinating with the individual cottages. The indoor swimming pool in Chalet looks absolutely inviting!

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  11. Just like the name of your blog all these destinations have become a travelers wishlist for me. The beauty of each place is so amazing. I would someday love to explore these places in our own beautiful country India. I am bookmarking this post as I want to come back and select places to visit. Thanks for a detailed post.

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  12. I have been wanting to go work in himachal for a while and this is perfect to pick the work stations that I might need. I love the sound of The Chalets, Naldehra – the whole pine cabin which can be dismantled and the dedication to an explorer. Maybe one of them can be named after us 😉

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