If you are done with over the top commercialised destinations for your holidays and are looking for a place that helps you disconnect with your routine life and gets you closer to nature this is the place to be.
It all started as we were searching for a destination to bring in my birthday with a group of friends. I decided that my birthday should be about two things I love – friends and travel ! We stumbled across an article on LBB about a beautiful homestay that promised snow, bonfires and old monk night! Aaaand we were sold!
We boarded a Kalka Shatabdi train from New Delhi to Chandigarh and covered the rest of the journey in a tempo traveller! You could drive from Delhi here as it is approx 360 km. Alternatively, there are buses and taxis that can be arranged by the hosts on requests.
Indu and Pavan along with their son Aditya played perfect hosts, they were not just the most hospitable people but also became a part of our squad. The couple who have chosen a rather unconventional way of living are an inspiration. We felt completely at home and yet had our space and freedom to plan activities in the trip which made all the difference. Heartfelt gestures like arranging a lovely cake in the middle of nowhere that I cut at midnight for my birthday to bringing us another little cake to start the Birthday morning made us feel truly special
Since Vaatalya is a homestay, the rooms are all done up in a simple, comfortable and cosy manner. The super thick blankets helped us survive the cold nights; there is no in-room heating, though.
There are two cottages with an attached bathroom and balcony that offers the best view for you to wake up to. Additionally, there are three double occupancy rooms with shared bathrooms, and if you’re game, they pitch tents too.
Food is always important to me wherever I go and thank heavens for the delicious food we had during our stay at vaatalya. We were served freshly prepared home cooked food mostly all vegetarian, with an interesting mix of some local cuisines. What’s best is that the produce was all organic home organic by the hosts.
The Sarson ka saag and Kadoo ka meetha ( pumpkin dessert with fennel seeds) had us going for extra helpings. Some of the tastiest tikkas were had on the barbeque bonfire night and eating fresh grilled tikkas while warming your hands around the fire is priceless. We requested them to stock up some Maggi because hills and Maggi are an unbeatable combination! The cooks at vaatlaya jazzed it up with butter and veggies. Apart from the three fixed meals, we ordered chai and other snacks priced nominally.
Vaatalya is quite versatile as a place, and in my opinion, you can always find something of your choice to do here. Whether it is reading a book in the open on a sunny day and watching the mighty Himalayan landscape change every hour or trekking around in the forests. There is an option to drive to Kufri or take the famous toy train in Shimla.
Our day started here with watching the sunrise. While some of us decided to explore the area and trek in the pine forests during the day after a nourishing breakfast others sat there sipping tea, photographing the place and played with the 6-day old puppy kishmish. Our cityslicker souls deserved this peaceful break, and we all found our ways to do it.
As the sun started to set and I was standing mesmerised in the view, there I heard my friends cheering, and my boyfriend down on a knee.. oh yes a picture perfect proposal on the sunset boulevard straight out of a movie. A moment that I did not expect in my wildest dreams which I can’t believe happened as if I hadn’t fallen in love with this place I found another beautiful reason.
As if the time here wasn’t already so magical we went star gazing, climbed a little to the hilltop spot here for the best view in the house and it was the most incredible view ever. If you ever visit this place, reserve a little time to go stargazing here before bedtime and thank me later.
Our barbeque Bonfire that I mentioned before was surely a highlight of our stay here, and so was the old monk cocktail. The cocktail made by steeping local spices mixed with old monk to keep the body warm in the winters, deliciously sinful! A night of impromptu gigs, bonfire and hot food sounds picture perfect, doesn’t it?
We left refreshed, happy and it almost felt like we were leaving our home to back to another. A lot of us found a unique sense of calmness some soul searching, and for me, I had the best Birthday EVER! I am surely returning here for more such memorable experiences.
- Pack light for the trip, especially if you are travelling during the snow or rains, you might need to carry your luggage uphill
- There is hardly any network here, and that is perhaps a good thing but if you must carry a Jio sim ( worked better than any other sim at the time )
- Remember to pack essentials like medicines as the area is remote
- The road journey to the place is bumpy and if you get mountain sick eat light and take medication beforehand