The Himalayan is every boy’s dream castle. The stone mansion, which took a decade to build and was completed three years ago, has battlements, buttresses, and a plush but medieval feel. Stride past the pointed archway of the vestibule and you’ll find yourself in a cavernous dining room with heavy wooden furniture. By the cast-iron fireplace is a Hogwarts-style vertical banner bearing The Himalayan’s mascot: the mythical (and rather solemn-looking) heraldic ibex, two hooves in the air and goatee billowing in the breeze. Underground, below the conservatory, is the Dungeon, a bar-cum-sports room with a pool table in prime condition. Instead of chairs, the Dungeon has church-like pews.
I spent a morning exploring the property, sinking into the Conservatory’s posh armchairs, snooping around the cabbage patch, and trekking up to the gazebo on the roof for an aerial view of the land. The Himalayan is away from the chaos of old Manali’s hippie hangouts and new town’s mayhem, and offers day vistas of pine-covered mountains veiled in thick mist. The sky on a clear night is sigh-inducing.
Fatigued from our explorations, a cup of lemon tea in the glass-panelled observatory allows us to watch the pitter-patter of rain. It’s a fitting spot for both solitude and long conversations. The cane furniture and Victorian floral patterns beg for a good book, or bottle of Merlot.
I chat with owner Nishat Mohi, his wife Mimi, and Lys their three-year-old huskie who loves attention. Mohi is an architecture geek and can talk about turrets and clovers for hours while Mimi is happy to introduce guests to her garden with apple, plum, and cherry trees, hollyhock blossoms, and hydrangeas.
Their large trampoline near the apple orchard offers flashes of fruit-laden trees, lush mountain sides, or a swimming pool depending on how high you jump. It’s the perfect way to work up an appetite for grilled Himalayan trout with buttered veggies from Mimi’s garden.
Appeared in the September 2014 issue as “Mountain Manor”.
Accommodation The Himalayan has eight pool-side cottages and eight large rooms in the castle, each of which has a functioning fireplace. The suites are spacious and furnished with shiny brass fittings and antique-looking furniture (my bathroom could have fitted a king-sized bed). The two-bedroom cottages are cosier, ideal for small families and groups of friends. In winter, when the battlements are laden with snow, The Himalayan takes on a more fairytale air. The Himalayan can organise angling and rafting trips in the region. Tariff does not include meals (088940-05999; www.thehimalayan.com; doubles from ₹7,000). The restaurant serves European and Indian fare.
Getting There Manali is 550 km/14 hours from Delhi and 260 km/8 hours from Chandigarh. It is well connected by bus services. There are a few weekly flights between Delhi and Kullu’s Bhuntar airport. Manali is 50 km/1 hour from Kullu.