The rooms don’t have televisions at Te Aroha, a boutique hotel in Dhanachuli in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon’s district. But that’s hardly a problem: Draw back the curtains and a grand drama unfolds. Clouds slide into the valley, tree branches sway in the breeze, and birds swoop past. On clear mornings, the snow-capped peaks of Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, and Trishul glisten in the sunshine.
When I was not mesmerised by the stellar vistas, I found enough reading material to keep me busy. Books occupy every niche, ﬂat surface, or cosy corner, and there’s also a reading room with an eclectic collection. At Café Flashback too there’s plenty to read. Its table mats trace the history of beloved childhood games like Snakes & Ladders and Chinese Checkers, while its walls are lined with fascinating old print advertisements. Meals are tailor-made to guests’ requirements. Keen on local cuisine, I was served wholesome Kumaoni preparations: locally grown bhat dal, wild spinach, bhang chutney, and piping hot chapatis made from madua (ﬁnger millet) ﬂour.
Te Aroha’s friendly, attentive staff comes from Dhanchuli and nearby villages. One morning Dungar Singhji, who leads walks around the property, took me to the old village of Dhanachuli to admire the lovely, carved wooden window frames of traditional Kumaoni homes. Nearly everybody we met en route was his close or distant relative, and several invited us for tea or a meal.
On the property is Chitrashala, a museum of vintage Indian graphic art put together by owner Sumant Batra. It is the Delhi-based lawyer’s labour of love, containing exhibits like wall-sized movie posters, matchbox covers, and religious calendar art.
Each room has its own character. If you’re going with a special someone, or are keen on views, or want a private garden/balcony, chat with the manager Ashish Godiyal and he’ll recommend the right room. The Master’s Bedroom where I stayed was cosily furnished with high four-poster bed, plush sofas, and a little private garden, perfect for my morning yoga.
The sound of traffic occasionally carries to the front rooms, so if you’re particular, request a room at the back. While travelling with seniors, you may want to request a room that minimises the number of stairs to be climbed. Te Aroha is just the place for travellers who are happy to pay for excellent service, luxury, and peace, while being close to the great outdoors.
Appeared in the June 2015 issue as “Welcome Vistas”.
Accommodation Each of the 12 well-appointed rooms has thoughtfully placed lamps and armchairs that invite guests to settle down with a book and a hot cuppa. Green tea, fresh ground coffee, and an electric kettle are provided. Coffee table books are at hand anywhere you decide to sit. Most rooms have Bose iPod docks. (Dhanachuli Bend, near Mukteshwar, Tehsil Dhari; 87550 80735; www.tearoha.in; doubles from ₹7,150.)
Getting There Dhanachuli is 327 km/7 hours northeast of Delhi and 42 km/70 minutes east of Nainital. The closest major railway station is Kathgodam (47 km/1.5 hours), which is connected with Delhi by a daily Shatabdi. Pantnagar is the closest airport (80 km/2 hours).
Neha Dara is a travel writer and editor. She is happiest trotting off the beaten path, trekking in the Himalayas, scuba diving in Andaman & Nicobar, or exploring local markets in small towns. She tweets as @nehadara.