To really find ourselves, we need to lose ourselves in nature first. Finding yourself in Jhaltola is as easy as it gets! Text and photographs by Abhishek Talwar
My wife Ritika and I always seek places that are far from the beaten path for our annual road trips. Invariably, this tryst takes us to the Himalayas, where we sometimes come across real unseen gems. The Misty Mountains in Jhaltola is one such place.
One can easily spend five days to a couple of weeks at Jhaltola. If your idea of a perfect getaway is being amidst nature and the mountains, then you can’t go wrong here. It offers both in generous doses, with the comforts of a good resort thrown in for good measure!
Stay at Jhaltola
The Misty Mountains is one of the better resorts at Jhaltola. The approach to the property is through a three-kilometre-long road that navigates up at a 35 degree incline on boulder. The strewn mud paths are barely wide enough for one car, with a sheer drop on one side and forbidding walls on the other. For the not too adventurous, Madhur, the owner, sends his four-wheel drive jeep to ferry guests from outside Raiagar to the property.
Accommodation and amenities
The Misty Mountains has a block with four to five family cottages. Then, there are the smaller cottages scattered around the mountainside, cleverly situated to ensure that each unit gets an uninterrupted view of the Nanda Devi range. The family cottage is a double-storied unit comprising of three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, a large living area and a cosy attic which can accommodate three children or two adults. Overall, it has a capacity of eight to 12 persons. The smaller cottages comprise of two bedrooms and one bathroom; again, cosy and comfortable for a small family. Everything is well-built, comfortable and very homely.
The best part about the rooms, though, is that you get stunning views of the entire Nanda Devi range on winter mornings—nothing comes close to beating this!
The dining area is a small room covered with glass walls on three sides, and a warm, welcoming open kitchen on the fourth. The food is outstanding—homely, made with fresh ingredients grown on site, and dollops of love thrown in for good measure. The highlight is the assortment of homemade pickles and condiments prepared by Ambika, Madhur’s wife.
The property has a brilliantly low carbon footprint. For one, all rooms have solar water heaters. Next, the place seamlessly melds into the local ecosystem, rather than disturbing it. The estate is overrun by natural forests, adding much-needed diversity to the local flora. Most vegetables are grown by Madhur and team on the estate itself. Naturally, this is all organic.
Things to Do
Trekking, nature walks
The Misty Mountains is built on a 1,100-acre apple orchard, now overgrown with forests replete with trekking paths and a beautiful lake. The sheer variety of trees that have naturally spouted here is brilliant, which not only adds to the place’s beauty but also creates a positive impact on the local ecosystem. There are plenty of trekking and hiking options for adults and children across ages, thanks to resort’s topography.
Commune with Nature
For the artistically-inclined, it doesn’t get better than this. The property has idyllic sit-outs offering panoramic views of the mountains and jungles, making them an ideal subject for aspiring and expert artists. The best part—you can actually commune with nature while painting or sketching. Besides, the resort offers the usual plethora of indoor games to keep the less adventurous company.
Barely 11 kilometres away from The Misty Mountains, Patal Bhuvaneshwar is a cave complex which is as old as Earth itself. This fantastic relic denotes the story of the world as enshrined in Hindu philosophy. While it originally finds a mention in the Skanda Purana, Adi Shankaracharya rediscovered it in the 11th Century.
The cave is a marvel—right from Sheshnag, the serpent king, holding up three worlds on his flaring hood, to the story of the Pandavas, tales of the Shiva Purana and various other deities. Each beautifully play out on the rock formations’ natural tapestry. None of it appears to be manmade, yet, it seems extremely plausible when narrated by a well-informed guide.
It takes the same amount of time to get to Jhaltola from Dehradun or New Delhi. The roads from Delhi are better though. Once you cross over from Moradabad to Rampur, you get onto NH109. This is the main arterial road passing through the Kumaon belt.
For the most part, it’s a well-paved two-lane highway that snakes its way up the lower Himalayas. It steadily gains altitude as you go deeper into the mountains, winding through ruggedly beautiful passes with quaint bridges snaking over thundering rivers as you navigate from one range to another.
After Bageshwar, the drive is heavenly! The road is a black ribbon through a canopy of firs and birch, revealing glimpses of Nanda Devi on one side and forests on the other. In all, it’s a mesmerising drive of about 12 hours.