ON TOP OF THE WORLD
Well, a headline like that could be misleading. The White Peaks is not really that high in altitude to make one feel on top of the world. But in terms of holiday experiences, it is quite there. This quaint homestay in Gagar, Uttarakhand is a place that will make you feel absolutely at home for as long as you stay there – whether it is the cozy fireplace, or within-reach-from-your-bedside bookshelf or the endless cups of amazing adrak chai that the ever-smiling caretaker-cum-cook, Mohan will produce like ambrosia every now and then. Situated amidst glistening silver oak forests on all three sides, it is a charming little private cottage making it an ideal place to enjoy the simple pleasures of life away from the city noises. The only sounds you will hear are the chirping of birds, chanting of cicadas and the gentle mountain breeze.
The cottage itself has just two rooms – the Magpie Room and the Woodpecker Room and can accommodate a maximum of four adults. The two rooms in the cottage are cozy, intimate and exude a subtle elegance. The two rooms in the cottage are cozy, intimate and exude a subtle elegance. As you step onto the courtyard, be prepared to be hypnotized by nature’s embrace around you. For yoga aficionados there is a small, private balcony overlooking the valley which could be used as a yoga space and for all those who want to be one with Nature there are endless walking trails in the adjoining oak forests which will inspire even the laziest of souls to stay outdoors.
Food and the way it is cooked form an integral and sacred part of the cottage. You will love the home cooked food at this cottage as the ingredients used are fresh and organic and sourced locally. Do try the local version of a vegetable soup that has a wasabi-like flavour to it. The local yellow dal, cooked in mustard oil is also a must try.
The resident staff is quite helpful and can arrange for a walk to the nearby market in Ramgarh, which was once home to the legendary poet Rabindranath Tagore. In fact, The White Peaks can be a peaceful base camp for you to explore the more touristy parts of Kumaon. Quite a few day trips can be planned from here.
You could explore the walking trails in the forest – trailing bird songs, sitting still, admiring the woods, feeling the wind in our faces. Or you could head to Ramgarh – which is a nice hour-long walk. Ramgarh was also the residence of Rabindranath Tagore for a while and has a buzzing market full of history and you must sample the samosas and pakoras here. The neighboring towns of Mukteshwar, Sitla and Nathuakhan offer a lot of opportunity to try and grab a view of the elusive leopard. Mukteshwar, about 25 kilometres from The White Peaks, is surrounded by thick pine forests, known for its fruit orchards. The 350-year-old Shiva temple in Mukteshwar is an attraction, and so is the spot where Jim Corbett shot the infamous man-eating tiger of this region. Mukteshwar also offers splendid views of the valley and some of the major Himalayan peaks like Nanda Devi, Panchachuli and Trishul. Do stop by at one of the many kiosks selling local produce – litchi honey, apple jelly, pear jam, hand-knitted goodies, and of course the fresh herbs that will elevate the status of your culinary delights.
Nainital is a 45-minute drive from the cottage. For lovers of the Himalayas, Binsar, at an altitude of 8000 ft, offers unobstructed and virginal views of the greater Himalayas including the snow clad peaks of Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nandadevi, Nandakot and Panchachuli.
If you are lucky, you could also spot the barking deer or even leopards and civets. You could also plan trips to Almora, Ranikhet and Kilbury.
All seasons can be enjoyed at the White Peaks irrespective of the time you choose to be there. Spring is a riot of colours at Gagar with the cottage surrounded with Rhododendron blooms in bright bursts of red whilst peach and apple blossoms flaunt hues of pink and white. Summers are breezy and pleasant, just perfect for exploring the numerous walking trails in the forest. Monsoons are misty with the clouds serenading the mountains while winters are special here with the little village of Gagar covered in a sheet of snow.
- The cottage has a good collection of books for those who love to read.
- Carry good walking shoes to make your trekking expeditions comfortable.
- Packed breakfast or packed lunches can be provided, on request, free of charge.
- Carry adequate woolens, in every season – after all, this is the Himalayas.
- An umbrella will make sure you are not caught unawares.
To make your reservations, write in to firstname.lastname@example.org, call at (+91)98100-50514 / (+91)9810053380.