Vin­tage views

India Today - - SIMPLY DELHI - By Archana Pandey

Mukht­esh­war is one of the lesser known des­ti­na­tions in Ut­tarak­hand. If you wish to get away from the hus­tle bus­tle of city life and are long­ing for a fairy­tale ex­pe­ri­ence, Somerset Lodge is the place to be at. Lo­cated just about two kilo­me­tres from main Muk­tesh­war, the 98- year- old Bri­tish cot­tage ex­udes all the charm of a typ­i­cal hill home. The first thing you no­tice af­ter the scenic drive among clouds is the burst of colours from the huge va­ri­ety of flow­ers that al­most cover the cot­tage. The stone walls, an­gled ceil­ings, wood pan­el­ing and the owner’s col­lec­tion of paint­ings add to the quaint charm of the place. The cot­tage has a cov­ered front porch and lush green gar­den from where one can get a spec­tac­u­lar view of the Nanda Devi. You might never want to leave the small, cosy li­brary with books on wide rang­ing top­ics, board games and an end­less sup­ply of steam­ing tea or cof­fee. Wild flow­ers, ap­ple- laden trees, colour­ful birds, a cas­cad­ing wa­ter­fall, roar­ing brooks and the an­tic­i­pa­tion of spot­ting a leopard or a bear add to the ad­ven­ture dur­ing the long jun­gle walks one can take here. The hos­pitable staff and the friendly dog, Skippy, make your stay at Somerset Lodge warm and homely in the crisp cold weather. It rarely hap­pens that the owner per­son­ally takes care of your in­ter­ests and com­fort and joins you for a home- style meal. A 20- minute down­hill climb from the moun­tain road, through a rocky path and a trick­ling spring takes you into an­other lodge called the Oak Chalet. This hol­i­day­haven, nes­tled in the deep woods, is an ex­clu­sive set of four rooms built by the own­ers of Somerset Lodge. Pre­pare to hear the low growls of leop­ards prowl­ing nearby in­ter­spersed with warn­ing sounds of bark­ing deer may keep you up all night. Dis­tance 70 kms from Hald­wani Tar­iff Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,000 a night, all meals in­cluded Must visit Muk­tesh­war Tem­ple, Chauli ki Jalli, TERI’s Re­new­able Park, In­dian Ve­teri­nary Re­search In­sti­tute ( IVRI)

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