As I climb up the winding roads of pine and deodhar, I cant help but regale in the life that Kumaon has to offer. Kumaon to me is not just another hilly terrain, but one that fosters hope, humbleness and hedonism, all rolled into one.
As the staff comes to pick me at the hill where the car stops I ask him about his life here. He retorts, ”bachpan se yahi hun. hame shehar ki hawa kabhi lagi nahi.”
I quip, ”shaher ki polluted hava na lage usse behtar kya hai?”
We partake in humour and trek our way down. As soon as I approach the estate, I’m enchanted with mystical Himalayan views. Itmenaan Estate has a soul. Something about it makes it endearing from the very onset. The name itself epitomizes comfort away from the chaos. Govindji stands there welcoming me with fresh rhodendron juice.
Nestled within mighty pine, deodhar and rhodendron trees, Itmenaan appears like a child being caressed by nature.
My room reminds me of the boon of authenticity and the minuscule number of entrepreneurs who stick to their guns when it comes to making commercial properties that stay true to the authenticity of the region, be it with geography, food or architecture.
I make my way to the deodhar room and feel an instant connection. You know the moment when you meet someone and feel an instant energy? You feel like you two belong. That happened with Itmenaan. I’ve always harboured a mad passion for sustainability and luxury that echoes it. The estate did it with elan.
This was a time to read, watch the mighty mountains, trek, be with myself and eat the choicest dishes made by chef Ramesh.
Interestingly as I was lazily sitting in the restaurant reading ‘Plato and the Platypus walk into a bar’ by Thomas Cathcart , which explains philosophy with gag, I couldn’t help but relate parts of it to where I was. In it is a mention of Aristotle’s ‘telos’ – that which gives one meaning. It is what you’re meant to be. Itmenaan is meant to be a charmer, a gorgeous sun-kissed estate that spellbinds those who’ve visited and even those who haven’t. The lure is mindbogglingly real.
Sustainable luxury has always been my joie di vivre. Reason why I chose to stay in the rusticity of Itmenaan.
In front are the mighty mountains playing hide and seek as the sun tumbles through the clouds and reappears. Green is all I see around. I tune myself for lunch comprising of madue ki roti, paneer, bhindi, bhat ki daal and sevaiya. Real genuine pahadi hospitality.
The estate is built with the dry stack or kori chinai method, meaning there is no cement used to bind the stones. Much of it looks like a game of Jenga.
Plush bathrooms are minimal. If you look at the one here, you’d be a primary culprit in wasting water with the number of hours you’d choose to spend inside.
The estate spread over 10 acres offers enough opportunity to experience the surroundings.
It was a time to work out my thighs and calves, again. A month in the mountains and you come back stronger than the average gymming joe. Nothing beats authentic sport.
We made our way to the waterfall beneath, simply to have breakfast with a view.
I’m not really a breakfast person you know, until someone lays it out in the outdoors. Then I’m a cow on a roll. A delicious spread of aloo ke parathe, juice and fruits right beside the waterfall had me ecstatic. Much like a private cabaret by nature.
We climb our way back with pit-stops to enjoy nature whilst taking in big puffs of air because well, this is what the cities do to you.
I’m stoked to come back to a lovely spread of hummus and pita along with an Israeli salad and some white pasta and fruit cream. Talk about attention to detail.
I get back to writing sitting on the patio and hear a slight rumble to find the deer goofing in the forest below. Look Ma, I’m into the joy of the wild.
In the evening we make our way to the village in Naugaon, where my guide takes me to the locals to grab some chai. I cant help but appreciate the good life, the way they ensure the milk is freshly produced, the way they ask you how you like your tea. A thing or two to learn.
As the night crawls, Itmenaan is lit with lantern lights below and the night sky above. The confluence of the two is why you should visit it. Words would be superfluous.
Indeed, Itmenaan is the crowning glory of Kumaon. And the team makes sure you’re nothing short of a queen whilst there.