‘And he will offer you a Hot Toddy, if the cold weather gets overpowering,’ meet Anubhav Guarani, owner of Enchanted Hills, a quaint hilltop amidst the mystic hills of Mukteshwar in Uttarakhand.
Situated at an altitude of above 2100 mtrs above sea level, this little Resort will prove out to be your resort from a stressful city life. The approach to this beautiful hill resort is indeed comfortable. From most metro cities, it is well connected with railways till Kathgodam, which is only a two hours drive from Mukteshwar.
Just before Haldwani station, I spotted a Rufous Sibia, taking a smooth flight along the fields, ensuring me a rich flora and fauna I was about to witness. Indeed the premonition came true. All throughout the beautiful drive through the meandering path of Uttarakhand hills fenced with Himalayan Pine and Cedar amidst a gush of Poplar, Oak and Cypress along with others in the temperate forest varieties, I could cite the peeping snowcapped peaks winking at me through wood and dale.
Enroute came the massive Bhimtal lake with paragliders drifting around to add up to the excitement of the hills.
Just about half a kilometre before the resort the road was marked with snow on both sides. The moment we reached, I was welcomed by half a dozen blue throated barbet with its vibrant blues and greens chirping and hopping around the branches of a full bloom Persimmon tree right at the entrance of Enchanted Hills, (which I could have never imagined then, would be going bald by our third day there). And by the time Anubhav led us to his main porch, I was already speechless with its surrounding 180 degree valley view, enveloped by green hills and the Nanda Devi snowline at the far end! This place had its own sunrise and sunset point!
Born and brought up in Almora, Uttarakhand, Anubhav who studied his degree at IHM Almora, set up his resort last year after a six year hiatus with the best in the hotel industry including Shangri La’s Eros and Old World Hospitality in New Delhi. He was very clear about pursuing the idea of farm-to-table. Spread across 2 acres of land, including two floors for resort that comprises of ten rooms and three luxury tents, Gurani grows almost all his vegetables and local fruits which get consumed in the form of either fresh food or preserved in pickles, marmalades and jams, which his little shop offers on sale, not to mention the orchards attracting some rare birds as well.
And as if the scenery isn’t enough, Anubhav has also discovered a rare and exclusive trek that starts from his resort to the top of a cliff that offers one of the most exhilarating views at 2200 meters above sea level, which he has christened – The Sunkiya Clift Trail Trek, a moderate two hours trek to the top of village Sunkiya, where you can enjoy a quiet picnic that he packs for his guests.
Other activities include a splendid view of Nanda Devi range from the cliffs at Chauli ki Jaali, an old Shiv temple, local markets and the Bhalu gad waterfalls.
Anubhav has an impressive list of options in Kumaoni cuisine as well, apart from a regular la carte menu. From a wide variety of platters that included Bhatt Ki Churkani, Gehet ki Dal, Lai (Mustard green leafy vegetable Stir-fried), Thechua( Raddish) Kumaoni Raita and a special mention to the surprising Bhang Ki Chutney, Kumaoni Chicken and Amaranth Halwa!
Enchanted Hills was an experience that created memories to last a lifetime, for here was where I marked one more thing off my bucket list- I sat on the edge of the cliff to enjoy a spellbinding view of the valley down below, a snowline horizon and a parallel altitude with the eagle!