Located at an altitude of 1940 meters above sea level in the Kumaon Region, Nathuakhan is a tiny hamlet enveloped in the Ramgarh District of Uttarakhand. A lesser-known cloistered village, this place is easily accessible from Nainital & Bhimtal with Kathgodam being the closest railway station. The distance of approx 350 KM can be covered in 8 hours from Delhi, and you can simply opt for an overnight drive to wake up amidst the alluring views of the sunkissed Himalayan ranges.
Before the pandemic hit the world, we would randomly plan trips and set out for our journeys. But the coronavirus did change a lot of things, and traveling is surely one of them! After being at home for more than 8 months, we finally decided to head off to the mountains and chose to spend a month at The Doi Homestay, in Nathuakhan, Uttarakhand. While a month seemed like a long time, it actually passed by the wink of an eye!
Wondering why you should opt for a month-long staycation in the mountains? Well, I’m sure these 10 reasons would be enough to convince you!
1. Ditch the chaos of city life and soak in the serenity
How often do you get the chance to sit quietly and observe nature, as the day unfolds while painting the sky with various shades crimson & scarlet? Well, that’s something we can never do while living in the urban jungles, being surrounded by skyscrapers and buzzed by the honkings!
In case you’re looking forward to escaping the humdrum of city life and ditch it for some non-touristy place, then you gotta plan a trip to this homestay in Nathuakhan, Uttarakhand. Living in this quaint hill-town, you’ll get ample scope to spend your days soaking in the sun, wandering around the orchards, and fill your lungs with freshness.
2. Wake up to the gorgeous views of the snow-clad mountains
Imagine sitting on the terrace, with a cup of steaming hot chai, and admiring the mountains for hours! For me, it felt like someone has put a pause to time, and everything around me was slowing down. Most of our mornings would begin with admiring the snow-clad Himalayas, which are usually visible from the homestay (on clear days!). While the Nanda Ghunti and Chaukhamba peaks are easily visible, you can spot the Trishul Parvat, Nanda Devi & Sunanda Devi peaks as well.
The views are too gorgeous to be true and I’m sure it’d leave you mesmerized.
3. Gaze at the green valley, all day long!
It’s not just the snow-clad mountains that would make you fall in love with this place, but the views of the breathtaking valleys stretching for miles and beyond. The Doi Homestay is situated amidst an orchard, at the edge of a cliff, overlooking the lush valleys painted with various shades of green!
No matter whether you’re sitting on the terrace and working on your laptop, or relaxing at the bonfire area flipping through the pages of your favorite book – the valley view would always be there, right in front of your eyes!
4. Spend time cuddling the adorable pups
To be honest, I wasn’t really a pet person, until I met Adoo & Loochi – the pup-hosts at The Doi Homestay! The moment you arrive, these two will run to greet you and keep snuggling around your feet, whenever you sit out on the terrace. They might occasionally sneak into the room as well, if they know you’re snacking on chips or cookies. While my friends would always be cuddling them, I mostly enjoyed observing their tantrums!
Recently, Disha & Sambit got another couple of pups, and hence, if you’re a dog lover, you’ll definitely have a great time out here, playing with these cuties!
5. Binge on the delicious food
Living with hosts who are foodies is an advantage!
Starting from breakfast to dinner – all the meals at The Doi Homestay left us drooling for more. You can ask for tea or coffee whenever you feel like sipping something hot!
Pankaj Bhaiya, the in-house cook, mostly prepares all the meals and he’s no less than a Masterchef! Whether it’s Pav Bhaaji or Chowmein, Idli Sambar or Aloo Parantha – we were always licking our fingers after every meal. On most evenings, we gobbled on a plateful of ‘pakodas’ in the evening, with chai.
And Sambit is an amazing cook too! We used to look forward to the sandwiches, pizzas and kinds of pasta that he would make, other than the variety of desserts that he treated us with. I am in love with his Nutella Crepes and Matcha ice-cream (and I often keep dreaming of them!).
In case you’re a foodie too, you’d completely enjoy your stay here while savoring the mix of pahadi delicacies, along with occasional twists to the menu.
6. Go for hikes & picnics as well as short trips to the nearby places
We were mostly working on the weekdays but the weekends were meant for hikes and picnics! There are a bunch of hiking trails and depending on how much you wish to walk, you can choose where to go. Most of these hikes are through the jungles, with picturesque spots to stop and chill. On one such weekend, we hiked all the way from Nathuakhan to Mukhteshwar and enjoyed an afternoon picnic, soaking in the sun.
On another day, we hiked to a quaint spot next to a mountain stream and celebrated our friend’s birthday!
Since we were there for a month, we could plan impromptu trips to Bhowali and Peora. We also managed to spend a weekend in Jim Corbett, thanks to the hosts ‘coz they planned it for us and also helped with the bookings. You can also go for day trips to Nainital, Sattal, Naukuchiatal, and Bhimtal which are all located in closer proximity.
7. Spend the evenings under the starlit sky
The evenings are meant for stargazing and it became a part of our daily routine, as we spent hours spotting the Andromeda Galaxy and Milky Way while feeling the chill in the air. There were days when we could even spot Jupiter and Saturn (not kidding!). Sambit clicked some gorgeous photos of the night sky, as we happily posed for the shots.
If you’re lucky, you can also get to see some shooting stars! And in the darkness, the hill towns on the other side of the valley would dazzle, adding an extra dose of beauty to the entire picture. Needless to say, everything would just turn out to be postcard-perfect!
8. Enjoy the movie nights
I’m sure you’ve had enough of ‘Netflix & Chill’ scenes during the pandemic, all by yourself. But here, it’s gonna be fun to watch movies with others and you’ll definitely love the movie nights!
One of the bigger rooms at the homestay has been converted into a makeshift theatre, where they have put up a projector and speakers. Undoubtedly, it’s the best movie experience one can ask for, while living in the hills! The Doi Hosts have a great collection of movies of varied genres, and you can also suggest something that you wish to watch.
9. Meet some lovely people
To state a famous quote by William Yeats, “There are no strangers, only friends you have not met yet.”
It’s always fun to meet like-minded folks during a trip and living here for a month would give you a chance to befriend some lovely people from different walks of life. When we planned to escape to the mountains for a month, two of our friends – Murli & Ilisha, agreed to come along. On the very first day, we met Sushmita & Jeet – who had left their city life, moved to the mountains for more than a couple of months, and soon we were all out, plucking rajma beans together! Two other folks – Manish and Abhishek, were also enjoying their workation from the homestay. We’d mostly have our meals together, chill on the terrace, go for hikes, play board games, watch movies and celebrated birthdays as well.
I believe that every person you meet has got something to add to your story. Take a chance to spend some time here, and you’ll definitely be lucky enough to meet some lovely people and weave some beautiful memories together.
10. Say ‘Hello’ to The Hosts!
Not just amazing hosts, but these two are lovely human beings as well – and you’d know it once you live with them 🙂
I shall try not to be biased in this case ‘coz they are my friends, but honestly, Disha and Sambit will spoil you with their warmth & elevate your expectations to another level (and just like us, you might also keep comparing your future hosts with them!).
The Doi Homestay has been their dream for quite some time, and the love with which they have set this place up, oozes from every corner.
Their aim is to run the homestay based on an environment-friendly and sustainable manner. They would ensure that you can have a comfortable, ‘home away from home’ experience while spending your days at The Doi Homestay.
If you’re also contemplating about working from the mountains, then now is the perfect time to go for it. There’s no point in procrastinating and we’ve already spend enough time indoors – so maybe, now you can just go out and embrace the goodness that lies ahead, out in the open. The lockdown made us realize that traveling freely shouldn’t be taken for granted, and now it’s a rather thoughtful act than an impulsive desire. Needless to say, it really felt like bliss to be able to travel in the post-pandemic world and we learned to accept that this is how things are going to be from now, while we move around with extra precautions.