Until a month ago, ‘Uttarakhand’ reminded me of a few landscapes and the scrumptious Kumaoni thali that I had tried last year. After doing a couple of weekend getaway trips to Uttarakhand, exploring Rishikesh for river rafting, Bhimtal and Nainital for the lakes, Almora and Kasar Devi to, well, just read a book and chill, I realised it deserved more of my time because I was desperate to experience the region like a local. Fortunately, the third trip of my journey with Stay on Skill’s Accelerator program finally gave me an opportunity to visit an offbeat destination in Uttarakhand for 4 days, which turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for.
The Pahadi Organic- an offbeat experiential motel, owned by the Rawats, stole my heart and brought me a step closer to the culture of Uttarakhand. The Pahadi not only offers its visitors the #PakkaPahadi experience with its generous hospitality but lets you explore the unbeaten paths and lesser-known gems in the vicinity.
Chetan Rawat (who I later found out is my senior from NIFT Hyderabad. Small world!) and his father, Mr. Ranjeet Rawat (who I also had the pleasure to meet and learn a thing or two about healthy living), poured their heart and soul into building and shaping this 14 acre property which includes 4 polyhouses, an open field for organic farming, downhill track for ATV ride, recreational and adventurous activity area and a state of the art motel with rooms that surprised me. Why? When you’d get to experience such luxury in a budget hotel in Uttarakhand, you too would be surprised! Now, before I whisk you away to this dreamy land of gods, let me tell you how to get to The Pahadi Organic from Delhi.
The Pahadi- Organic Restaurant and Motel is situated near a small village called Totam which is 357 km from Delhi and you can pick your mode of transport according to your budget and time available on hand.
1. Flight: No! It is not an ideal mode of transport to explore Uttarakhand. It would be a waste of time to even elaborate here. However, if you are travelling from any other part of India, you can take a flight to Delhi or Pantnagar, which is the nearest airport to the hill stations of Nainital, Bhimtal, Ranikhet, Almora and the Jim Corbett National Park. From Pantnagar, you can take a taxi to the hotel.
2. Road: You can easily find Uttarakhand tourism bus from Delhi to Ramnagar. These semi-deluxe and deluxe buses are available on daily basis. If you are driving by a rental car or a personal vehicle, it could turn into a fun road trip in Uttarakhand as the road are smooth and well maintained.
3. Train: The nearest railway station is Ramnagar and there is only one train from Delhi. This train has several stops on the way, so go for this option if you have enough time and patience.
Best time and duration of visit –
You can visit Uttarakhand all round the year except for the monsoon as the region may experience landslides due to the heavy rainfall. But the best time to visit would be from October to March. And to experience everything that The Pahadi has to offer, your stay should ideally be for 3-4 days.
The Pahadi Organic is spread over 14 acres of rural land, nestled in the Kumaoni hills. It is around 42 km from Ramnagar and is well connected to nearby towns via road. The Rawats don’t only ‘claim’ to offer the #PakkaPahadi experience, but they also make sure the property oozes the same. Mostly built with wood and stones, you can easily notice the attention to detail in the intricate wood carving, and a touch of the region’s culture. From the paintings hanging in the rooms to the copper and brass utensils used to serve food, everything there smells of heritage and a million stories that linger.
The hotel has 4 polyhouses up on the hill to grow organic vegetables that are used in the kitchen on regular basis. During my visit, I could spot organically grown turnips, spinach, cabbage, bottle gourd and some more vegetables. They also have an open farm to grow colocasia, pulses and other grains.
In front of the hotel is a road, across which is a space for adventurous and recreational activities like paintball, ATV ride, Monkey rope, wall climbing etc. which makes it a perfect destination for a family trip in Uttarakhand. Come with kids or a group of friends, The Pahadi has enough fun and engaging activities to offer to make your stay memorable.
The Restaurant & Food
One thing that I will never forget about my stay at The Pahadi is how drastically my diet changed and how refreshing this change was. I love authentic regional food and The Pahadi knew exactly how to woo me with their diverse, exhaustive menu that comprises of everything lip-smacking good. From the goodness of Madue ki Roti (popularly known as Raagi) to Shishun ka saag (also known as Bicchu Patti), from Chudkani daal (black beans) to Makke ka chilla, I realised I needed two more days to taste half of their menu. And these are a few options for vegetarians, they also have a variety of local delicacies for non-vegetarians. The food is mostly served in the restaurant on the ground floor but the team there also arranges breakfast and dinner at some scenic outdoorsy locations on request.
The best part about the restaurant is the fact that it has an open kitchen, so you get to see what goes on behind the doors. Early in the morning, you can see women dressed in their local attire, churning buttermilk and grinding grains through the glass wall. For all three meals, it is advised to place your order beforehand (45 mins to an hour before you desire to eat) as everything that goes in your meal is prepared fresh, and by fresh, I mean, sometimes they literally go out to the farm to pluck the vegetables.
There are 14 rooms at The Pahadi that offer a luxurious stay and a view that uplifts your mood every morning. The rooms are wooden and warm. They come with a cosy double bed, seating arrangement by the window, a mid-sized bathroom with hot water available for 24 hours, a TV and a mini-fridge. The rooms open to a common area which has a massaging chair, something you’d need after you come back from your hikes (read on to know all about that). The common area is quite tastefully designed and flaunts a few vintage pieces like swords, extravagant mirrors, gramophone and much more.
How often do you get to have breakfast sitting next to a waterfall? Not often, I bet! Well, read on know about my first ever breakfast by a waterfall and more that I experienced at The Pahadi-
1. Chholiya Dance – Inform the hosts about your arrival time and you’d be welcomed with a regional dance called Chholiya. You’d witness men dressed in traditional white churidar, taanka and chola, grooving to the tunes of shell horns, flutes and drums. It is a beautiful experience that you’d not want to miss.
2. Jamira Waterfall – The Pahadi organises a beautiful breakfast setting at Jamira waterfall which is about 20-22 km from the hotel. You’d have to wake up and leave at 8 am in the morning to get to this beautiful site. I literally climbed a few rocks so sit by the waterfall and enjoy Gaderi ki Sabzi and Red Rice Chilla.
3. ATV Ride – I don’t know about you all but I am not a fan of driving. I don’t even have a driving licence. But what I have is an itch to try new things, especially the ones that give me a bit of an adrenaline rush. Going for an ATV ride was one of them. Track for the ride is right in front of the motel. Well, it’s a must try.
4. Tolyun Dhura – Wake up early in the morning, as early in 5 during summers to spot a beautiful sunrise at Tolyun Dhura. To get there, you’d have to drive for about 12 km and then hike for about 20 mins. I know, waking up this early is not what you’d want to do, but the view from Tolyun Dhura as you sip on your tea and indulge in Kumaoni breakfast is worth it all.
5.Village visit – The Pahadi Organic has a couple of small villages in the radius of 20 km, each of which comes with an abundance of culture and regional traditions that you’d love to see. I was fortunate enough to be there for one of such occasions. A village named Kholiyon happened to celebrate the inauguration of a new temple, for which all the residents decided to put on their traditional outfits (for women, it’s similar to Ghaghra Choli with nath, as seen in Rajasthan, for men, it is mostly Kurta and Payjama). To mark the celebration, the locals also performed Chholiya Dance.
Brownie Points-1. Special offer for Traversed Lands readers – Drop a DM to The Pahadi on Instagram with our reference to get a discount on your stay.
2. Inform The Pahadi about your time of arrival to see Chholiya Dance.
3. Ask for some Chilli Salt to go while checking out from The Pahadi, they’d be happy to pack some for you.
4. Request for a special ‘breakfast by the waterfall’.