Sursingdhar : A truly offbeat escape with Himalayan Eco Lodge near Delhi !

I am always running from pillar to post in my travel. Since this year, I am trying to train myself to slow down. My trip to Sursingdhar turned out to be slow travel thanks to my parents who prefer it that way.

 

I am new in Delhi and was looking for a great weekend break with family, away from the chaotic megapolis. I asked many friends for suggestions. All of them suggested nice places near Delhi but with a warning that since it’s June, so expect a lot of ‘beer and tikka’ crowd in almost all the popular hill station destinations near Delhi.

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My mother watching the sublime sunrise from the balcony! In Silence!

I wanted a respite from the cruel Delhi heat and the crowds. Then suddenly, my mind raced back to a blog I read by Manjulika on Sursingdhar many moons ago. I remember, after reading her blog, I dreamt of going to that quaint little village, sitting in my tiny apartment in Mumbai. It was not an easy task from Mumbai but from Delhi it seemed cushy. An 8 hour comfortable drive on the smooth roads was what was promised to me.

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The lyrical sun rise from the balcony of Himalayan Eco Lodge

I zeroed in on Sursingdhar and it exceeded my expectation. As our cab neared the Himalayan Eco Lodge (at an elevation of 7000 plus feets), I was delighted to discover its remoteness. The resort is built right in the middle of a nondescript village. We had booked the first floor cottage facing the valley. This is the best you can get here.

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Parents at Himalayan Eco Lodge

It was a delight beyond words to watch the villagers pass by in slow motion, the many exotic birds filling the only pine tree opposite our balcony, the sun rising poetically from behind the hills. I have been told that on clearer days, one can see snow capped mountains, especially the Nanda Devi. We didn’t get to see that due to mist but we didn’t mind. Our loss was compensated with an unhindered look of a rare rainbow, lining the sky. An excited me woke up my parents to savor the miracles of nature.

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The rainbow we saw from our balcony in Himalayan Eco Lodge

The balcony was my favourite place. I would not want to leave the place and spend long hours, doing nothing but just staring romantically at the many species of exotic birds, mountains, villages, mountain dogs, tress laden with local fruits like ‘pahadi seb’ (Apple), chulu, peach etc. In complete silence I gazed at them.

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Snacks in the balcony!

My silence was punctuated only by chirps of a bird and the ‘thak thak’ sound by a woodpecker who could not stay at one spot for more than a second. Like an obsessed lover, I followed the movement of the woodpecker on the pine tree opposite the balcony. The gorgeous bird would play hide and seek with me as if enticing me to ‘Catch me if you can’. Soon the tree was full of many woodpeckers. Till this day, I had not seen so many at a time.

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My obsession was killed by a staff member who showed up with flask full of tea, pakoris (fritters) and cookies. It was a perfect snack to indulge in, since it started drizzling lightly. As we sipped the tea, cool breeze caressed our faces gently, bringing with them the scent of the pine trees that surrounded the resort.

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Snacks in the balcony!

 

Post the tea break, me and my parents decided to take a walk in the beautifully landscaped garden and the village beneath. I was told that the owner is a lover of plants and gardening, especially the many flowers.

Picture above : Flowers and chulu fruit

There is no way you can ignore the riot of colors dotting the Himalayan Eco Lodge at Sursingdhar. Red/ purple/ yellow/ pink/ white/ blue colored flowers almost blinded us with their unbridled beauty. Even our balcony was inundated with flowering plants. Did I forget to mention that pots filled with flowers hung above our head as we chatted over tea in the balcony.

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As we entered the village just outside the resort, we had our eyes peeled. Just interacting with the locals, observing the local lifestyle and mountain houses, plucking the fruits from the trees are some of the simpler joys of life we savored here. One of the villagers, a charming lady, invited us over to her house for tea. We unfortunately could not go as my mother is understandably not fit enough to climb the steep paths.

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Post a session of carrom at the lawn facing the valley, we huddled around the bonfire in the garden. We as a family, bonded over conversation laced with sweet nothings over the bonfire

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New Tehri Town as seen from our balcony

The meals served to us were simple yet delicious, healthy and light on tummy. We were delighted when we were served local village food from Uttarakhand after sampling familiar food for past few days. I am mentioning those with a rough recipe (Not tried at home yet)

 

  • Kali Daal Ka Chausa: (Pic 1) It was so delicious, I ended up having 3 bowls of this lentil based dish. Black Urad Daal is ground coarse and raw and then roasted with ghee (Clarified Indian Butter). Spices, tomato, onion, garlic and water are added to it gradually and simmered until done.
  • Palak ki Kapli: (Pic 2) It’s a spinach stew which is nothing but roughly chopped spinach cooked with onion, tomato and water.
  • Plum Chutney: (Pic 3) Plum fruits are available in abundance here. It’s a spicy sauce made with plums, sugar, spices and chillies.
  • Bathue ka paratha: (Pic 3) It’s a local saag (Green leafy vegetable) which is mixed with the dough alongwith spices and turned into delicious breads to be had with plum chutney and pickles etc.
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Our cozy room at Himalayan Eco Lodge!

The next day, the ever smiling manager Kuldeep at Himalayan Eco Lodge suggested me a 1 hour trek around the village. I lapped up at the opportunity. The trek is decent and a mix of pucca road and dirt tracks through the village. It’s an easy trek through pine and deodar forests.

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Me during the trek!

En route I saw local temples, got birds eye view of the village, exotic birds, even a scared fox, cute Himalayan kids waving at me and villagers going about their work. I also saw trees laden with local fruits like pahadi seb (apple), aadu, pomegranate, Malta etc. The weather was pleasant, what with breezy winds and a light drizzle punctuating the experience.

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Temple en route the trek!

Ever since I have been back from Everest Base Camp trek, I had been craving to do a 1 day trek! You would be wondering why one day. Because I wanted to test my fitness level! Post EBC, I had gained a lot of weight (From 75 kgs to 100 kgs) because I ate like mad after shifting to Delhi and my bodily movement was restricted to basics such as fetching a glass of water ‘all by myself’.

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Trek tracks!

During the trek, I realized that I was momentarily breathless in just an hour long trek. I used to jump on such trails earlier. I was embarrassed that the guide could hear my huffs and puffs…. But then I thought what the heck, its ok. He would think of me as ‘just another fat, spoilt brat from Delhi’. And I have no patience left to explain my ‘Fit to Fat’ story to one and all. Anyways, it was an alarming day for me. During the trek I promised myself to commit to a strict fitness regime as soon as possible and get back to my original shape and weight.

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Did the kid like me? He’s emoticoning so not sure!
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The temple at the end of the trek!

QUICK GET AWAYS:

  • Tehri dam : Once a bustling town, it is now submerged in water due to the dam project. One can see some of the remains of the town including a palace peeping from the water. Today it has become the hub for water sports. It is half an hour away.
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My father trying Jet Skiing at Tehri dam!
  • New Tehri Town/Chamba: Great for shopping for local jams, pickles, chutneys, Rhododendron and malta squash. It is 20 minutes away.
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Rhododendron and Malta squash!
  • Kanatal/Dhanaulti : A quick ride on smooth roads will take you there. However, the climate and weather and landscapes are quite similar to Sursingdhar. So you can skip this one if you want a peaceful vacation in silence.
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At Eco Park in Dhanaulti!
  • Mussoorie and Landour : Just ahead of Kanatal are these combo of popular and offbeat destinations.
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Maggi at Dhanaulti!
  • Haridwar and Rishikesh: Just 3 hours away, the twin spiritual towns are a great excursion, especially in winters.
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In Rishikesh, against ram Jhoola on their wedding anniversary!

WHEN TO GO

March, April, May: Busy months.

June and July : The occupancy is lower than other times.

December, January and Mid feb : Expect light snowfall.

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Himalayan Eco Lodge, Sursingdhar!

PRICE:

It’s a great deal for Rs. 5600 on double occupancy including buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner. Why it is a steal deal is because your meals are sorted and most of the activities are centered around the resort. You don’t really need to go anywhere.

Best rooms: Ask for room number 2,3,4 which face the snow capped mountains. You can see Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath and Nanda Devi from here!

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Me during the aarti at Har Ki Paudi, Haridwar!

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24 thoughts on “Sursingdhar : A truly offbeat escape with Himalayan Eco Lodge near Delhi !

  1. It looks absolutely wonderful! I said it for a while and the ‘signs’ add up – I think I need to make 2016 the year to go to India. This place will definitely go on my list for when the trip is happening!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yayy, Pls do come to India. Let me know if you want me to guide through it. And do remember to stay at Himalayan Eco Lodge when you come here. The memories you will make here will longer for a lifetime.

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  2. It’s so important to slow down once in a while, isn’t it? I’m glad that the place you had been dreaming of had come back to you when you were ready to leave. I have a problem remembering all the places I want to go when it’s time to go somewhere new! This sounds like it was the perfect escape for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This looks so relaxing. I was lucky enough to visit Rishikesh and Haridwar earlier in the year but this looks like a great weekend trip for my next time in India.

    It’s really great to see how many eco lodges are popping up around that area and protecting such a beautiful part of the world instead of huge mega chain hotels.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This place looks and sounds awesome, I had not heard of it and probably therein lies the beauty, as it is still untouched. Wonderful to see your family bonding in the lush environs of this beautiful place, the local food looks really enticing. I am definitely going to look out for an opportunity to head to this place.

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  5. Slow travel is my favourite kind of travel! So important to take time to relax and do things your way 🙂

    This just reminds me how little of India I saw on my trip this year – and gives me yet another reason to go back. The trek sounds like great fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am just discovering the joys of slow travel after all my maniac running around for years. Yes, you should come back to India again. There is lots to see here. You must spend at least 3-4 days at this cottage in Sursingdhar. You will love the silence and beauty here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This looks like an amazing time to spend some time enjoying nature while getting in some relaxation. I completely understand when you say how hard it is to slow down when traveling. There is so much in the world to see and not enough time to see it. But, only seeing each place for a split second is not a full experience either.

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  7. Beautiful post Abhinav. I totally agree on the fact of ‘beer & tikka’ crowd, the hill stations near Delhi are full of them. Thanks for introducing an off-beat location which is like a perfect getaway especially with parents.
    And must say, beautiful pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

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