We check-in to two different properties of Soulitude in the pursuit of some quiet time. And, this is why you should bookmark them for your future trips. By Sushmita Gupta
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” The French writer Michel de Montaigne made a lot of sense. But, to belong to myself, I first had to find myself. And the clutter of everyday life never failed to get in the way. Thus, I set on a journey of solitude, which I hoped to find in a small, cosy property in Gagar, Uttarakhand. Located in Ramgarh, at an altitude of 2,100 metres, Gagar is endowed with 180° views of the commanding Kumaon Himalayas, but is thankfully untouched by the traffic snarls that plague nearby Nainital.
The beauty of the region has inspired many an artist, from Rabindranath Tagore, who is said to have written Gitanjali on a hilltop here, to the poetess Mahadevi Verma, whose home in the area is now a library of her works. Those credentials were enough motivation for me to travel 340 kilometres from Delhi, over eight hours no less, to reach Soulitude In The Himalayas, a delightful property in Gagar. All my travel aches quickly dissipated with a warm welcome from the hotel staff and the sight of snow-covered peaks, including Nanda Devi, Trishul, Panchachuli, Nanda Kot, and Kamet.
The property is quaint and intimate, with 10 exquisite rooms spread across two adjoining
chalet-styled houses that guarantee a luxurious stay with great meals. The rooms with names like Bliss, Quietude, Joy, Awakening, Delight, Master’s Touch, Celebration & Peace, are starkly different from one another in their decor. I instantly fell in love with my space inside Quietude and with the old walnut tree around which the structure had been designed. A skylight soaked the whole room in sunlight during the day and in starlight at night. An internal flight of stairs led to a separate deck with a children’s bed and desk, an ingenious space designed to suit a child’s imagination.
The pine trees, the wilderness, the organic garden, and the viewing decks that provide a glimpse of the valley beneath—all immerse you in a beautiful sense of tranquillity and peace. At Soulitude, you are a solitary boat adrift in the sea, your only companions being your own thoughts and memories. You can go on a trek or stroll around the property for some bird-watching, visit a nearby temple or choose local tourist attractions like one of the lakes in the region, or travel to Mukteshwar, just 27 kilometres away.
After I’d had my fill of the mountains, I visited Soulitude’s second property, Soulitude By The Riverside, which is situated along the banks of the Kalsa River in Chanfi village, Nainital. The property is constantly serenaded by the music of the glacial stream that flows through the deep valley and the property. Here, you’re aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than the absence of others.
Soulitude By The Riverside offers a bouquet of seven rustic-style rooms, each with a theme (Shant, Sahaj, Sum, Poorna, Yukta, Prafull, and Mukta), and all the luxuries of a resort. An organic farm, emerald rock pools and waterfalls, exciting treks, amazing food, and great hospitality sum up the property. The wood-fired chullah deserves a special mention for brewing endless cups of chai while you enjoy the unadulterated beauty of nature.
If you are looking to slow down and savour the virginal beauty of Uttarakhand’s landscapes, Soulitude has the right blend of views, service, and quietude.