As we drove down, after crossing Bhowali (11 kms from Nainital), the city sounds began to diminish gradually, until they finally faded away… The air became chilly, and soon the only sound we could hear was a regular SWISH of our car tires at each turn. It seemed like we’d entered the whistling woods! We sat up eagerly trying to spot the bungalows in the distance.
Like the other Neemrana properties, Ramgarh Bungalows offer a distinct setting – spacious bungalows are sprawled on a huge area, giving each a sort of quietude and privacy. A perfect getaway for anyone looking for peace and rest; it is, as the brochure says, ‘a place to relax, to read and do nothing if you so choose’…
Each of the bungalows has a study, complete with a desk and chair – for it seems just the kind of place where authors, writers might come for creative inspiration. Many of the bungalows, seem to have been heritage bungalows, redone for hotel accommodation, and thus have an old-world charm about them.
The Cliff House, where we stayed, stood at the edge of the hill, giving astounding views of the hills in front and the valley below. Well-tended flowers and fruit trees bloomed around. To our delight we discovered a pair of beautiful birds making their nest in our balcony..and with stones! no twigs or hay! And colour co-ordinated at that!
Initially I thought the cows here ‘moooo…ed’ a lot… far more than their counterparts in the city. But then I realised that its just that such nature sounds get drowned in the city noise. Needless to say, Ramgarh bungalows were quiet..really quiet.. with all nature sounds heightened..and lots of nature inside your bungalow (read: spiders, big and small!). The only other such place that comes to my mind is Bhoramdeo, which I visited on work. Located in Chhattisgarh, it is a magical place, surrounded by hills and dense forests.
‘…However, if you care to be more energetic, there are many local walks and excursions further afield’. Its true, if you like activity, you can enjoy this quiet-prettiness only to a point. Sitting in the bungalow, my dad said he felt like we were participants on Big Boss, stuck in one house! Lol. So after a satisfying breakfast the next morning, we decided to take a trek and go down to the riverbed in Malla Ramgarh.
We chose this particular trek not just because the idea of wading in the cool waters seemed inviting but also because of all the recommended treks, this one was the shortest! This 2.5 km stretch usually took about 45 mins, the brochure said.
However, the steep, narrow, rocky path down, took us nearly two hours! Apart from the balancing required, we paused every few steps admiring the view, looking at the flowers and fruits, collecting fallen chestnuts from the ground, and trying to identify birds.
The little village in the foothills below, in Malla Ramgarh, was very charming – complete with shops, a small temple, school and an ashram. Many of the villagers seemed to be making a living out of selling fruits that grew here..packing and sending them to Haldwani or far-off places like the Azadpur fruit market in Delhi. There were orchards of plum, apricot, pears and walnuts!
Back from the trek in the evening, we sat resting our legs, gazing up at the star-speckled skies, completely awed…and thinking this is it!