Saturday, 28 July 2012
We hopped onto the buses and other vehicles amidst all the excitement for the much awaited annual trip to The Ramgarh Bungalows, perched on the Kumaon hills. An 8 hour drive from the capital, we were looking forward to a fun-filled road trip to the unexplored hills. Muffins and melody, songs and spirit, all of it made the drive an experience! Traffic jams and long halts did not dampen the mood of these excited minds. The monsoon created its own magic, making even the ordinary, come out alive! The first view of the hills is always an exciting moment and the showers from heaven above lent a vibrant blue hue, so surreal that only our minds could capture! On reaching the hills, we found ourselves to be engulfed within whispering clouds, taking us far from realism.
Stepping out of our cars, the old-world charm welcomed us with its own sense of tranquility. Indulging in warm cookies, flavoured tea and tasty pakoras at the open terrace, overlooking the lush green valley, was exactly what we needed after a long drive. With plentiful flora around us, the colourful and exotic flowers were a real treat to the eyes! Falling straight from the trees, the peaches, plums and pears tasted a lot sweeter than the urban lot. These 19th century bungalows, 6500 feet above sea level distances one from stressful routines. Carefully revitalized by the Neemrana brand in India, the cottages seemed in perfect harmony with nature as if they always belonged there!
Six different cottages set out at varied levels on the same route uphill, gave us a chance to walk the distance, amidst a magnificent backdrop of the hills. Each of these cottages has a character of its own. The main building ‘The Old Bungalow’ houses a few rooms and the main dining area, where the entire group would gather for interactive sessions. Spread over a large area, this structure has within its boundaries two more compounds called ‘The Rose Cottage’ and ‘The Vista Villa’ connected through short paths cutting through the fruit orchards. The hotel staff took us through these paths to show us the factory where Neemrana creates its own produce - natural jams that contain no preservatives. Connecting with colleagues over a sumptuous offering - an elaborate buffet was a fulfilling end to a long, tiring day!
The highest points ‘The Ashok Vatika’ and ‘The Cliff House’ were enveloped with dense clouds during heavy morning showers. The Blue and Green Rooms in The Ashok Vatika, are specially designed with bay windows framing wonderful views of the sunrise and the sunset. The exposed wooden rafters on the ceiling added to the warm ambience. A common lounge provided us with much needed entertainment; with a television and space to collect together for enjoyment and loud banter!
The uniqueness about each property under the umbrella of Neemrana Hotels is that every space is distinctively designed. True to its 21st century construction, ‘The Cliff House’ is designed in a contemporary fashion, unlike anything you would expect! With amazing pieces of artifacts and a rustic atmosphere, it creates just the perfect balance between the new and the old. ‘The Writer’s Bungalow’ has authentic colonial architecture, sloping tin roofs and stone walls covered with ivy. It looks spectacular at night with a string of lights dotting the roof eaves.
After a long spell of rain, it felt great to be warmed with a hot bowl of soup and a satisfying lunch. The mellow quality of sunlight enticed us into taking a long trek down till the river below. Watching the stunning sun set proved to be quite an antidote to the tiredness we felt.
The joy of dancing with colleagues around a bon-fire under a blue sky spotted with stars could only be experienced at this Ramgarh hotel! Such an interaction helped us bond better with teammates outside glass cabins. An enjoyable evening followed by a comfortable sleep at night was all we needed to refresh ourselves for a long drive early next morning. We left Ramgarh in high spirits with greater camaraderie to face new and exciting challenges that awaited us!