A gurgling river, chirping birds, a himalayan cliff that rises majestically a few thousand feet – and no sign of humanity. Some places cannot be described by words they need poetry. Soulitude by the Riverside is one such place. A place that is black and white – a place you will love and give a perfect 10 and want to come again and again or just say this is not my kind of place. I give it a perfect 10.
A sister property of the Himalayan Soulitude this one is very different. 7 rooms , designed in a rustic and elegant style, it feels like a modern day Ashram for its peace and tranquility but comes with all the modern amenities that one could think of in a 5 star hotel. The best of both worlds.
Located at 4500 feet, you can reach the place only by trekking 2 Km along the river. A beautiful Trek – the hotel sends porters to the pick up point to carry your luggage.
Its bright and sunny and 30 minutes later you reach the hotel to be welcomed by friendly staff and a bright well lit, well designed hexagonal lobby. Warm and friendly this is also the TV Lounge (TATA Sky) and the reading room. In this remote corner of nature Wi Fi works and the whole place is operated with Generators. Remember you are in the midst of a forest , with the river Kalsi less than 25 feet away.
The rooms follow the same theme, large , spacious, well lit , facing the river – Rustic but super comfortable and functional with all the amenities you could think of. Bed warmers and heaters and a Kashmir style fireplace keeps the room warm. There is no carpet and central heating and at night the temperature drops, there is a nice cold breeze from the river. So good to be dressed in multiple layers as you head to bed. We stayed on Dec 30 and the temp varied from a high of 20 in the day to almost Zero at midnight.
The other units that comprise this unique resort are the dining room and a Yoga Hut on the river bank. They also have large stretches of kitchen gardens where they grow a wide variety of herbs and vegetables to meet the needs of the kitchen. Food is royal and sumptuous – served in brass plates, Indian, very rich, very filling – ambience is Rajasthani. Every single thing used in the hotel needs to be carried from 2 km afar – so the more you become self dependent the better it is.
But the jewel in the crown is a trek to PariTal (The lake of the fairies) – a short 20 min trek its along the river and you need to be nimble to cross boulders along the entire stretch. Its a nice trek best done after 10 AM when the first rays of the sun start to wriggle out. You can spot a lot of monkeys climbing the vertical ledges of the cliff and if you are lucky you can see barking deers and maybe a panther or leopard sun basking on a ledge. (We did not see them but yes at night we heard the barking deers)
As you reach Pari Tal you hear the sound of the gushing waterfall beckoning you and the first sight of the Tal is divine.
Emerald green crystal clean water swirling in a large pond, fed by white water rollicking down the slope with a sense of purpose. The chirping sounds of the bird die down in obeisance to the beauty of this spot and as you stand alone you can sense peace, tranquility and joy in every pore of your body. You experience nature at its best. This is the place where you want to come and sit to find answers to life’s problems, this is the place you want to sit hand in hand with your soulmate, not utter a word but yet have a deep connect. This is the place to meditate. To be with yourself. To Recharge. I wish I could have stayed for hours.
This place is unique. Soulitude in Himalayas is marketed well and has become a perfect family getaway. But the DNA of Riverside is very different. This is not a place for noisy kids or large groups. Its a place to come alone or with people very near and dear to you. There is no commercial element here – No Yoga , No massage – just you and nature. I have travelled a lot and I am constantly searching for offbeat locations – but I don’t think there is anything like this anywhere in India. It targets a specific clientele – who will keep coming again and again. Kudos to Manish Chandra the owner for having created this beauty. Its a lot of of passion and investment of time and money to manage a property like this with these high standards.
We had no plans to spend a day here – our booking for 4 nights was at Soulitude in the Himalayas. It was a sudden impulse that I requested for the last night to be spent here and fortunately rooms were available. Planning a family holiday in the last week of Dec to the foothills of the Himalayas can be stressing – flights / train need to be on time (Fog), kids should not fall sick, nobody should trip and bend an ankle or fall sick, lugging around 5 suitcases with lots of woollens – is all a project in itself. And I am so happy that on the last day of a wonderful holiday I could find my dream location.
And as I was sitting on the rocks with the water lapping my feet I recollect the words of the guide at Mukteshwar and how he defined God (Bhagwan) – Bh for Bhumi (Earth) , Ga for Gagan (Sky) , Va for Vayu (Air) and N for Neer (Water) – our ancestors knew it – elements of Nature and Fire is all it takes for a happy peaceful lives. In the name of development – We just messed it up.
Points to note
1. Website , http://www.soulitudebytheriverside.com
2. Distance from Kathgodam 60 – 90 min , 35 Km , Tavera costs Rs 1500
3. Summers can be hot – 30 degrees + , winter mornings and nights are very cold, rains heavily in Monsoon
4. Travel light – and wear good trekking footwear
5. With family – best to do 1 day , solo – you decide , at least 3 days I would recommend
6. Distance from Soulitude in Himalayas – 30 Km , 60 Minutes, Its a small detour from the way to Sattal. We left Himalayan Soulitude at 10 , finished our Visit to Sattal and were at the Riverside property by 1.30 in the afternoon