Van Serai, Jageshwar: A holiday destination straight out of Ruskin Bond stories!
Hidden deep in the Jat Ganga valley, Jageshwar in Almora in Uttarakhand is one of those enchanting spots on Earth where nature blooms in all its glory and calm still retains a toehold.
My husband and I had little time at hand but wanted to make the most of it this summer. Thus, suggested by a friend, we left the job to guide us to Asian Adventures and when we arrived at the place suggested by AA, the poet in me could not only feel the goosebumps of joy, but my fingers simply wanted to race on paper!
Just look at this place! Simply stunning, hidden amid thick Deodar forests with a picturesque background. At a time when the forest covers are being taken off in the name of development, I could have never imagined that such a place – straight out of the Ruskin Bond stories – still exists in India! My heart skipped a beat with joy, I was giddy!
Aptly named VAN SERAI, this tiny resort is some 100 meters away from the 14-temple group of the Dandeshwar Shiva’s abode. And this is right at the beginning of the trek that leads you to this group of 124 Shiva Temples which is home to one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva.
The architectural inspiration of Van Serai has been taken from the Kumaoni style of construction. Moreover, we got to know that it is an eco-stay which means it stays warm in winters and cool in summers!
Big verandas in the front and back are an ideal place to soak in the aura of the surrounding greens. And of course, listen to the natural music of the Jatganga that flows right next to the lodge. No wonder I could not resist the urge to bask in the glory of the Sunrise and pen a poem.
While I was making the most of the landscape sitting on the veranda, my husband and his camera were busy in the surroundings. He told me later, he lost count of the number of clicks he did, after he reached 100!
We were lost in the joy of enjoying the environs when a very smiling and obviously amused staff reminded us that we needed to check-in and have breakfast since we had arrived from a far-off place. We had a hearty laugh.
A sumptuous early morning breakfast, full of finger-licking Kumaoni Cuisine was served with genuine warm smiles at Cafe Swayambhu. A cafe is a mesmerizing place. No wonder, you can’t find my husband in the picture, having a meal with me. He was busy clicking the tastefully done Cafe which is actually a collection of artifacts, even in terms of the taps as well as the utensils. So I will let the image speak….
After a quick nap, it was time to head off to the various abodes of Lord Shiva. But it began to rain heavily. And the landscape changed! It looked straight out of a fairy tale. My heart skipped another beat with joy and I danced my way down. We had another hearty photography session amid a heavy downpour.
And it reminded me of Roger Miller’s saying, ” Some people enjoy the rain, while others just get wet.” Van Serai is ideal for the former ones!
Soon we went off on a spiritual sojourn to Dandeshwar and later Jageshwar temples. By the time we returned to the lodge, Sun had set. It was still drizzling, with the breeze caressing my hair, an ideal time for hot Masala Tea and piping hot, spicy Kumaoni Pakoras! How did the Chef know my taste? I binged. Van Serai is one place, where you can’t think of losing weight despite long treks, since the Chef pampers you with the best of meals that you can never say no to!
Thus, even the dinner time meant BINGE!! (Hearty laugh) And it was not just us, every guest we met at the lodge had the same happy story to tell.
The next day too was like a dream. We went trekking in the nearby forest; captured few beautiful birds in the region; took a tour of the Eco-park set up by the Uttarakhand govt; dipped my tired yet happy feet in the cold waters of the Jataganga….in short had a holiday of my choice in ages.
Van Serai's manager told us that we missed the Shiva Walks- the three-day inner game changer. Locals describe it as a Himalayan Holiday for soul-searching, via Yogic Detox of body, mind and soul which is not only done through meditation, but also through a Jungle trek, night walk, village walk! What joy, even just by imagining it and the opportunity to spend time with my own self. Ah! We will be back here soon!