The swift mountain river Kalsa flows on one side and the forests loom on the other, in between is a private estate that almost completely blends in with the surrounding jungle. This is Soulitude by the Riverside, a six-acre property offering just seven rooms set in two rustic cottages and an over 90-year-old restored village home. This is a true nature retreat, but with the comforts and luxuries to ensure you have a cosy mountain holiday.
The forested land is, of course, at the core of the property. The downhill trek of around 30 minutes to reach the property is a great way for guests to leave the city behind (the Soulitude staff will meet guests where the road ends to help carry luggage to the retreat). Equally enticing is the over 90-year-old village home that has been carefully restored. The building has been restored using traditional methods of vernacular architecture, like mud and husk plastering. The owners have added two new cottages, along with a lounge, that also sit lightly on the land without disturbing the natural systems. The Lounge and the Cottages are designed as polygonal structures to blend with the contours of the land and the direction of airflow along the river.
All seven rooms and suites are infused with rustic charm. While each room is unique, the newer rooms have large picture windows, the rooms in the restored village home have skylights and the two junior suites have semi-open showers. The standout might just be the bathroom in room Sahaj in the village home that incorporates a natural rock formation with constant flowing water!
A holiday here is meant as a chance to reconnect with nature and get reacquainted with her rhythms. For those looking for a slow or outdoorsy holiday, there is much to do here. Walking around the beautiful property and just picking a spot to enjoy the views is a great way to pass the time. You can spend many an hour just watching the river flow by. The hosts have identified many hiking trails and guests can go on guided walks in the forests and hills and to Chanfi village nearby. Going birding, taking part in a cooking lesson, getting your hands dirty in the organic farm, exploring nearby destinations in Kumaon are all great options.
The best experience is to ‘Just Be’ and enjoy the mountain air, work up an appetite by walking around in the grounds, relish the home cooked ‘pahadi’ meals and enjoy the deep sleep that you can experience only in the mountains.
Price: Rs 12,600 to Rs 15,800 per night + GST in season and Rs 8,500 to Rs 10,450 per night + GST in off-season; includes breakfast and lunch or dinner.
Soulitude by the Riverside follows many Responsible Tourism practices across areas like water and waste management. The buildings have been designed for passive cooling and heating. Heated mattresses or hot water bottles are encouraged over general space heating. Solar hot water system that diverts warm water into the geysers for top-up only during winters and directly into the taps during summers is used. Glass bottles and copper jugs are used as drinking water containers. The retreat has its own organic farm. Any produce not grown on the farm is sourced locally. Soulitude employs only local staff and specifically selects those without any hospitality experience and then trains them on a multi-disciplinary basis. Besides employment, skills development and local procurement that support the local economy, Soulitude conducts village walks that enable interaction between tourists and the local community and supports local crafts.