It had been a while since I last visited the mountains of Uttarakhand, a state that has become like a second home to me over the course of three years. While it was absolute fun to travel to other regions, experience new cultures and meet new people in between, I was longing to go back to the state I’ve so come to love. So, when an opportunity came knocking in the form of an on-skill trip with Stay on Skill to Uttarakhand, I knew I had to be there. An early-morning bus ride from Delhi to Ramnagar, and another hour’s drive through the jungles of Jim Corbett National Park brought me to Totam. And there stood an elegant-looking property as expansive as the valley in front of it. The pahadi in me was back to where he belongs: The Pahadi Organic.
The Pahadi Organic
The Pahadi Organic is a brainchild—with a heart—of the Rawats. What was started by Mr. Ranjeet Rawat and his son, Chetan Rawat in March 2018 as a way for people to experience unadulterated ethos of the Kumaoni culture, cuisines, and customs is now a destination in itself. Be it the architecture or the designs, artefacts or the hospitality, you will find more than a slice of Uttarakhand wherever your eyes happen to drift towards. You will see it in every detail, however big or small, whether intricately hand-carved into or painstakingly laid upon. To make sure all the guests here have a #PakkaPahadi experience, the team has left no stone unturned, pun intended.
Where scale meets skills
At once, The Pahadi Organic comes across as a fine blend of modernity and traditional Uttarakhandi architecture. Spread over an area of 14 acres, comprising of 9 identical rooms and 5 cottages that ooze detailed craftsmanship: natural fossil stones, woodwork and mud-based masonry. A special mention to the craftsman who has been working at the motel for the last three years, bent over backwards, quite literally, spending at least 15 days straight on a single piece of wood, hand-carving every inch, breathing life into the designs even if the profession is breathing its last.
Where a luxury meets superior comfort
Each of the rooms in The Pahadi Organic is wooded from head to toe, welcomes its guests in a finery of ultra-modern comforts, equipped with all the contemporary amenities. Even though it was cold outside, raining at times, the room remained super-cosy. The memory foam mattress and the pillows were quite comfortable and warm. The linen too, clean and white. As if to put the icing on the cake, each of the rooms opens up to a balcony (at one side) that overlooks the entire valley and is quite a comfort-space to just sit and chill, and a common lounge area (on the other) with massage chair and a treadmill. There’s also an Air-conditioner, LCD/LED Television, 24-hour running hot water, WIFI connectivity, an electronic locker, a mini fridge, and an electric kettle with coffee, tea and sugar sachets in every room. Talk about the whole package, eh?
Where silence meets adventure
Nestled in the Himalayan foothills, The Pahadi Organic is the polar opposite of the crowd-pleasing destinations of Uttarakhand. It’s Corbett beyond all the stereotypes. Here silence speaks a language of its own, that isn’t marred by loud music or hyperactive hordes of people. For me, it is one of those places where I can spend days without end doing absolutely nothing except disconnect from the world to reconnect with nature. But you needn’t worry if being holed up in one place for too long is not your thing; there is plenty of adventure to be found here. From treading unbeaten trails, watching sunsets and sunrises to exploring hidden waterfalls or playing stalker to a rich variety of birds, take your pick. Adrenaline junkies too have a host of activities to choose from: Paragliding, Wall Climbing, Rappelling, Burma Bridge, Zip Lining, ATV Rides, Monkey Rope, Bungee Trampoline and Paintball. The motel has it all in its premises.
Where ‘Organic’ is the order of the day
And I don’t mean just on the plate. But it sure does help a great deal when you know where your food is coming from. In The Pahadi Organic’s case, right behind the property from the polyhouses and step-farms where vegetables, rice, pulses, and a few spices are organically grown by the locals. It doesn’t just stop at that, even the dairy, meat, and eggs are locally produced with utmost care. They’re substantially self-sustaining and take their promise of ‘farm to table’ quite seriously. The items are plucked (or harvested) right after you place your order. It all then ends up in their Live Kitchen where it is cooked to perfection on wood-fire chulhas, before culminating in a delicious, exhaustive spread that you see in front of you, served on traditional utensils made of copper and brass.
Over the course of two days that I spent at The Pahadi Organic, every breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the snacks in between became an event in itself. Something I looked forward to even before one meal ended. Chetan and the dedicated staff in the kitchen made sure I didn’t try the same item twice. There was always something new at the table, a new local dish to devour, full of surprises and flavours that I still miss. Chicken Curry, Mutton Curry, Quail Curry, Palak ka Kaafa, Kumaoni Raita, Mandua Roti, Chhou, Gahat ke Dubke, Gaderi ki Sabzi, Red Rice, and my personal favourite, Madue ki Badi, a dessert made of finger millet, milk and dry fruits; these are just a handful of local Kumaoni dishes I tried out of an even larger menu.
How to reach The Pahadi Organic
Location: Gram Kholyon, Totam, Ramnagar-Ranikhet Road
Distance from Delhi: 345 kilometres
Route: Delhi – Ghaziabad – Hapur – Amroha – Moradabad – Kashipur – Ramnagar – Totam – The Pahadi Organic
Uttarakhand Roadways Buses ply from ISBT Anand Vihar to Ramnagar daily and quite frequently. From Ramnagar you need to take another bus, heading towards Ranikhet and get down at right in front the property. Locals know it by name so it wouldn’t be any trouble explaining it to them. You can also opt for a shared taxi (Max). An ordinary bus from Delhi to Ramnagar will cost INR 290 for a ticket and the bus from Ramnagar to The Pahadi Organic, INR 60. The shared taxi from Ramnagar will cost around INR 100. It is faster, but a little more cramped for space as compared to the other buses that run from Ramnagar to Ranikhet. There is also a Volvo to Ramnagar that runs from ISBT Anand Vihar and costs around INR 700 per ticket. It starts around 11 pm and reaches around 4.30 am.