“Certainly! I can go & do a short recee to Chakrata.” Meanwhile my thought flow… “God, Chakrata not again! It has nothing much to offer, same old arid feeling in the midst of mountains… isolation” Sigh!.” In a 2.5 hour drive from Dehradun, passing through the bustling township of Vikas Nagar, we took the road to Kalsi to reach Himalayan Eco Lodge, Viraatkhai, near Chakrata. Here I was looking at a property which greeted me with some earthy flavours of Burans (Rhododendron) juice. It was enough to hitch myself with this place. It’s good to see that few places retain their flavours amidst all the commercialisation in the world. This lodge called, Room On The Roof, Viraatkhai is located 55 Kms from Mussoorie & is definitely a better option than the other hill stations.
The foundation of this lodge is made on the three pillars of Offbeat, Active & Earthy stays in the Himalayas. Chakrata is just a 45 min drive from the lodge & one has easy access to the local market here. But coming back to the concept, which is intriguing for people from all walks of life. Be it a wellness freak or a leisure traveller, Himalayan Eco lodges, offers a variety for every traveller. This offbeat destination in Uttarakhand is a must visit as they have not only retained the beauty of Himalayan culture for you, but here you will also be attended by people hailing from the Himalayas. No fancy luxury, plain simple earthy essence of the mountains.
Start your day with a beautiful sunrise walk starting at 5.00 am. The guide would take you to the sunrise point, while you perch on a rock & watch the morning glory of Himalayas! Return to the lodge & one can just sit back & relax at leisure, before indulging in a good meal in the open dining area. If the chirping of birds & the cool breeze doesn’t trigger you enough to ask for more, then what will? At Himalayan Eco Lodge they offer you a variety of activities like easy to full day treks in absolute wilderness. Sightseeing options for full day, include visit to Ramtal garden, Chilmiri Top (A Cantonment area), Forests of Deoban, Tiger Falls, etc accompanied with a local driver who shows you around & has sound knowledge of the region. If you are with your family then a day picnic at Chaurani would be perfect with an old school picnic lunch & games like pitthu & marbles to remind you of an era gone by!
For the outdoor bug in you, you can opt for easy to full day cycling with experts & explore this region on a bicycle. If you like to learn about outdoor survival from the experts, you can also opt for a Wilderness Survival experience, where they teach you the basics of being in the outdoors, from rope & knots, shelter pitching, building a fire to cooking in wilderness. For the water babies, Yamuna & Aglad River offers plethora of water activities like Duckie rides (Inflatable kayaks), Stream walk, swimming in natural pools, rafting etc. You just need to be staying at the lodge & experience Himalayas in its true sense.
Talking of the culture, Room On The Roof, Viraatkhai, organises a cultural performance, put up by the locals every weekend under the star lit sky. For those who like a bigger dose of the unique culture of the Jaunsar region, they can visit the beautiful Singhor village with a local & enjoy tea & exchange words at a local’s house. This can be arranged by the property itself, at an additional cost. And if the nights are your friend, a short night trek would be a brilliant choice, for the thrill & local anecdotes coming your way straight from the local guide. The whole day is so engaging at Himalayan Eco Lodge, Viraatkhai, that the wonders of Chakrata can be found right at their doorstep.
Even if you have just a day in hand, don’t think twice as this is your place to be. Take a quick reboot in the sunset hike & watch the sun go down behind the mountains in various shades of orange. Or simply indulge in, in-house rock & rope activities with their qualified instructors. If you feel Himalayas are your calling, then think no more because Himalayas are now just a stone’s throw away at Chakrata, only 75 Kms from Dehradun. I completed my trip in 3 days’ time & came back recharged with nature. Sometimes offbeat could mean everything. Sometimes you need to taste the flavours of earth to keep yourself going. Sometimes you should visit Viraatkhai, a hidden wonder.
Things to Remember:
· Chakrata is an Old Cantonment area, and as per the law of Govt of India foreign nationals are not allowed to stay in this region.
· If you are travelling to Viraatkhai, keep in mind that it is an Offbeat location, making it difficult in case of serious Medical Emergencies.
· Avoid travelling to this region during monsoons, as it is not the best time to travel here between Mid-June – July.
· You can book your stay here from Make My trip by searching – Himalayan Eco lodge, Viraatkhai.