Suwakholi, Uttarakhand

1st Oct 2020
Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes

1st Oct - 4th Oct '2020: A national holiday colliding with a Friday often triggers a riot in the mind, fed by slow trickling adrenaline and wanderlust. This long weekend portrayed similar character. The icing on the cake was the "Family First" holiday on Thursday, declared by my organization to aid employees escape the monstrous grasp of the pandemic monotony that had gripped the entire nation.

Our search took us to distant lands, but when the mighty Himalayas call, you bow down and listen.

The careless whisper of the mountains serenaded us as we packed our bags, started our car engine and hit the roads.

Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand 1/1 by Maiden Routes

Our nest for the next three nights was located 2 kms away from a village named Suwakholi, tucked in the outer folds of the popular hill station Mussoorie. Due to the location of the cottage around the bend of a mountain, the place has no mobile network coverage and no internet, which consequently implies true uninterrupted freedom. Freedom to video call mother nature, tweet with the birds, and post the story on our memory wall.

"Freedom" is metamorphosing in its meaning at an unprecedented pace and we wanted to dwell in the purity of the original form before it becomes completely obsolete.

This however does not mean you are entering the Middle Ages. Network connectivity is available within half a km radius of the cottage, so you can always switch in and out of your Digital Detox mode for that important call you need to make.

Our journey started with a 6.5 hour road trip through wide unexpectedly well maintained roads. Uttarakhand had opened its doors to visitors to revive the tourism centric economy, but taming the COVID demon was still a distant cry. The chessboard was set and following the necessary protocols was humankind's only way to Check-Mate. We took the rules of the game very seriously.

Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand, India by Maiden Routes

Our cocoon of solitary bliss, coaxed us with its Mediterranean rustic décor. Pearly white textured walls with warm woody and dull red undertones sprinkled life to the array of old books sitting cozily on the wall shelf.

Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes

The genres ranged from "Applied Mechanics" to "Latin for Today" to suit every taste-bud.

The fireplace, chunky carved candle stands, embroidered curtains and the mammoth sized delicate pillows flirted with each other shooting streaks of charisma as though playing laser tag.

This, coupled with the jaw dropping exterior views through the oversized windows felt like living inside a lucid godly dream, only falling short of a staircase to heaven.

Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes

The silent uproar of the tough mountains which was softened by the resident greens, further diminished in intensity as the hilly layers faded into the oblivion.

Nestled just like a bud amidst the layered petals of a petonia, was the faraway capital city of Dehradun whose roofs shined like tiny silver pellets against the sunshine.

We headed out to Landour, popular as the birthplace of the celebrated author Ruskin Bond. The dominant British architechture in this cantonment area close to Mussoorie, exuded strong vibes of the bygone colonial era.

This journey was primarily led by our greedy greyhound nose which had picked up scents of deliciousness from the highly rated " Landour Bakehouse ".

Photo of Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by Maiden Routes

The plan was to reach early so as to avoid the crowds and order a takeaway. Quite pleased by the hygiene standards being followed, we agreed to enjoy a cup of steaming hot chocolate while packing loads of goodies to be consumed in our magical cottage.

Foodology: 2 cups of Hot Chocolate, Paneer Tikka Toasties and Cheese Garlic Croissant

Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes

A jar of homemade gooseberry jam, apple-rhododendron jam and Mussoorie renowned crunchy peanut butter also sneaked into our bags from a local shop.

Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes

Speaking of food, it would be outright injustice if I failed to mention the lip-smacking home cooked meals served to us by the extremely polite cottage caretakers.

Foodology: Chapati and Garhwali Chicken Curry, Chilli Chicken, Egg Bhurji & Parathas, Locally acquired Green Apples, Lachha Paratha & Kadhai Chicken, Lachha Paratha & Paneer Makhani, All time hilly favourite Maggi, Poori Sabzi Halwa, Stuffed Parathas

Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes

When love and fresh Himalayan produce are the main ingredients, each bite makes you 2 times fuller.

As the day rolled on, the sun came right overhead dissipating light and energy evenly to every hilltop, giving the tiniest weed on every hidden crevice a chance at survival. We bathed in the raw sunlight which pierced through the skin while the chilly mountain air caressed the epidermis, creating ripples of soothing sensations.

Sticky Toffee Caramel Pudding, Walnut Pie, Oreo Peanut Butter cupcakes, Rose Almond Cake, Cranberry Oats and Chocolate Fudge, from our recent food haul sweetened our afternoons while short stories by Ruskin Bond instigated nostalgia.
Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes
Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes

Time strutted forward and the bright sunlight reduced to a golden monochrome with specks of dark lavender infused clouds. We watched with a gaping heart as the sky caught fire. Slowly the rosy flush of the dusk, tinged the edges of the clouds which donned different shapes in an almost humorous attempt to please the eager human eyes.

Next, the invisible painter spilled crushed pomegranate juice on the canvas which harmonized with the slowly creeping shadow. And then came impending darkness wearing clothes borrowed from the Night.

A sense of melancholy touched the realm once the show was over. Sensing the grim atmosphere, the sky quickly turned into a floor of gems with a million stars boasting their luminescent powers.

Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes

It was a full moon night and the calm incandescence of the lunar aura flooded the landscape transforming it into a celestial paradise.

The bonfire warmed our hearts. The steaming hot bowl of soup and Maggi comforted our souls.

Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes
Photo of Suwakholi, Uttarakhand by Maiden Routes

We lived in a parallel plane, concealed and untied. Each morning, nature took us on a trippy ride and cradled us back to sleep at night.

The 4th day drew an end to our enchanting escapade. We felt grateful to be alive to witness this beautiful world.