Stay at a family farm bordering protected deodar forest, 70 kms beyond Shimla, with nearby local traditional stone and wooden temples, forest trails, and a trout stream at the valley bottom (one of the sources of the Ganges). Great hiking / trekking country, a long-distance bridlepath built in the British period connects the farm to the ancient Hindustan-Tibet Road at the top of the valley (Hatu Peak).
Quality accommodation for up to ten guests, home-cooked vegetarian meals using organic home-grown vegetables and fruit, plus all dairy products from our cows and fresh eggs from our chickens. ALL MEALS INCLUDED in the price. Cheese and jam-making demonstrations available. Our own spring water is solar-heated. Our wood-burners are fed by apple wood, and most of the bathrooms also have underfloor heating. Relax in the garden (with fish pond), living room, verandah and games room. Enjoy the snooker table, badminton, table tennis, darts, lawn boules, board games, piano, guitars, a video collection and projector for film nights, and book library (1000+ books).
The farm is an ideal setting for individuals or groups (‘luxury vagabonds’) seeking peace and tranquility close to nature. A pick-up service is available from the nearest airport in Chandigarh (5 hours).
ALL MEALS INCLUDED in the price.
A ‘cheap and cheerful’ self-catering studio apartment with its own private terrace is also available, with maid’s room.
The property is 2 minutes’ walk from a small village (Rukhla) but there are no shops or other facilities. The nearest shops are a 45-minute drive away in Gumma or Kiari.
Inclusions: All guests have use of the garden, games room (snooker table), games room verandah (piano), book and video library (with projector and screen), tea / coffee in reasonable quantities, soap, shampoo, towels. A Wifi dongle is switched on every evening after dinner for an hour. A barbecue is also lit, if desired. A washing machine is available, but a small charge (Rs. 100) will be made for large loads. Fresh spring water.
Exclusions: Guests should bring their own alcohol, ready-made snacks, sweets and so on. There is no TV anywhere on the property.
The property consists of parts of a third-generation working farm, with apple orchard, cow/goat/chicken sheds and associated buildings, including farm workers’ accommodation and a family temple. Farm work is ongoing and guests should expect rural sights and smells in the immediate vicinity. The Main House was specifically built as a family home (two-storey bungalow style with thick stone and mud walls) while other parts were originally made for agricultural use and have been converted. All areas are tastefully and comfortably furnished, including many art and other objects gathered in the owners’ travels within India and overseas, as well as some family heirlooms.
All bathrooms/toilets are recently renovated, if not brand new.
There is a comfortable lounge with large fireplace (woodburner) and video projector and screen, which can comfortably seat 8 – 10, with windows and a door onto the garden, and others opening onto a covered balcony, which can seat 4 – 6, with stupendous views of the valley below. The balcony adjoins an open terrace, suitable for al fresco dinners, or yoga. The garden lawn can be used for French boules, badminton, yoga, or eating out under the stars, candle-lit.
Next to the lounge is an open plan kitchen-dining room, with recent modern fitted kitchen, store room and a second fireplace/woodburner. Windows onto the garden.
In a separate yet connected building (covered steps) is the games room and bar, with 5’ x 10’ snooker table and dartboard, with underfloor heating. The games room verandah is a covered seating area for 8 – 10, with piano, guitars, sitar, potted plants etc. views of the orchard and valley below. There is also a well-stocked library (1500 books, roughly), including a wide range of fiction, reference, travel, art, history, poetry, politics, biography, and children’s section.
There are two luxury en suite bedrooms within the main house. An annex (the Old Kitchen) is three metres away across a covered area, and has its own en suite bathroom. The Old Kitchen annex has large exposed beams and skylights. The rooms have views of the garden, forest, orchard or the valley below, and are tastefully decorated and comfortably furnished.
A separate studio apartment (the Cheese Room) is part of another building, accessible via a covered series of steps. It is a spacious bedsitting room with dining table, and a galley kitchen attached. It also has a small private terrace overlooking the orchard and forest. Guests using this standard-grade apartment can use a private external Indian-style bathroom, or if they are part of a party some of whom are in the Main House, they can share the use of the luxury downstairs bathroom therein.
The Cheese Room apartment can therefore be used either as a self-catering unit for two, or as an add-on for a party using the Main House, with all meals included.
The Mud Room is a separate, very basic, small yet comfortable room with traditional mud/adobe walls, with use of a private external Indian-style bathroom, or if they are part of a party some of whom are in the Main House, they can share the use of the luxury downstairs bathroom therein.
The gardens, orchard and forest, all of which are immediately accessible, are all freely available for guests to explore and enjoy. The orchard and forest have been marked with trail markers and a guide map including timings, points of interest and levels of difficulty is available.
NB. The property as a whole also accommodates the owners, their parents and two families of farm workers, including seven children, and there is therefore always someone on site, although no-one is officially charged with being a security guard or caretaker. All doors have locks, the keys are given to the guests, and a safe deposit box is also available, behind two locked doors.
1. Other Information
1. Cuisine : Mostly veg. but non-veg. on request, with advanced notice please.
2. Types of Cuisine:
Local Pahari/Himalayan, North Indian, Italian, British.
Timings for meals.
• Breakfast: 9 – 10.30 (Earlier breakfasts available with advanced notice)
• Lunch: 1 – 2.30
• Tea / Snacks: 3.30 - 5
• Dinner: After 8
3. There are no nearby restaurants to order food.
4. House rules.
No shoes indoors.
No smoking indoors. Cigarette butts in ashtrays provided, outside.
No plucking fruit without supervision.
Respect for property. Breakages/damage/loss to be paid for.
All trash in bins provided.
Snooker room to be vacated by 10 p.m. when owners’ parents are staying (which is most often).
No pets indoors. Pets to be locked in garage at night, for their own safety (leopards).
Loud music off by 10 p.m.
1. The property is marked on Google Map.
2. The last mile road to the property is tarmac road with lots of potholes
3. Local people know the property as Smitra Orchards, c/o Jagjit Singh Chauhan
4. How to reach the property
From Shimla, take the national highway 5 towards Narkanda, Rampur and Puh. Before Narkanda, turn right at Theog towards Kotkhai on sate highway 10. Before Kotkhai, turn left at Gumma towards Chadhyana and Reoghati. Village Rukhla is 12 kms from Gumma, on the Reoghati Road. Himalayan Orchard is the last group of buildings on the right as you leave the village.
i. Closest Station: Shimla
ii. How many trains come to that station everyday: 2 or 3
iii. Distance from Railway station to the property: 70 kms
iv. Best means to commute to the property from the station and approx cost: We can arrange for a driver from Shimla for around Rs. 2000, or from Chandigarh for around Rs. 5000. Chandigarh is the best airport to fly to, although apparently Shimla airport may come back into service soon.
• Public Transport
i. Means of Transport & Cost
• Bus: From Lakkar Bazar Bus Stand, Shimla. Approx. Rs. 90. There is a bus leaving around noon which goes past the farm gate, destination Reoghati. Other more frequent buses stop in Gumma, destination Kotkhai. The owner can pick you up from Gumma, a 45 minute drive, but would appreciate good advanced notice.
Please note: Groups of no more than 10
Pick-up services available with reasonable prior notice to/from Shimla and Chandigarh.
Short and long treks can be organized, including overnight stays.
Two mountain bikes available.
Fly fishing opportunities (two rods), with reasonable prior notice.
Ideal for birdwatchers – variety of habitats (inc. resident Himalayan Griffon).
Picnics / packed lunches for trekkers / birdwatchers.
Candlelit dinners under the stars
Yoga spots available on site and in the forest.
Local knowledge of medicinal herbs, wild food foraging, cheese, yoghurt, and jam making, and traditional architecture, temples, and local history.