CUSTOM MADE FOR VIR SANGHVI
Nature is the ultimate luxury, birds chirping, bees humming, leaves rustling in the wind…it’s the sort of luxury that bypasses the body and reaches the soul directly.
The best way, I always think to really enjoy nature is to steal away to the hills, to find yourself a little cottage and to enjoy a Custom Made experience.
And so I head to the foothills of the Himalayas in Kumaon. It’s an overnight journey to Kathgodam and then it takes me a full hour of driving in the early morning to get to my getaway.
A friend has told me about Kalmatia Sangam, a collection of cottages, built on a hill, surrounded by cedars, pines, oaks and other trees.
And then there are the birds after whom the cottages are named and which can be seen all around the surroundings. It’s as far removed from the city as is possible to imagine.
The cottages are run by Dieter Rebb along with his Indian wife, Geeta, whose family has owned this property for years.
Yes, he’s German by birth but he’s been in India so long that he seems Himalayan in his ethnicity.
As far as I can judge, the earliest ownership of the property tells us that it belonged to an English officer called E S Jackson. Then around a century ago, Capt. Jackson sold it to the unlikely named Edward Thomas Chowdhury.
Mr Chowdhury or Edward Thomas, depending on what you want call him, was the district commissioner of Kumaon. Dieter’s wife, Geeta is Mr Chowdhury or Mr Thomas’ granddaughter and that’s how the property came into her family.
Now for the real reason I am here: The cottage in the hills called Himalayan Magpie.
It’s actually very grand, having been built on two levels. It has everything I am likely to need if I stay here for a few days.
But it also has a fabulous view which you could never get in most other resorts, no matter how luxurious.
If this experience is Custom Made for me, then the Himalayas were Made to Order for the Gods.
I can’t actually think of anything to ask for but the temple of bells seems worth a visit.
It’s beautiful and I love the many thousands of bells and an equal number of petitions hanging there.
It’s a bespoke experience in its own way…every devotee comes with a personal petition, deals directly with God, hands him the petition and who knows perhaps one day the bell will ring for him.
And so as you may have suspected, I change my mind. I decide that I will submit a petition after all. And what do I ask for?
Well, the obvious, more beauty, more nature, more fresh air, more freedom from pollution and an end to the hideous over development that is ruining India’s hill stations.