Itmenaan in Urdu means to be in peace and at ease; a very apt name for Itmenaan estate. This property is for those who enjoy the simple pleasures of fresh mountain air, mesmerising views of Trishul and Nanda Devi, organic food, trekking or just relaxing in the tranquil and scenic surroundings with a raging bonfire.
It belongs to a new trend of “trek to reach property”, where you have to descend into the valley for good 20 minutes to reach the property. It is at this very moment, you realise how peaceful it is to not be surrounded by the constant rush of a city life. Time stands still here.
Itmenaan Estate is rustic resort in a peaceful rural setting in the Kumaon Himalayas , close to the small Chalni cheena market.
The 100-year-old traditional Kumaoni style stone house in the resort has been restored to retain its original architecture. Material comforts such as a comfortable bed and a large state of art bathroom are added for guests. The property offers 3 tastefully designed en suite bedrooms. Near to this house is the Deodar cottage – a large two-story independent cottage built in traditional style.
The 10-acre property has deodar and rhododendron trees; terraced fields laden with seasonal fruits and vegetables; and a small natural waterfall. The resort offers panoramic views of the Himalayas including the majestic Nanda Devi.
Property is 50 meters from Chalni Cheena Village market ( 5 shops and an ATM). You blink and miss the point. There are no sign-boards, you have to look for an old man with two walking sticks waiting for you. So clearly no walk-ins preferred. This will be your first interaction with the property. He is fondly called “Chachu” and he serves as porter, naturalist & guide. The estate is a 20-minute walk from the road head, which ensures complete tranquility and seclusion from the usual urban cacophony.
The closest village Naugaon is a charming little village where time has stood still. Most people are farmers and happy with their simple lives. On our trek to this village, every house invited us for a tea.
There is no formal reception desk , but the staff is always available to make your stay comfortable.We received a very warm welcome with hot rhodendrum juice followed by 2 days of comfort and lot of personal attention. Staff wear many hats. Navin assumes role of cook, bartender and manager as per the situation and Chachu is your man friday for everything else. It is hard to forget our dinners, which were served outside on cold night ( on our request) under the starlit sky. Bonfire under the table used to keep us cosy and food used to come pipping hot on the table.
The staff is mostly local , but well trained to maintain their impeccable hospitality standards. On our way back , due to road repair our driver got stuck , Chachu (our walk guide ) quickly organised a car for us within minutes using his excellent relationship with the village sarpanch . Money was never discussed , they were truly interested in helping us , a pleasant surprise from the usual ” fleece the tourist ” attitude .
Chef Navin cooked simple , delicious meals which were served on the open terrace. The cuisine is local or continental , using fresh produce from adjoining farms. Meal experience was heightened by the setting , food was laid at a scenic stone table amidst the resort’s vegetable garden and orchard
Breakfast had eggs, fruits and bread, as per preference. Loved the hot breakfast of parathas with local pickle. Lunch and dinner were 3 course set meals with starter ( soup /salad), main course and desert. Packed lunch is organised on request. Loved the bhang chutney and Bhatt Ki dal ( both traditional kumaoni fare) .The Banofee pie was a delight given the remote setting.
THE FACILITIES AND ACTIVITIES ON OFFER
Itmenaan estate offers the following activities to make most of your stay there .
Indoor : A library and game room.
Outdoor: Although, the resort conducts village walks with a couple of halts at their other guest houses, Thikalna and Ganghet. Two days is too short a time for the same. We just wanted to enjoy the scenery at hand. So on day 2, we did a 3 hour trek to the waterfall and neighboring village of Naugaon with Chachu .
Other excursions: The resort is well connected to Almora, Mukteshwar, Jageshwar, Binsar, Bhimtal, Nainital and Corbett National Park.
WHAT STOLE THE SHOW?
Clean mountain air, mesmerising views of the mountains and fresh food. Now that you are convinced, lets bring you up to speed with the practicalities. Know more about Itmenaan estate
The property is a 3 hour drive from Kathgodam and then 20 minute trek to reach the property.
Hole in your wallet
Expect to pay around Rs 6,500 – 11,000 per night for the room.
Internet / Television
There is no TV and Wi-Fi in the room. However, signal is strong on your phone and you can use hotspot.
– This is a village guesthouse , do not expect 24/7 room service or an elaborate ala carte menu.
– Be prepared to relax and enjoy the simple life
-The property is located about 1 km down hill walk which takes about 15-30 mins- they have porters to carry luggage. So travel light.
The author of this article only profiles properties he has visited and where he would like to go again, without blinking an eye or changing anything about it. We were hosted by Itmenaan Estate. Any property is reviewed on five parameters, which are:
Setting:- The property needs to have its own personality.
Service: I like being looked after, without the staff being intrusive.
Food: Has to be sumptuous, even if there are limited options.
Facilities: No minimum requirement but should have basic comforts that should add to the character of the place.
USP: There has to be one unique quality, which makes it different than the other offerings out there.