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Bhuvan Kumari

















The Cottage in the Himalayas at Jeolikot

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…" So begins a Biblical passage. The last line: "…A time for war, and a time for peace."  ‘The Cottage" - nestled in the Kumaon region of the Himalayan Indian state of Uttara-khand—is where the two World Wars were nonchalantly swept under the carpet, while peace reigned supreme. But that was the ‘Raj’ era. “So what?” asks Bhuvan Kumari, the aristocratic owner of this red roofed ‘Kipling-era’ cosy cottage. “ Peace still reigns supreme here,” she emphasizes with a glint in her eye. “ Ask the trees, ask the birds, ask the bees, ask the rafters, the doors and the windows… but don’t ask the panthers…These blighters prowl around at night, trying to make a meal of poor little stray dogs…”

A ‘dyed in the wool’ charming hostess, Bhuvan Kumari hails from the Bundel-Khand( ‘the land of the free, and home of the brave’) region of Central India . It is difficult to figure out whether she blends with the cottage, or vice-versa. Probably both!

Imagine several sloping acres aesthetically packed with the pick of Mother Nature’s verdant, colourful, fragrant and tasty bounty, surrounding a centenarian, gabled, red roofed, cottage; conveniently situated between Kathgodam and Nainital—in Jeolikot. And at a height of some four thousand two hundred feet, it is an all season, all weather destination.

And you haven’t even peeped inside. Walk in, and the chances are that it would take the ‘best’ techniques of a hard-core terrorist to ‘persuade’ you out of it. In the décor and the ambience, Bhuvan Kumari has managed to blend the best of three life-styles and cultures: that of the ‘pucca’ and not so ‘pucca’ sahibs of the ‘Raj’ era; the Kumaoni tradition; and the comforts, hygiene and accoutrements of our modern era. The floor is comfy, soothing and warm sheesham wood, covered sparsely with a patch-work of cotton durries; but the piece de resistance are the medieval—if not ancient—vintage Kumaoni carved wood-work doing duty as doors, windows and frames. These were meticulously salvaged by Bhuvan Kumari from the debris and junk of demolished homes—destroyed by their owners to make ‘modern’ ones—some as far away as 250 kms! Some were on the verge of being sacrificed to Agni-deva.

  Neatly jelling with the wood-work are a myriad hues of fabrics—all cotton, mostly chintz; the ‘lady’ hates synthetics—serving functions from curtains to lamp shades. The patch-work quilts are from Mirabelle International; many of the fabric prints and designs are the handiwork of a barmy genius—Christopher Moore. Each of the five bed-rooms and the living room have ‘vista-vision’of the sylvan and montane ambience. And don’t forget to notice that tree stumps stand in for side tables, and takhats serve as your double and spare bed.

And do you think the cuisine will lag behind? No way! The ‘lady’ goes out of her way to ensure that the freshest and the best enter her kitchen. What comes out of it—non-vegetarian or vegetarian—is for home consumption.

Apart from savoring, experiencing and exploring the plentiful attractions of the immediate surroundings, you could use THE COTTAGE as a base-camp to visit several areas of the Kumaon Himalayas.

For everything there is a season…the sylvan serenity and THE COTTAGE await your holiday season…

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