Cozy Fireplace, Gorgeous Sunsets & Homecooked Food: The White Peaks, Uttarakhand

A lot of you reading this  must be social media junkies, like yours truly who spend a major chunk of their time online. For some, its their bread & butter {like me}, while for a few it might be just passing time. Well, for once in life I have gone the longest without an access to decent Internet or as a matter of fact, calls or e-mails. Let me rewind the story and take you back to March of 2018, when 5 crazy girls decided to skip the hustle bustle of the city life and head to the hills for a quick break, while spending quality time together. It all started with one little post on Instagram, with one tiny cottage clad in snow and no mere sight of human in their entire feed. I saw this and understood – This place is going to be MY ESCAPE! Well, after waiting patiently for weeks to get the cottage free, we made it to their gorgeous homestay in Gagar Village named The White Peaks. Below are just 5 {of the many, many} reasons why you should plan a trip here soon {And perhaps, thank me later?}

  1. A Warm Welcome By Thin Mountain Air – Glistening silver oak forests all around, and mountains for as far as you can see with absolutely no sight of people, we felt that this welcome is the most quiet and therapeutic of any of the places we’ve been before. This tiny village of Gagar houses few locals and only handful of shops & stalls, with a trail in the adjoining Oak forests that is a must post a stunning view of the sunrise. The cottage has just two rooms—the Magpie Room and the Woodpecker Room which are very cozy and subtle in their own unique way. My favorite part of the homestay would be the courtyard though – with chirping of birds, and offering breathtaking view of the mountains!
  2. That Cozy Fireplace Set-Up You Always Dreamt Of – Call it cliche, but a warm fireplace with a cup of Masala Tea is the perfect set up to get my creative juices flowing. It’s warm, feels like home and just the perfect set up for reminiscing the nostalgic moments sitting across with your loved ones. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cottage housed some of the most amazing collection of books, few by the bedside too where I was elated to reconnect with favorite author Paulo Coehlo again. The endless cups of amazing adrak chai made by the caretaker Mohan Bhaiya, added to the magic!
  3. Bring Your Pooches Along – While the homestay has two absolutely adorable pets named Kaali and Jamun {We soon befriended them as well} who welcome you with so much love & warmth, it also has the provision to accommodate you with your pups and are happy to feed them as well. Who else wants to skip hotels for this? Definitely me!
  4. Gorgeous Sunsets – I don’t really know much about you, but I certainly have this huge OCD of watching sunsets at every place I travel to. And trust me, whether its the beaches in Goa or the snow capped Mountains in Uttarakhand, every Sunset is different and gorgeous in its own way, with a unique story to tell. I made it a point to park my seat in the courtyard long before the sun sets, with countless cups of tea and my girls, while we watch the day go by and the stars light up the sky! You really have got to experience this, my words fail to do justice.
  5. Homecooked Meals – Food is an integral part of travel, and here it resonates so well with the homestay’s identity too. They use fresh, organic ingredients sourced from the local markets to cook some mind blowing food. We devoured on the Butter Chicken, Pahadi Rajma and the Pahadi Daal with piping hot Chapatis, which almost made me realize that I missed having this luxury at home. From microwave food to this, suddenly you realize that all your heart yearns is simplicity and not luxury.

How To Reach: Board Ranikhet Express or Shatabdi, followed by a 1 beautiful hour drive from Kathgodam Railway Station to the homestay
Where: Gagar, Nainital, Uttarakhand
Accommodation: They offer 2 rooms, the Magpie Room and the Woodpecker Room.
Timings: Open all year
Price: INR 6,014 per night including 3 meals
Contact: +91 9810053380, +91 9810050514



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Food on Train Can Be Delicious, Authentic & Hygienic: Busting Myths with RailYatri

Travelling on trains can be both fun and tedious. While you might love the joy of enjoying scenic views on the go, what might be a spoiler here is the food. There are many hiccups associated with the food, specifically with the hygiene and pricing. Safe to say, RailYatri is one perfect solution to have in your Smartphone the next time you board a train to a new destination. For those of you who are new to this, RailYatri is a mobile app that furnishes an expanse of data-based travel discovery at your disposal.  I happen to try it on my recent trip to the hills this NYE, and here’s a lowdown of how the experience went by:

Easy Download

Rail travel has never been so simplified. A quick download of this application gives you access to a pool of accessibilities – Right from PNR & live train status, live trip sharing, various trivia about Indian Railways or ordering homely food on your seat – This App has got it all.

Enjoy The Best Of Food From Various Cities

RailYatri gives you the privilege of enjoying the finest of food from cities like Agra, Lucknow to Ludhiana at the ease of a button. Get your bucketlist handy, and save the hassle of getting down at a station each time those hunger pangs strike in a train!

Regional Dishes at Your Disposal

Bored of having the same boring meals on Train? I honestly cannot recall eating anything beyond Butter Chicken, Vegetable Thali  or cold food packed from home each time I travel. RaiYatri lets you enjoy some fantastic regional dishes right from Misal Pav of Maharasthra to Malabari Chicken Biryani of Kerala. Tempted much? Yes please!

Real Time Order Tracking & On Seat Delivery

After choosing a suitable station to get your food delivered, you can also track your order real time at the touch of a button sitting at your berth. Save the hassle of waiting, and enjoy yummy food delivered right on your seat at the exact time. This option is such a saviour on days when your train is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances and you are clueless about the delivery of your food! Isn’t it?

Great Packaging & Fresh Food

Before you even begin to devour the food, the neat and clean packaging leaves you impressed. Brownie points for this, since it is one major factor in keeping the food fresh and piping hot when it reached me when I ordered it during my recent train journey! Glance over the photos to get a hang of this and nod in agreement.

What Came On My Plate from RailYatri

Knowing how I can’t do away with my love for Italian food, the first order was definitely a Pizza. The meal was not only confined to this, there was a special wow box which was a meal in itself. The portion size was good, decent to suffice two people easily as it’s filling and homelike. The food came in fresh, and the flavours were spot on. Quite surprising to have that taste sitting in a train.

Safe to say, my verdict is that every frequent traveller must have this app in their smartphone. Download it here and do share your experience with me in the comments below!


Nutella Pancakes, Scenic View and Solitude: The Ramgarh Retreat Has It All

If you are a sucker for hills and bored of the usual spots like Mcleodganj, Dharamshala and looking for solitude, then you are sold for this already. Suggest you to save up this monsoon and make the most of the long weekends coming your way by planning a visit at The Ramgarh Retreat, located about 150 km from Delhi.

Home Away From Home

The idea of a cute cottage nestled on the top of a hill, secluded from the hustle bustle of the city is enough to get majority of us pumped. The minute you lay your eyes at the entrance, you know you’re going to feel at home within minutes. A sprawling garden with blooming flowers, the view looks nothing short of a picture from a fairytale.

The Ramgarh Retreat has 7 rooms with 2 separate categories called Himalayan Room & Garden Room. I’d suggest you to opt for the room with a private balcony overlooking the hills solely coz of that breathtaking view it offers! What’s more? A movie library, a fancy collection of books to board games to keep the guests entertained. We hear about a glass house coming up this December with an open air cinema for movies coupled with barbeque! Enticing enough?

Kumaoni Food, Waffles & More

I’d strongly suggest waking up at 5 am and watching the sunrise at The Ramgarh Retreat. This accompanied with a cup of hot tea and Coke Studio on the playlist is pure solace.  Enjoy a hearty breakfast comprising of waffles, live egg station and several other dishes. The cook has a knack in local Kumaoni Cuisine and dishes out some fabulous food with a very warm smile. Right from home style food to those midnight greasy Chinese cravings, he can prepare it all.


A great time to visit this resort is during peak summers to escape the scorching heat. Catch a Shatabdi train till Kathgodam station and enjoy the drive till The Ramgarh Retreat. The gorgeous view plus light snacking on the way would be fun! Be rest assured to get your heart melted by the warm hospitality of the owners. Aditi Ramdev, a 25 year old from Delhi and her daddy won’t mind joining you if you have a rocking 90s playlist and a great sense of humor. In another news, she also bakes some fabulous desserts, and dons the chef’s hat at times to cook for the guests!

Outfit Courtesy: Koovs
Location: The Ramgarh Retreat
Phone: +91-9811668760



Majestic Stay in Thar Desert: 9 Reasons to Visit Suryagarh

India is called incredible for an array of reasons. The vast lands, the diverse culture and various cuisines – it would take a lifetime for someone to discover the country in depth. Each time I hear someone bragging about going backpacking to Europe or head to another country to cure their wanderlust, I am amused by their choice. Before embarking on a route to a foreign land, we should experience the stunning experiences our country has to offer. September was a month that I fondly remember because of my visit to Suryagarh in Jaisalmer. 4 days of fond memories shall remain etched in my heart forever, and before I get teary-eyed lets get talking about 9 reasons why each one reading this MUST get Suryagarh on their bucket list. Trust me, the journey will be a zillion times more fantastic than what I describe below.


1.  Picturesque Property: Suryagarh is a splendid luxury hotel located in Jaisalmer. It hosts a great number of tourists and travelers each year. It is situated 7 km from Village Kuldhara and has easy connectivity from the city of Rajasthan. This grand palace has very sophisticated accommodations that offer an array of services as per the customer’s budget. The rooms are available in three categories that are a perfect amalgam of traditional style and modern facilities. Right from Mini Bars, Living Room, Jacuzzi Tubs to Fountains, Rooftop Pool and Private Mansions, you can choose the many services on offer as per your estimated expenditure. You can spot Peacocks and white Pigeons strolling around at sunrise in the courtyard, while a local musician plays folk songs on flute. This picturesque property has been host to various bollywood stars like Salman Khan and rated as one of the country’s top destination for destination weddings!


2. Savor Lost Flavors and Local Rajasthani Food: With Molecular Gastronomy slowly catching up to be a trend in the F&B industry, I have rather a different take on this concept. Instead of banking upon a fad, I have always appreciated the noble efforts of hotels to revive the lost local flavors and food. At Suryagarh, despite of having the task of catering to tourists, they stand firm in supporting food of the declining communities of Rajasthan. On my visit in September, I had the privilege of enjoying food of the Bhatiyar Community specially curated by the chef.  Hand pounded Goat Meat grilled with Indian spices and served with Garlic Chutney, Dahi ke Kebab with Tomato Shorba and Jaisana Pulao were one of my favorite dishes from the entire meal.

In addition to this, Suryagarh also has an all-day dining restaurant called Nosh which has both Indian and International favorites on offer. They also have a swanky and stylish bar called Draksh where the bartender whips some snazzy cocktails!


3. Impeccable Hospitality: Depending upon the choice of package, the hotel staff arranges a pick up for the visitors from the Jodhpur Airport. Kind staff greets you at the entrance, with a beautifully decorated tray of local Rajasthani snacks and refreshing drinks to ensure your 5 hour journey is as comfortable as ever. Without even you saying, the drivers are kind enough to stop at any mere sight of a deer or anything worthwhile for us to picture! Upon reaching the hotel, a traditional dance by local Rajasthani folk artists immediately relieves you of the fatigue of the tiresome journey to reach this magnificent hotel. Honestly, one sight of the beautifully lit property in evening, and you would murmur just two words, ‘Worth it’! The General Manager of Suryagarh, Mr. Nakul Hada is the best host you could ask for. His efforts in ensuring a comfortable stay for the visitors is commendable, and his beautiful narration of the history associated with the city makes the desert exploration even more worthwhile.

4. Memorable Outdoor Experiences Curated by Suryagarh: Suryagarh curates a variety of outdoor experiences for the visitors on request from September to March during an year. I was fortunate to witness four of these and couldn’t help but call these as some of the priceless experiences I have enjoyed in 25 years of my existence. Here are my two cents of the same, one read and you will realize why its worth every word I brag!


Dinner on the Dunes:  A magical evening that has the best of all elements – food, music and location! A majestic ambiance and food prepared by the chef on site clearly shows the exemplary hospitality offered by Suryagarh. Folk singers set the tone for a perfect evening, and within no time we joined them and everyone swayed to the tunes of local Rajasthani songs. A live barbeque with no artificial light, and kebabs that were honestly melting in the mouth. Bow down to the chef for this fantastic dinner!


Picnics at Desert Oases: The legendary Picnic organized by Suryagarh is going to give a new meaning to outdoor experiences for a traveler. A few minutes of drive from the hotel brings you to a pristine setting in the middle of the Thar Desert. While battling the sun and the excitement of discovering a lush oases, I noticed a bright Orange tent decorated with flowers right next to green pastures. Minutes later, there is delicious food coming in and the bartender whipping signature cocktails on demand. Piping hot Corn Kebabs with a Cosmopolitan in the middle of Thar Desert in the company of the talented people above, these are the moments we all live for. Don’t you agree?


Halwai Breakfast with Peacocks: A nourishing breakfast of traditional Indian delicacies is my kind of guilty pleasure. Halwai Breakfast at Suryagarh is a fabulous take on the culinary art of the Halwai, with a meal that includes the famous Pyaaz Kachori {I honestly lost count of how many of those I had}, Pyaaz Pakora, Palak Patta Chaat and Bajra ki Roti. After waking up to the voice of flute, I enjoyed this delicious meal in the company of peacocks strolling in the courtyard, while filming the sight of sun rising over the fort. This unusual offering will make perfect sense when you experience it yourself. For now, drool over the vast spread of sweets that were on offer after the meal. Sugar rush, anyone?


Sundowners at Kiradu Temple: Ever wondered how a Sundowner in the middle of the desert be like? Well, Suryagarh in the first of firsts blew my mind with this concept. The day began with a long drive to Kiradu Temple and stop overs in the middle of the journey at various holy places. As much as the sun is blazing with heat in the day, the evenings are twice as comfortable with a mild breeze blowing through the hair. After an hour long Vedic Chanting by local residents from Bikaner, you could actually feel the positivity around. A fabulous Satvik Meal {A pure vegetarian meal consisting of local Rajasthani delicacies} cooked by the talented chefs of Suryagarh awaited us as the sun began to set. A full moon night in the backdrop was the icing on the cake. Evenings like these definitely go down in my list of memorable moments!


5. Stay Well Breakfast Program by Sangeeta Khanna: In the first of firsts, the very humble and ace food consultant and writer Sangeeta Khanna curated a ‘Stay Well Breakfast Program’ at Suryagarh which has surprisingly delicious and very healthy food options for the guests. Her menu includes a decent balance of loved local favorites to some stunning alternatives to food loaded with fats. Waffles made of finger millet flour with a very rich texture and totally filling took me by surprise! Top your smoothie with a fancy spread of offerings right from Chia and Flax Seeds to Fruits and Muesli. Her menu doesn’t compromise on flavors and never for a second, makes you realize that you are consciously eating food that is good for your body! Oh and she has also whipped a Kadipata {Curry Leaves} and Yogurt based drink. Don’t you just love her effort in helping people make healthy lifestyle choices? I totally do!


6. Explore the Glorious History of Thar Desert with Suryagarh: It is not usual for me to highly recommend a place. I have seen numerous properties in the past that plan activities for the visitors but Suryagarh breaks the clutter by taking a path less traveled. The hotel takes you through Silk Route Exploration, Chudail Trail, Thar Exploration, few of which I was a part of. The entire experience is planned and executed by the management of Suryagarh so effortlessly well, making you wonder how easily these guys execute a fantastic meal in the middle of the Thar desert.


7. Plethora of Recreational Activities at Suryagarh:  You know how a place can make you feel at home instantly? Well, Suryagarh does that minutes after you check in at these beautiful property. So if you are a yoga freak, or a religious follower of a mandatory workout each morning, don’t fret. This property has an inbuilt Akhara — the traditional Indian name for a fitness centre. In addition to this, Suryagarh also has a beautifully lit indoor poor called Neel. And for the kids and adults seeking some ease from the routine, surely visit  Taash – the Cards and Billiard Room that offers various boards games.



8. Adventure and Sports in Thar Desert: Suryagarh is equipped with facilities to cure your thrill for adventure and pump up the adrenaline. You can try any of these three below mentioned activities!

Mountain Bikes – Suryagarh’s location act as the perfect spot for a spontaneous trail into nearby villages, oases or Thar Desert. If you can brave the scorching heat in the day, then give this one a shot!

Camel Safari – A Desert Exploration is incomplete without experiencing a camel safari. I finally gave in to my fear of riding atop a camel, all thanks to the scenic location and an interesting trail organized by the management of Suryagarh. The staff is very well trained, and our security is their top most concern. More of this, in the video coming next!

Dhanurvidya – The sport that involves utmost skill, precision and patience – Archery or often called as Dhanurvidya. On your next visit to Suryagarh, you must explore their unique facility of offering a personalized space for enjoying this recreational activity.


9. Unwind and Relax at Rait – The Spa: A perfect rejuvenation of body, mind and spirit awaits you at Rait – The Spa at Suryagarh. The spa facility is located on one side of the central courtyard where Mr. Mahesh, the Spa Manager welcomes you with a warm smile, and takes decent 20 minutes in analyzing your allergies and constitution. There are two signature spa on offer, one called Salt Spa which involves scrubbing of body using Looni Salt taken from the Looni river that flows through the desert. The latter is called Rait Spa which involves scrubbing of body using Sand.

Warm poultice made of salt is dipped into infused oils and massaged onto the deeper tissues of our body. The masseur eases the ‘Muscle Knots’ and remove stiffness in any area of the body, mine being shoulder and neck. After an exhaustive journey, this is the perfect way to flush out the toxins from your body and relax the muscles. Ending this therapeutic session with a Sauna and a cup of Green tea, and I could already feel myself in a state of pure bliss! If a spa treatment is on your checklist on every holiday{just like me}, get Suryagarh on your list already.

I know how pictures don’t do justice to the experience, stay tuned for a video that brings alive my magical 4 days at Suryagarh. Until next time, keep exploring 🙂

Quick Details:

What: Suryagarh
Where: Kahala Phata, Sam Road
Jaisalmer-345001 Rajasthan, India
Call: +91-7827151151, +91-02992-269269
Price: From Oct 15, 2016 to Mar 17, 2017 the tariff begins from INR 18000 and goes upto INR 100000/night.

How to Reach:

Air: Flight to Jodhpur followed by a 5 hour road journey to Suryagarh.
Train: Train to Jodhpur and reach Suryagarh by road.
Road: Choose either a bus or a car journey as per your convenience and budget.