It was one beautiful misty rainy day on the winding roads of Kumaon en route to Kausani, when I first saw her. She stood there tall in her complete rawness by the roadside next to the Kosi River. She held my glance hypnotically till I lost sight of her. I knew I would see her again for sure. And that’s how this love affair began at the very first sight.
In her rustic demeanour, made of stone and wood, Kosi Valley Retreat had a strange spell on me. I kept frequenting to Kumaon almost every season and I was again there on the serpentine lanes from Almora. This time I stopped and decided to explore her. Modest yet intriguing is how she appeared. She was a warm and welcoming host.
The towering ancient trees, enchanting chorus of forest birds, mystical Kosi flowing beside, engulfed in thick forest and dense green foliage gave her an enigmatic character. Cozy bedrooms, homemade pahadi food, a spacious dining area overlooking the river, a still serene pond tempts me to extend my stay every time I am here. Time just freezes when you just sit in the veranda and watching the river flow and the perpetual sound of the flowing river just soothes every nerve.
The ever calming sense breathing the stillness around; the wonder of vibrantly coloured butterflies fluttering around you; the adrenaline rush of walking the tight rope of Burma bridge; the chill shivers while exploring the leopard caves behind the Retreat…she has stirred many an emotions within me.
Simple but exotic is how it is here at KVR. What more luxury could I ask for; I would pick a cozy spot under a tree shade with a book and get lost in the world of words and get pleasantly distracted by the humming of a shy Himalayan bird. I have spent my afternoons collecting colourful pebbles by the Kosi river bank or capturing some vibrantly coloured bug or some wild flower in my lenses.
Have you ever watched a sky full of zillion stars? Sitting by the bonfire and connecting the stars to form the great bear, the dragon in the sky left me in such awe. Felt like a kid on my first visit to the planetarium.
Don’t know when was the last time I had seen bright clear blue sky in Mumbai. It’s always grey, overcast heavy with smog. And here in the Himalayas, you see the masterpiece symphony of colours every dawn and dusk and through the clear sunny day, the clouds playfully form shapes. Everything is so vivid and vibrant and flamboyant.
I have never picked my own veggies for lunch. And boy! What fresh organic veggies grow here! The fragrance, flavours, colours all so rich and real, unlike the sad, lifeless, shrivelled, fertilised, adulterated, hybrid food wrapped in plastics in the urban malls. In fact some of the vegetables I didn’t even know how they looked growing on a tree as for all this while I have seen them lying in heaps on vegetable vendors’ cart. Did you know how fennel (saunf) shrub looks like? Imagine eating your mouth freshener out of a plant. There’s one growing right outside the bungalow.
Even before I realised, KVR had weaved so intricately into my life, I would come to KVR at every event that was happening in my life, be it the worst phase of my life or the best ones; as if I was there to share with her like my most dear companion. She mothered me and wrapped me with her serenity when I lost my dad. Felt safe and secure just being there and sharing my elusive side with her. She was my hideout from the world when I wanted to go soul-searching.
And of course, where else would I have been when I wanted to be all spoilt and pampered when I was pregnant. She coddled me with her lazy ambience, her sumptuous cuisines and the idle pondering rambles and lazing on the grass watching the clouds pass through my second trimester.
And then once my daughter was born, I couldn’t wait to open her to the burst of marvels at KVR. KVR was a world of amazement and discovery and exploration for my tiny one with loads of curiosity. They were the most fun filled days of my life seeing my little tot enjoying her many first timers like her first chills of Kosi River, scrutinizing the smallest of bug, chasing tirelessly the bright blue dragonfly, watching her gleam peek into my palm to see the glow-worm twinkle.
Soon my affinity to her had grown to the level of no return. I would crave to go back; to breathe; to live; to amaze. After my rendezvous with KVR, going back to the urban life has been more and more unbearable. In this aspirational lifestyle of urban world where we insanely, forlornly keep running but head nowhere; where our idea of fun is hanging out in the smoked up pubs, hogging on noxious junk food; breathing fumed up air; having belittled existence amidst the tall grey concrete under the smogged sky is probably a typical urbanite’s way of living.
Once you discover a way of living like KVR where you breathe lungful of fresh air, drink mineral rich sweet water from the flowing river of the melted glacier from the Himalayas, eat wholesome rich pesticide-free organic food, bask in the clear blue sky; it hits you that life you lead in the so-called metro is so colourless and withered. You realise that it’s turned into such a depleting luxury to be amongst nature when ironically these are supposed to be the basic necessities of existence.
This hard hitting truth is what spontaneously made us decide to take KVR into our banner, Walk to Himalayas. And make this luxury a permanent way of living.
And that’s how it’s been with Kosi Valley Retreat; quite an affair; a kaleidoscope of emotions. She made me fall in love with myself. The journey in inward has begun and there is no looking back.
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