Himachal Pradesh has long been a paradise for travellers, with its colonial-era hill stations, idyllic rural settlements and verdant valleys. Kangra Valley, on the southeastern fringes of the north Indian state, has always remained somewhat removed from the tourist radar. The upside of this is that the lush valley in the shadow of the mighty Dhauladhar mountain range has retained the pristine charm seldom found in destinations thronged by tourists.
A cottage in the hills
Perched on a hilltop on the outskirts of Palampur town, Rakkh Resort is an ideal base to explore the splendour of Kangra, while experiencing the authentic flavours of Himachali tradition and culture.
The cottages of the pet-friendly six-acre property are spread out on the slope of a hill and meld into landscape, hemmed by the serried mounds of the Shivalik range, with the snowy Dhauladhar massif towering behind them.
The cottages afford fantastic views of the mountain rangesCourtesy: Rakkh Resort
With its ethos entrenched in responsible tourism, Rakkh Resort undertakes sustainable practices that includes use of recycled plastic and refillable dispensers, sourcing hyper-seasonal produce from local growers and employing members of the local community to run the retreat.
Swati Makkar, general manager of Rakkh, says, “Connecting with friends, family and oneself is the core theme we go by, especially in a digital-driven world, which is increasingly reliant on technology.”
Exploring the hills
Rakkh Resort is a pet-friendly resort and you will always have the company of the resident pooches on your nature hikesCourtesy: Rakkh Resort
The activities and experiences are curated to promote spending time with loved ones and soaking in nature while making new connections. There are nature hikes, village excursions and picnics by a gurgling stream. A number of DIY stations dot the property where kids can have a fun time rustling up bowls of Maggi, while adults hone their barbecuing skills.
A gentle downhill walk takes guests to a village of the Gaddis community — a shepherding tribe who spend their summers in the higher Himalayas with their flock of sheep. Traditional mud houses with expansive courtyards are slowly being replaced by modern structures, but the few watermills that are still in use herald a different time.
A cuppa from the hills
A visit to the Himalayan Brew Tea Estate and factory is a worthwhile experienceSugato Mukherjee
A trip to the Himalayan Brew Tea Estate and factory is a wonderful way to learn about the tea culture in Himachal. The flavour profiles of the orthodox Kangra variants are surprisingly different from Darjeeling tea, with fresh floral notes and vegetal twists, and the blends are available at a very reasonable price.
Ringed with an alpine forest, the road from Palampur winds down to Gyato monastery, 12km from Rakkh Resort. The majestic Dhauladhar forms a stunning backdrop to the gold-and-rust facade of the monastery, which belongs to a Tibetan order of Buddhism.
The Gyato monastery is about 12km from Rakkh ResortSugato Mukherjee
A visit to the monastery can brighten even a slightly dull day, when the snow-dusted peaks are hidden behind a band of fluffy clouds. Young monks in crimson robes run about in the expansive courtyard, Buddhist chants reverberate through the prayer hall where shimmering silk thangkas shine brighter in the semi-darkness, and a beautiful statue of Maitreya Buddha make the highlights of the trip.
A 1.5hr drive away from Rakkh is Bir Billing, one of the best paragliding spots in the world, which hosted the first-ever Paragliding World Cup in 2015. With the climate usually perfectly suited for any airborne gliding sport — smooth winds for clean take-offs and ideal landing sites — you can embark on your flight of fantasy and sail past the mountains on a pilot-operated tandem or as a solo paraglider.
On the way back, you can make a pitstop at Baijnath Temple, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas worshipped continuously since its construction in the early 13th century.
The taste of the hills
The focus is on local Kangra cuisine often cooked the traditional waySugato Mukherjee
In step with its go-local ethos, Rakkh Resort focusses on promoting traditional Kangra cuisine. Try the dhaam — a celebratory course-based meal of locally-grown rice, a variety of pulses and vegetable curries, and a delectable khatta mutton (slow-cooked meat in a thick, tangy gravy). Finish with some creamy, decadent kheer.
How to spend a day in the hills
The sky-cycling course at the resort is a treat for thrill-seekersCourtesy Rakkh Resort
A plethora of immersive, interactive activities such as pottery, weaving, archery, darts as well as soft adventures like wall climbing have been curated at Rakkh Resort. The resort is also among the few that feature an in-house sky-cycling course, where you can pedal on an iron rope, fixed high, and glide from one ridge to another with the cool mountain breeze blowing around you.
Try your hand at weaving during your stay at Rakkh
If you are not seeking an adrenaline rush, there are more culturally immersive experiences, like local weaving crafts.
You can then wind down by lazing on the outdoor terrace or the infinity pool and soaking in the interplay of light and shadows over the mountains, as the clouds create shadow patterns on the emerald valley below.
Night falls over Rakkh Resort with the inky blue Shivalik range in the backgroundSugato Mukherjee
- Himachal Pradesh is well connected by road, rail and air travel.
- By road, Rakkh Resort is 40 minutes from Dharamshala, 6hr from Manali and 9hr from Delhi.
- The nearest railway station is at Pathankot, which is 110km and 3hr away by road.
- The nearest international airport is Delhi, though there is a regional aiport at Dharamshala.
- Hill cottages at Rakkh Resort start at Rs 16,112 during off-season (July 15 to September 14) and Rs 17,800 during on-season (September 15 to July 14). Check rakkh.com for details.