Friday, May 31, 2013

Home-stay Amidst Wilderness

You might be wondering why we haven't touched our Travel section for quite some time, especially when the holidays are already on. Well, we were just waiting for an exotic experience, coming straight from someone like you. And, look what we have got from one of our Contributors, Aparupa Ray Ganguly, who is a busy woman, just like you, and recently revived herself, amid the bounteous beauty of nature. She not just enjoyed the stay, but also clicked some of the best moments of her travel!!
Where Nature Welcomes You...

It was the Mulberry Fool that did it. Freshly plucked mulberries swirled in cream tasted like heaven on earth in an afternoon when I was shrouded in deodar trees intoxicating me with the hot smell of resin and the occasional Barbet calling to make its presence felt, lest I should miss it. Paddy had cooked the most fantastic lunch along with her three boys who help her run, The Retreat, in Bhimtal, 
Luxury From the 19th Century
Forty-nine-year old, and a proud mother of six talented young children, Paddy was born to a Tamil brahmin family. It was in 1989 that she moved in to Bhimtal, and lived here ever since, running and nurturing The Retreat, their stunning 19th century colonial family bungalow, acquired by her father in-law way back in 1951, as a home-stay.
The bungalow is cradled amidst thick cedar and oak forest that are also home to Oolong tea gardens. Rich in bird life, the bungalow has on old Victorian feel with art and artifacts, silverware and antiques that reminisces one of a glorious era gone by. A baby grand piano occupies an elegant corner whilst beautiful white sheer curtains flow breezily at the doorways. Stark blue and white ceramics add a hue of color to the ancient walls as every nook and corner beckons you to listen to a story they have to tell.
Feel the Home-stay... Seems a Historic Journey!!
Paddy narrated how Fred Smetacek, her father-in-law came to India, after jumping several ships and travelling across the world, all the way from Sudetenland, to escape the Nazis. He finally landed in the small town of Batanagar and soon moved to Kolkata (then, Calcutta), where he came across his gorgeous wife Shaheda (a descendant of Tipu Sultan). Besotted in love, he proposed marriage to her and soon after the Second World War, he moved to Bhimtal with her. After scouting through several estates, he stumbled upon Jones Estate which then belonged to Col. Jones, a Magistrate in that area. Jones Estate stole his heart almost instantly. Fred Smetacek knew he would never go back! And so, he and his wife, eventually opened The Retreat as a holiday home, in the coming years, catering to several diplomats from all over the world.

Later in the day, me and Paddy went on a walk to the Ridge in the afternoon, plucking tea all along the way, and spotting native birds and butterflies. The Ridge was flushed in a golden glow and overlooked the beautiful Sattal lake.
Dusk came by uninvited after a deep slumber, which emerged post the exhaustion of walking up to the Ridge, albeit well worth its while. 

The Retreat and its ever gracious hosts organized a splendid barbecue in the evening under my favourite deodar tree. The log fire beside me cracked and sputtered as conversations flowed.

Wish to enjoy the same experience? Check these details...
The Retreat
Jones Estate, Bhimtal, 
India- 263136
Drop a mail to the host at, or visit :

About Aparupa Ray Ganguly:
A seasoned hospitality communication professional, Ganguly has worked in the luxury and lifestyle space, and has been associated with iconic luxury hotels like The Imperial, amongst others. She started her career in media as a news reader and a professional voice-over artist, and then contributed in the creative world of advertising before she got into hospitality.

Ganguly is a well reckoned freelance travel, food and wellness writer. Having dabbled in the world of good-living, she understands the finer nuances and captures all this beautifully, in her words.

And yes, this is just the beginning of her relationship with AWSW readers. You will get to read more of such beautiful experiences, in the time to come...

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