Situated just at a distance of 26 kms from Bhimtal, Dhanachuli is a small town blessed with scenic grandeur
One of the predominant travel trends of 2019, not surprisingly, is travelling off the beaten path. Indeed, the sheer joy of being at a place that is not teeming with tourists lends a whole new meaning to a vacation or a getaway. The sleepy hamlet of Dhanachuli, a couple of hours off Nainital, is one such destination. You can simply prop your feet up, recharge your batteries and rejuvenate your soul by revelling in the joy of doing nothing.
A few kilometres ahead of Mukteshwar, Dhanachuli is a hamlet that is the microcosm of life in the Kumaon region. Quiet, pristine, pure and just so charming, you can come here to relax and unwind yourself.
At Dhanachuli, in the midst of mist-laden mountains, you feel you can manipulate time. Whether you want to make it stand still, or you want to be transported into the bygone era. If you want to see snow, this is the perfect time to rush to Dhanachuli. If you want the sun to shine on your vacation, you can choose to do that as well. Either way, the emphasis in Dhanachuli is to relax and not run around. Because there is not much to ‘do’ for a mall-conditioned city-dweller. There is enough and more for a true blue traveller though. You can visit the 150-year-old post office at Mukteshwar – a really quaint structure that also functions as a mini museum because it houses a few relics in the form of stamps, old documentation and telegraph machines from the days of the British Raj. The site where Jim Corbett shot his first man-eater – the man-eater of Mukteshwar is also closeby – though the exact spot not many people will be able to identify.
Do pay obeisance at the ancient Shiva Temple just a stone’s throw away from the Post Office. Chauli Ki Jali is another attraction located behind the cliff of Mukteshwar temple. This place lies at around 200 metres of walk down from the Mukteshwar temple. The walk lies in between cedar and green oak trees, which is a great view. There is a natural lattice around the rock here that is believed to be the location for the mythological battle between Durga and a demon. There are also some adventurous activities available, like valley crossing, zip line, rock climbing, etc. The sunsets here are particularly spectacular.
If you love Kumaoni knits and handicrafts, do visit Kilmora – the handicraft shop in Mukteshwar. Located in outskirts area in Sita Village, it is known for wide and vivid collections of hand-woven shawls, hand-knitted apparels, skincare and cosmetic products, agri produce, and other souvenirs. Shopping at Kilmora is one of the most fun things to do in Mukteshwar.
While in Dhanachuli, the one place that you can make home has to be Te Aroha – that borrows its name from the Māori name of Mount Te Aroha. In a folk story of the Māoris, Rāhiri, the ancestor of Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu, climbed the mountain and saw his homeland in the distance and felt a sense of love (aroha) for it. So the name translates to “place of love”.
A place of love it is, indeed. It is not really a resort. Not even a hotel. It is an experience. It is a former colonial-style summer residence – a place of warmth that can function as an ideal home away from home. Also, the fact that everything here is so lovingly curated, it is easy to understand why it is called ‘Te Aroha’.
It is easy to fall in love with the idea of watching life float by – like the mist-laden clouds that roll in every evening against the background of the Nanda Devi range. The staff at this gorgeous place of love will be only too happy to take you on a guided tour of the village. And if you are lucky, you will also be able to enjoy a warm meal at a local home. It is an experience not-to-be-missed.
What is unique to Te Aroha and adds to its ‘timeless’ vibe is the Chitrashala – a fantastic museum dedicated to Bollywood memorabilia. But describing it as purely Bollywood would restrict its magnificence in being an extensive ode to Indian graphic art. The film memorabilia housed in this museum situated within the Te Aroha premises consists of posters, lobby cards, song booklets, show-cards, original artwork, stills and negatives and several other treasures. The film buff in me was over the moon! But cinema is not the only chronicle of culture and this museum is also testimony to that. There are a host of mythological calendar prints, some from the Raja Ravi Varma Cchool of Calendar Art, a matchbox collection, a section on commercial posters and labels of clothing, crackers and what have you!
Kickstart the new year by taking a step back over a weekend and pause time to reach out to the blue skies and reach within your soul to experience what true slow living is all about. This is a place you go to without any agenda, soak in the atmosphere and just allow all the stress to melt away.