Kumaon in Uttarakhand is dotted with lakes and forests , valleys and rivers - a nature lover's haven, a birders paradise, a trekker's dream and an accessible getaway for vacation seekers from the plains. A whiff away from the tourist tangle that is Nainital are beautiful abodes - arty, quiet and organic, calling out to the beleaguered city dweller to breakaway and just chill. Even the ubiquitous mobile phone is a distant ring away and internet can be completely avoided, should you so wish. Soulitude by the Riverside, is perfectly ‘RARE’ not to mention its unique location and 'soul-stirring' stories that surround it – truly a place to discover oneself by the Kalsa river close to village of Chanfi.
Soulitude by the Riverside is a small seven suite ( to call them rooms would be unfair ) boutique getaway set amidst an organic farm and carefully planted vegetation of flowering and fruiting trees. Just under an hour's drive from the the railhead in Kathgodam, be prepared for a dramatic entry to Soulitude by the Riverside ! Your car can take you only as far as an ancient bridge near Chanfi village, all steel arches and ropes and wooden floors, a relic of the British design. Silent, save for an etching of the year it was put there, if you look closely enough. And even while you are excitedly checking it out, walking on and around the bridge, your luggage will be collected and you will follow the welcome team on a thirty minute walk along Kalsa river, till you reach the quaint wooden gates of Soulitudes. The river pervades as a gentle murmur or a loud hush...depending on the season and the river's flow. There are two places on the Riverside you are likely to spend most of your time here, only when you are not walking upstream along the river with a book to read and a snack in your ruck sack. The Dhaba is right by the river, with picnic tables to sit at and endless cups of ‘chai’ at a moment’s notice. The second is the circular lounge, lit by natural light and fed by endless fresh mountain air. Large glass windows and skylights with a ‘twist’ afford views of the riverside, while you can lounge forever on inviting couches, splashes of colour, books and games around you. And when the night falls…..the sound of the river and the mountain sky create magic !
The dining room with a bar just outside are epicurean delights of a simplistic order sourced straight from the farms around, sometimes cooked out in the open in front of you over wood fired stoves or served piping hot inside the dining room. On the menu are local Kumaoni curries and lentils, north Indian dishes and a smattering of popular world cuisine. There are many niches and nooks at Riverside, made as shacks with a slight canopy against the elements and outdoor loungers where you can sit by yourself, read a book, stretch to asanas, meditate or watch out for birds. And the times you seek your room only because its you can barely keep your eyes open, you will be welcomed to elegant and spacious rooms with interesting furniture and features, small details that will make you smile – a bird head here or a feature cushion there, may be a bed reminiscent of a swing, a balcony in some of them. The ensuite bathroom has one fabulous feature besides the shower that is invitingly hot, heating towel rails which is quiet a rarity in boutique hotels of this size and then amenities custom made for Soulitude viz aromatic soaps, cleansers and creams. Things to do around Riverside, include short treks to Pari Tal and small villages around, longer treks include a trek to the top of the ridge and several other picturesque trails waiting to be discovered.