Gadholi, India

Photo: The Kumaon

It’s been a long day. You woke up in New Delhi, flew to Pantnagar, and then drove north toward the Tibetan border. The drive through Uttarakhand, one of India’s northern states, was slow. It took nearly four hours to reach Almora, the heart of the Kumaon region, and then another half hour to the small village of Gadholi. When you turned off the main road, a little sign announced the entrance of the lodge. Staff members met you at the parking lot at the end of the narrow, dirt road. It was a half-mile hike along Crank’s Ridge from there.

So you arrived at the Kumaon later than you expected. If it were visible, the sun would have been starting to go down. Heavy clouds blocked it, though. They blocked the view—the Himalayan mountains and pine-filled valleys—as well. So you hurried through the tour of the main house with the restaurant, the library, the sun lounge, and a large terrace. You were too anxious to get to your suite and take a hot shower to pay much attention.

Ten suites are scattered among five buildings along the ridge. The freestanding buildings are made of stone and bamboo. Floor-to-ceiling windows, lined with blackout curtains, front each minimal suite. They have pinewood floors, bamboo beams, and wide window seats. Kettles sit atop log burners. Plus sleek bathrooms with huge walk-in showers feature natural Ayca products.

Photo: The Kumaon

The cozy suite immediately put you at ease. You allowed yourself a quick, 20-minute nap to reset. You followed it with that shower and a cup of steaming tea. The stress, built up from traveling, melted away. You were in a completely different mood by the time you were ready to head to Amaranth for dinner.

Amaranth looks stunning. The restaurant, which is cantilevered above the main house, looks like it’s floating in the mountains. The dark sky—now clear of clouds and dotted with thousands of stars—makes the glowing space look even more dramatic. You enter through a glass tunnel lined with bamboo poles. Simple wooden furniture, all made on the premises, sit in front of a wall of glass windows. Traditional Kumaon dishes—Thali platters topped with curries, hemp-seed dip, roti bread, and kheer—soon start filling your table.

You order a glass of Zinfandel, which matches the food’s warm spices. The combination of the comfort food, the wine, and the setting solidify your changed mindset. You’re now ready to tackle the hiking trails, visit ancient stone temples, and (hopefully) spot leopards tomorrow. Sometimes you just need to decompress after a long travel day.

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