Beautiful hill station of Shimla is a favourite vacation place for many and is like Davos for India, where key political and economic pacts are signed. Koti resorts near this Northern Indian town sits on a hill that has enchanting views of the Himalayas.
Location is the unique selling point of Koti. It is 17 kilometers away from the hustle and bustle of Shimla on Naldehra road near village Baldeyan. The 600 meter rugged stretch, off the main road, leading to the resort surrounded by deodar forests and apple orchards has an exclusive feel. The resort is located on a hill-top, at a height of 2012 meters above sea-level, offering a spectacular view of the Himalayas. Yatendra Chand, Managing Director, Koti Resorts and a descendent of Koti Royal family, said: “Friends convinced me to build a resort when I had thought of building a holiday home for the family on this land 25 years ago. I consider this the best location any resort has in Shimla.” Their family palace that probably has better views, at nearby Kufri, is now the Retreat, a summer residence of the President of India.
The resort is spread in a semi-circular way around the central public areas, thus giving scenic views to all 54 rooms. Spacious gardens of the resort have rear Himalayan flowerbeds. Waking up to watch the sunrise at the majestic hills through the floor to ceiling windows of our room is a permanent memory we carry. Snow peaked mountains in the rear were visible on a clear day. It’s also fascinating to watch morning activities of mountain people at a few homes down the hill. A hotel staff later identified the bigger of the two peaks as Shali Tibba. The face of the precipice is bare and there’re a few trees on the side slope. A small white building at the tip is the Kali temple, which can be reached by a motorway and a 5 kilometer trek.
Food and beverage
There is a huge all day restaurant which serves a wide choice of buffet spreads for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a few dishes from the hot station. Special Himachali (local), Indian, Chinese and continental choice is available on the a la carte menu. All staff, who are locals, are genuinely courteous and very happy to serve. The bar on the mezzanine has cozy seating and beautiful views.
Mr Chand said: “We’ll start a café by this winter for guests to just relax and imbibe the surrounding scenery over a hot cup of tea or coffee.”
Shimla is a trekker’s paradise and the visit is incomplete without a trek, even if it’s a soft one. Half day trek at the nearby CarigNeno trail with the resort guide Naresh Kumar was a fresh, natural experience. Whistling pines flagged the breezy air of pleasant April weather as we took the long uphill road. Heavenly Pretty wild flowers, a few harmless monkeys, grazing horses and cows greeted us along the trail. Apple and cherry plantations dotted the plain patches in between pine and deodar trees. Rhododendron trees with crimson red bouquets appeared as we joined the tarai road leading to Kali temple. Vast plain grassland with a big pond was a fine end point to the trek. During the climb up to the temple above, Naresh Kumar excitedly narrated how families from nearby villages, including his, gather for the annual fair held here during September. For the return, it was a steep rugged climb down through the Regional Horticultural Research Station (RHRS). RHRS has a list of high profile visitors who came to learn the story of apple, which originated here in India since 1887. It has interesting facts on varieties of apple that grow on 88 percent of cultivable land in the state. Apple trees were flowering and cherries were in season. The campus has maintained beautiful flower gardens. It was wonderful to descend down the meandering roads in the midst of pine groves.
Another attraction near Koti is the Naldehra Golf course at an altitude of 2044 meters. The 18 hole challenging Golf course built during the British rule of India in early twentieth century is surrounded by Himalayan Cedar (Deodar in local language) trees. It is possible to play on the course by paying a daily green fee. Equipment and caddies are available on hire. Chalets Naldhera, run by Himachal Pradesh Tourism has a 360°- Top of the World, revolving restaurant with views of the surrounding mountains. Horse rides are available at the hill.
Visit to Shimla town was inevitable. Magnificent Scottish architecture of the Indian Institute of Advance Advanced Study, the state museum and the intriguing Jakhu temple with real monkey acts were some interesting visits in the town. We mingled with locals on an evening stroll along the traffic-free Mall road and bought some local honey and saffron.
Best time to visit: Summer months from April to June have mild weather between 15 and 25 C and are popular with family and group tours. The resort gets snow during winter months between November and February, which is an attraction for many. Mr Chand said: “I’m at the resort every year during monsoons. It’s a very pleasant time when you get to see lush greenery and rainbows- sometimes two at a time. You must visit during that time”. It’s not possible to say enough to nature’s bounty and a re-visit is imperative.
Koti Resorts, Sadhora, P.O.Baldeyan, Shimla-171012, Himachal Pradesh, INDIA
Hotel’s Modified American Plan (MAP) package includes breakfast, dinner and a high tea served in the garden by the bon fire.
Conference facility is available for 250 pax in the main hall and for 30 pax in the break-away room.
An indoor heated swimming pool has the mountain views too.
Reaching there: Chandigarh is the nearest Airport. It’s a 4 hour drive through the meandering roads lined with beautiful flowering trees and a few towns.
Verdict: A fine blend of nature and hospitality.
Written By Anand & Madhura Katti