Song OF THE Hills
Outlook Traveller|November 2020
Away from the confines of life on the grid, looking benignly from above, Sattal has an enchanting tale to tell.
AHTUSHI DESHPANDE

BETWEEN TWO HILLS

A hill home is a dream many mountain-loving people harbour, and I was no exception to the rule, but it never quite materialised. However, when our COVID-19 induced virtual lifestyle started stifling me and my near and dear ones, we hatched a plan to move home for a month. Airbnb came to the rescue popping up Surya Villa, Delhi-based, Amita Bhandari’s hill home in the Nainital district of Kumaon. The three-bedroom furnished villa came with a cook, a caretaker and most importantly, the promised good wi-fi connectivity. Life had zoomed in on us in a strange way, with most interactions being online in nature. As school, college and work all became virtual, I, along with my extended family of eight headed for the hills, armed with our unlimited mobile data plans and additional dongles.

After over nine hours on the highway (with halts for e-pass and covid report verification) we turned into the easily missable Bhorakoon turn, a short detour off the main Bhimtal road, leading to our destination at Suryagaon. As we turned the final steep stretch of the five-kilometre road, Surya Villa came into view. It enjoyed a pretty perch with a large garden sit out, a hammock-studded nook to the other side and two terrace gardens. Right below the hill, approximately a hundred-odd metres, glimmered the serenity of the interconnected lakes. Sattal comprises seven freshwater lakes. the largest of the lot Ram, Sita and Bharat take up the bottom of the bowl. The other lakes, hidden within the nooks and smaller hills, were all short walks left for local explorations in the coming days.

TO THE forested ESTATE

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