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I went glamping in Uttarakhand and this is how it turned out

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadJan 20, 2023 | 21:00

I went glamping in Uttarakhand and this is how it turned out

A geodesic dome at Eco Glamp in Kanatal, Uttarakhand. Photo: glampinginindia/Instagram

The hills are calling and it's the perfect season for a vacation. But if you are someone who wants to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the hills, perhaps skipping the popular tourist spots would be a good idea.

At this place in Uttarakhand, camping meets luxury and comfort, with fresh air, homely food, the jungle as your cover, and endless stories over bonfires. 

The concept of marrying camping and luxury anyway seems like an unlikely blend.

So, what is glamping? Glamping is the combination of two words - glamour and camping. Basically, it means camping in luxury or glamour. 

But what about the cold weather, the water, or the bathroom? Will we be sleeping in sleeping bags on the cold hard muddied floor? Will there be little creatures keeping us company?

These were the questions on our mind before we set off for Eco Glamp in Kanatal, Uttarakhand.

When we reached the resort, we were in awe.

We were greeted to (not our rooms) but our tents or geodesic domes with private patio space, a fantastic view, linoleum floors, heated rooms, king-size beds with several pillows, and a spacious bathroom. It was the start of 'glamping'. 

The concept is already quite popular in foreign countries and India has joined the bandwagon, but geodesic domes are still a novelty. There are a few other locations in India like Manali and Kalimpong, West Bengal where you can stay inside geodesic domes for glamping. 

Getting to Eco Glamp is a story in itself. You have to reach Dehradun either by train or a flight unless you are driving all the way up to Kanatal at 8,500 ft. The drive from Dehradun to Kanatal can be challenging even if you don't often suffer from motion sickness. The serpentine road will give your head and tummy a little bit of the spin. You can make it a bit easy by stopping along the way and of course being greeted with breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountain ranges.

One of our stops along the way to Eco Glamp. Photo: Amrutha Pagad

We were assigned our glamps, as I like to call them, situated on a steep hill. The height of the property from the ground up to the last unit is approximately the same as a 12-storey building. You may want to note this information if your joints are a concern. There's going to be some climbing involved while staying here. 

But for the average person, the resort doesn't pose a tough climb to your tent, since it's on a slope. Your heart will love the climbing, which is just enough, and never too much.

An impermanent structure: The tents are set up atop a step foundation which roughly cost Rs 1 crore to build. The tents themselves take over 6 months to be assembled. It's a good business model since the structures are not permanent and can be transported elsewhere. And it's also sustainable for the fragile ecosystem of Uttarakhand, in the sense that there is no heavy construction involved.   

Eco Glamp offers you two types of stays right now - geodesic domes and the Himalayan Safari tents. The dome-shaped rooms can accommodate two people, perfect for couples and honeymooners. 

The Himalayan tents are bigger, rectangular in shape, and meant for families or a group of more than two people. 

I got to stay in the Himalayan tent. Here are my favourite parts of the stay:

  • The big bed to myself. I just had to plop myself on it the moment I entered the room. 
  • The hair dryer in the bathroom is something I didn't know I would love. When you wash your hair in the winter, it's nice to be provided with a hair dryer and not have to carry it along. 
  • Evening tea and biscuits sitting in the lounge watching the sunset and the sky turn numerous shades of colours like a painting. 
Photo: Author
  • The patio swing chair for the dewy sunrise and tea and soaking in Vitamin D.
  • And the whole room in the afternoon after the sun warms it to the perfect temperature. It's great for those who love a little nap in the noon after a trip in the cold outdoors. 
  • And of course, Sylva, the resident kitten at Eco Glamp.
Photo: Author

In the evening, we sat down for a chat over snacks, a few drinks and a bonfire. Ghost stories are of course the norm over bonfires, but if you have a weak heart and have to sleep alone overnight, maybe skip them.  

When you are there, don't forget to try the rum-based White Witch cocktail.  

The food: After our bonfire briefing, we were served our dinner, a delectable North Indian meal. All the ingredients are sourced locally and are fresh. The menu consists of basic veg and meat-based North Indian choices, but the kitchen can prepare something specific on request and availability. 

  • We highly recommend you try out the sarson ka saag.
  • Breakfast includes a variety from South Indian options to an all-English meal. 
  • And the tea has the signature hill-side taste to it. It's not the same kind of milk tea that those from Delhi or nearby cities would be used to. 
  • Overall, the food feels like a detox if you are someone who can't enjoy home-cooked meals every day.

The nights can get chilly, with sub-zero temperatures in winter. If you happen to go during the snow months (now is the time), you will find a winter wonderland. But the tent will keep you warm enough. Don't forget to pack extra pair of socks that you can wear while inside. 

The mornings were my favourite part of the stay. For once, I woke up feeling refreshed and energised at 6 am, without an alarm. Perhaps a stay here can set your biological clock right. 

Sipping tea by the swing chair and watching the sunrise in the chilly and dewy outdoors is the cherry on top. Once the sun is out, you can also sit here to soak in some Vitamin D.

Photo: Amrutha Pagad

What to do in Kanatal? Kanatal is best suited for someone who's looking for a calm and relaxing trip. There are not many hyper-adventurous activities to take part in here, nor are there any markets for your shopaholic inner self. But these are some places you can visit: 

Tehri dam: You can drive down to nearby Chambal which is home to India's tallest and largest dam - Tehri dam. If you are in the mood for some adventure, you can go parasailing or jet skiing. Or if you prefer something calm, then you can take a ride on a boat around the lake where the water is turquoise blue and refreshingly cold.  

Photo: Author

Surkanda devi temple: The folklore surrounding this temple and the history of Goddess Sati will bring a slightly spiritual touch to your trip. Locals say you can only visit the temple if the Goddess wants you to and that once you visit, she will make you return a second time. 

But even if you are not the spiritual kind, you must visit the temple for the sheer beauty of the architecture and the views from the top. The temple is situated at 2,756 metres altitude and offers stunning views of nearby hill stations of Dhanaulti and Chamba. 

There are two ways to reach the temple - via cable cars or by a small trek. We trekked to the temple, which was an easy climb. But if you have a knee, back or heart problem, the trek is not advised. 

Kaudia forest: A small trek into the jungle, covered by a canopy of pine trees can feel like you stepped into a magical world. It is suitable for all age groups. It makes for a great picnic spot. So maybe you can spend an afternoon surrounded by serenity. There's also a jeep safari into Kaudia forest, for those who fancy a small open drive.

There are a few other adventure activities offered here including sky cycling and zip line. 

Eco Glamp is a retreat for you if you are looking for a serene getaway as close to nature as possible without having to give up on comfort. Sanjay Sharma and Vipin Mamgain, founders of Organic Hideaways Pvt Ltd (the company behind Eco Glamp) brand it as a luxury retreat.

However, while there is some luxury compared to good ol' camping, staying in a tent still won't allow for a complete luxurious experience. You will still feel the chill in winter, a lack of house slippers will turn your bare foot into ice, and make you miss toilet seat warmers, and the tents would get warm in summer.

You can explore Eco Glamp for a glamping experience from January to March at these prices (prices for two people):

2 Nights @ Rs. 24,999/- + Taxes
3 Nights @ Rs. 32,999/- + Taxes
4 Nights @ Rs. 39,999/- + Taxes

The price includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Geodesic Dome or Himalayan Safari.

Last updated: January 20, 2023 | 22:57
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