If you agree Dharamshala has lost its sheen, this is where you should head to

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The travel between Delhi and Dharamshala is of 12 hours by train. However there is no railway station you can connect to directly. You need to get down at Pathankot in Punjab and drive up. There are good buses that run on this route; however we preferred train simply because a train offers much better comfort than the former.

Many people wisely comment that travelling to the hills during monsoon isn't a good idea. Yes, it's true that there are chances of landslides in the upper Himalayas and may stall traffic movements for good 2-3 days. But then the with rainwater masquerading as waterfall and gushing out here and there at incredible force and noise make your mountain trip in monsoon a memorable one.

This monsoon we were looking for a place that would satiate our hunger for 'Pahadi' culture dose. While choosing the destination, our preference remained a place that is isolated yet loaded with amenities. And that's when we discovered Rakkh Resort, a eco-friendly destination in Gopalpur, Kangra - some 15 miles away from the hustle and bustle of Dharamshala.

To reach Rakkh, you need to take a detour from the Chamunda Temple road and drive across the rough terrain. With sudden rains, the road might be slippery as well so one needs to be really careful while hauling up. But once you reach the resort, the furry welcome by in-house pets Talli and Tina, a Golden Retriever and a mixed breed will make you fall in love at first sight.

Rakkh Resort Mountain Cottage

There are two types of cottages at Rakkh: Mountain and Hills. While the first one has a beautiful view from the open veranda, the second one gets bonfire pit, which comes handy in the evening. The cottages are tastefully designed using local artworks. Wood is the primary material used in the decor of the room. Built in midst of Himalayan forest land, it's quite obvious that wood will get the priority here.

Talking about the cottages, what deserve special mention here are the teal colour combination of the wall, wooden headrest that looks raw yet pretty, the naked stone design of the veranda floor. And of course there is a traditional brass pot with warm water and sea salt for you to sleep well.

We have mentioned earlier, everything has been sourced locally. Right from the manpower to daily necessities are from the villages located within 3-4 km radius of the resort. The restaurant Dhaam, has variety of juices in mason bottles sourced from a local juice factory in the village. Among the wide availability of menu, we tried the local Himachali cuisine. Though a small mountainous state in the lap of Himalaya , Himachal Pradesh has its own way with food. Though with a hint of neighbouring Punjab, Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh, Himachali Madra (vegetable curry) and Patrod ( Arb i leaf pakoda) are some of the delicacies in the area. And at this Dharamshala hotel there is a strong emphasis on local Himachal food. Not just the Himachali sour dal, sweet rice, Madra and Chana Dal Himachali style, there is an unlimited supply of refreshing fresh juice, noodles, and high tea for your need - all included with the accommodation.
Scene from the resort: Majestic Dhauladhar's Guest Appearance in early morning

Well, talking about activities at Rakh village, there are just tonnes of it. Explore the surrounding countryside on two wheels! Different trails have been specially designed to cater for differing levels, from beginners to more practiced mountain bikers.

These scenic bike rides take you through the surrounding villages of Rakh and Ghamrota, through local tea estates, past isolated Tibetan monasteries and at the end of the excursion our vehicle will be on hand to pick you up and return you to the resort. All excursions are accompanied by trained staff, and all the bikes and equipment reach international standards.

The immediate area surrounding Rakkh has provided some perfect hiking trails. Step outside your room and within minutes we'll take you on some very special walks, varying in terms of distance, terrain and difficulty level, so there's something for everyone.

Rakkh has teamed up with local artist, Shubham Singh, to offer guests a chance to take part in a half day pottery workshop at the Andretta Studio. Learn from a true artisan the basic skills of throwing a pot on the manual wheels they have at the studio. Learn the intricacies of the art of pottery-making from a local craftsman who has maintained a long-serving reputation for producing some of the finest works in this medium.

The wool weaving culture in Himachal needs no introduction. Himachali shawls vie with their Kashmiri cousins for numero uno status. But rather than simply buying one from the market, what if you could witness the entire process of how these intricately-woven shawls are made? At the resort, a local artisan demonstrates the time-tested art of shawl-making. Watch how these beautiful shawls are made, the skill and craft that goes into each one.

And if you don't like adventure much, no worries. If you love food, you can indulge in cooking classes. From mainstream meals such as madra (chickpea with a yoghurt gravy) and dishes for the sweet-toothed guest such as meethechawal (sweetened rice) to lesser-known savories like khodu and patrore - you'll learn how to prepare and then feats on a cuisine that seldom finds mention in the annals of the great Indian cookbook, yet finds its own, visceral way to your taste buds, in a traditional Himachal kitchen. Meals are taken sitting cross legged on the floor, and food is best enjoyed eaten with fingers!

And if you want to be far away from the madding crowd, just sit cross leg by the stream near the resort and take deep breaths. You will soon forget the petty office politics and rise much above worldly sorrows.



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