A trip to Uttarakhand promises just that it’s an array of excitement, spirituality, travel, food adventures, camaraderie and breathtaking sights. Just the aerial view of the vastness of the landscape interspersed by the cottages as one lands at the Dehradun Airport, here begins the shift towards the breaking the limitations, one needs to.
While I marvel at the quality of the well maintained roads that embrace the various mountains and hills that we traversed through. Our experienced drivers have their eye and every sense on the road. And, here I realized that I literally submitted my life into the hands of this stranger, completely confident of reaching my destination.
Living in Style
There are loads of places to stay at Mussoorie. From little cute lodges seeming so firmly nestled on rocks to fancy old world heritage hotels. And, amongst this, is ‘this world’s’ JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa.
A hotel that strives to bring you traditional Garhwal experience with the comfort of the modern amenities that a family requires.
The rooms are spacious, comfortable and become home very easily. The elements that made my stay in this room absolutely wonderful were the beautiful view from my lovely balcony, the bed that gave me a rejuvenating night sleep, the full sized bath tub (that soak could be re-energizing and relaxing), the uninterrupted WiFi, the bathrobes that spelt luxury and the wonderful staff that responded to every whim of mine.
Things to do at the Marriott
A lovely recreation room for the family with table tennis, a bowling alley, carrom and other games to keep families bonding and enjoying. A get together (Kachdi) in the evenings for all the guests, in the lawns with little carts of pani puri, gola, chai, bhuttas and Mussoorie’s bakery products, not to forget candy floss!!! All this with live music and general feeling of camaraderie.
They have a lovely nursery where I got to see the plants that hadn’t before, and besides that also a tree planting session. I planted a little sapling and put my name besides it. So when I revisit JW Marriott Mussoorie I would know which is mine.
The cocktail lounge at Wisteria, A lovely open air lounge where we just relaxed, took in the sunset, drank some local concoctions and had some Garhwali starters.
Teppan the restaurant that serves up some lovely oriental food. This was a surprise to us, all the way in Mussoorie to have been served flavorful chicken Thai curry and steamed rice.
A small simple wedding, a luxurious fine dinner for a great family gathering. The Azalea court at the hotel is an ideal venue for that. The talented chef Siddharth and Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, brought to us amazing fusion food amidst his romantic setting.
The J.W. Café offers a lovely spread for breakfast from sausages to the traditional Swala. Chef Sunil delighted us with conversations on Garhwal, its region and its food.
Yoga: On the lawns of the hotel on a crisp cool morning we saunter to meet Megha the yoga instructor
Trout Grill & Bar unabashedly boast of a spectacular view. They have indoor and outdoor dining section. Besides this they boast of an extensive bar, live entertainment and great kebabs. We however were privy to a royal Garhwali meal complete with chainsoo from Uttarkashi, Thechwani from Rudraprayag, laal bhaat from Vikasnagar.
After a session of this journey into the cuisine of Uttarkhand one can only want more.
The Farm: Amidst the starry nights we were led to the farm. Pass the nursery, climb up a huge rustic ladder, walk down a path lit by candles and we hear some lovely hindi music. The Marriott manages this experience of dining under the stars in style.
The Cedar Spa: It had already been three days at the magical JW Mussoorie and inspite of the action, I managed to pack in. I was only more invigorated and inspired. Thus making me decide to go in for a relaxing massage. The Cedar Spa by L’Occitane was just what I needed. The warmth of the wooden interiors, the soothing atmosphere and the healing techniques by the therapist did wonders for me physically and mentally.
Lakhamandal: This just took my breath away. The overwhelming feeling of being in a place with so much history and mythology. This shrine of lord Shiva combines elegance with ethereal. The many temples/shrines/lingams unearthed here resonate with the different eras or yugs that they were constructed in.
To get a more experiential trip, do ask the hotel to organize a meal at the house of a local, that ends up giving much more than just an authentic Garhwali meal. From a little non-descript entrance to a lovely verandah. Huge families living together, stories, legends, myths and daily life discussed by all. Little children telling you that chainsoo is very typical to Garhwal, with an eagerness to share. Men proud of their culinary lineage and women besotted by their men who can provide, cook, dance and keep them regaled.
Pantwadi: A lovely introduction to the Dhol Damau and Ransingha the traditional musical instruments of Garhwal, lead us to another fine home. The air is vibrant with expectations of yet an sumptuous meal to be served and eaten, from a simple, non-complicated, fresh, organic food to a bottle of chilled beer. The JW gave us all.
This little trek downhill loads you to a surprise. The good people at the Marriott organized a beautiful breakfast in a stream. We walk downhill to a little sweet stream that is resplendent with foliage around with a vocalist and his guitar enticing us to just sit and hear him sing, eat the lavish, fresh and hot breakfast served up. From, hot idlis to delicate croissants, made to order omelets to gehat ke paranthe, with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Rushina M.Ghildiyal, Chef Sunil and Chef Siddharth took us on a culinary sojourn from
Bhang ki chutney made from hemp seeds, tamarind and garlic leaves.
Gehat ke Paranthe; this for breakfast with chutney is a perfect combination.
Chainsoo: Made of black gram lentil is full of protein.
Kumaoni Raita: Simple mix of curd, cucumber, chillies and mustard.
Arsa: They are deep fried small balls of grind soaked rice with syrup of jaggery and water in it.
Gulgula: A sweet dish made of jaggery
Mandua ki Roti: Very Popular in Uttarkhand
Swala: A lentil-stuffed puri
I headed back to Bombay a lot more confident, enriched and energized.
Thank You, Mr.Ramandeep Marwah (GM of JW Marriott, Mussoorie), Rushina M. Ghildiyal, Executive Chef Sidharth Bharadwaj and Executive Chef Sunil Kumar for this experience.