Imagine sipping your morning coffee by a beautiful picture-window, with a view of pristine white Himalayas in the distance.
Or walking idly on grassy lawns, spotting the first lights in a faraway village in the valley turn on and begin twinkling – their glow spreading from house to house, until the sky, with its glittering stars, appears to be a reflection of the earth below.
When I stayed at Machus Cottage, these poetic moments that peppered my days seemed run-of-the-mill, leaving me, a small-town girl in the mountains, in a perpetual state of wonder. I spent 3 days in one of the best home stays in Uttarakhand, and I felt like a kid in a candy store throughout – swinging like a pendulum from inside the adorable house to out in the garden – not wanting to miss a moment in either place.
The winding roads of Uttarakhand slither through dense forests, with uphill climbs and downhill slopes, and if you’re one who is easily prone to motion sickness, any mode of transport you take would leave you feeling uneasy. My advice? Skip the bus and take your car or bike instead – so you can take mini breaks on your roadtrip. Trust me, you will want to stop multiple times to gape at the view – with it’s the clear gurgling brooks, valleys with horses prancing below, and sweet little villages.
As GPS signals you’ve arrived, you take the cut-off from the road and head up the private driveway leading to Machu’s Cottage and it won’t be long before you fall in love with this cute hideaway – complete with a red roof, large windows, and creepers growing around the pillars at the entry. I tore my eyes from the picture-perfect cottage and was in for an even bigger treat – that of the majestic Central Himalayan mountain range jutting into the sky behind it – turning a fiery shade of orange with every passing second as the sun set. What a welcome!
ABOUT MACHUS COTTAGE
There are places you can imagine yourself spending a couple of days in, and there are places you could see yourself living in. Machus Cottage, a family friendly home stay in Uttarakhand is the latter. I felt right at home, right away! I mean, look at it – how could I not?!
Sitting pretty on the hillside, this mountain-view property is off the grid and a tad isolated, making it ideal for a family getaway, a weekend trip with friends, a romantic couple vacation or even solo, if what you crave is peace and solitude. Being one of the best home stays in Uttarakhand, it is equipped for comfort – right from the stacks of books on the shelf to the fireplace laden with wood.
Furnished to high standards, Machu’s Cottage is the perfect sanctuary for a weekend of soaking in the wintery sunshine, admiring the views that stretch to the horizon, writing a book or watching old films.
This 5 bedroom – 5 bathroom property is large enough for the biggest of families and groups of friends. While there is almost always a nip in the air outside, in the cottage, it is deliciously warm – both in temperature and ambience-wise – with wooden flooring, warm tones and cosy spaces.
Although Machus Cottage has 5 bedrooms, I was smitten by the very first room I saw and didn’t even bother looking at the other 4 until a day later. I happened to arrive at the cottage at sundown, and by the time I settled into my room, it was dark outside – so I didn’t get to admire the view. Imagine my surprise when I drew back the curtains the next morning and saw the pristine white Nanda Devi peak of the Himalayan mountain range bang in front of me! I felt like a child at Christmas – thrilled and awestruck – and I just stood there at the window, speechless! And then… I walked back to bed, pulled the covers over me and peeped at the mountains for the next half an hour.
My self-contained room was comfortably done up with a large double bed, soft quilts, a work-desk and two emerald-green arm chairs with a footstool to match. Well-lit with patterned lamps, and toasty warm, I truly enjoyed the tranquility from my little slice of paradise. Needless to say, the washrooms are large and extremely clean, too, with toiletries and towels provided.
The cottage has two bedrooms on the ground floor and three bedrooms on the first level, two of which have an attic-like set-up. So you can expect slanting, low wooden ceilings and triangular shaped windows.
A room (and a house) like this one, really allowed me to distance myself from apartment-living and really enjoy the warmth that the space had to offer.
When you book your stay at Machus Cottage, you can bet you’ll be well fed throughout your holiday! The kitchen of this adorable homestay in Uttarakhand is managed by a cook and a caretaker, both of whom go to great lengths to ensure that the food is to your liking.
For breakfasts, I chose to sit out in the garden to enjoy the soft morning sunshine while sipping hot cups of tea and relishing piping hot parathas and poori bhaji! Lunches and dinners comprised of Indian fare – rice, rotis, chicken curry, mixed veggies, dal and salads. The food was satisfying, homely and delectable every single time.
On our second night, as we sat outside shivering slightly from the cold (because we couldn’t bear to leave the garden), we remarked on how perfect the weather was for a bonfire. On mentioning this to the caretaker, he promptly set up one at the side of the luxury villa! In the midst of our banter and putting up our frozen feet to be warmed by the fire, I stopped to think how much I was enjoying this – the onset of winter in a luxurious cabin facing the mountains!
THINGS TO DO IN MAUNA, ALMORA
Drive beyond Almora City to Kasar Devi – One of the things to do in Almora is to simply drive around and see what beautiful spot you land up in! While the hour-long drive to Almora City was a pretty one, Almora itself had nothing of interest, being a bustling, noisy, commercial area. Beyond Almora, though, the views are serene and at certain places, you will get a stunning view of the snow-capped, rugged mountains.
Visit Kapileshwar Mandir – A protected Heritage Site, the Kapileshwar Temple in Uttarakhand is fairly tiny and surprisingly, had almost no visitors. It is located around 9 kms from Mukteshwar and a half-an-hour drive from Machus Cottage. This ancient, lop-sided temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was constructed by the Katura kings in the 8-10th century. A road leads almost all the way to the temple, but you will have a short walk if the road is blocked, like it was when I visited. Skip on stones set across the stream to reach the temple, where you can spend a good 30 minutes admiring its intricacies.
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I can’t recommend Machus Cottage enough – and I really hope you plan a visit on your trip to Uttarakhand. Visit Nantin Camp in Nainital and The Pahadi Organic in Totam, both in Uttarakhand, too, and you have yourself a nice 10-day long break with a range of things to do, places to visit and sights to see!