Sylvan Villa lies in idyllic seclusion, shaded by the glare of the sun just as much as it is shielded from the tourists that flock to the popular haunts in Himachal Pradesh.
In a tiny cut-off lane leading up to a hillock, this luxurious stone-and-wood villa in Dharampur wears what appears to be an invisibility cloak – green creepers that climb along its façade, giving it a private look and feel. I was fortunate enough to experience its rustic charm and peaceful solitude for a day – and just like in Machus Cottage in Uttarakhand, it’s so easy to feel like the queen of the castle! Don’t you just love that feeling of belonging when you travel to an alien place?
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Located 50 kms from Chandiagarh (Punjab) on one side, and 60 kms to Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) on the other, this gorgeous home stay in Dharampur makes for a short, pleasant drive from both cities. From either place, you can hop aboard a bus and disembark at Dharampur Bus Station, from where it is a 2-3 km walk or a short cab ride to the villa.
You can also travel by train and alight at Dharampur Railway Station in Solan – a good option for those travelling from Delhi and surrounding areas as it is fast, economical and safe. If you can, don’t miss out on the chance to travel by the Shimla-Kalka toy train that stops at Dharampur, too. It is recognized as one of India’s heritage possessions. While the entire journey from Shimla to Kalka is 5 hours long, from Dharampur to Shimla, it takes around 4 hours at its speed of 40 kmph.
If you’re not travelling by the toy train on your journey but would like to experience the ride anyway, board the train at Dharampur and get off at Solan, for a one hour long journey – then hail a cab at Solan and come back to Dharampur! Win-Win!
At the time of writing this, Sylvan Villa isn’t listed on Google Maps, but the owner, Bhavna, sends guests the location pin on Whatsapp. As it was dark when we arrived at Dharampur, we had trouble finding the cut-off lane and wasted a good 45 minutes going up and down the street.
SYLVAN VILLA IN DHARAMPUR
Built over 100 years ago, Sylvan Villa is an enchanting hideaway, perched at an elevation, capturing the cool winds from its stunning vantage point – the balcony! I got to spend only 1 day at the property and spent most of my hours parked on a comfy chair and table here – sipping steaming hot tea and grilled sandwiches prepared by the in-house cook, while I worked on my laptop, watched the solitary pine tree in the garden sway gently in the breeze and just felt so uncontrollably content!
When it comes to accommodation, I personally love not having to be cooped up in one room in a hotel – but having an entire house to wander through – watching the morning light flood the rooms, walking on the grass in my pyjamas at any time of the day, finding a cozy spot upstairs to curl up with a book and yet another one on the low furniture in the hall, to watch cooking shows on TV. That’s why such villas – ones that make you feel at home in a new place, are treasures!
Speaking of treasures – don’t miss running your fingers over the several antiques in the house – from a chakhra (yarn spinner) to a well maintained old telephone, gramophone, stiff bottle-green arm chairs and more.
I have to put in a word for Rasal, the caretaker at Sylvan Villa! His sing-song ‘Hello Madam’ every time he saw me, his happy smile and eager-to-please attitude just adds to the warmth that this homely villa exudes.
This grand two-storey holiday villa has been tastefully maintained, offering modern amenities while preserving its character and authenticity. Boasting of 3 plush, spacious bedrooms furnished with everything from wooden rocking chairs to footstools, you can’t help but notice how there is such attention to detail in every aspect! Even the curtains, Victorian printed cushions and bed runners match in every room! Plus, each bedroom has its own walk in closet and attached bath! Undoubtedly a lovely, intimate place to stay in Himachal Pradesh with your gang of friends or large family. An important aspect to note here is that even if your group doesn’t comprise of 6 people, you can still book the entire house and have it all to yourself – without other travellers being booked to occupy vacant rooms.
OMG the things that came out of that kitchen!! Yum, yum, yum! The kitchen is run by a professional chef, a pleasant man. As he left every night, he’d ask us what time we would like breakfast the next morning – and bang on time, he would appear in the balcony the next day, just as I would step out of my room and into the hall. It would start with a steaming cup of tea, go on to a breakfast of grilled sandwiches and omelette, a lunch of dal, rice, chapatti, rajma and fresh salad, and then dinner – during one of which we had a divine mutton curry that had us scraping the last of the curry with our spoons!
You could choose to have a leisurely lunch out in the verandah or inside, in the dining room where the cook always has your next steaming roti ready to plop on your plate. Do try the local mushroom pickle, you’ll always find a bottle of it on the table – it’s a local recipe and mouthwatering-ly good! Oh yes, the food is definitely a highlight at Sylvan Villa!
PETS ARE WELCOME!
After spending 2 months in Himachal Pradesh this year, and living in countless hotels, this is the first one I came across that welcomes our four legged friends! With a lot of grass to roll in, sunny patches to laze in and his favourite humans for company, your dog couldn’t ask for anything more! Go ahead and book this pet-friendly accommodation in Himachal Pradesh and bond with your best friend!
SO I’M SAYING…
When you want to find a balance between hustle and rest, be treated to lip-smacking food, a cosy bed in a villa exclusively for you, and panoramic views to gaze at, this is where you should be headed. You look at Sylvan Villa and it makes you feel warm inside. It is peaceful, and when you leave, you just hope that some of that peace transfers on to you.
Here’s where you can book your stay.
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Stay tuned for a couple of posts from South India next!