The eco-friendly homestay
This year we took our yearly family holidays at an eco-friendly homestay at Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, India, and it has won our hearts. The magnificent view of the Dhauladhar range from the estate was mesmerizing. The experience of being back to nature, slow, and sustainable living was extraordinary.
Making of “The LODGE at WAH” eco-friendly
We were amazed to learn that “The LODGE at WAH” is build of the on-site excavated mud, keeping the eco-friendliness and sustainability at heart. The cottages have slate roof inspired by the “Gaddi,” local tribal homes.
The lodge has hit a home-run by using the services of the skilled local craftsmen and the artisans, and using the reclaimed wood from the courthouse demolished – cedar and pine-wood, re-purposed and recycled to build the eco-friendly lodge — the build material sourced from the local region of Kangra.
“The LODGE at WAH” homestay
We occupied three of the six cottage rooms, including the Court and the Oolong rooms in the main cottage and a Pine room in the subsequent cottage, at this stunning property.
The lodge has beautiful landscape gardens maintained by the estate, overlooking the view of the Dhauladhar range.
The Food at “The LODGE at WAH”
The preference of the produce is organic and local. They go an extra mile by growing their vegetables and herbs in the kitchen garden, adjacent to the main cottage and rest in their Green-house at the WAH Tea Estate.
The lodge has a family-style living and dining. Most of the food was homegrown and homemade, the loaves of bread, chutneys, jams, sauces, and soups.
The breakfast curated to our taste with a selection of pancakes, daal waffles, channa masala, sooji toast, Dalia upma, freshly squeezed juices, seasonal fruits, eggs, and home churned butter and cheese.
Oh, yes! And for dinner, traditional Kangra thali, and North-Indian style curries, daals, the wood-fired pizza with homemade mozzarella, vegetarian version of the Burmese Khow Suey.
Ofcourse they had to plan a surprise chocolate cake which was a cherry on the top for my sister-in-law’s birthday.
Our special request for pakoras, paneer, vegetables, and mushrooms BBQ was matched to a rainy evening with a chocolate cake as we couldn’t get our hands on a few of the bakeries that we had planned, due to Sunday.
Nonetheless, the desserts range varied from Gajerala, Jalebi, Phirni, Cakes, and Muffins.
I wish I had captured all the food pictures; I was not to blog as it was family time. Though the experience was too good to keep to self; besides I had promised Deepak uncle that I will blog.
Our journey to The LODGE at WAH
After the day-long tiring trip with flight and drive, we were greeted with the warmest smiles and were welcomed with open arms by the gracious staff at the Lodge. I don’t have everyone’s pictures, but I have managed to capture a couple of them which I have shared below. The staff at the LODGE at WAH went above and beyond to make us feel welcomed and at home.
Our special thanks to:
- Deepak Prakash Ji – The estate owner and the host
- Pallav – The Manager at the Lodge at WAH
- Ajay – The go-to guy for everything small or big
- Baby – The Baker
- The Chef
- The Souchef
And of course, Upasana; she went above and beyond to guide and help us during the hour of need when we missed our flight from Delhi to Palampur (the story for some other time). She kept us updated time-to-time before our travel dates as it had been snowing and was cold in Himachal Pradesh. It helped as we were traveling from west to north and cold would have surprised us.
Tip 1#: The markets in the Mcleodganj has many shops and cafes closed on Sundays.
WAH Tea Estate Tour
Deepak uncle graciously gave us the WAH Tea Estate tour, walking us through the tea plantation while spilling all the beans and answering all the questions. It was a surprise to learn about the origin of the WAH tea estate established by the Britishers when India was under British rule, and the tea seedlings were brought in from China – Camelia Sinensis Assamica.
It was then taken over by Sir Sikander Hayat-Khan, the son of the Nawab of Wah in Pakistan hence the name WAH after the birthplace of Nawab and the “WAH” means “Wow.”
The estate was then taken over by the “Chaiwala” family and its been with their family since generations.
They have varied green and black tea options – my ultimate favorite from their estate is “Rose tea.”
It was not the harvesting time of the year for the WAH Tea estate.
Experiencing the WAH Tea:
Since we stayed at The LODGE at WAH, we got to enjoy all their tea varieties. And rest assured you couldn’t resist grabbing some to reminiscence over the experience.
They indeed shared some of the goodies of the estate with us as our departing gifts along with the care packages and the bounty of organic peas – “pahadi mattar.”
Winter in India: Jan 2019: Weather wise we got the experience of the January winter in Northern India with the rain, snow, and sunshine. Normally the temperatures will drop to – 3 to – 6 C over the night.
To sum it up:
The Lodge at Wah is a perfect get-away for the girls weekend away, or a family stay. They go above and beyond to make the homestay comfortable, filled with delicious food and various experiences they offer.
Oh, how I wish to fly to that stunning view right about now when I am sitting in mids of wavering temperatures in Canada.
Our itinerary had a few key places to explore:
- Bir and Billing
- Norbulingka Institute
- Baijnath Temple
- Andretta Pottery
- Bhagsunag Water Fall Hike
And more sites covering Shiv temples, Tibetian monastery, and Art gallery as we didn’t have a set schedule since we wanted to explore on our pace. Though Deepak uncle, Upasana, and Pallav helped to shape that.
The food we got to explore and what we missed from our itinerary:
- The LODGE at WAH – Kangra region and North Indian cuisine. * Must try*, * Comes highly recommended *
- Shiv Cafe post-Bhagsunag Water Fall Hike to Shiv Cafe (Maggie and tea)
- Avva’s Cafe – * Must try*, * Comes highly recommended *
- Morgan’s Place – * Must try*, * Comes highly recommended *
- Illiterati books and cafe – *Must try*, *Comes highly recommended *
- Tibet Kitchen
- Woser Bakery & Woser Cafe – Closed on Sunday. – * Comes highly recommended *
- Jimmy’s Bakery & Cafe – Couldn’t try. – * Comes highly recommended *
- Moonpeak Espresso – Was closed on that Sunday for renovation. – * Comes highly recommended *
I will love to hear your experience if you have stayed with The Lodge at WAH or any other sustainable and eco-friendly homestay.