The late February sun was shining bright enough to shed the warm layers. As we bypassed the lake of Bhimtal, my excitement grew. The crystal waters of the lake was shimmering as if awakened from slumber with the departure of the autumn. A quick detour off Bhimtal-Bhowali bypass, and we arrived at the hidden gem of Green Glen Sattal. The quaint retreat is tucked away in the lap of nature, surrounded by dense forests of oak and pine trees.
Arrival at Green Glen Sattal
The late morning sunshine, bright blue sky and warm smiles of the hosts greeted us as we walked into the green patch lined with cottages overlooking the mountain peaks. As i devoured mouthful of pakoras with hot tea, i couldn’t resist inhaling bouts of crisp mountain air. Oh how much we miss this in metros!
The spacious rooms, all facing the mountains revealed the humble style of its owners. While the rugged walls evoked the spirit of adventure, well done up bathrooms and hot running water delivered the comforts of a modern life. Everything was curated to make everyone feel at home. The four-poster bed, fireplace, cozy corners and a balcony with a hammock; what else could i ask for!
Over a simple lunch, Rakchit – the young director of Green Glen, shared how his parents had conceived the idea of turning their plot of land into a homestay a decade go. The beauty of Green Glen Sattal is that it offers a unique opportunity to experience the homestay in the hills. You can soak up the sun in the garden, go for hiking by the waterfall, take lazy stroll around the lakes or go birding. There is something for everyone at Green Glen; be it leisure or adventure!
Strolling around Green Glen
After a little nap, we ventured outside to explore the area around. A short stroll along the winding path accompanied by chirping of birds brought us to a point from where we could spot lakes of Garundtal, Sattal and Sukhatal from the elevation. We planned to trek down to the lakes the next day. The next stopover was at a small natural pond known as Nal Damyanti Tal. Situated just 2 km from Bhimtal, the lake is known for the romantic legend of King Nal and his beautiful wife Damyanti. Rakchit shared an interesting story of Damyanti who was known for her unparalleled beauty. The water tank filled with fish is considered sacred by the locals. Feeding the fish at Nal Damyanti lake was a unique experience while reliving the legend and making holy wish for long lasting love for all.
Another round of ginger tea and hot pakoras were waiting upon return. While the staff prepared a little bonfire to bring in the night, we brought our wines and spirits to add to the natural high which had already engulfed us. The well lit dining area was beautifully decorated with nic nacs collected over the years. The warm glow of fire, soft music and mountain stories got the ball rolling.
The best part of the stay was that we could request the staff what we would like to eat for dinner and breakfast. Anyhow we decided to leave it to Ganesh, the cook, who surprised us with a sumptuous spread of pahadi chicken, egg curry, vegetables, dal tadka, jeera rice and home made gulab jamuns. The home cooked dinner was delicious and light on stomach.
Witnessing glorious sunrise from bed
Before retiring for the night, we were informed that Kailash would be glad to bring morning tea to our room. Usually i don’t look forward to waking up before 7am but the idea of watching the sunrise from the bed with hot chai was uplifting. And as scheduled, beaming Kailash showed up with tea cups just before the sunrise. Though the wake up call was abrupt, the glimpse of pink sky from the bedroom window left me speechless. I do not recollect when was the last time i had witnessed such a breathtaking dawn. Before the sun appeared at the horizon, the sky danced with hues of orange, pink and purple. The burning glow filled the valley within few minutes, and there came the magnificent sunrise with sun shining bright at the horizon!
Hiking around the lakes
After a hearty breakfast of eggs, toasts, parathas and yogurt, we embarked on a hike. The lake of Garundtal was our first stopover. The lake falls in the private patch of land owned by Sattal Missionary Church. The estate is dotted with small cottages across the hill with a pretty church tucked away in the lush green forest. We spent some time circling the lake and marveling the beauty of this hidden gem. The tranquility around the lake was deafening. The reflection of the holy cross on pristine lake water left a lasting impression.
The trek down the hill brought us to Sattal, another pristine jewel in the Lake District of Uttarakhand. The serene lake shore was still reeling under off season tranquility. We decided to head to the waterfall nearby. The trail located along the main road passes through the thick wooded forest and rocky terrain. Before arriving to the fall, the excitement was generated by gushing sound of water. We soaked our feet in cool waters and stared at the beauty of the quaint surroundings while waiting for our beer bottles to get chilled in the cold water. There was no one around but the presence of previous visitors was ominous in the waste which was left behind. After couple of beers, chips and chats, it was time to head back. We decided to carry the garbage of abandoned cans, wrappers, empty bottles and cups in our backpacks. This was a little attempt to give it back to the universe.
The lake shore of Sattal is lined with stalls selling tea, snacks and meals. We gorged on hearty meal of Rajma Chawal, Kadhi Chawal and Jeera Aloo. When the presence of monkeys was making me nervous, the stall owner tried to calm my nerves by giving us a gulel to ward off the monkeys. How creative!
Spiritual excursion to Kaichi Dham
A quick detour and 40 minutes drive later we reached Kaichi Dham located on the banks of Kosi river. The Neem Karoli Baba Ashram has received international recognition for its illustrious devotees such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. They visited the relatively unassuming ashram seeking spiritual solace and guidance to overcome the deadlocks in their businesses. The visit to the quaint temple complex left a sense of peace within me.
Riding high on hopes, we returned to the base. There was no dearth of chai and pakoras back in Green Glen Sattal. We spent some quiet time in the garden adorned with seasonal gladioli, chrysanthemum, dahlia, gerbera and colorful petunias & pansies. Everyone sought a refuge in corners filled with swings, garden chairs and hammocks. It is so easy to spend a week here and get lost in the tranquility!
The evening tonight was filled with fun and entertainment. After a hot shower i was ready to get cozy in the dining area. It was converted into a lounge, and with Rakchit on the sound, it had a real eclectic feel. Rakchit was a gracious host who was eager to satisfy diverse wishes of the guests. We talked about life, travels and diversity of cultures over a bottle of wine with birding guests from Switzerland.
After witnessing another mesmerizing sunrise the next day, it was time to depart. I inhaled a bout of crisp morning air the last time, trying to forget what awaits back in Delhi. We reminisced over the hospitality at Green Glen and the beauty of the lake district on the drive back home.
- Located at an altitude of 5000 ft, Green Glen Sattal sees good weather and can be visited any time of the year. The cozily decorated 8 rooms are capable of accommodating at least 20 guests. It is an ideal retreat for a large family outing or a corporate outbound. Of course not to mention, couples find Green Glen Homestay very romantic!
- Green Glen Sattal can be reached by road or by train. The Kathgodam Shatabdi which leaves Delhi at 6am, arrives at Kathgodam at 11.40am. An hour long scenic ride from there brings you to Green Glen just in time for a simple yet delicious lunch.
- For larger groups, Green Glen is equipped with variety of activities which please the desires of adults as well as children. You can get busy on chess or carrom board or play table tennis or cricket. The kite flying and outdoor screening of movies are popular amongst the kids. During summer, local folk musicians gather to jam in the evening.
- Taking care of everyone’s interest is a challenging task, but at Green Glen Sattal Rakchit has mastered the art. An ardent social networker, he is passionate about taking care of his guests. If you are in a party mood, worry not, as the full blown music system with Rakchit as a DJ is right at your service.
- Green Glen is an ideal base to Explore the Lake District of Nainital which contain lakes of Garundtal, Sattal, Sukhatal, Bhimtal, Nainital and Naukuchiatal.
At Green Glen, it is all about an experience!