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Slow Living At Te Aroha, Dhanachuli

Work, for someone who is an independent writer, is like the mythical tail of Hanuman – it really never seems to get over! And in times like these, when one gets tired of living life on roller blades, a weekend getaway to somewhere you can just prop your feet up, can recharge your batteries and rejuvenate your soul.

Love, Lovingly

Te Aroha in Dhanachuli is one such place. A few kilometres ahead of Mukteshwar, Dhanachuli is a hamlet that is the microcosm of life in the Kumaon region. Quiet, pristine, pure and just so charming, it is just about a couple of hours from Nainital. The name Te Aroha comes from the Māori name of Mount Te Aroha. In one version, Rāhiri, the eponymous ancestor of Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu, climbed the mountain and saw his homeland in the distance and felt a sense of love (aroha) for it. The name is often rendered in English as “place of love”.

The boutique property that I made home for a much-needed weekend break in Dhanachuli – appropriately named Te Aroha – is not really a resort. Not even a hotel. It is an experience. For everything about the resort is just so lovingly curated, that it is easy to fall in love with the idea of watching life float by – like the mist-laden clouds that roll in every evening. Te Aroha, a charming colonial-style summer house converted into a boutique getaway from the cacophony of Delhi enjoys panoramic views of the Nanda Devi Range. But there is enough and more to do even within the property – perfect for those who want to slow down a bit.

Attention To Detail

There may not be anything special about the location – it only sits on a corner of the highway – but once you cross over the rustic looking gates and climb up, you enter a completely different zone altogether. From the time you are handed the chilled glass of the rhododendron-based welcome drink, there is a freshness that permeates the soul.

The property is a harmonious blend of traditional architecture and contemporary comforts spread over 4 spacious suites and 6 luxury rooms. Each room is designed differently, and has its own charm. Expansive decks and terraces, antique curios and heritage furniture, huge glass windows with breathtaking views of the landscape and the high ceilinged rooms tastefully done with handpicked furniture are the perfect foil to the spell-binding views that surround Te Aroha.

Additionally, there is a quaint library that also faces the sun and is right next to the restaurant (that offers Indian, continental and regional dishes; with a menu curated by Chef Michael Swamy) so you can curl up with a hot chocolate and your favourite book.

Press Pause On The Clock

At Te Aroha, you feel you can manipulate time. Whether you want to make it stand still, or you want to be transported into the bygone era. The original structure of a summer house that once stood on the property has been successfully preserved to retain its original charm – so the architecture merges beautifully with the surrounding hills. What is a unique feature of Te Aroha and adds to its ‘timeless’ vibe is the fantastic museum dedicated to Bollywood memorabilia. But describing it as purely Bollywood would restrict its magnificence in being an extensive ode to Indian graphic art. The film memorabilia housed in this museum situated within the Te Aroha premises consists of posters, lobby cards, song booklets, show-cards, original artwork, stills and negatives and several other treasures. The film buff in me was over the moon! But cinema is not the only chronicle of culture. And this museum is also testimony to that. So there are a host of mythological calendar prints, some from the Raja Ravi Varma school of calendar art, a matchbox collection, a section on commercial posters and labels of clothing, crackers and what have you! At Te Aroha, take a step back and pause time to reach out to the blue skies and reach within your soul to experience was true slow living is all about. This is a place you go to without any agenda, soak in the atmosphere and just allow all the stress to melt away.

Text and Images by Aarti Kapur Singh

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