Designed by the Sri Lankan architects in the Himalayas, The Kumaon is all about slow living, spectacular natural landscapes, local cuisine and culture.
Text by: Nisha Kapil
Situated in the heart of Himalayas, The Kumaon is a luxury and wellness boutique with the view of the breath-taking mountain range. The resort in Uttarakhand is situated 1600m above sea level in the village of Kasar Devi near the town of Almora. Conceptualised by Dr. Vikrom Mathur, one of the co-founders, whose profound love for the region and special relationship with its people goes back to his childhood days. Genesis of The Kumaon is rooted in his passionate beliefs as well as interest in the region’s ecology and its coupling with the culture and livelihoods of local communities. The property is designed by Sri Lankan architects Zowa Architects on the principle of abstract modernism that responds to the natural landscape and environment. One can come here to take a break from the hustle bustle of the city to enjoy the slow living, local cuisine, and nature’s beauty in harmony.
Kumaon is a region of spectacular beauty filled with abundant mountains, valleys, forests and scenic lakes. Almora has long been a favourite tourist destination for locals escaping the punishing Delhi summer as well as foreigners taking a break from the chaos of rest of India. Access to the site is via a slightly steep track down, off the main road. This village road stops about 250m from the site and the rest of the way is through a narrow village walking track to the site. Visitors are met at this point by the hotel staff relieving of the bag and baggage, making the rest of the walk to the hotel quite pleasant.
The retreat is spread across 2 acres of verdant greens with 10 magnificent chalets nestled in pairs. It also has lounge, dining facilities, library, spa and services. All the chalets are north facing with magnificent views of the valley and mountains, with the sunlight showcasing different facets of landscape as the day progresses. The lower chalet is built out of stone quarried from nearby, while the upper chalet walls are built out of fly ash bricks and are cladded with bamboo sticks to give a sense of lightness. The main building is situated on the highest point in the site, the ground level is the main entry point which houses a lounge, library and toilet and administrative facilities, while the first floor houses a dramatic steel cantilevered dining room, with an axis vista towards ‘Nanda Devi’, India’s second highest peak, hundreds of kilometres away. The roof of the lounge becomes a terrace for outdoor dining and yoga.
The sustainable architecture of the resort highlights locally sourced materials like bamboo, copper and stones, that have been utilised extensively across different structures and spaces through varied local techniques and skills from the region. Almora has a fine tradition of weaving and all woollen fabric for bedding and furnishings are custom-designed and produced locally. The copper and stone accessories for the chalets are also made by the local craftsmen. The overall finish of the resort is one of rustic simplicity, highlighting the local materials. Local pinewood is used extensively, from floor finish to doors and windows.
In the chalets a bed, table and seat are designed as an island unit and are finished in smooth cement render. The toilet walls are finished in ‘Kadappah’, a black stone cut into tiles. While the terraces and balconies are paved with ‘Kota’ ,a popular and cheap Indian granite which has a texture and feel of smooth cement. The overall experiential journey at The Kumaon is immersed in nature, deeply rooted in the distinctly diverse flora and fauna of the surrounding region which is a haven for diverse species. One can explore the rich biodiversity and unchartered landscapes with The Kumaon as a base camp. A varied selection of tailor-made nature walks and trails allow guests to connect with the cultural history and natural heritage of the Kumaoni region.
Being a pet-friendly property, the resort welcomes everyone. The immensely hospitable and warm staff make sure a far-fetched experience at the resort.
Photo credits: The Kumaon