words: Ambica Gulati
Pitter patter, pitter patter, raindrops were falling on the green pine trees, the mist was settling on the mountains. Sitting in the balcony of The Khyber, I could feel the slight chill in the air. It was September and I needed a warm pair of socks to keep the chill at bay. The TV talked about the incessant rain, but I rested my head on the lounging chair. I was visiting Kashmir after 26 years and enjoying the beauty and the bliss of silence in this luxurious room. The engraved walnut table, the almonds, the cashews, the nuts, the large peaches, the exquisitely embroidered cushions and the paper mache wall, it was a warm cosy world inside. It was a heavenly world of safety, of experiencing Kashmir at its royal and beautiful best.
The air so fresh and pure beckoned but the pitter patter was a deterrent. Restless, I walked out to explore this luxurious place with its wooden flooring. Built aesthetically, The Khyber is a world complete in itself with the recently launched L’Occitane Spa, a tea bar (as I call it), its actually a tea lounge with newspapers and a place to watch the hills–Chaikash offers 23 varieties of tea and a multi-cuisine restaurant—Cloves. Liquor is not served in Kashmir but in this hotel you can carry your own liquor and enjoy it with a hookah session at Calabash. This is where I had my first hookah experience with green apple being smoked in and out. It’s quite a feeling to sit in a cosy, warm room with friends and enjoy a round of some appetizing snacks, gossip and let go as the smoke swirls and vodka does the rounds.
And then there is the terrace eat-out Nouf where you can enjoy barbeque with bonfire and watch the hills in the distance, the lights flickering in the night, some far, some near, the sky twinkling with stars.
This is the best place to be in—where breeze so fresh strikes the face and the hills tempt. But the mist was rising and the rain not stopping, so a cup of hot tea lemongrass tea at Chaikash was what I settled for.
And for those who want to spend time lying around, they can watch a movie at the small theatre. You can take your pick from the vast variety on offer. Kashmir doesn’t have cinema halls, so this is a huge treat for those holidaying there, especially if you are with children. We watched a classic romance there and had a sumptuous dinner on the last night at the Himalayan Resort and Spa.
I even managed to do some work as the wi-fi works pretty well and for those who want to catch up on short hours of work, there is a business centre. Parties can be held too in the banquet halls.
But I do wish that I had taken a dip in the heated indoor pool. And taken my gym gear to be more active on the treadmill. But never mind, there’s going to be another time soon I hope.