- Nepal Diaries: Introduction
- Nepal Diaries: 9W 266 Mumbai–Kathmandu, Jet Airways Economy
- Nepal Diaries: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
- Nepal Diaries: Dining at Bhojan Griha
- Nepal Diaries: The Namobuddha Resort
- Nepal Diaries: Kathmandu Executive Lounge
- Nepal Diaries: 9W 265 Kathmandu-Mumbai, Jet Airways Economy/Business
After visiting our fair share of temples, stupas and palaces we decided to spend the last 2 days in natural surroundings among the mountains. After all with 8 of the world’s tallest mountain peaks our trip wouldn’t be complete if did not stay in the hills. We zeroed in on the Namobuddha resort, which is about 45 kilometers out of Kathmandu nestled amidst forest, farms and mountains. It is located near the town of Dhulikhel. We drove from Kathmandu, in a locally rented car. The ride was a comfortable one and on our way we stopped by at the Bhatktapur Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and at Nagarkot, a small hill station famous for its Himalayan views.
The last 5 kilometers were a rough patchy road, still under construction,
The Restaurant/Lounge/Terrace/Lobby/Library Area
We arrived at the resort in the evening, just before sunset. The resort had a small area where the restaurant was located, along with a library built on top. Surrounding it was an open terrace, and the offices and so on. Think of it as a small lobby. This area was located on the highest point of the farm. The open terrace came with outdoor seating and my first impression was that the surroundings and the view was absolutely breathtaking. It almost felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. There was no sight of another home, road and human existence.
We were welcomed with some masala chai and lemon grass tea which is grown on the organic farm. There were some delicious home baked cookies to go along with the tea. While we were busy soaking up the view, the resort manager advised us that dinner will be served for everyone at 7pm, just after sunset. The restaurant interiors were done in traditional Newari style and the seating consisted of low-lying wooden chairs and tables.The resort has limited internet access and each one of us were given a unique wi-fi password to connect one device. After completing paperwork we went back to our cottage to freshen up before dinner.
The Large House
We were assigned House #3, one of the 2 large cottages at the retreat. The house was built in traditional Newari style architecture. It had 2 single beds on the ground floor, one large double bed on the first floor, and another little mezzanine floor with a double bed, which looked like the top of a bunk bed actually.
There was seating space both on the ground and the first floor. The toilet was on the ground floor and shower facilities on the first floor. There was even a loft right on top for storage. The interiors were simple and beautifully done in blue.
There were no fans or any other form of air conditioning but the ventilation was good and the rooms cooled down pretty quickly once the windows were opened up. The great thing was that the bathroom had round the clock access to hot water. On the whole the house was spacious and was big enough to accommodate a big family like ours.
The only challenge were the low doors in the house. All the entrance doors in the property so low that any person over 5feet in height would bump into the doorway. Towards the end of two days Ajay lost count of how many times he banged his head while walking through those doors. I think he even got a bump to show for it for a few days.
The area outside the house was beautiful, full of flower beds. We had a view of the forest and there was a patch of farm right in front where we could see corn and cabbage growing. There was an apricot tree right outside our house that attracted a number of birds. Once it was dark, I also spotted a number of fireflies flashing around.
Dinner at the Namobuddha resort is served at the restaurant every evening. Guests need to advise the resort manager and opt in and out of the meal by morning 10 am. After which the staff hold hold a meeting and decide on the day’s menu, or so we were told! The menu is usually not revealed to the guests. Then at dinner time everyone sits together and then the meal is served at one go. The 3-course set meal mystery then unfolds for everyone on the dinner table. The dining options are all vegetarian, and in many a cases, made on their own complex. For instance, the sourdough bread and the jams served were all made at the resort.
On our first night, the meal was Indian. There was a lentil soup to start with. The soup was full of flavor and I loved it so much that I requested the chef for the recipe. For the main course we were served in a traditional Nepali thali format, however the recipes were Indian. The thali had some sauted local greens, homemade cottage cheese curry accompanied with chapati and pulao rice. For dessert, we had mango ice-cream with home baked banana walnut cake.
They also have a separate beverages menu where drinks can be ordered at an extra charge. I decided to try the local Sherpa beer, while Ajay tried a lemongrass mock tail. This undoubtedly was the best Indian meal I had tasted on our weeklong trip in Nepal.
The kitchen alternates between Indian and western cuisine. Next day’s dinner menu had an asparagus soup, homemade pasta with a side of grilled veggies and brownie with ice cream for dessert. I was pleasantly surprised with the meal service on both days. Everything they served was fresh and grown organically in their own garden. The presentation and the quality of food was spot on as well.
At the terrace/restaurant, the resort places lemongrass tea, organic black coffee, and black tea for self service through out the day. I feasted on the lemongrass tea all through the stay.
Just like the dinner, we equally enjoyed our breakfast too. We decided to sit outdoors for breakfast. The breakfast had a mixed fruit platter, option of cereals and choice of cooked eggs.
The chef bakes his bakes his own sour dough bread everyday which is the only type of bread available. A variety of homemade jams and fruit preserves along with butter and yak cheese were placed at the breakfast table. My favourite was the peach jam. The owner told us that they even have a small animal farm on the premise where they rear buffalos for milk. The great thing about this place is the hospitality, the next morning for breakfast I was in no mood to repeat eggs so I requested the chef if he could make something vegetarian. In a span of 20 minutes he whipped up this yummy baked dish of spiced potatoes and garden veggies.
The Resort Location & Exteriors
We were all tired from the day long travel and called it an early night. Imagine this, waking up at sunrise to the sounds of birds at 05:30am. No alarm clocks to snooze, no doorbells ringing, no newspapers to read. That’s exactly what followed on the next morning. I woke up the sound of cuckoo (I think), dragged Ajay out of bed and we decided to walk up to the reception terrace to catch a morning view of the mountains.
It was a misty morning and while we did not get a clear view of the mountains, just being able to sit down on the open terrace and listen to the sound of birds chirping in the background was wonderful. When you live in a busy city, it’s like a meditation of sorts to disconnect from everything, not worry about what is happening in the world and spend time with yourself. We borrowed binoculars from Ingrid and spent next morning bird watching and spotting hill birds. Quite exciting!
Post breakfast we tucked ourselves in a cozy setting out doors and decided to spend the entire day on the resort. The famous Namobuddha monastery is an easy 30 minutes walk but Ajay and I decided to spend the day reading and exploring the farm retreat. After all, the whole purpose of coming here was to do nothing and soak up the nature. Let alone the fact that having no access to television and limited Internet access only further helped us bond together as a family. We walked through the farms and chit chatted about our own life experiences.
We plucked figs from the gigantic fig tree near the reception, spotted tomato plants hidden among the flower beds, tasted young fennel seeds, smelled fresh lemon grass and stumbled upon a small patch brimming with sage, coriander, parsley and other herbs. The hill terrace had been landscaped with beautiful flower decks.
Then for lunch, I decided to eat light garden salad while Ajay happily gobbled up his baked onion tart. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that food was one of the highlights of our stay. Seeing your food grow in front of your eyes not only enhances the taste but also makes you appreciate the beauty of nature.
Apart from this I love the fact that the resort supports local economy of Nepal. We noticed that the bedcovers were all locally sourced, the interiors was all local. Even the staff including the amazing chefs were Nepalese.
The Wallet Effect
Our cottage (large house) was priced at USD 165/ INR 11,000 per night all inclusive. Since the rains had set in and the tourist season was coming to an end I was able to negotiate a breakfast inclusion for all 5 of us in the quoted room rate. The breakfast alternatively would have costed us USD 7/ INR INR 480 per person. The set dinner was priced at USD10/ INR 680 person and the lunch pricing depends on what you opt for the meal.
On the whole we spent a little over USD 500/ INR 34,000 for an all-inclusive 2 nights stay for 5 adults. Totally worth it!
So after spending 2 memorable nights at this amazing organic hill farm resort, it was time for us to head back to Mumbai. The resort manager had organized a van on our request and after breakfast on the second day we headed back to the Tribhuvan International Airport.