We took a train from Gurgaon and reached Kathgodam really early in the morning. A taxi had come to pick us up. We stopped for some tea and snacks and then proceeded to Nathuakhan, a small village about 2 1/2 hours from Kathgodam.
You might feel sick because of the ascend and winding roads so make sure you ask your driver to go real slow, 30-40 kms/hr is ideal.
We were welcomed by Lat, his men and his army of dogs and cats (Kalu, Kali, Blondie, Mini, etc.) at the Estate and they greeted us with smiling faces.
Julia joined us too and offered us some holi treats and masala chai – “baked gujia” which is a specialty of Almora.
The estate is beautiful and their home is extremely cozy. We were shown to our rooms and we got changed and dressed for breakfast.
Our breakfast was prepared by Lat – he had baked some eggs, salami, green peppers etc. – quite hearty. There are a lot of apricot and peach trees on the farm and Julia makes jams with the fruit, extremely fresh and tasted wonderful.
We were spoilt for choice, there was fresh milk, freshly prepared unsalted butter, fresh eggs, pancakes stuffed with cottage cheese and traditional Pahari dishes prepared love and locally acquired ingredients, which are in fact all grown in the estate.
Julia and Lat organised a wonderful trek around the estate for us. It was quite challenging because I don’t ever trek. We were out for 2-3 hours and when we got back there was some refreshing malta squash waiting for us. Loved the hospitality. Julia takes really good care of her mother in law, who is also a wonderful lady and a lot of fun to talk to.
We also went to Mukteshwar on a day long trek which was even more interesting, once you get to the top a lot of fun adventure activities like rappelling await you.
We had a bonfire at the estate where we sang songs, danced, drank wine and narrated ghost stories. It was a wonderful chilly night and the only things keeping us warm were the alcohol and fire.
We learnt that Lat is the descendant of Burma’s royal family and has been married to Julia, his Latvian wife for over 14 years. They have two wonderful kids who study at Sherwood in Nanital.
It is a great idea for photography lovers to carry a camera because you are bound to get some striking shots of flora and fauna. Have a telescope? We did and boy was it a good idea to carry it with us. The sky was clear and using that and an iphone app called SkyView we identified planets and constellations. We even looked at a 50x magnified view of the moon – good times.
Julia is an excellent baker, during our stay we had her “straight out of the oven” banana bread and chocolate mousse – both wonderful. I am a dessert lover and she made my stay worthwhile with her fabulous cooking. Lat made us his traditional “Khow suey” recipe with a lot of condiments and we were extremely stuffed that night.
When we were leaving the estate, we left with a heavy heart because we had developed great affinity to Julia and her family. When you visit this fabulous estate you will leave with lifelong friends and a full tummy!