We recently had this wonderful opportunity to be the guests at the Lodge at Wah, Wah Tea Estate, Palampur. Actually, we were lucky to enjoy the warmth of two different but equally wonderful hosts and homestays while on our recent visit to Palampur – The Lodge at Wah and Norwood Greens. And we were treated nothing less than Royals here at the Lodge at Wah. Even in that one day stay, we were deeply touched by the hospitality of the staff at the Lodge at Wah in all possible ways. So, here goes the story of the Lodge at Wah for our readers. Along with the blend of our own experience here.
A little history : The beginning of Wah Tea Estate
The ownership of Wah Tea Estate runs down to a Nawab of ‘Wah’ , a town in Pakistan. It started as a two room cowshed (Can you believe that!). And today it produces tea that rivals the big brands of tea industry in India. The USP of Wah Tea Estate is that all their tea are organic, 100% pesticide free and carefully hand plucked. These come in different range including Kangra Green, Kangra Black, Valley Chamomile, Tulsi Green, Lemongrass Green and Lemongrass Tulsi Green.
The birth of the Lodge at Wah
The current owners of Wah Tea Estate are a lovely couple Surya and Upasana. Initially based out of Kolkata, the couple couldn’t take the crazy and polluted city life for long. Soon, they shifted to Wah Tea Estate. And that’s when they started on the construction of the lodge at Wah. As a great fan of natural living, one thing that the couple was absolutely clear about since the beginning was using all natural material to build the Lodge. And that’s exactly what they did. Made out of natural mud, bamboo, recycled wood and even the furniture polished using natural oils and colored using natural ingredients! These cottages are indeed those unique creations that need to be shared with the world. In fact, the family themselves joined in the creation of the lodge, laying the cobbled pathways, painting the furnitures and doing everything else.
Further to it, as we take you on a tour of the Lodge at Wah, you will realize how each and every corner of the property has been thoughtfully decorated by the family. Every single painting that you see here is handmade, in-house. The Manager and master chef Nikhita Patel from Kolkata, who is also a close friend of the couple, created wonderful arts around the house like the beautiful vintage tea-pot lanterns or a beautiful library tucked under the stairs.You can imagine how much of love has been poured into the foundation of this beautiful home away from home. Although, it all started as an endeavor to create a home for themselves and very personal guests, soon the lodge opened it’s arms to guests & travelers from outside.
The unique Culinary
We have got to say, Nikhita is a wonderful manager and a host as well. We never felt through our stay that we were interacting with a manager. She made sure we were comfortable and well fed. In fact, the next day we had to check out as early as 6:00am in the morning. Still she made sure that our breakfast is prepared and packed for us to have on the way. How sweet is that!!
Local people are employed in the kitchen and on the premises to give the visitors an authentic feel of the homemade cuisines. And the ingredients are mostly home grown in the kitchen garden of the family there itself. So, basically, fresh plucks from the garden go right into the creation of the meals that you consume here. Even the dairy is supplied from the nearby local farmers and dairy owners.
A tour through the Lodge at Wah
We had a very wonderful time at the Lodge at Wah. We arrived here in the morning by around 10:30am. The property is located right across the Wah Tea Estate, however, there was a small route diversion near it because of some ongoing road repair work. Nevertheless, we managed to reach here smoothly. At an initial look at the gates, we were a little confused if this is the right property (The boards or name plates had not been put at the time of our visit) . However, Nikhita had already given us a call prior to the journey, shared her number and made sure she took note of all our preferences long before we arrived. So, we called her. Immediately, she was on the gate to receive us, along with her staff.
As we entered inside the property, it was like entering into a fairyland, far from the hustle and bustle of the populated world. There is a huge sprawling lawn. It is marked with greenery all around in the form of trees, grasses and blooming plants of flowers and fruits. There is a cluster of cottages in the center . The cluster consists of the main cottage where the owners and their staff reside. The kitchen, living and dining room and two guest bedrooms are part of this cottage. Then there is another set of rooms besides it. And that is followed by a third one that comprises of just two rooms.
Very thoughtfully, Nikhita had assigned us the twin room cottage at the farther end. That ensured complete privacy for us. We soon shifted to our rooms.
As we stepped into the cottage rooms, along with an aura of comfort, it brought with it a bit of nostalgia. It reminded us of the rooms in traditional Indian villages. Only these are equipped with all the modern facilities that you need. There is a heater provided in one corner. Alongside a hot water kettle on the adjoining table. And there is an attached bath with all the basic amenities, including constant supply of hot water.
There is a big and comfortable bed in the center. A cute wooden table and chair provided for your work purpose and an unpolished – finish wooden cupboard in one corner to tuck in all your luggage. However, my favorite part of the room was the window seating. There is this huge glass window on one of the walls, overlooking the property and the beautiful views of snow covered mountain peaks beyond. I totally fell in love with this window seat. As we settled our luggage into the room, the host sent some steaming hot tea and coffee for us. We sipped our beverages, tucked on the window seat. Thereafter, we started on a guided tour of the homestay along with Nikhita.
PS: there are no televisions in the bedroom. It is done on purpose so that the guests can retire in the tranquility of the place rather than getting submerged in the chaos of the digital world. And I totally loved the idea.
The Kitchen Garden
We went towards the main cottage. In the backside of this cottage, the kitchen door open to a huge kitchen garden. Different patches of vegetables are grown in this garden. At the time when we visited, this garden was thriving with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, ginger, mustard, geranium and several other plants. Most of the ingredients in the cuisines are used right from this garden, which is so fantastic.
The main cottage
From the kitchen garden, we went towards the main entrance of the main cottage. This leads to a huge living and dining area, each corner of which is very tastefully decorated. The living room has two different banquet style sofas, giving private hangout space to two different groups at the same time. And the furnitures here are all made out of recycled wood. Then, there are handmade paintings and DIY craft lamps and vases decorating the whole hall. Overall, a few beautiful pieces that held my attention
1)The breakfast counter
This beautiful breakfast counter which is tucked neatly in one corner of the living and dining room. Particularly if you notice the tea-pot style lanterns hanging over it and the beautiful tall stool-chairs. They win your heart away. And look at the glass wall that opens to the view of the beautiful small courtyard tucked in the center of the cottage.
2)The stairs and library underneath
There are beautiful stairs leading to the first floor. And, there is this neatly tucked library behind the stairs.
The stairs lead to the first floor where two guest bedrooms are tucked.
The spectacular evening at the Lodge at Wah
After having the tour, and borrowed some books from the library, we went back to our cottage for taking some rest. Thereafter, we ventured out to some nearby places. We returned back in the evening. And once again, the host insisted for us to join them for snacks and tea. It was a nice mild flavored green tea and some tasty pakodas that we had while chatting with them. After this, we roamed around the property a little more.
Towards the evening, there was a bonfire set near our cottage. And we enjoyed the heat, along with a tasty platter of barbecued vegetables right from the kitchen garden. There was another bonfire near the kitchen door where the staff and our cab driver got seated, chatting and eating, enjoying the warmth in the otherwise cold night. And at the other end, our daughter enjoyed a platter of Khichdi prepared especially for her.
Around 8:30pm, we were invited over for dinner. With heavy stomach (the host had already stuffed us with a round of tea and snacks and another one of barbecued delicacies) , we dragged ourselves to the dining space, only to be killed by the feeling of longing that we got from the delicious aroma of food. There was a nice platter of veg pulav, brinjal, saag, raita and many other North Indian delicacies. We wished to have more space inside us so that we could have more of this delicious dinner!! It was so tasty. And finally it was followed by a gajar ka halwa.
The next morning at the Lodge at Wah
After having eaten so much, no prizes to guess what we did next 😀 . Yes, we dragged ourselves back to the rooms and slipped between the cozy bedsheets to retire for the day. We had a wonderful night. It actually rained that night, accompanied with hail and snow. And the next morning, we packed our bags early on and got ready to depart. As we opened the doors to step out, we were greeted with fresh patches of snow here and there. And a warm bag of stuffed parathas from the kitchen team, for our breakfast on the way. Finally, it was like saying good bye to a second family.
Other Recreational Activities
The hosts at the Lodge at Wah do organize numerous recreational activities for the guests. These include the following:
- Picnic in Palampur with great views around
- Pottery sessions
- Visit to nearby sights in Palampur
- A visit to the tea factory
Although we spent a very small time here, and we left wanting to stay for longer. But we will definitely want to return back and enjoy that warm hospitality even more. Wah Tea Estate is located strategically in the picturesque town of Palampur. As, the town itself doesn’t get freezing cold in winters and utterly hot in summers. But it is surrounded by beautiful Himalayan ranges all around, which boast of snow covered peaks all the year round. Thus, when we visited here in February we were completely comfortable with the temperature while we still enjoyed the beauty of Himalayas in the winter.
Initially, we were a little worried about our little daughter. As, she has never traveled to a cold destination in the middle of winter season. But the hospitality of Wah Tea Estate took away all our worries. And if we were treated like royals, she was treated nothing less than the most VVIP. The rooms were adequately provisioned with heaters and continuous hot water supply. And the staff happily prepared special meals for her. As a result, she had as wonderful time as us. And that led to us enjoying the vacation to it’s fullest.
Our verdict : A perfect getaway for a tranquil vacation
The lodge at Wah is the perfect place for a tranquil vacation. As for me, I loved reading a book on that window seat overlooking the mountain peaks while my daughter slept peacefully in the warmth of the bed. Although I didn’t carry my easel along, if I had, I would definitely love to paint something standing in that vast lawn. Thus, this is a place that will be your perfect second home if you are looking for one. Of course the place is nascent and developing with each passing day, at the same time, they are so very informal and helping. And that totally wins the heart over.
This is that perfect place where you can retire to the tranquility of nature. Submitting yourself to the chirping of birds, perfect homemade organic food and tea, following your hobbies, doing nothing or anything that you would want to, amidst nature. In the evening, while strolling the lawns, we actually heard someone playing a beautiful note on a flute somewhere nearby!!
PS: Though we were invited by The Lodge at Wah to stay over with them at Palampur, the views and opinions expressed here are solely our own and completely based out of our own experience during our stay here.