Gurgaon to Kullu Manali Airport – 520kms. 11 hours of travel time, if you include 1 hour stops at Murthal & two smaller breaks on the way you might take 12 hours. So if you start by 4AM, you can aim to reach by 5PM. If you are comfortable to drive at night, then I’d recommend you start 10PM. That way, you will be on the mountains early morning,a great photo op and you reach the resort to make the most of day 1 of your visit.
The flip side is driving in the night is stressful, and more so if you are on the hills.so if you are just a couple and a kid, that might not be the best option, but if you are a big group and there are at least 2 or 3 drivers, then it might make sense.So take your pick.
AH1 till Ambala , and then you take a bypass to avoid entering Chandigarh.It saves time. You cross Rupnagar whne the terrain slowly starts to change. Stick to highway 21, head to Swarghat and then to Mandi. From Mandi to Kullu Manali airport should be a fascinating scenic route drive.
Once you cross the airport , look out for Manikaran Road. Cross the long tunnel and keep going in paralel to the Parbati river.Good photo op in some places again depending on what time of the day you are crossing that point.
Note: the road stretch of 26 kms is quite fragile at some points, so drive carefully.There are some very narrow,landslide impacted stretches.
So from Kullu Manali Airport to The Himalayan Village is about 26Kms – should take you at least 50 mins or so. Once you cross Jari village, the property will be on your right on the main road.
The first impression after your 13 hour ordeal,is that you made the right decision! The view of the cottages and the Machans are exactly as you saw them while researching on the net.But what catches your attention is the proximity of the gushing Parbati river and the fragrance of Pine trees. Coming from the city, you are going to love it.
We arrived around 5PM – so the silence seemed to have increased. The checkin process is fairly swift,and after you sign in your date of birth and anniversary dates you are on your way to the Cottage or Machan. The cottages are quite well appointed,big and can house 4 with extra bed if you really want to squeeze in.The wooden and stone architecture is quite intricately designed a.k.a the Kathkuni style architecture.
The Machan, needless to to say is the prime attraction of the property.The room size is quite big, so big that one could actually fit in two queen size beds quite comfortably.Yet there is just one, and with extra beds as an option you can house 4 people.Mini bar charges are clearly mentioned, and the choices available are decent .The cloak room has decent toiletries and hot water flow when needed.
The view from the Machans are better than the Cottages, however, bear in mind that you have a hill that vertically rises above your eyesight if you look straight ahead. For purists, it is a blocked view, however if you look a little to the right, you can spot the snow capped mountains in the distance. The sound of the gushing Parbati river is also a highlight.It adds to the serenity of it all. For those who find it tough to climb stairs, Machans are not recommended option.
The menu card has variety including Chinese, Continental,Indian and a few local cuisines.They provide portable heaters if you sit near the plug points.It can get a bit cold in the evenings. We ordered Chicken “stick”sizzler, and it did not disappoint us. Now if you are looking for some real fine tuning here like medium rare, then I guess you’d have to check in advance with the owner if that’s possible. But if you stick to regular stuff then both quantity and quality is upto the mark.
The room service is prompt and the restaurant is open to customizations depending on your palate ranging from making it spicy or non spicy.The service staff is often seen running up the hill to reach the cottages on time.
By design this is a relaxation resort – so set your expectations accordingly.There are a few activities like treks and walks which can be quite fun if you are the types to get up in a cold morning and set out into the forest.For the more adventurous types there is para gliding/sailing nearby among other outdoorsy things to do.
However, for those in need of some mental healing, there is a “healer” on call.Yes, you read it correct.Past life regression or spiritual healing sessions are available on advance request.These are very subjective and personal experiences,so there is no right or wrong about it.Your session is considered confidential so there is no sharing on how it went or whether it was worth it or not. So if you have the curiosity and the bent of mind, then it is a fascinating option indeed.
About 4kms ahead of the property you get to Kasol.There are quaint little cafes with some faint smell of marijuana hanging in the air.It is illegal in the country so be aware of surprise checking along the way. Further down at the 10kms mark you reach Manikaran,which has a hot spring just next to a cold water river.
It really depends on how your experience and expectations are, and that’s what classifies it into expensive or value for money.Clearly, this is not the average budget resort down the block. By budget resort I mean in the vicinity of 4-6k INR.This is more in the range of 8-12k range per night excluding extras like lunch and dinner.So it is important you calculate your end to end budget before booking the property.As is the case with any 4 star or 5 star properties around the world, every thing is available but for a charge, and rightly so.
A good research comparative could be the number 1 ranked resorts in other or similar locations around the country.See if you get the same amenities at the same price point or not.It will give you a sense on your value for money for this outing.For example , checkout top ten properties in the luxury segment in Himachal. First up you will have Wildflower, Cecil Oberoi and Suryavilas and the 4th on the page is the Himalayan Village.
What could be better?
When you are on a vacation not everything will be perfect,and these small things should never become a showstopper.As a traveller you need to take things in your stride and make yourself a good guest as much as the property has to play a good host.
The point is when you are on a shoe string budget, then you accept a few anomalies,but if you are on a luxury budget, then you tend to get a bit picky on little things isn’t it? After all it’s the fine tuning that you are paying a premium for.So if you look at THV from that lens there are a few areas which could be better.
- The wifi connectivity needs to step up a notch for sure.
- They lock on the door is on the top. They have tool placed for you to reach, however a “lower-lock” option should be maintained for the vertically challenged!
- The restaurant needs a higher variety of continental cuisine and red wines and single malts.
- Personal note : Ardbeg or Bunnahabain would perfectly fit in the atmosphere!
The overall experience
The questions is would I recommend my friends to go ? The answer is yes. In fact I already have. Would I revisit ? Certainly would.The areas of improvement are not show-stoppers for me. Fundamentally, there isn’t a perfect resort anywhere, because by definition perfection means there is no room for any improvement, which is clearly not the case.
So overall, set your expectations right, know your end to end expense, and see if you are looking for a stay which primarily wants you to relax, expects you to have a talk with nature, and appreciate the beauty. Chances are you will have a memorable stay,just like we did.
Thank you THV !