The Silent Trail

DSCN9711Overview :

So where is Jilling Estate?  This is a place 30kms from Nainital lake.This is a resort with a crossover of a homestay….or the other way round. Whichever way, you look at it – it is a good experience. It fulfills your need to be left alone or stay connected, together. It fulfils your need to trek or be saddled on a horse, to reach the destination. It fulfils your need to listen to electronic music or the music of nature. It fulfils your need to be in luxury or simplicity. So go ahead and take your pick.

You could reference the details below should you plan to visit the place.

The Route :

  1. New Delhi –
  2. Hapur –
    1. There is a McDonalds/Domino stop at Salarpur.
    2. It is at 60kms mark after you cross Hapur.
    3. Note for ladies:  :There are few clean wash rooms ahead in the journey, so plan well.
      1. The next proper washroom could be  in Haldwani.
  3. Moradabad
  4. Rampur (turn left off National Highway) – 
    1. Bad stretch of road : Sedan /low ground clearance vehicle drivers be extremely careful.
    2. Average speed goes down to 20kmph.
    3. This is almost a 25kms stretch of big potholed road
    4. Traffic of nearby villages adds to the woes.
    5. However, this is better than the alternative stretch which is almost un-motorable!
  5. Rudrapur –  
  6. Haldwani –
    1. Expect congested city traffic.
    2. You can stop at Udipiwala – great vegetarian ( south Indian) food place.
    3. There is a Lavazza next door as well.
    4. This could be your luch stop if you plan
    5. The steep hill climb starts from this point onwards.
  7. Kathgodam –
  8. Ranibagh (turn right) to Bhimtal –
  9. Khutani (turn right at tri-junction) –
  10. Chanfi –
  11. Matial
  12. Padampuri Bridge


From Depart To Distance Time taken Arrive Location Pit Stop Time Remarks
Gurgaon 04:30 Hapur 92.9 2 hours 06:30 Reach Hapur 15 mins.  There is a good
Hapur 06:45 Moradabad 105 1 hour 45 mins 08:30 Reach Moradabad
Moradabad 08:30 Rampur 31.1 45 mins. 09:15 Reach Rampur 15 mins.
  • Driver Break
Rampur 09:30 Haldwani 77.4 2h hour 30 mins 12:00 Reach Haldwani 45 mins
  • Lunch break
Haldwani 12:45 Kathgodam 6.4 15mins. 13:00 Reach Kathgodam
  • Ghat Section starts
Kathgodam 13:00 Ranibag 3 10 mins. 13:10
Ranibag 13:10 Bhimtal 17.6 45 mins. 14:00 Reach Bhimtal 20 mins
  • Lake Photo
  • Buy Alcohol
Bhimtal Liquor Store 14:20 Padampuri Bridge 15.2 45 mins. 15:00 Reach Padampuri Bridge
  • Pony ride begins
Padampuri Bridge 15:00 The Silent Trail 3.5 1 hour 30 mins. 17:00 Reach Silent Trail. Whew!
Total 352kms 9 hours 1 hour 35 mins.

On reaching Padampuri.:

Once you reach the base camp – there is mini adventure in store for you. Your vehicle will need to be parked inside a house garage.While that may seem easy, it is actually not. The gate opens up to  a  open canal/ drain. So you cannot drive your vehicle straight in. It required some degree of skill and precision to guide your vehicle in a s – curve barely avoiding the drain and park in to the garage. Only to repeat this exercise in reverse when you return back! So SuV owners this  is when your instinctive skills will matter. Yes, there will be people to  help you navigate – but you ve got to do the maneuvering.
There is a clean toilet for ladies and gents.It is important to plan the loo breaks well ( if you can) for women as there is no provision as you go up the 1.5 hour horse ride.
Plan and book your pony ride in advance.Often the time you anticipate to reach Padampuri varies from the actual time you land up – this directly impacts the horse owners business – because the longer he waits the more business they lose.They could ve made some more trips in the interim. You need to be sensitive about this , as this is their only source of their livelihood – so please calculate your time to reach with precision and then stick to it.
Once you’re done – then begins  the horse ride to the top. It is a 3.5kms stretch of inclined  broken rock road through dense forest.Your horse holding skills will be tested.! If you chose to walk : remember that almost 90% of the hairpin bends are at an inclination of 25 – 40 degrees. So your leg muscles will need to be real strong.
Tip : if you are not a trekked – stick to the horse. Remember to carry at least 2 water bottles.
Budget about 1.5 – 2 hours to reach the top – this of course depends on the number of stops you have made on the way …or how fast your horse is.Your weight will matter as well in the scheme of things 🙂 !

On reaching Silent  Trail :

First up : you are greeted with a warm smile with anyone you lay your eyes on.! and they seem to say we ‘re glad you made it!:-) Which is nice.
Your first view is of the nursery on your left and the dining terrace in front. Once you enter the main hall, it seems like a large living room , with a dinning table on the far side overlooking the hills through the glass panels. There is a good home theater with some nice classical music being played and a television : which is muted.! Its only demand that the volume is turned on.
Should you wish to attend to natures call – there is a washroom with clear glass panels overlooking the horizon! answering the nature’s call in the lap of nature! There is no lock so you need someone to stay on guard. However, it is mostly used for handwash post lunch or dinner.
There are lots of books , a library room and the selection is quite varied to cater to all types of readers.You can find a Salman Rushdie, or Rabindranath Tagore or Vikram Seth or even Tintin on the racks.
After the initial pleasantries exchanged, you are on your way to the rooms.
Accommodation :
The room we booked was at a lower level to the dining hall. The view is good – it looks like a tree hosue / log cabin – with large glass paneled windows with a view of the jungle in front.The wash room is clean with a bathtub.
There is flowing water , cold water at all times.This is a solar heated facility, so youve got to let the water run for about 5 or 10 mins before the hot water starts to flow in.
Other rooms are well appointed, though storage could be a bit better.But the idea on such a trip is not to expect a 5 star luxury collection right? It is decent, clean, and comfortable.Youcan get extra pillows or sheets if the need be.
Do not get freaked out by the occasional spider – remember this is a dense forest area.
There is a beautiful indoor heated pool – the temperature is just right – and it overlooks the sunrise point. This is a small pool with about a quarter length of a standar pool.But it is wonderful
considering it is on a higher ground and you can see the mountain sitting in the pool. So remember to get your swimming trunks.
Connectivity :
There is Edge mobile network at all times, so you need to be  disconnected by choice.There is no wifi though and neither is there a lan cable in the rooms.Your smartphone /tablet on cellular data
is the only option. Remember to check your data roaming option open.
Food :
So there is no Menu card. Its almost an ondemand service.
There is largely a vegetarian affair for lunches and a mix of non-vegetarian during dinners. It is not a typical rich ,oily-greasy food.It is more like a simple home cooked meal cooked in front of you
while the hostess over sees the preparations.Yes, children could get pasta’s and mashed potatoes as well. This flavour of food will appeal to those who prefer a non-spicy diet.However, spice can be added
on request. Most of the vegetables are procured from their farm which houses a greenhouse to grow vegetables. Quality of veges are quite good.note the tang in the onion! Good indian pickles and chutney
are available as well. Breakfast : cereals,parathas and puri-subzi – are common along with yoghurt or milk or tea. Various egg preprations are available on request.
Note:You must try the mint tea (Orange Pekoe with fresh mint) or the Lemon grass tea – these are just perfect mixes and right for the location!
Dinner options have non- vegetarian – though lightly cooked.They have a beautiful fireplace where you can have a barbecue if need be. In fact there are lots of strategic points around the property
where you could get a nice view and get your barbecue done there.
Around the property:
You can view the Himalayan ranges on the opposite trail from the entrance point of the property.In fact it was so nice of the hostess to offer us our morning tea while watching the sunrise on the Himalayan ranges from the edge of the hill.There is a nice bench for you sit and get a panoramic view of the entire Jilling estate and the Himalayan ranges behind that.
There is a small temple tucked away a little ahead of the swimming pool.It should not take you mor than 10 mins to get there and walk is not that steep.
Stepping out of the property boundary is generally not advised unless you are super familiar with the terrain, more so after it gets dark.Yes there is / are leopards
in the vicinity.It is a dense forest area so there will be wild animals.However, if you are inside there should not be a problem other than the Langoor playtime during
the mornings on top of the dinning area. They have 3 dogs who alert if an unwated visitor is in the vicinity.
The Service :
A special mention about the hostess /owner of the property :Ms.Radhika Bhati. She is a graceful humble lady with a great attention to detail. She picks up on what the kid is looking for
before they actually ask.Quite intuitive and very warm and friendly.There is a lot of personalized care she takes for all the guests in cooking preferences, narrating experiences
or simply listening to all the tales people share on a vacation.
Following the leader is the property staff: They are humble, friendly and extremely helpful Mathuraji, Dilip are most helpful as are others.They add to the Homestay experience.
What could be better? :
Well as pobody’s nerfect , there is room for improvement on some counts here are a few points to take note of as you plan you trip :
My first view is – how should I treat this property? As a quaint home stay or as a demanding luxury resort?
My asks and expectations would vary accordingly.So if you plan your trip as a luxury resort then you will be surprised to see a home stay like feel, and if you only plan a
homestay vacation then you are likely to be surprised as well.
So this is a question the property has to be clear on so that the discerning traveler can set expectations accordingly.
There needs to be better parking space for cars at the base camp. People with large SUV’s will have difficulty entering and exiting the parking area.
Food Options : again if homestay is the standard – then its pretty much okay – if luxury is the standard then there needs to be lot many more options.
There needs to be a lot more meat options in continental preparations. Perhaps a bit of Chinese options as most Indians prefer “Chinese food” as a prefered
alternative.Likewise, deserts could have a wider variety.
Alcohol :There is no mini bar or a bar option, so its pretty much a get your own alcohol (from Bhimtaal -which has limited choices). In case of emergency, like
a public holiday or something similar) they might provide you with some limited alcohol. There is an option to send someone from the property to the base camp or Bhimtaal to get some alcohol – but it
is a bit impractical and too time consuming. So please check before you arrive and get your own.
But they can provide starters or munchies if you wish to have with your drink. Like I would prefer a wine selection , considering the location and the ambience
is tailor fit to sip a bordeaux while you watch the stars.
Toiletries : there needs to be better selection/collection/ availability of toiletries in the washroom. A dental kit, and some basic stuff is needed and expected in any luxury property isn’t it?
Overall :
I would highly recommend this place for those who seek a homestay like personalized experience. It requires some amount of planning ,and hence this detailed article. The people and the service are clearly the highlights along with the location of the property and it’s niche design. This place needs to set right expectations for people arriving and the people need to set their plans accordingly.The serene view points are something that linger on even after the stay and the experience is memorable. So if you are looking for a “soft-spoken-quite-getaway” this serendipitous property is the right up there with the best.