the-south-asian Life & Times               July - September 2010




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– A True Retreat

Lower Kandoli is not a place many know of – apart from the 100 odd residents of this tiny village off the road to Donga (near Dehradun) and visitors to the Dalvi family’s country home, a little beyond the village. The sprawling Dalvi home set amidst 23 acres of sal forest is aptly named ‘Vishranti’ (a Hindi word for ultimate relaxation). And so it is.

The Doon School-educated Dalvis have recently converted their forest abode into a seven-suite resort - exclusive and full of homely warmth.

The road to Dehradun is not easy – especially from Delhi, the capital city of India. Fifty years ago one could cover this distance in a small car in less than five hours. Today the same journey, on better roads, may take twice as long – or even more – depending on many factors, not least among them divine intervention. Nowhere in India is the traffic more bizarre, reckless, irresponsible and dangerous than on the Delhi-Dehradun road. In one word – Stressful. Train is always a better option – if one is not agoraphobic. Or flying – if one enjoys unpredictability in life, especially of travel to small airports.

Destination Vishranti is worth the effort – and more.

A few kilometres down from the Forest Research Institute and the Indian Military Academy (on the road to Ponta Sahib), a narrow, tree-lined road on the right, winds its way through a dry river bed, into a forest of sal trees with scores of playful monkeys on a never-ending picnic, through a somnambulant village, finally reaching the gates of Madhyant Farm from where a crunchy driveway leads to the resort.

The 1980s built home greets one with a very welcome silence, punctuated by the chirping of hundreds of exotic birds in the aviary across, or the insistent tantrum-like call of a peacock that maybe lodged on a wicker chair in one of the wide verandas and terraces outside each of the suites. In fact there is a resident peacock with the longest, most extravagant tail ever – the Inspector General of the resort – I met on my arrival and mistook for a porcelain sculpture till he broke into loud, raucous, screaming protests of not wanting to be photographed. He was lounging on the sofa outside my suite – so still – I thought what a magnificent piece of made-in-China sculpture! The fun had only just begun – the memory of speeding, oversized trucks was already a distant haze. This was a different world – of golden pheasants, Indonesian parakeets, macaws, cockatoos, lovebirds, and many other species in dramatic, unreal colours. There were flowers too, and an organic farm, a hatchery, mango orchards, a swimming pool, plantations, and kennels with Rottweiler pups. Eclectic would be an understatement – and I had not seen the interiors yet!

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