Getaway to Jilling
An old man, a beggar man, bent double, with a flowing white beard and piercing gray eyes, stopped on the road on the other side of the garden wall and looked up at me, where I sat on the branch of a litchi tree. I was 10, and it was my first week in my stepfather's home. "What's your dream?" he asked.
It was a startling question coming from that raggedy old man on the street; even more startling that it was made in English. English-speaking beggars were a rarity in the India of those days.
"What's your dream?" he repeated.
"I don't remember," I said. "I don't think I had a dream last night."
"That's not what I mean. You know it isn't what I mean. I can see you're a dreamer. It's not the litchi season, but you sit in that tree all afternoon, dreaming."
"I just like sitting here," I said. I refused to admit that I was a dreamer. Other boys didn't dream, they had catapults.
"A dream, my boy, is what you want most in life. Isn't there something that you want more than anything else?"
"Yes," I said. "A room of my own’’
Lines from : Dreaming in the Branches of a Litchi Tree By Ruskin Bond
After a ride in the morning Shatabdi from Delhi, a drive through curvy roads in the woods of Kumaon, Uttarakhand and a 2km hike up a mountain, we reached jilling terraces.
Jilling Terraces, a hidden heritage homestay housed an Indo - Polish couple some 80 years ago which has now turned into an ideal retreat for those looking for silence. Through double paneled doors of our room in this colonial style house, we put our luggage in ‘Buransh’ , a room inspired by a local scarlet flower. I immediately noticed the indie aesthetics of the space and the use of Indian crafts. From embroidered textiles to Ikat patterns, Jaipuri quilts to cane stools, use of local wood and ceramics, all made it home like. The brick and stone structure with a fireplace, a library and art collected over years, could be that dream holiday home we read about in fiction novels. Texture of wool throws, silk and cotton curtains made our room cozy, while the wooden sculptures and pine cones made it further warm. Basket weaves and empty chairs in the porch overlooking the Himalayas was going to be home for the next couple of days.
After a local meal of fried okra and lentils ( Bhat ka Chawal) by the courtyard with creepers , we chatted with the caretakers of the homestay to understand the local culture. Dileep and Bimla, a couple from the nearby village of panyali, have been residing in the property for over 33 years. Dileep shared that the people from the village are rather simple and goddess ( Devi) believers. They celebrate the festival of ‘Baisagya’, in the month of chait ( march - april). He explained the festival revolves around the local flora and fauna and involves decoration with flowers and these are also offered to the goddess. Not surprised as all the rooms in Jilling terraces are named after local flowers. While I sipped on the lemongrass, mint and fennel tea that was made from the leaves in the local kitchen garden, Bimla explained how mint is used extensively in local households and even for medicinal purposes.
In the past decade, the way Indians travel has changed. The demand for local experiences and more personalised styling in hospitality has gone up. Jilling terraces that is now run by an architect duo lets you experience both.
Soaking in the essence and elements of the space
I hid under the white linen
sipping from the warm cup of tea
Sound of rain and wind through leaves put me to sleep
Sky had changed from a smoky emerald, to ruby and then sapphire
In the evening we sipped rum close to the fireplace
A glittery golden under a glittery silver of a starry sky
There was a scent of oakwood and smoked chestnuts
Melodies by Ludovico Einaudi
and at some point I could only hear myself breathe