Vegan Bliss: Our Himalayan Stay at Meena Bagh Ratnari

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We spent 7 days in the middle of the Indian Himalayas in a small house called Meena Bagh Ratnari, and it was bliss!

GETTING THERE

Because of all the mountains, you can’t exactly fly directly to this part of India, so we ended up getting a flight to Delhi, then another flight to a splendid city called Chandigarh, from which we got a quick train up to Kalka. Then, you drive baby.

It’s a loooong drive from Kalka train station. It took us a massive 5-6 hours to get there, which is not ideal for the feeble-carsick-type such as myself, but I managed just fine. I credit this to the fresh mountain air and the breathtaking, panoramic and snow-capped Himalayan view in the distance. The ride was totally worth it.

Going to Ratnari, you’ll drive past some thriving, colourful and bustling towns, which sit on the flanks of these incredibly steep mountains. It was crazy for us to see soooo many people going about their day-to-day lives at a higher altitude than the highest mountain we have in Australia! 

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THE HOUSE AND AREA

Meena Bagh Ratnari sits smack-bang in the middle of a family-owned apple orchard, with forest on either side, and a tremendous view of the surrounding mountains. Perhaps the thing that I loved most about the house is that Sanjay, the spirited owner and jack-of-all-trades, built the house to be eco-friendly and sustainable. Powered by solar energy, harvesting rain-water, furnished and decorated mindfully (and almost entirely) with furniture made from ‘waste’ wood, this cosy house is a planet-friendly gem!

The area it sits in is peaceful, serene and quiet - an almost humorous change from the India we had come to know so far.

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ThinGS TO DO

We spent the week taking our time on long walks and exploring the neighbouring forest, which was just gorgeous. It was splendid taking as much crisp mountain air into our lungs as possible - an absolute delight after a few weeks in some big, smokey, Indian cities. Otherwise, we just relaxed. We caught up on a lot of reading and some journalling whilst sitting in one of the many sunny sitting rooms on these brilliant recycled wood lounges which were swamped with the best cushions!

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In the evenings when the cold began to settle in, we sat by the fire to warm up, tried our hands at star-gazing through the telescope, and in the comfort of our bed we watched many movies and an episode or two of Pokémon (in Hindi!).

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THE FOOD

I'm not sure I've ever been fed so well - In. My. Life.

I mentioned we were vegan before we came up, and was very pleasantly surprised when Sanjay said that he himself had been steering towards plant-based eating and he was only too happy to cater for us! 

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The food we had was incredible. Mind-blowingly fresh and delicious. All meals were included in our stay, and each day the food seemed to get better and better, which was truly impressive because it was spot-on from day one!

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The caretakers/chefs/every-thing-you-need general rockstars Deshraj and Mahavir whipped up different selections of delectable delights: dosas, idlis, poha, uttapam, chappatis, soups, sambar and sabjis (curry) after sabjis after sabjis for us. We enjoyed a tasty, new and impressive spread of Indian-foods of all different styles at lunch and we ate til our tummies were a little over-satisfied each day! Everything was always so scrumptious and we were amazed at the sheer range of what was catered for us vegans. YUM. This is the stuff I will dream of til I die. Great Indian feasts with a Himalayan view. Daaaaamn.

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They even stocked the fridge with soy milk especially for us (cue tears of joy), which was so much appreciated (thanks Sanjay!). This especially came in handy for snacking habits and we enjoyed some cheeky late-night bowls of cornflakes. Apple marmalade, made with home-grown apples by Sanjay’s sister, was stocked in the house and was absolutely divine on toast with a nice hot cup of tea in the afternoon sun.

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ALL IN ALL...

We had a fantastic stay - truly fantastic. I definitely would recommend putting it on your India-list if you're a nature lover and love some quiet-time, it's really something special to be in such a secluded and quiet part of India. We left feeling totally refreshed, rested, inspired and ready for the next leg of our journey! See ya, Meena Bagh!

MORE PHOTOS FROM MEENA BAGH

Homemade Apple Marmalade by Sanjay's Sister.

Homemade Apple Marmalade by Sanjay's Sister.

I thought the Kitchen was bloody brilliant!

I thought the Kitchen was bloody brilliant!

Our Room.

Our Room.

A very cute shelf inset in recycled wood, mud and stone walls.

A very cute shelf inset in recycled wood, mud and stone walls.

Loved the little shelves!

Loved the little shelves!

Made myself a little work station.

Made myself a little work station.

Elizabeth Miu