Nestled in the scenic Dhauladhar range of Himalayas is the city of Dharamshala.
Surrounded by the cedar, deodar, oak, pine and other trees, the city is also home of the 14th Dalai Lama since 1960. Though the multi-cultural history of the place goes back several decades, Dharamshala is now considered a city mainly occupied by Tibetans. The place is a scenic destination for travellers.
In 1855, there were only two major settlements for civilians in Dharamshala – McLeodganj, named after the Governor General of Undivided Punjab, David McLeod and Forsyth Ganj named after a Divisional Commissioner.
Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy of India (1862-1863) was so moved by the pristine beauty of Dharamshala because it reminded him of his own home in Scotland. He was so fascinated with the city that he even proposed to make it the summer capital of the country.
Sometimes such stories make you want to go back in time and experience time long gone. Adivaha is one such place that will make you relive the imperial luxury in its full glory. Snuggled in the lap of the majestic Dhauladhar, Adivaha is a 300-year-old heritage building, restored and remodelled into a getaway far from the maddening city crowds that transports you into solitude and history.
Originally known as the ‘East Home’ during the British Raj, it passed the hands of both British bureaucrats and Royals of Punjab. As per recorded evidence, the construction of the ‘East Home’ dates back to 1840s.
East Home was erected by the British military as the official residence of the Officer Major Arthur Cannole. During those days, it was also used as the official residence for The Viceroy of India. The massive earthquake of 1905 heavily damaged the property, but it was revived painstakingly thereafter.
Today, it is one of the finest properties, as I experienced during a recent visit there. The best bit is how it serves regal luxury, partnering with Leisure Group of Hotels.
Architectural Ode to History
You start to experience the royal and scenic mix of the place even before you enter Adivaha. Right at the entrance, the path carved for your vehicle is a concrete track of two parallel strips with grass along the trail. The moment you reach the Reception Desk, you are surrounded by natural beauty from all sides.
On your right is a crescent of tea estates, on your left is the lush green gardens of Adivaha. And in front of you stands tall a centuries’ old structure offering you the colonial charm with all modern day comforts.
The Viceroy Block is so British!
Adivaha presently offers you five categories of suites Junior Suite, Cottage Suite, Family Suite, Queen Suite & Viceroy Suite. All the suites take you back to the times of the British Raj, with their tastefully selected furniture and architecture.
King-size beds with old world charm, lounge chairs straight from the bygone era and several knick knacks from the times of the Viceroys (the antique pewter fireplaces definitely caught my attention). Even the wallpapers in the rooms and other premises are selected so carefully that they merge in tandem with the imperial standards. The balcony of the Viceroy suite offers you a stunning view of the lush green Kangra Valley.
A warm mug of coffee, a book of your choice some jazz in the background – and you could very well be a modern day aristocrat in Adivaha.
The Junior cottage is no less when it comes to offering the luxury of the British standards. It is idyllically located on the left of the back lawn of Adivaha. The moment you come out of this suite you will have a panoramic view of the Dhauladhar mountains on your right. This view of Outer Himalayas includes Laka Glacier, which is a famous trekking point among travellers. As per a legend popular amongst locals Lord Hanuman on his way to get the Sanjeevani slipped on one of the mountains.
If the sky is clear, experiencing a majestic moonrise from Adivaha would be a life-changing and soul-stirring moment.
A retreat without a warm kitchen that smells good is just brick and mortar. Good food is basic when you are travelling. And the chefs at Adivaha seem to know this really well. The food that comes out of their kitchen is flavoursome and comforting.
Adivaha offers you Continental, Indian, South Indian, and authentic local food as well. The chef can rustle up any dish you want, and the way you want – perhaps another ode to the love for food that made the British stay. Do try their range of soul-warming soups, especially the one with burnt garlic. For those with a fondness for desserts, the kulfi is a sure-shot way to gastronomic heaven.
Adivaha is a place that serves you regal charm, scenic beauty, and unmatched hospitality. More than that, it allows you to steal moments from life to enjoy time with yourself. Take a big bite and the taste will linger on in your senses long after you are back to the rat race of the city. Adivaha (meaning happiness) is the place you will want to keep going back to!