'Ekam' – Your Fantasy Villa in Chail, Shimla

By Rutuja Bhagwat - October 13, 2018

There is a reason why people opt for staycations once a while over long vacations and that's because we need fuel from time to time. We need a refreshing interval to keep going forward. We need something to revitalise and rejuvenate our tired bodies. A staycation can be best enjoyed if it is an epitome of luxury, and by luxury, I do not mean it is expensive. Luxury is when you simply relax...sip a cup of coffee and hum along with the insects and birds while taking all this in. It is when you get lost looking at trees while you spot butterflies. It is when you are meditating and reflecting on your thoughts on an open balcony. It is when you do nothing yet you feel pampered...by the food, the service, the hospitality. 

Ekam is one such luxuriant villa hidden amidst a blanket of pine trees. Located in Chail, it is just an hour away from Shimla. It is like staying on a hill station yet amongst the woods. Ekam is a lovely place to be. 


LARGE & SPACIOUS LIVING

When you see Ekam from afar, you would already imagine the sky-high roofs and the humungous interiors that the villa has to offer. You would dream yourself walking from one room to another and not knowing where to sit exactly. Whether to be on the cosy bed while admiring the classy decor or sit on the balcony, opening your nostrils wide to take all the fresh air in. Every corner of Ekam is contrived in such a way that you would be confused where to spend your limited time in. (Oh and the common area is a tough competitor especially if it's only you and your partner or a family you're at Ekam with!)

I recollect, as I reached the foothills of Ekam, where Mr Tiwari, the caretaker was standing to receive us, I was so eager to just rush and look at the property myself. We walked on the green grass and reached a bungalow when I wondered if this was it. However, that is where the caretaker stayed. And when I looked upwards, I finally saw the huge property, looking grand behind the trees! On entering, I was in awe with the magnanimity of it. The living room on the ground floor replicated those you see in the interior magazines. I had even complimented about this to Mr Sumeet and on that, I learnt, the complete house is designed by him! I have a special interest in interior decor, so I looked at everything with fascination and inspiration. 




FOOD – TRADITIONAL COOKING STYLE YET A MIX OF CUISINES

I remember, when I had got on a call with Mr Sumeet, the owner of Ekam, he sounded very excited about the food. I could not relate to his excitement until I tasted the food myself. We tried a mix of cuisines. The first night was Italian with a red sauce pasta, homemade garlic bread, and two barbecue pizzas with a thin crust. The dinner was followed by a piece of cake that was layered with chocolate ice cream in between. You could call it an ice-cream cake! 

The next morning, we ordered sandwiches and were served with freshly plucked fruits alongside. The foam on the coffee was fluffy and we regretted finishing it quickly. We thought of trying Indian food since Mr Sumeet sounded excited about it. We were served with dal, rice, rotis (ah! I still remember the taste), and paneer bhurji and dum aloo sabzi. The food was so delicious that I hated myself for having a small gut for I wanted to eat more!


The dinner that same night blew my mind. I tasted Burmese Khow Suey and I wondered why I hadn't tried it before. The noodles were so scrumptious and the coconut curry was to die for. I already have a heart for caramelised onions and garlic flakes so I was in a heaven. The homemade walnut cake drizzled with homemade chocolate sauce later was Nirvana!

I was totally impressed with the way the dishes are prepared and served. And having an expertise in different cuisines requires talent, I believe! Apart from the incredible taste, you would be surprised to know that all the food is cooked using traditional cooking methods. Some things are made on the firewood chulha and ayurvedic principles are followed like not mixing milk in recipes. Some of the cooking is also done in traditional handis. 

THE FARM & THE ORGANIC CULTURE

Ekam has about 350 fruit trees in their orchard ranging from apricot, apple, peach, nectarines, plum, pear, kiwi, pomegranate,  lime, etc. They try to grow whatever veggies they can. Currently, they have peas, ginger, tomatoes, capsicum, onions, arbi growing in their farm. Apart from these, they grow other vegetables like peppers, brinjal, broccoli. 

Their herb garden includes exotic herbs like rosemary, thyme, chives, asparagus, fennel, lemongrass, lemon balm, peppermint, oregano...no wonder the food is so flavourful!

Another interesting thing about their farm is that they don't use any chemical as fertiliser; they make their own fertiliser by using cow dung, gomutra (cow urine), and leaves. They have about four cows and a dog in their kingdom. Also, the water you drink at Ekam is pulled out of water springs; you can sense the difference in taste! It tastes much better than what you find in packaged bottles. 

WHY EKAM IS THE PLACE YOU NEED

Ekam is an ideal escape from the city life and is a peaceful abode surrounded by pine trees. The meaning of Ekam is "oneness" and when you're here, you feel one with nature. You need to actually stay here in order to experience what I mean by all this. It is an experiential stay which is overloaded with positive vibes and is sure to refresh you after. It shall shoo away the demons you're fighting in the head and you'll be back with a clean mind. The architecture and the abundance of greenery along with four bedrooms that can hold each member of your clan make it the ideal villa near Shimla.

The place is loaded with books and magazines and have a ton of board games to play. You also have outdoor options like badminton. Apart from this, there's a strong WiFi connectivity for you to send an urgent email. 



THINGS TO DO NEAR EKAM

Visit the farm – If you're feeling lazy yet want to step out and do something, visiting the farm could be a super option. You have so many trees and plants growing that you'd be surprised to notice the difference in the leaves and the stems of each type. The aroma that is released, especially on a winter evening, is truly worth it.

Take a trail around the property – There's an hour-long trek that goes around the property. It was the trail used by the British before the cement roads were built. You would be walking through tall trees and might find pine cones if you're lucky. Don't forget to bring the cones back as a souvenir for your friends. You can ask someone from the staff to take you around; I'm sure they will not refuse.

The Shimla to Chail route – If you're coming from Shimla, then you would witness one of the best roads in India. There is something about tall trees (read Deodar, Pine) that engulfs you as you pass another curve on this route. Since the sides are full of trees, you would be enjoying a no-sun zone, thus making your whole journey a mystical experience. I remember the first time I was on this route, I was mesmerised! 

Shimla – Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, is truly an unmissable city. Keeping aside the beauty, when I had visited it last November, I was shocked to find such fashionable people. Coming from Mumbai, I'd always assumed Shimla to be like another hill city; but it's so developed, especially the fashion sense of people here matches with that of a city like London! I'm not even kidding! Well, apart from understanding the fashion culture of Shimla, there are a lot of things you can do. The first one being the Mall Road, where you would come across cafes, restaurants, Tibetan markets, and big and small shops. Then there's Jakhoo Hanuman temple, which is located on a hilltop with scenic stairs that take you to it. Then there's the Ridge, the Christ Church, Scandal Point, Kali Bari temple, State Museum, etc. {Watch Shimla to Kufri vlog.}

Kufri & Fagu – If you come here, Kufri and Fagu are two towns you must visit. They are like hill stations on a hill station and always a degree colder than Shimla. So for instance, if it is 2 degrees in Shimla, it would always be 1 degree in Kufri. It is famous for its snow activities including skiing and is one of the places honeymooners go to. It is away from the hustle of Shimla and is indeed a beautiful place to stay at.
Fagu, on the other hand, is located a little higher than Kufri and is a place with apple orchards! It is not much developed and you would find a couple of hotels here; however, there are a plenty of eating options. The views from both Kufri and Fagu are truly delightful!

Chail Wildlife Sanctuary – This is a perfect day option for families as you get to see a lot of Himalayan fauna including Himalayan Tahr, Himalayan Brown Bear, Goral, and a lot of birds you had never seen before. You also see leopards, sambar deer, black bear, etc. Entry per person is Rs. 30. Extra charges for DSLR camera (Rs. 50 extra). {Watch Chail Wildlife Sanctuary vlog.}

Solan – You can visit the Mohan Shakti Heritage Park for a beautiful and maintained temple. The route from the main road to this temple is narrow but the views it has to offer is commendable. The temple itself has a mountain view and during winters, these mountains are covered with snow! It is truly a peaceful and spiritual place to be with its vast garden and a large cafe/restaurant inside the periphery. Apart from the park, you can visit Shoolini and Jatoli temples, Karol Tibba, etc. {Watch my Solan vlog.}


HOW TO REACH EKAM, CHAIL

From Delhi/Chandigarh, take a Volvo for Shimla. From Shimla, hire a taxi for Ekam, Chail.

BOOK A STAY

Website: http://ekamchail.com
Contact numbers: 9810058247, 9312053928 

Watch my Ekam vlog:

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