A High Cottage for Short Retreats

Destination Issue 80 Jul, 2010

Shivapuri Heights Cottage is cradled in a serene and unob trusive atmosphere on the hill north of Kathmandu. Located on 2 acres of land, at a height of 6,000 feet (1800 m), this pleasant get-away can be reached from downtown Kathmandu after a 30 minute drive and a short walk. Proximity to the city makes Shivapuri Heights Cottage a favorable destination for those looking for a day away from their hectic life. And if you could chip in a day or two more—not unimaginable given the frequent offs we have apart from the regular ones—you can sign up for scores of activities that Cottage has on offer. Various long and short walks and hikes, a tour around the village, upstream waterfalls and the Shivapuri National Park, open air yoga sessions and massage treatments, etc., can be organized to suit your schedule, with prior arrangements. A picnic style ‘walk and lunch’ right in the middle of the jungle on one of the nearby hills not only soothes the appetite but also nourishes your heart and spirit. There are several nice day-hikes through the forest along the hills. It is an ideal destination for a family or small group of friends.

The Cottage with its traditional country house appearance is as striking as the natural setting in which it is located. Designed by the owner Steve Webster, a British married to a Nepalese, it has features resembling houses seen in the rural areas of both England and Nepal. For example, the ceilings and roofing are done using wood and tiles, much like a country home. The building is painted mostly in red color with shades of black and brown here and there.

The moment you step on to the lawn you are drawn to the scenic appeal of splendid lush green vegetation and breathtaking views of the rolling hills on all directions. Even if you turn to look out over the Kathmandu valley you will not be disappointed. The panorama from Shivapuri Heights is picture perfect. At the west is the wide expanse of the valley, while in other directions you’ll see Nature’s splendor, bright and open on a clear day, or with tendrils of fog rising up along the hillside on other days. You can relax under a shaded patio set with a mug of hot coffee or Nepali tea, a glass of beer or a soft drink, while surveying the grand view.

You don’t have to stay outside to relish the beauty. The lounge area inside has glass doors that open directly to the lawn, for a quick and open viewing pleasure. The lounge is big enough to accommodate a small social gathering or for hosting a party among a circle of friends. There’s a fireplace for cozy mornings and evenings during winter, and a small library with an assortment of novels by famous writers and real life accounts about people and places. Neither the lounge, nor the rooms have televisions or VCDs, and guess what!—you won’t miss them. Two slanted wooden ladders lead up to the rooms with enough beds to accommodate six people, while one room on the ground floor can comfortably take another two. There is also a separate, independent cottage at a slightly lower elevation adjacent to the main cottage, convenient for a small family. It has a room with a large bed on the ground floor with an additional two beds in an attic room. Check when you make reservations, and you’ll be accommodated as you need.

The Cottage has the charm of an old village hut with combined modern benefits of convenience and comfort, including a well stocked mini-bar with all sorts of beverages including soft drinks, beer and wine. The caring and sociable staff are at your service all the time. For dining, the Nepali platter of regular Nepali dishes (dal-bhat and all the trimmings),  prepared fresh by the kitchen staff, is excellent.
With such a Cottage resort on a hill near you, atop Shivapuri, even an unrelenting timetable can’t be an excuse for not giving yourself some time off in such a comfortable and picturesque place.

Getting to the Shivapuri Heights Cottage is easy and straightforward—drive (or taxi) north through Lazimpat and Maharangunj, then on across the Ring Road to Buddhanilkanta at the base of the hill. At Buddhanilkantha take the left turn and follow the road until you reach a small bridge that ends right at the gate of ISCKON, the Hare Krishna temple. (When you make reservations, ask where to park your car.) The Cottage staff will meet you there (by pre-arrangement) to lead you on up the mountainside, a 15 minute steep walk. For well fit and adventuresome visitors there is an alternative hiking route up to the Cottage that takes something over an hour to navigate. It passes through a forest and across some steeply terraced fields, giving you the opportunity for birding, photography and, if it has rained recently, slipping in the mud. It’ll enhance your appetite for some beverage and lunch at the top. Ask the staff about the hiking route when you make your reservations. 

A night’s stay at Shivapuri Heights Cottage costs US$30 per person (minimum of two people). The cost includes a dinner and breakfast. Lunch and additional walks cost another US $25 per person. That includes a bottle of beer or a glass of wine or a soft drink. For more information phone Sohan at 9841.37.1927 or Umesh at 9841.26.8171, or email   sohan@escape2nepal.com or umesh@escape2nepal.com, or check them out on the web at www.escape2nepal.com.