When they said a resort, I was morbidly expecting black tarred roads carved into a hillside, manicured lawns with landscaped flower banks and beer-slinging urban hipsters on a weekend getaway. Mentally I was ready to cave the next few days away, in the depths of my room, with a book of Rumi’s poems that I had brought along. I was in for a pleasant surprise. Gorkha Gaun Resort is not your run-of-the-mill village resort. What it instead borders is an intentional community.
Tucked away quietly, a kilometer away from Laxmi Bazaar, on a panoramic hill, Gorkha Gaun is a rustic paradise. The first thing you realize, as you snake up the road to the resort, is how natural everything looks. There are no concrete structures here. Their neat cottages, that dot the hillside, have been built with hand-carved stones, red mud and slates gathered from a 10km radius, and blend in perfectly with the surroundings. You would be forgiven for thinking that they had organically sprung from the earth themselves. The thought and care with which the resort has been built is phenomenal. The cottages have all the amenities that the modern traveler seeks, yet still ooze with rustic charm. I was surprised to learn that most of the furniture was built on-site using local material. How did everything still look so posh though? I mused. “Necessity is the mother of innovation,” our host replied with a smile.
On our first evening there we were led through a guided tour of the communities surrounding the resort. Most of Gorkha Gaun’s employees hail from these outlying villages and we were welcomed into homes like long-lost friends. At one porch we gulped down more than generous servings of freshly made yogurt, at another we snacked on popcorn and hastily but deliciously put together tomato chutney. Our hosts, Pushkar Shrestha and Salil Aryal, were greeted ubiquitously like family. And as we gossiped with the locals about their farms and livestock it became obvious that they were building more than just a resort here. They were building a community.
It is a community committed to providing genuine hospitality while maintaining the highest standards of responsible and eco-friendly tourism. Gorkha Gaun produces almost all of their own electricity through their 7.5 kVA solar panels. Also in the works is a water treatment facility that treats, through reed bed technology, all the grey water produced at the resort. Water is a valued resource at the hilltop of Laxmi Bazaar near which Gorkha Gaun is perched. Within the premises of the resort is a 40000 liter reservoir that supplies water to the 100 plus households of the bazaar down the hill. “So you see, every drop that we save is water saved for the community.”
This mantra of sustainable business practices and community engagement is one that Gorkha Gaun has taken to heart. It is a mantra that pervades everything they do. From the downward facing outdoor lights that minimize light pollution, to scavenging and reusing tiles and stones from traditional houses being dismantled and replaced by concrete structures. Recently when monsoon gales knocked over a giant tree onto a community road, the resort promptly bought the timbre and cleared the blockage at their own expense.
These little details make for a great back drop that enhances an already tranquil paradise. The rustic but luxurious cottages are positively rejuvenating for those looking for a getaway. The unbeatable views of the Himalayas are soul stirring. Couple that with Gorkha’s historic, cultural and natural wealth waiting to be explored and you have a complete recipe for an unforgettable getaway.
When they named themselves Gorkha “Gaun” they truly meant it. After all, it takes a village.
What to do
Relax first of all. Get away from the chaos of the cities and unwind among lush hills in the shadows of the mighty Manaslu. Because it is perched on a spectacular vantage point, Gorkha Gaun affords unmatched panoramic views of vast and verdant vistas. The sunrises and sunsets in particular are breath-taking.
Gorkha is also the well-spring of modern Nepali history. Take a tour of the manifold cultural and historic sites scattered around Gorkha Bazaar –from a well curated museum of the history of Nepali unification to the forts and palaces where the grand plans for them were hatched.
The resort also has a deeply knowledgeable local guide at hand. If you are of the adventurous mold, take a hike down to the Ludi River as you soak in the delights of the community forest and the incredibly diverse flora and fauna. A longer hike up to the fabled Manakamana temple makes for a great day long activity. There are also several jungle trails around the resort if you are looking to wheel out our mountain bike or running shoes.
Where to eat
The restaurant at Gorkha Gaun is your answer to every culinary craving. Idle here after a long-day of exploring as you sip a chilled brew and wolf down some delicious and passionately prepared delicacies, all the while looking over the panoramic vistas change with the passing light. While you are here, ask for the chef’s delectable fish and chips (the best this scribe has had in Nepal) or the innovative seasonal desserts. “Don’t ask me what is on the menu, ask me what is in the fridge,” he announces gleefully to every vacationer, eager to satisfy your particular palate, whatever it maybe.