Neeralaya – a heritage villa home-stay is rooted beautifully by the banks of the Beas river. At 6.30 am, I woke up to the sounds of the Beas river and the birds chirping. The rays filtered through the pine trees and in through the wood-framed window panes. A little away from my cottage, the Beas river flowed gracefully; and mountains stood gloriously. The clouds gathered in patterns to adorn the blue skies.
Along with taking in the view, Mr. Muneer Suri – the owner of Neeralaya invited me over for a cup of tea and a delectable breakfast at the dining hall inside their largest three-storey cottage, built to look like a traditional temple. The plum jam made by Mr. Suri’s mother was fabulous!
These cottages were constructed over the last seven years with old timber, stones and decals from ancient abandoned houses in the valley. By recycling and restoring, they’ve used existing natural resources; also staying rooted to traditional Kullvi Kath-khuni architecture. Amazingly, each cottage was built piece by piece taking its own sweet time, depending on the availability of old materials procured over the years. The way of life and deep respect for nature reflects in these little acts of kindness.
Interestingly, each cottage is named after a fruit growing within the property for easy recall. And luckily, the Cherry was mine. At first glance, Cherry had a rustic appeal. It was a double storey structure of wood and stones with stairs leading to a room. A few eye-catching photographs adorned the walls. Every inch of it transported me back in time. A fireplace was set close to the bed to provide warmth.The cottage has an elegant balcony with traditional decals on the front, facing the lush lawn. Up above it, is a cosy attic with a view of snowy peaks. Cherry has a unique charm, like each of the sibling cottages.
The next morning, the rain gods sprinkled some freshness over the mountains. It was one of those days you embrace simple joys like watching the clouds pass by, sipping hot cuppas, brewing conversations, flipping pages of a beloved book, appreciating the mountains, and simply feeling gratitude for these valuable moments.The day flowed so beautifully; I stayed indoors meeting with the locals. I was to meet a traditional ‘Gur’ – a shaman for one of the deities of Kullu Valley. But the amazing weather already had my heart. It was one of those days you live in the moment and embrace what it brings along.
A boy played the flute by the river and I embraced the sunset by the gazebo, as the sky dabbed itself with stardust.
That afternoon, over a delicious lunch with Rishi, stories flowed just as the Beas – from a local snake god’s kinship with the village to the traditional celebrations in the valley. A few giggling women at Neeralaya- Nageshwari, Poonam and Sunita started to weave tales about the mountains, the dances, songs and their people. Next moment, I was by the attic getting a pattu draped.We were out in the lawn, performing the Naati dance to familiar ‘pahadi’ songs with the staff.
A little birdie told us that the chef had prepared a surprise Himachali dinner for us. We relished every bite and surrendered to sleep, thanking the universe, PlushEscapes and Neeralaya Raison for this magical experience. The next morning we left this home with beautiful memories, but not without the last jar of motherly plum jam, from Kullu to Kangra valley.
Neeralaya was one such home; a family rooted to their traditions, full of love and high in spirits. That’s what sets it apart from other luxury resorts in the valley. Truly, a luxury homestay can be the grandest experience in the simplest of ways. Where Mr. Suri’s nine year old son put up a magic show. Where Sunita took care of us and Kala invited us to her house loom ‘Khaddi’ – where pattus are woven. Where Chef Rajan shared his recipe for joy, and Rishi became our go-to ‘pahadi guide’. A home where Mr. Muneer Suri and his family touched us with their warmth and kindness. In all, Neeralaya is a gift of the yore, wrapped in good ‘pahadi’ vibes. Neeralaya is special for all the joy it brings to anyone who arrives at this heavenly home.
- Return to roots and explore history, Himachali culture, architecture and traditions.
- Neeralaya opens you up to outdoor activities like river rafting, fishing treks and excursions.
- Never ever forget to pack in the special homemade jar of plum jam made by Mr. Muneer Suri’s mother. Compete or share if it’s the only jar left!
- Neeralaya has six unique, luxurious cottages for couples, groups and families to choose from.
- Connect with the souls working at Neeralaya if you wish to see Himachal through their eyes.
- Stargaze indoors through the attic or by the riverside bonfire.
- When in Himachal, go Himachali. Ask Chef Rajan to treat you to pahadi delicacies.
- Wrap yourself in the warmth of locally woven Himachali Pattu that’s sold here.
- Arrive with an open heart – whether it’s hiking up Bijli Mahadev, a Naati dance session, fishing for trout or merely retreating indoors.
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